Friday, June 19, 2009

Book: A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin (1997)

Captivating and brilliant!

For an author to know so many characters so well; to bring them so vividly to life and especially to give them the legitimate voices to exert their genuine will and yet still somehow manage an intricate plot is a major achievement in storytelling.

The other great problem with such a cast of hundreds, of course, is its threat to overwhelm and chase away the reader but Martin uses tricks of nomenclature and innumerable hints and reminders and tames what at first looms a beast.

The dialogue is key to a tale that is largely court intrigue (ah, but so much more interesting than that sounds) and this dialogue is absolute dynamite; unendingly clever and multi-faceted in its uses. It keeps the story charged; intense; well-paced.

The imagery barely suffices at times but that's fine. You can't have everything. The narrative often irks with such a penchant for the simple was/were structure but perhaps this is Martin's idea of epic style as opposed to a flaw in his wordsmithing repertoire. Perhaps not. But there are regular nuggets of subtle genius which bring scenes sparkling to life and some excellent wisdom throughout. Make no mistake. It is fantasy. It is fiction but it is also a reminder of the beasts that we are and the beastliness we have so far overcome.

What else can I say? This guy is a killer storyteller and I shall be almost as sad at this tale's closure some three or four books from now - almost - as I was to finally close Return of the King. And by that I do not mean to pit Martin against Tolkien. To do so is as pointless as pitting Einstein against Freud. They have their separate purposes and we're blessed to have both. May we celebrate!


Roger said...

now if he can just finish the series before he kicks the bucket..........

Chris Benjamin said...

reminds me of how I feel about Tolstoy. War and Peace had so many characters it should have been overwhelming. But each was so detailed and vibrant the reader easily comes to know them, and they are not easily forgotten.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

B-Bopper, that book is on my shelf. I will promote it from the B priority list to the A list.