Saturday, August 15, 2009

Soothe the wrath and tame the fury

I failed at reviewing George R. R. Martin's first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones, but the review captured honestly how I felt: Wtf?! Half a year later, I've rearranged my view of what fantasy literature can do to make room for Martin, and I know what to expect from A Clash of Kings.

It still blows my mind. It's not that Martin is unusually inventive, that he does new things. It's that he does what he does perfectly. Every chapter is a finely crafted short story. There's no padding, nothing dull or irrelevant between the interesting parts. Martin gives us only the interesting parts, and they combine to form a sort of frightening but elegant machine. The overall story is too big to fit into so few pages, (only a 1000), but the rapidly changing viewpoints give the illusion that it does.

There's no benefit to being good in Martin's world, but he does not just turn story conventions on their head, and let the bad guys win. He ignores those conventions alltogether, and lets the machine move along by its own hard rules, breaking whoever stands in its way. What keeps it interesting is the characters, who represent various shades of valor, loyalty, ambition, greed, treachery, weakness and cleverness.

Martin has published four out of a projected seven books in the series. It took him 14 years. As I wrote earlier: I don't care. I'll gladly wait a decade and a half for the rest.



At 15 August, 2009 22:57 , Blogger Øystein said...

Let's just hope he doesn't pull a Jordan.

At 16 August, 2009 07:34 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

You know what? If Martin died and left the series unfinished, that wouldn't bother me so much. I don't need to see "how it all ends". I just want to see what happens on the way. Hopefully we'll reach an end, but these books would still be worth reading if there weren't.

At 16 August, 2009 15:26 , Blogger Øystein said...

The books are absoluetly worth reading whether they reach a conclusion or not. That's true. Still, knowing that they are a great read, to miss out on a couple would be sad..


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