A story of second chances

Backin 2003? 04? 0-something I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I was horrified by the first book and by halfway through the second book fed up with Martin setting up heroic, likable characters and killing them off. So I flung set the book aside and refused to finish. This has served me well as Martin has dithered about for 5 years not finishing the second half of the 4th book, better known as the 5th book in the series (what? it makes perfect sense).

Skip ahead to 2011 when HBO films A Game of Thrones. There is much internet buzz about it. I don’t have HBO or particularly care enough to watch the show, but every week io9 has a recap and I find myself drawn into the discussion. Luckily, the first season is the first book so I know what’s going on.

I resist for a while, but having had all of the major deaths spoilered one way or another over the intervening years, I decide to pick up the books again, determined not to care too much about the characters (because they’re just going to die). Know what? These are well written stories with awesome characters and as long as you don’t hold too tightly to them, the books are a great read.

Now, however, instead of the impending death of every likeable character being my biggest complaint against the book, I have to say I’m not a fan of some of the storylines. The whole multiple storylines thing has been a big thing in the 90s/00s and it frustrates me in general. Given the structure of the ASOFAI books, with each chapter being told from a different character’s point of view, Martin takes it to new heights. I don’t care about the Dornes, or the Krackens. Samwell is tolerable, but most of the time I have a hard time caring what’s happening to Jon or Bran. It’s so annoying to have to switch from an interesting story with Jamie or Tyrion or Daenerys to go read about people I don’t care about in the least. I’m sure it’s all very important to the story development, but it’s very frustrating as a reader. A roller coaster ride is fun for a short time, but it grows tiresome after a while. Like 15 years. I’m looking at all you genre fiction writers.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed A Storm of Swords, though by the end of the book I found myself caring about characters. I sternly warned myself against the caring and continued on through A Feast for Crows . Just as I feared, death comes to the ones you least want it to. Alas. But knowing ahead of time softened the blow and along the way I enjoyed the story. There were a couple of occasions where I marveled at the writing and now I can see why people say it is a great series and reread it often. It is good storytelling. And now I am anxiously awaiting book five, A Dance with Dragons where most of my favorite (but no doubt inevitably doomed) characters are waiting.

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