Enter My First Book Review, Stage Left

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do not like to read contemporary literature. After focusing on classical and medieval literature for the extent of my college career, reading anything post Victorian-Era feels like a waste of time. Nothing can be written without being influenced by everything that came before it; for that reason, and many others, I feel like it is my duty to read all those works which shaped the literary world to come. Of course, there are times when I encounter contemporary works which prove me wrong and show that there are still literary gems to be found, if only I am willing to search for them. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is the perfect example.

The idea for our “book club” (of exclusively two people) stemmed from the fact that Hannah and I both seemed to enjoy this series so thoroughly. It only made sense, therefore, to begin our book-blogging expedition with our reviews of the 5 books that have been written thus far. The trouble with that, however, is that among our millions of avid readers, I know of at least one (holla, Addie!!) who is in the process of reading the series. For that reason, we will be doing our best to keep our reviews spoiler-free. Of all the reviews I’ve read, a general synopsis is given along with opinions-a-plenty. I plan to follow that format but comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Knowing my taste in books, Hannah convinced me to read the series by describing it as being “really similar to Lord of the Rings” (a primo example of exquisite contemporary lit). She wasn’t wrong. It takes place during what feels like the same unknown time period in a similarly unknown land and focuses on the ever-dramatic journeys and relationships of several main characters. Martin adopted more than Tolkien’s time period and ambiguous “R. R.” though. Every time I read something reminiscent of Tolkien’s legendary series, I’d be outraged for about a minute and, after voicing my offense to Hannah, I’d forgive Martin and happily press on like the literary soldier I am. If it were any other book being so blatant in it’s theme copying, I’d throw it back in my librarian’s face with scoff and some sort of “long live LOTR” comment; in Martin’s particular case, though, I find myself forgiving his many copyright crimes and racing on to the next chapter.

Martin’s series is quite different, don’t get me wrong. He gives us exponentially more characters and plot lines to follow. His story is far less magical and fantastical, at least beginning with a world we can easily imagine having existed in days of yore. The focus of his story also seems to be more upon the individual character and relationships, rather than the journeys being made. I have to say, I was enthralled and completely captivated throughout, to the point where I was experiencing similar story lines in my dreams more often than not. I absolutely loved these books. The fourth book was slightly long-winded and slow-paced, but I was able to see the necessity in the developing of story lines. Loved it. Can’t wait for the sixth book to come out. So many ends were left loose, but in a way that gave momentary resolution; at least until Martin graces us with the next installment. Until then, I’ll be waiting with bated breath.

Favorite characters: Reek!!! Jon Snow, Tyrion & Arya (of course), Tormund Giantsbane

Favorite quotes: “Under the sea the mermen feast on starfish soup, and all the serving men are crabs” -Patchface

“A man should smell of sweat, not flowers” – Barristan Selmy

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