Guilty Pleasures – Game of Thrones

GOTMany moons ago  my sisters and I would visit a second-hand bookstore just outside of Mother Redcaps Tavern in Dublin.  The books were almost exclusively mass market paperbacks which cost a pound or less (before they brought in EUR)  and the bookseller would buy them back for .25p.  Here we would indulge in fantasy novels replete with wizards, dragons, magic and alternate realities.  My only rule was that if it was something that was going to come in a trilogy I wouldn’t start it until the trilogy was complete. We would then pass the books around between us and start on the next trilogy. Brain Candy, Mind Fluff, call it what you will, I knew that I had overindulged when, standing in another book store I caught myself with my arm outstretched over a book on the floor – I realized that somewhere in my brain I thought that I had the power to transport the book from the floor to my hand.

All of this to say that had George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire been out it would have been right up our alley and with “Game of Thrones” recently starting its 3rd season on HBO  it seems an appropriate to recommend the series of books here.

There are five books out (with two more on the way)

  1. A Game of Thrones – Corresponds with HBO Season 1
  2. A Clash of Kings  – Corresponds with HBO
  3. A Storm of Swords – this book will be split into two seasons, the first of which is currently screening.
  4. A Feast of Crows
  5. A Dance with Dragons

How do the books do in relation to the program? Overall  pretty well, despite short cuts.  What might have been an octagon shaped path in the book becomes a straight line in the story.  You get from A-Z except the back story is filled in by maids whispering to each other (for instance) rather than multiple scenes from other characters.

In the very unlikely event that you are wholly unfamiliar with the series I will tell you that it has been lauded as being one of the more realistic fantasy series out there with heavy allusions to the War of the Roses. These sorts of thoughts are echoed even in China where the opening sequence was mimicked in an commercial because “The show and the books do have a following in China. Perhaps, there’s another reason: At times, Chinese history can seem as complex and confusing as the popular drama.”

There are two main families – the Lannisters and the Starks  though the Houses Targaryen and Baratheon are also major players.  There may well be 70-100 other houses that have varying levels of importance but you would need a wiki to keep them all in line in your head.  Each House represents different parts of the country – The North, The Vale, The Riverlands, Dorne, etc, the Starks are from the North and the Lannisters represent the Riverlands (though through marriage (and trademark treachery) they have taken over the House of Baratheon and thus the Crownlands when we are first introduced.

The satisfyingly long books are compelling, quick reads.  My only caveat in recommending them is that there are two more books anticipated until the end of the series:

and as an article that HuffPo put out listing the ‘Books like Game of Thrones recommended by George R.R. Martin’ “Happy reading, as you’ll surely be waiting forever until The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel in Martin’s series, hits the bookshelves!”

“George RR Martin fans are always tired of waiting around for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series to come out.

They get irritated when he goes on vacation, when he blogs, when he does anything but write this book series.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter Martin thinks that his books will keep pace with the series.

We will wait with baited breath to see if that particular prophecy comes true.

I should add that fans have a great sense of humor – I was astounded to see that a $30,000 life size replica of the iron throne had 46 customer reviews…then I read them 🙂

You can buy A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-4 (A Game of Thrones / A Feast for Crows / A Storm of Swords / Clash of Kings) on Amazon or find them at your local book store.

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