For the last six months, I’ve been trying really hard to send into the world a video review of my latest read—and I’ve been more or less successful. (Except editing… ugh.) My most current read, however, was A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin, the fifth and latest novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. And, even though I liked the book, it’s hard for me to review something singularly when it’s also a part of something much, much larger. (Like, 4,500 pages larger.)
So I decided not to make a video this month. There’s just too much immense character development and world building that, when I thought about what I might say in my review, I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t at least reference (if not outright speak of) Martin’s previous four novels. And what fun is a review when the viewer must also have read the series? (Answer: not very much.) The fun is learning about a new book when you know almost nothing about it. How does one even start to explain A Dance with Dragons outside of the context of A Song of Ice and Fire? (I don’t know. Do you?)
But I will say the following:
- A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantastic high-fantasy read. Are you interested in fantasy, even remotely? I suggest you at least try A Game of Thrones. Maybe you won’t like it—and that’s okay. But what turns you off from the HBO adaptation does not necessarily happen in the novels. (Like, at all.)
- Yes, the books take place in a place (and time) which feels very much like 13th and 14th century Europe (or maybe 14th and 15th? this is how much I know about history)—but once you get past the culture shock, you’re immediately immersed in the incredible world-building that Martin has accomplished. Don’t go into this series with high expectations, though—you’ll invariably dislike characters or plots or descriptions. There’s a reason these books are hella long. (It takes me about 2.5 months to finish one.) But maybe you love (and even seek out) long novels (like me). I think these books are worth the investment. (I also don’t like anything related to medieval Europe—well, except Monty Python’s Holy Grail—so the lack of plumbing and running water was decidedly not one of the reasons I picked up the series.)
- Game of Thrones is not A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s based on A Song of Ice and Fire—and the longer the show goes on, the more it dovetails from Martin’s source material. If you enjoy the show, you’ll most likely enjoy the novels. If you haven’t seen the show but you do like fantasy, you should look into the books. But don’t compare the two. (It’s unfair to both of them.) From my own experience, I was kind of bored while reading A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords because I’d already watched seasons one through three of the show and knew what was going to happen. But as soon as I got to the part where season three ended? And I was enjoying Martin’s storytelling for the first time? OH MY GOD. It was intense and amazing and I got so excited for season four of Game of Thrones—only to be disappointed when I realized the show wasn’t adapting the books word for word. (See? I told you not to have high expectations.) It took me a couple of episodes (and a Game of Thrones re-watch) to remember that each book and each season is its own separate beast—and I shouldn’t dislike them because they’re not the same; I should instead adore them separately.
So… yeah. Those are my thoughts and I’m stickin’ to them.