A Song of Ice and Fire
July 2011 sees the release of ‘A Dance With Dragons’, the fifth book in the ‘Songs and Ice of Fire’ series. We give you 7 reasons to start reading these intriguing fantasy fiction novels if you haven’t already.
12th July 2011 seems to be the final date… but it’s been a nail-biting while since fantasy fiction fans have been waiting for the release of A Dance With Dragons: Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire.
And how come these books are so adored by fans? The success is easy to explain: George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece is an award-winning series, three-dimensional and hooking, appealing to a very diverse audience.
The plot? Two very different houses, the Starks and the Lannisters, colliding in their struggle for power in Westeros, a continent that hosts the coldest and the warmest lands you can imagine. The Iron Throne, wanted by nobody and everybody. At the same time, renegades and criminals form the Night’s Watch in the very North, protecting the world from wildings and ice zombies. And far away in the south, in the Free Kingdoms, a 13 year-old has to grow up, and fast; she’s no less than the heir of the last reigning House. Add some direwolves, (extinct) dragons, strange new faiths coming near and the rise and fall of different houses, in places as different as the hot exotic Dorne and the stormy Iron Islands by the sea. It may sound confusing at first but is sure as hell exciting.
Need more reasons to pick up this fantasy series?
1. The theme: Love, death and power are universal in literature, and so are treachery, incest and horror. That’s it, if you are keen on Greek classics, historical novels and zombie flicks. This is not your typical high fantasy novel, you won’t find elves here and dwarves are as human as you and me (while kicking much ass). Beware: the language and images are not for the faint of heart. While there are some beautiful stories being told, there will be gory descriptions of battles and the occasional steamy scene.
2. Characters: Martin’s style consists in writing each chapter in third person but from the point of view of a certain character. All kinds of people have a voice here: proud lords, mothers, delicate maidens, bastards and tomboys alike. It is easy to end up cheering for a certain character or family and even so the reader will soon realize that this series have no good and evil characters, only purposes and interests. As the series progress and certain characters get a POV of their own, most-hated become favourites, which is kinda amusing.
3. Rhythm: It is easy to notice that G.R.R. Martin used to write scripts, the story flows at a perfect pace, with different entwined plotlines that clash and are divided again.
4. Mooky factor: Women in this series are not reduced to amorous consorts. Some of them are strong and can beat any man in the series – even if he is the Kingslayer himself. Some are witty and sharp-tongued, while others use cunning and sexuality to get what they want. There are peasants and noble ladies, warriors, prostitutes and queens, little girls, teens and crones.
5. The world and magic: The settling is Medieval and the world is fully crafted with a history of its own that makes believable the politic plot. It is hard to speak of “realism” in fantasy but the way magic and myths are dealt with in the books is so progressive that ends up striking as plausible, in a “oh-well-it’s-weird-but-yeah-it-was-bound-to-happen” manner. Nobody is weaving wands in here but the suspension of disbelief will be certainly experienced.
6. TV series: Next April HBO will be starting showing the TV adaptation of the first book, with leading roles being played by Sean Bean, Lena Headey or Peter Dinklage. Trailers show a stunning, fully detailed Westeros which will make the fans happy while giving the viewers a chance to get an insight of a captivating world that many would have not approached otherwise.
7. Sweet sweet treat: Thanks to the old gods, this is no guilty pleasure. You will get sexy scenes without bodice-ripping romance covers, the horror part beats that of any cheap pulp story and the books themselves are quite thick, providing hours of entertainment and a companion for, say, long travels. Even so, they come in very low-priced editions and are worth every cent you spend on them.
Time draws near and with the TV show and the fifth book approaching, it is very likely that you will keep hearing about ASOIAF. Now is the best moment to start reading if you want no spoilers or you prefer enjoy POV in the character’s mind instead than in pictures.
Be quick, as winter is coming. Well, at least in Westeros.
Amazon: A Dance With Dragons