Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dragon Crack

Ha! Now here is a book review that brightened my day: Getting Hooked on George RR Martin.

Under pressure from his followers, Guardian book-blogger Sam Jordison recently decided that it was time to delve into the perilous realm of epic fantasy. And guess what- he found himself hopelessly and totally addicted.Imagine that!
Thankfully, he began his maiden voyage with a novel that’s not half bad and at least semi-decently written, the first in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, ‘A Game of Thrones’. Jordison’s criticisms of the book are numerous and valid, I have a few that I’d like to add myself, but ultimately he sees the story for what it is- a darn good read.

It would have pained me if a non-believer was introduced to a genre which I love so well by something like Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth. If that had been the case then his expectation of formulaic ‘fantasy-by-numbers’ would have been realised.
Believe me, the tripe is fresh in my memory. That day, not so long ago, when I finished the final paragraph of book twelve, and the realisation dawned that I’d read the whole bloody series, I hung my head in shame. I still feel unclean.

In my defence, I didn’t buy a single one of the books, a friend emailed them to me, and I only read them while I played online poker, and even then only because I was urged by numerous friends to keep reading. (“They get better, they really do.” Hmm, sometimes I worry about the human race…)

The point is, though, I read them. But then I’m a fantasy junkie, a publisher’s dream, willing to gobble up all the whimsical soap opera they can throw at me. That must be why they call it dragon crack.

It would seem that Jordison may be developing a similar vice himself. I totally empathise with the man; as a lover of literature it can sometimes be degrading to find yourself plodding through the cringe-worthy adolescent make-believe lands that most people rightly associate with the genre.

Only sometimes, though, for out there in the world of fantasy fiction there are gems to be found. Like Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (the latest instalment of which I just started reading today, but that’s for another post). Even stories that are aimed at children can be joys to read, such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Indeed, there are many delights for Jordison to behold as the addiction takes hold.

At any rate, I don’t think his condition has progressed that far yet if he’s complaining about how long it’s taking him to read Martin’s 800-page novel. “A pretty terrifying figure if you consider that this is one of the shorter entries in a projected seven-part series,” he moans. Lightweight. It’ll probably be a while before he starts on Jordan then… ;)

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