George R.R. Martin: Fantasy Without Whimsy
For the second time in as many months, I took on a novel with two things I despise-- a map and an appendix-- but George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones was so highly recommended by everyone who read it that I had to give it a shot, and unlike Dune, which I couldn't quite finish, I read all 676 pages of Martin's first volume of his epic Song of Fire and Ice series (and even referred to the map and the appendix several times!) and though I felt a bit childish at the start . . . I'm forty-one years old and usually reading books like this, not sword and sorcery stories . . . I very well may read the next volume (A Clash of Kings) and I will definitely check out the big-budget HBO series inspired by the first book; I will admit that I started the book trying to find reasons to hate it, but the form drew me in: short, exciting and strategic chapters, each told from a different character's point of view, following Elmore Leonard's philosophy of "leaving out all the parts that people skip," with the pacing of a J.K. Rowling book, but sophisticated and very adult content (thus the need for the appendix) and far more entertaining and action-packed than the slow paced but similar Tolkien books and with one other extremely important improvement: no elves (I hate elves and anything else that smacks of whimsy, and a A Game of Thrones is definitely the least whimsical of fantasy novels).