We like to escape. Take us to faraway lands with mythical creatures and beautiful rulers. Show us individuals who have it way worse than we do. And then show us ones who have it way better. Make us forget that performance reviews are coming up and that Susan from Marketing swiped our yogurt (again) and take us elsewhere. But make us think a little too. Expand our schema and leave us with a riddle to digest. That’s what we demand of our films and our tv series, right? Game of Thrones has a staggering following- and is worthy of every single fan, in my humble opinion- for just these reasons. Lots of blood, sex (though not as many weiners as South park would have you believe), magic, and grotesquerie, but also a lot of thought, so much so that upon a re-watching you are almost guaranteed to find some quiet brilliance that you outright missed the first go-round. That being said- as is always the case- the books are even better! So why, pray tell, haven’t you read them yet?
Let’s get it out of the way right now that each volume in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is a fairly intimidating 800+ pages (864, 1040, 1216, 1104, and 1152 respectively). That’s a hard sell, I know. Even I, “the serious reader”, refused to start the series until I was trapped on a grounded plane for three hours, prior to an eight-hour flight to London from Tampa. But it’s not like I’m asking you to read War and Peace– equally long, yes, but A Game of Thrones is a bit more accessible for the lay reader. And because David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have done such a splendid job with casting, you already have a basic understanding of the many houses and characters, as well as a ready image in your head to resort to, should you fail to produce imagination enough to create your own. Also Nikolai Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) is hot so why would you want to? You have also been gifted with many a sweet backdrop for each major storyline, from Casterly Rock to Castle Black. It’ll be like returning to a childhood home years after forgetting the minutiae of its architecture, only far less depressing and with dragons.
The show is amazing. No argument there, whatsoever. In fact, I actually fell in love with it before I fell for the books. I think watching for a bit first enhanced my reading experience. I had invested interest in these characters. I wanted, needed, to see more of their lives. And I very much did! In fact, there are huge, epic occurrences in the first few books that haven’t even made it to the timeline of events of the show. It’s quite fun to play the “Will They or Won’t They” with these as the season progresses. The directors could work these into their visual narrative or could omit them entirely. Catelyn Stark. That’s all I’ll say.
You have until July 16th to get it together. Just crack one book open and read a few hundred pages. Out of necessity, I came up for air, and other books, in between readings of volumes (I postponed reading A Clash of Kings for the better part of a year after my first foray into the Martin’s realm and suggest you do the same). Then, armed with your newly-acquired arsenal of literary detail, you can come talk to me about your theories concerning Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Until then, you’re just another armchair quarterback.
(Reading Book 1- A Game of Thrones on an 11-night UK cruise. I also read part of the series while in 36-hour labor. But those pics aren’t as aesthetically pleasing so no.)