Finished A Song of Fire and Ice. I think because I consumed all the books in the past year I do not have the same sense of epic disappointment and frustrations as long times fans regarding the last book, A Dance with Dragons. However, I do see some valid concerns as the plot thickens, thickens, and well, thickens some more – lots of stuff going on. It’s an interesting dilemma Martin has created for himself as he risks losing the control of his story in order to properly ground and tell the story of the upcoming books. Is Winter Coming? Or is it permanently in abeyance secondary to the ever increasing machinations of different parties vying for power? Some of the tension is, unfortunately, leaving the series since The Others and Winter are receding into the background, no longer feeling like an imminent threat. We’re teetering ever close to things going dark but the constant focus on the dithering of others leaves one wondering how any of it can be resolved, how it can all lead, without some sort of deus ex machina, into the winter we all expect.
For my part, the high point of the series is Storm of Swords though it is also the first book where I cringed a little at the world Martin created. The less I read about the Unsullied the better – gruesome but it is all a bit, eh. Cheesy. The next two books ( though functioning as one altogether) are really not as bad as they’re made out to be but I myself want to see the payoff. If Martin, for example, decides not to try and “resolve” certain story-lines but have doom and destruction, fire and blood, consume the land and have everyone scurrying for cover I’d be impressed but concerned on exactly how he intends to make the effort the readers have put into his series all of worth it.
Part of the intrigue of this whole thing so far is that while the political machinations, the fact that the series itself is grounded in a “game of thrones” among humans the “real threat” or a serious threat looms in the background. Certainly, the game is itself interesting ( and why it’s all so good) but it is situated in a larger context – it is taking place while something else slithers dangerously in the background. The problem Martin has created for himself is that while the series has been very good because of his focus on the various power struggles it cannot be ignored that a huge source of why these struggles are so important is the impending conflict these varying struggles hardly address. The reader can get a little impatient with it all, knowing full well that “The Winds of Winter” are coming and much of what is going on is not going to matter. Or is it? I can’t see much of what is happening be thoroughly addressed and assume that just like a major story arc in Dance involving a Dorne, things will simply end badly. And unlike in this book, I am concerned that the “journey” if things are simply to turn to ash will justify the effort.
I envy the man his talents, not the next few years though.
Later I’ll try and add some specific comments on aspects of the whole work – favorite moments, etc. Typical stuff. And here I have to thank Paul Newall for suggesting Martin in the first place. Newall has yet to fail in his recommended readings, non-fiction or fiction. I salute you, Holbling!