Winter is coming. Don’t let that mild spell fool you. Or the glacial pace of winter’s arrival. It’s coming to get you. Eventually.
I think that’s the message of George R. R. Martin‘s Song of Ice and Fire series. And yes, the books have been around for a while, and yes, a lot of people have been waiting for the next installment for a while but haven’t gotten around to telling you how I mostly liked them. Mostly.
I thought the first book, Game of Thrones, took forever to get started. It took 40 pages to get to the point where Eddard Stark, Lord Winterfell was offered the position of King’s Hand–a great honor that he doesn’t want. Each chapter has a different character, slowly interweaving their various histories and rivalries. There’s lots of pageantry and nice costumes and palace intrigue. I hate palace intrigue.
And yet I kept reading. I thought it was Eddard’s story, and I was rooting for him. You probably know how that turns out. After his downfall, the story spins out to follow his family scattering over the wonderfully detailed worldbuilding. There’s enough of them for everyone to pick favorites. I liked Arya’s spunk. Robb raises your hopes. Jon Snow keeps doing dumb things, and Bran just dreams and wallows in misery. At best I was mildly interested in how Sansa could possibly get out of the trouble she kept attracting. Oh, and on the other side of the world (what connection could that possibly have?) Daenerys is having exciting adventures.
What bugs me is that I finished the whole book without ever receiving a sense of a core story. It’s just power politics between noble families warring for a throne I don’t care about. There’s barely any magic. It’s really a medieval romance. Or bloody soap opera.
And I still wondered what would happen next.