A Week of Ice and Fire, Day One!
It’s all happening for George R.R. Martin this year. With the long awaited A Dance With Dragons due next week and Game of Thrones now a hit HBO series, he’s probably selling more books than he has since 2005. I come to praise Martin, not to bury him beneath the detritus of the last fifteen years.
Now I’m going to take you back to ancient times: 1996. Robert Jordan was alive and good for pull-quotes, Terry Pratchett was putting out both Feet of Clay and Hogfather in the golden age of Discworld, and Neil Gaiman was finishing up Sandman and producing Neverwhere. They were good times.
Then came George R.R. Martin with Game of Thrones, first in the projected trilogy (now a septet) that comprises A Song of Ice and Fire. Without any of the baggage of the rest of the series I must say: this is a pretty damned good book. Certainly, it has some elements of the territory of genre: incest, rape, general unpleasantness, but the thing is that Martin presents these instances impartially, without eroticising them. Where another author might think that rape is the coolest thing going and will take every opportunity to insert it into their narrative, Martin uses it as what it is: a bad act committed by bad men. There are no heroes for him to debase with his fetishes … thus far.