‘A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.’
I started watching series two of Game of Thrones last night; it reminded me that I have only read the series up to A Feast for Crows so far and so the two latest books were swiftly added to my wishlist. I really enjoyed Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin in general and the TV series is not too bad either. As I think I have mentioned before, my bedtime stories when I was small consisted of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings thanks to my Dad’s obsession, so I didn’t stand a chance when it came to avoiding fantasy novels as an adult.
For anyone who has missed the books or series, it follows three interwoven plots; a civil war for the throne of Westeros, the defence of the Wall in the North by the Night’s Watch and the return of Dragons across the sea. There is a huge list of characters, many well-developed and compelling. What I find particularly good is the complexity of characters. In Martin’s series, traditional villains and heroes do not exist, rather everyone is endearingly human with strengths and weaknesses, good decisions and bad decisions. My particular favourite characters are Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark. When the story shifts to one of them, or to the Wall or Dragon storylines, I’m definitely more gripped than when the story returns to King’s Landing (the capital of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms) for example.
The Game of Thrones series did crystallise a strong opinion though that I had been brewing for the last few years: the demise of the literary editor. Game of Thrones is a piece of work that needs a jolly good edit in my opinion. It meanders, can be a bit aimless, it forgets threads and it has mistakes. I know not everyone would agree with me and Martin does mostly makes up for these faults with the quality of sentences, characters and the plot. However, try as I might to avoid it, one of the dominant thoughts in my mind whilst reading these books, particularly the later ones, is that these books could be half as long and twice as good with a little textual knifing.