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Thursday, June 21, 2012

A few thoughts about "A song of Ice and Fire"

As I was doing a reread of the famous series "A song of Ice and Fire" by the author George RR Martin, widely regarded as one of the best fantasy series ever written, I noticed a few things which I would like to share here. The series is often classified under Epic Fantasy. However, a closer look at the story would reveal that there is no epic/central plot line. There are two broad plot lines- one where all the people are playing the Game of Thrones. And the other where the Night's Watch are fighting the Others. The series is more like a rope whose strands have come loose and now are billowing in the wind wrapping around each other and unraveling. There is no central plot to keep the threads together. The various POV characters are having their own adventures, often crossing paths with each other, however as in real life there is no unified ending of the loop in sight. This is not to suggest that the series is not good. Epic or not it is definitely one of the best fantasy ever written.

Though I don't understand why would anybody want to be a peasant in this cold gritty unforgiving universe GRRM has created. If you are not a soldier, chances are you are going to be beaten bloody, raped, looted multiple times, mutilated, tortured, and enslaved. I would have thought that would be enough reason for all people to take up arms instead of shovels. I am sure GRRM is trying to make a point here about wars and male chauvinism by highlighting the darker sides of them so brutally. But I did not like that aspect of "The Prince of Nothing" by Richard Scott Bakker or "The Sword of Truth" by Terry Goodkind, not that the latter is comparable to A Song of Ice and Fire by any stretch of imagination. What actually galls me about these medieval fantasy is that the torturers/slavers/rapists escape justice because of various circumstances. And the lords and rulers often encourage them instead of despising them. Torture and Rape has become an accepted part of this world. What I am trying to say is that the Human element is missing even for characters like Daenerys who are practically the embodiment of all human virtues. Even Daenerys doesn't understand the need for vengeance of the maegi Mirri Maz Duur who had been raped multiple times by the Dothraki. How could one such as the maegi ever reconcile with the Dothraki.

There is another aspect of the story which is strange. The faith and the old gods reside peacefully. I am sure there is a bloody history somewhere which GRRM hasn't told yet, because no two religion can tolerate each other. GRRM rectifies that somewhat by bringing in the religion of the red god Rh'llor later in the series. But I thought more blood would have flown in the clash of religions compared to the clash of kings as our own history suggests.

Now a word about my favourite character. It is Tyrion Lannister . I do love a sarcastic cynic, trying to survive in this big brutal world with a handicap. Of course being a grey character I hate him at times like how he quietly accepted what happened to Tysha when he thought she was just a whore.

Now I want to read it again.......Hopefully the next two books will be published before GRRM expires himself.

1 comment:

  1. The book seems contains a lot of interesting things which will be interesting to read. isnt it?