Monday, January 2, 2012

A Storm of Swords

Another landmark reached over this past holiday weekend was my officially cracking open book III of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords. I spent all summer re-reading Infinite Jest, and it looks like I'm destined to spend all fall/winter/spring creeping through this epic fantasy tale, which for the most part I have no problem with. My one concern to date is that each book seems to be following a longer page count / smaller font trend, and I'm thinking it might be one of those paradoxical situations where the closer you get to an exact measurement of something, the clearer it becomes that exact measurements don't exist. Make sense?

Some thoughts:

- Everyone in the Middle Ages (especially in made up fantasy worlds) is totally okay with dying. Peasants, knights, whores, chefs, small children, kings... they all run with a sort of eager fervor into the sharp end of a sword whenever one presents itself, which is frequently. I get that unless you were born into royalty, life was almost uniformly terrible. Still, though, it's as if these characters (and thousands of unnamed extras) are lacking some crucial brain function that says, "hey, wait a minute, I'm like 23 years old and I have all this stuff going on in my life... maybe I shouldn't jump in front of this angry knight's battle axe." But no, every last one jumps, and as such the reader is treated to epically gory paragraphs detailing severed limbs, mangey dogs munching on spilled entrails, crows pecking out eyeballs before the fresh corpse hits the ground, etc.

- I still have no idea what a mummer's farce is, but it's fun to refer to literally anything preposterous that happens in real life as one. Example: "If Sean even thinks I'm going to meet up with them at the bar at this hour, he's living a mummer's farce." Or: "Did you see the price of that enchilada? What a mummer's farce!"

- George R.R. Martin employs a ripple effect to fantastic use: he features dozens of main characters, the actions of each affecting everyone else uniformly. I'm almost tempted to think the only sane approach to writing such a HUGE story in this manner is by coming to terms with the fact that you have no fucking idea where each book is going to end, and then just writing in a very cause-and-effect type manner until you get to scoot from your desk, put your hands behind your head in a gesture of exhausted satisfaction, and just hope it all makes sense. Except for each book ends so cohesively I don't know how this could be the case. I'll resist making giant LOST comparisons... for now.

- If I was a character I'd totally still be alive, Tyrion and I would be best friends, and I'd eventually gain back Winterfell from Theon via some sort of sexual conquest. Assuming Theon isn't dead and someone else isn't claiming Winterfell... the end of book II got confusing.

- OR I'd be a total bitch locked up with Sansa in King's Landing, crying and asking where all my friends went (news flash Sansa: they're dead, yo!) and trying to be a good little boy so that blah blah blah. Basically, Sansa sucks but I could totally see myself going her route. Sad, but true. 2012 is also the year for embracing sad truths.

PS: Just Googled Theon Greyjoy to include an image of him, then realized he's kinda ugo. Goddamned HBO. These casting directors need to recognize a potential sex symbol when they read one.

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