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A Game of Thrones

Well, I'm on page 24, and I'm waiting to be impressed. A Song of Ice and Fire has been recommended to me by at least four people (five, now that I think about it), and I'll persevere in the belief that it must get better: surely almost a half-dozen acquaintances finding merit in this work means something, right?

However:

  1. Many have said that Martin writes well. Perhaps the quality improves as the story progresses, but I've found his style to be terse at times, and a bit twee at others. The description of the godswood seemed lacking, and "Ser" for "sir" ... the kindest thing I can say about it is that it isn't Lord Kevin, which is part of what stopped me cold on the Thomas Covenant tales.


  2. If someone asked me to wager on George R.R. Martin's favorite part of a woman's anatomy, if you'll pardon the vulgarity, I'd put money on him being a tit man. I base this on the observation that he's mentioned breasts, typically in a dismissive way, no fewer than four times in the first 24 pages, or once every six pages. This fixation is distracting in its frequency, so I hope he gets over it and moves on.


  3. Banality. One of my very first writing instructors taught me not to describe the cobwebs in the corner if they weren't relevant. The novel starts off with a very interesting and engaging action sequence (no spoilers from me) ... and by page 20 or so, the character that I assume to be the protagonist (not sure, yet) is nattering to his wife about dinner and how they're going to feed the king's retinue. I mentioned this to my husband, and he said that they don't get back to that initial action until a book and a half later.


Um, Mr. Martin, I'm citing you for a violation of the Chekhov's Gun rule, which states:

"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."


And, no, I don't count the first book as the first chapter of his tale. Robert Jordan had a ton of story going on, but he had the sense to make the first book in the Wheel of Time story a relatively stand-alone novel. That way, if the novel receives a bad reception upon publication, you've at least given the reader some sort of resolution.

I'm already feeling like Martin's prose would have benefited from a better editor.

However, again, I have five recommendations for this guy's work, so I'm going to stick with it. If I end up hating it, you people owe me these hours of my life back. :)

I'll acknowledge that I'm a tough critic. Editing text is a large part of my job as a technical writer. Putting a book in front of me is comparable to putting an action movie featuring airplanes in front of a professional pilot: the pilot is bound to spot all the errors and Hollywood shortcuts. Most of you reading this have enough expertise with computers that you've probably chuckled at least once or twice at the CGI department's take on user interfaces that could only exist in the movies.

I can't even enjoy this as "popcorn movie" fiction because I'm minimizing my contact with buttered kernels until I'm done with braces. ;)

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
quandry
Oct. 7th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
Heh, I'll grant you that the series started poorly. I wanted to put it down several times. I think the only reason I didn't was that I was traveling, and it was the book I had in my carry on. Of course, now I've read all of them and am in knots waiting for the next one. (So yes, I liked it, though I'm afraid to recommend it to you in case you won't!)

As for Chekhov's Gun Theory, it works for some writers, but I often find it annoying. I hate reading about a gun hanging somewhere and then knowing for certain that it's going to go off in two chapters time. Writing that tight is necessarily self-spoiling. Of course, I'm one of the freaks that enjoys all the tangets that Neil Stephenson goes on, so there you go, ymmv.
pointedview
Oct. 8th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm a little looser on the Chekhov's Gun rule than my post might've sounded, but I am fairly insistent that some follow-up occur within the same book, otherwise, it looks like the author just forgot about it and readers can feel cheated or misdirected.

Would you believe I've yet to read a Neal Stephenson book? I know, I know. Hey, I've read William Gibson, so I don't think my geek card needs to be revoked just yet. :) Snow Crash is high on my to-read list.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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