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A Song Of Fire and IceIt’s been three long years. I finally feel compelled to spill some digital ink in my blog about this force of nature that has taken a vice-like grip on my life. For the last 6 weeks, I’ve been filling my head with gravelly, rasping voice of Roy Dotrice reading through the first two monumental tomes of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ – ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘A Clash of Kings’. What a visceral experience it has been!

George R. R. Martin writes like a man possessed. He has fleshed out so many characters – dozens of major and minor ones – it’s quite a task to keep them straight in your head. But Roy Dotrice and George R. R. Martin have poured so much verve and vitality into their efforts that you can feel the characters step right out of the books. You can smell their very breath, blood, sweat and tears and feel their love, lust, loathing and fears. If this wasn’t enough, the plot is byzantine and labyrinthine with new threads popping up like a Hydra’s head. But it all comes together beautifully leaving you wanting for more.

Aparently the first book took about five years to write. It’s an incredible feat of writing that GRRM was able to keep the characterizations on point with their core over those five years but also evolve them organically over the story arc. It’s mind boggling that there are three more books in the series already written, with each close to having a thousand pages. And GRRM is writing two more. This man definitely has a lot to say!

GRRM’s works have been compared to Tolkien’s and categorized as ‘high fantasy’.  To me it feels more like a medieval swords and sandals genre interspersed with fantasy elements; not the other way around. It’s hardly overrun (at least in the first two books) with the kinds of Elves, Orcs, Hobbits and Goblins as in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is atmospheric but exudes grittiness and realism and reins in the fantasy elements. The only negative thing I have to say is that amidst all these characters, the common everyday folk are just fodder for collateral damage in the books about Kings, Lords, Ladies, Knights and their Gods and monsters. So much as ants to an army of boots. But then, who knows? Democracy wasn’t invented then!

It’s tempting to start watching the HBO series and would be interesting to watch up till the end of book 2 adaptation just to see how HBO has done it. Has anyone played Eddard Stark like a true moral compass as he was? Can Cersei Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon be more detestable on TV? Can anyone play the dwarf Tyrion Lannister (my favorite GOT character) with equal parts deviousness and cleverness, valor and deceit, chivalry and roguishness? Who get’s to play the Starks of Winterfell? Can the savagery of the Dothrakis be truly captured? Is the resourceful and tiny ass-kicker Arya Stark picturized well? I will get it one time or the other.

I plan to take a short break from the rest of the series. You can’t have too much of a good thing! I can’t recollect anything else throwing my life in such disarray. While listening to the books, I have locked my car keys inside the car trunk, lost car keys while standing right in my own garage, forgot entire grocery lists and just stood frozen in the grocery aisle. Every day I look forward to the horribly long and nasty work commute so that so I can acoustically plug myself into this world. I have even stopped listening to my beloved NPR. My knowledge of current affairs is getting stale. I’m deaf to the world outside of work and my wife has deemed this to be a vice akin to drinking. This has got to stop!

Enough said – looking for your next book to read or listen to? You can’t go wrong with ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ series – An inebriating and atmospheric concoction of swords, sandals, intrigue , legends and myths beautifully orchestrated by the mad genius George R. R. Martin. Go get some; Winter is coming!

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