I started reading A Game of Thrones, the first book in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, on Thanksgiving day as I drove (in heavy traffic) from the South Bay to Sacramento to feast with my relatives there. I say “read” but actually I was listening to an audiobook. On that note: I chose to state that I was listening rather than reading because it clarified the situation I described. Should I feel obligated to state that fact otherwise? I guess what I’m asking is it less of an accomplishment to listen to an audiobook than to read a physical book? And are those who listen to audiobooks required to explain their lesser status to those with whom they converse? I guess some people listen to audiobooks because they have difficulty reading and it’s easier, but on the contrary, I know others who listen to audiobooks because they read so much it’s the only way they can fit it all in their busy schedule. For me the only downside of an audiobook is that it’s harder to go back and “re-read” a section, and worse than that, you aren’t left with a trophy of accomplishment on your shelf when you are done. But the reason I read audiobooks is because a) I enjoy voice acting and will go so far as to say I am blown away by it and b) because i have 40 minutes of driving and 30 minutes of dog walking etched into my schedule each day. So I ask, is it necessary that I am explicit in the form of media I consume, or not? Now back to the book, A Game of Thrones is a long story and George R.R. Martin doesn’t feel a sense of urgency to get to the end of it. I wouldn’t call it slow, rather very epic, and tales of epic proportions take time to unfold. Halfway through the book I took a break and only picked it up again on account of a friend’s recommendation. I’m glad I did. Martin pays his debts (a common saying of the house Lannister in the book) by rewarding the reader with plot twists and gruesome war scenes. One particularly rewarding writing technique Martin uses is foreshadow. I’m not even sure that is a writing technique nor am I sure it even describes the thing I like about his writing, but it is a subtlety that works brilliantly in this book. Example: numerous times throughout the book it is mentioned that dragons once existed but have long since died off. Some characters mention them with belief, others mention them with doubt adding, “If the stories of old can be trusted…” But the subject is never dwelled on. There is even mention of dragon bone sword hilts and dragon eggs turned to rock which leaves the reader to contemplate, are the stories folklore and the bones just dinosaur fossils? At least that’s what I thought whether or not he intended me to do so. All of this leaves the reader to wonder,”Is this book going to turn fantasy on me and bring out the dragons?” The book is written in the 3rd person perspective and each chapter begins with a name indicating through which character’s eyes you are watching the story unravel. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say the best chapters are from Tyrion’s point of view. Tyrion is a Lannister and son to the most wealthy Lord in all the kingdom, has a wit about him that makes you love him and hate him and, oh yeah, he’s a midget. One of his lines, spoken in a thick scottish brogue, that made me laugh out loud,”What good is the Hand of the King, if not to hand you things?”Anyway, Martin pays his debts in the end. I am now on the second book, “A Clash of Kings”, as the first book ends in a way that leaves you helpless to try and not read the next in the series. It appears to be as good as the first.

3 thoughts on “ASOIAF

  • Johnny says:

    Read/listen, same thing. I don’t see one being superior to the other.

  • Johnny says:

    I think the literary device you described could be foreshadowing, as long as you do end up encountering actual dragons at some point in the series.

  • Joel says:

    Nice post. And yes, I feel you are obligated to distinguish between reading a book and listening to an audio book as they are two distinct forms of media. I know the voice in my head reading a book is quite different than listening to the voice artists conveyance of the story. This is not to say though one is “better” than the other, they can both be enjoyable in their own right.

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