So, as I mentioned before, I hadn’t planned on taking on George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Fire and Ice. But, the new season of Game of Thrones is starting on HBO & my mom had a copy she had recently purchased & finished. History repeats itself, as I mentioned in the last post I linked to: my mom had a spare fantasy book, I had a cursory interest. Enter another long epic fantasy book.
If there is one thing that marks the difference between my current fantasy reading interests and my past adolescent ones, it’s the fact that I can guarantee that I won’t be following the series through. Once I finish this 800+ page book, I won’t be moving onto the next. This is certainly no fault of Mr. Martin’s–his world-building is sound, he can construct excellent intrigue without losing his readers in the various betrayals, and his protagonists the Starks have awesome pet wolves. That last detail alone would have snared me at the age of 10 or 12.
My willingness to let myself be ensnared, however, isn’t what it once was. I’m plenty eager to read–I’ve made through nearly 300 pages in almost a week. But, I’m not patient enough to let the story unfold before me; I skip ahead for the chapters of the characters that interest me. My reader empathy won’t kick in fully & the text is more of a logical puzzle of pieces moving in a certain direction. I’m just tracking where they go. (Although the latest books by Janny Wurts, who I mentioned is the last enduring fantasy author of my childhood, are starting to feel that way for me too.) And, the key thing, is that I’m not compelled to keep exploring Martin’s world. Which is significant for a completist like me.
I do think that my love of epic fantasy has come and gone. Reading A Game of Thrones has proved what I’ve suspected for a few months. The fantasy genre was one that bracketed a formative time in my life and taught me excellent skills as a reader. But the bloom has come off the rose and once I finally finish this and Janny Wurts’ final books, that facet of my reading life will be complete.