Monday, 17 June 2013

Caught in A Game of Thrones



A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones
So much is said and written about A Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire that I will tell about my reading of the books. I thought I'd never heard about George R.R. Martin when I first read about HBO's TV series on the Web. This was in autumn 2011, and in USA the first season of A Game of Thrones was over, but in Norway, where I live, it hadn't started. When I discovered that all of the four books in A Song of Ice and Fire were among the best-sellers on Amazon, and that fans anxiously awaited A Dance with Dragons, I got curious and bought the four-book bundle for Amazon Kindle for $13.49.

And that was it. I felt ambushed, caught in a trap and imprisoned, with no way of escaping. A Song of Ice and Fire has so many fascinating and complex characters, so many parallel and intertwined plots, so many places and customs, and so much action that I was totally caught. I have never had such a captivating reading experience in my life.


Jon Snow in A Game of Thrones
Jon Snow
Having read A Game of Thrones, the first book, I told myself to take a break. It lasted for two hours. After A Clash of Kings, the second book, I actually managed to escape for a week, but I was captured again. The rest of the books, including A Dance with Dragons which had been released by then, I read at a stretch, using every free minute. And the worst of it is, that the same day I had finished A Dance with Dragons, I started all over again. This time I read a bit slower, studying maps, family relations, religion and and all the rest at the very good wiki at Westeros.org.

It was at this time I realized I had read George R.R. Martin before. He has written the introduction to a wonderful book called Meditations on Middle-Earth, in which a lot of fantasy writers, including John Anderson and Terry Pratchett, tell about their reading of J.R.R. Tolkien.

In the introduction, Martin is especially preoccupied with how Tolkien changed fantasy: “J.R.R. Tolkien was the first to create a fully realized secondary universe, an entire world with its own geography and histories and legends, wholly unconnected to our own, but somehow just as real,” he writes. And that is what Martin has done with A Saga of Ice and Fire. He has created a fully realized second universe, even richer than Tolkien's.

Meditations on Middle-Earth
Meditations on Middle-Earth
The best article in Mediations on Middle-Earth is “How Tolkien Means” by Orson Scott Card. He writes about the meaning of novels and the meaning of reading. He mocks the analytic and superfluous reading of academics and critics, who scan for clues at the surface of the text in their search of a deeper meaning. According to Card, the deepest meaning of a novel cannot be found through analysis; it can only be experienced. When you throw away the analytic glasses and dive into the story, live with the characters, feel their joy and pain, hope their hopes, and despair over their fate; that is when you experience the real meaning of a story. The meaning is not on the surface or somewhere else, it is in the story while you're reading.


This meaning is created in your imagination and felt in your body; it is what you experience when you are totally captured by what you read. It is exactly the feeling I get when I read A Saga of Ice and Fire.

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