Thursday, October 29, 2009
I've long claimed George R.R. Martin as my favorite writer. Man, when my friend Mike recommended the series to me, I really fell head over heels. Who doesn't remember the absurd passion of their first love? The long nights together, the speculation around every whisper, every look, every smile, every word.
How could anyone not fall in love with A Song of Ice and Fire? George R.R. Martin is a master, a wizard of crisp writing and strong characterization. If you love fantasy, you love this series. And come on, who isn't excited about the brand new HBO pilot being filmed at this very moment over in Belfast? The fantasy world is praying it gets picked up.
But I promised the truth, and here it is.
I've been cheating on George R.R. Martin.
How can you cheat on a writer? Or a book, for that matter?
It isn't so easy as reading other books. No author out there claims that their readers should only read their books. So fidelity comes in a different form. That form is the comparison.
How can I not help but compare A Song of Ice and Fire to Scott Bakker's 'Prince of Nothing' series and Brian Ruckley's 'Godless World' trilogy? First, both Ruckley and Bakker owe a debt to GRRM for paving their way. Bakker's series is darker by far, but they're both very dark in comparison to most fantasy.
The real thing that sets them apart is the fact that. . . Well, they're finished. 'Godless World' is, and the 'Prince of Nothing' trilogy is a set within a series, but it reads with a beginning, middle and end. It's easy to recognize this. When you finish The Thousandfold Thought, you needn't pick up another book to see what happens, it wraps things up nicely.
This is something that A Song of Ice and Fire doesn't do.
Bakker says it perfectly in an interview I just found online. I have no doubt he's read GRRM, and I suspect he was referring directly to ASOIAF when he says something along the following lines. . .
"When I read other series it feels like I can see this happening. It's fatigue. You get fatigued with it. You spend thousands of hours working on something that takes a reader ten hours, twenty hours to read."
So, while I'll always keep GRRM close at heart, and while I'll certainly be in line to buy A Dance With Dragons when it's finally released, any fantasy fan will be doing themselves a great injustice to ignore the rising stars in fantasy. Scott Bakker, Brian Ruckley, Patrick Rothfuss are only a few.