April 25, 2010

The Game of Thrones

A Game Of Thrones
George R. R. Martin


(April 25, 2010)

This large, strange book is highly recommended by serious readers. A DailyKos columnist recently wrote called this “the best, most intricately plotted, most powerful fantasy I've ever read.” This is nonsense, of course, unless you’ve not read Tolkien, but the book does invite comparison to Lord of the Rings, of course, but also to Dune and to Bujold. And this is arguably a better book than Dune, which I like a good deal. Martin, for example, is at pains to put women at the center of his medieval epic without turning it cozy or domestic. On the other hand, we’ve got buckets of exposition, some very fine writing but some that is less good and some of the forced archaisms clank. Martin focuses tightly on elites; his idea of a poor person, it seems, is the second daughter of a baron.

This was the first book I read on the iPad, and the experience was, on the whole, entirely satisfactory. After the first day, I didn’t mind the iPad’s weight at all, and the typography strikes me as superior to what we typically see in paperbacks.