While you’d be hard-pressed to know it by reading this blog, I used to be an avid epic fantasy and science fiction reader. When I was a kid, my mom took us to the library about once every three weeks — the length of the lending cycle at our local library. As my reading speed increased, I started choosing books based on how long they were: I needed a lot of pages to fill the time between visits.
That’s how I managed to pick up Michael Crichton (Congo, Sphere, and Jurassic Park), Carl Sagan (Contact), Diana Wynn Jones (too many to even mention), Brian Jacques (the entire Redwall canon) and Melanie Rawn (the Dragon Prince Trilogy, the Dragon Star Trilogy, The Golden Key, and the Exiles Trilogy). I also loved mysteries, and read almost the entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. And of course there was Harry Potter. I never managed to read the Lord of the Rings series, which seems odd on reflection. I think I was put off from the books in middle school when I tried to read The Hobbit and truly hated it.
I loved books that were long, and I loved long books in a series — it made it so much easier to pick my next read when I knew there was another book coming with my favorite characters. I think that may be why I love watching television series so much. There’s just so much time to delve into characters, to feel like you really know them and their world and the things they love and hate.
I honestly not sure why my reading took such a drastic turn. Part of it was probably running out of stories — Melanie Rawn hasn’t written much in the last several years, leaving my favorite of her series, Exiles, unfinished. I caught up with Elizabeth Peters and Brian Jacques, then just lost track of the series waiting for new books to come out. I also started college, which opened my eyes up to a lot of literature I’d be missing, and I discovered creative nonfiction for the first time.
With the last Harry Potter movie out in theaters a couple weeks ago, I think I’ve been getting nostalgic for some epic fantasy. And of course the series that everyone seems to be talking about is George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books. I’ve been thinking long and hard about giving it a try, but I’m somehow nervous about the investment and in the repeated warnings from friends that the books are extremely dark. I love serious things, but my heart is wrenched when characters that I love die. I’m a huge baby about it.
I did buy the first book, A Game of Thrones, for my Nook, and I’ve been giving it the college try while on the elliptical at the gym. I’m about 50 pages in (which is not much at all considering the book is like 800 pages long). The writing is just meh — very epic fantasy in the oddly antiquated speech and discussion of “loins” and “her nakedness” — but I’ll admit I’m intrigued. That’ll happen when you start a book out with a grisly murder by weird ghostly people of some sort or another and stories about incestuous banished royalty. Am I intrigued enough to continue? I’m honestly not sure!
I ask you, dear readers: To read or not to read? Is A Song of Fire and Ice worth the massive investment? How does it compare to other epic fantasy or sci fi? Any other book recommendations to deal with my current cravings?