I didn't notice a thread for Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and given the popularity of the TV show, I'd figure I'd start one. Few people I know have actually read all the books to date, so I really have no one to discuss the written series with. As good as the show is, the books are soooo much better!!
I actually find it hard to believe that anyone that hasn't read the books could even follow the TV series, but everyone seems to love it.
So, if you are into the show or the written series, please feel free to discuss here, but be aware that if you are not up to date with the books, this thread may contain MASSIVE SPOILERS for you!
I read the first book, A Game of Thrones, within a year or two of it's publication (mid 90's believe it or not) and it was the first fantasy novel I had ever read. After the prologue and the first chapter I was thoroughly hooked and the series is still my favorite fantasy epic that I have read to date. I have read LOTR and the Hobbit, the Wheel of Time, some of the Sword of Truth by Goodkind, a bunch of Salvatore's Drizzt novels, Jack Whyte's historical fiction about the start of Camelod and King Arthur, and some of Terry Brooks works, and Martins A Song of Ice and Fire is by far the best and Jordan's A Wheel of Time a somewhat close second.
Poor Robert Jordan didn't survive long enough to complete his epic, but luckily someone else picked it up and finished it for him. Given the rate at which Martin writes, I often wonder if the same fate will befall him and the series not be completed before he passes. Furthermore, I also fear that the show will catch up to the books. The show is going into season 4, which I believe will be some combo of books 3 and 4, and we are currently waiting for the release of book 6. To the best of my knowledge, the series was only supposed to be 6 books total originally, but now I think the estimate is at 7. Nonetheless I find it hard to believe that it can be completed with just 7 books, as an ending seems so far away.
Things I really like:
1. The fact that each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character. This is great, and as new characters get added, the story just gets better and better. But the fact that the readers ability to learn about Martin's world is limited by the narrative for the specific characters he writes about is brilliant. Characters you hate become characters you love, and maybe vice versa.
2. The number of important characters is almost overwhelming. As new characters are introduced, you start to wonder if you were reading about the most important ones in the beginning. The story is huge, and each book only focuses on a fraction of what is actually happening during the timeline the book covers. All you can think is, what the hell else is going on that I know nothing about...yet?
3. The fact that Martin is seemingly willing to kill off just about any character. The first book demonstrated that quite shockingly. I doubt anyone would have predicted Eddard Stark losing his head near the end of A Game of Thrones, as he appeared to be one of the most important characters in the series. It blew my mind when I read it.
4. Tyrion Lannister. His character is one of the best characters I have ever read in a book. I hope he fucks every whore in Westeros before it's all said and done.
5. The increasing nature of the fantasy element. The first book had very little fantasy in it, but as the series progresses things get more and more fantastical, and it really makes the series that much better by not suffocating the reader early on with all sorts of crazy crap you might find in a typical fantasy series.
Thoughts on the series A Song of Ice and Fire?