What I’m Reading – July 2012

I thought I’d talk a little about what I’m reading at the moment. Usually, I’m known for not reading much at all and taking ages to get through a book. Recently, however, I’ve decided to make amends for that and I am now reading four books!

A Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)

This one I keep in the living room downstairs and read whenever television is uninteresting enough to allow me. I’m currently about a third of the way through and am just finding out more about the former Hand (Jon Arryn) and his mysterious death. It’s really fantastically written and it’s going to be really hard not to go and pick up the second in the series straight away. As a writer, I try to read a variety of authors so that I experience as many styles and stories as possible. As a reader, however, I just plain love the story!

Empire of the Saviours (A. J. Dalton)

This one was given to me as a birthday gift by my lovely wife. It’s a typical epic fantasy with a young boy who must leave his parents and go out into the world to make it alone. However, there are two other viewpoint characters who really change up the formula and offer something fresh. I’m only 48 pages in at the moment, so have only read the chapters for Jillan and Freda so far. Let me tell you, Freda is really something original and different. Go and read a snippet on Amazon and see what you think.Elric of Melnibone

Elric (Michael Moorcock)

Of course, a classic tale that needs no other introduction. I loved reading the Conan stories, have yet to pick up Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and have read a lot of sword & sorcery in the form of fan fic, Warhammer novels and game-based fiction. Simply put, Elric is fantastic. Go check it out.

Pregnancy For Men (Mark Woods)

This one’s my non-fiction bedtime reading at the moment. The title says it all – it’s about pregnancy. It’s actually pretty funny and interesting. I’ll be a father in November, so I need to get this one tackled quickly!

What are you all reading at the moment? You can share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Learning From “A Game of Thrones”

English: Part of the A Game Of Thrones board g...

Who would have thought not having the internet at home would be so limiting? Roll on next week so I can get my posting back on track! Anyway, today’s post is going to take two forms: a quick review/update on the book, A Game of Thrones, as I now near the halfway mark and a few points about what I’ve been able to take and learn from it.

The Review

When I first starting reading A Game of Thrones, I was a little apprehensive. I’ve read a lot of badly crafted fantasy over the years, interspersed with some absolutely brilliant fantasy. More often than not, I abandon reading a novel if I don’t feel a connection or reason to keep reading – it’s a bad habit and it’s one I’m working on breaking. Why? Because every piece of writing has the power to teach me something about my own and even bad writing is worth reading. The reason I was apprehensive to read Martin’s (George R. R.) book is because I feared it wouldn’t draw me in and I’d be abandoning it in short order, forever tarnishing me as The One Who Never Finished A Game Of Thrones. I’d be very likely torn apart, chewed up and spit out by every fantasy community on the internet.

It’s lucky, then, that I now find myself… addicted!

Why am I finding myself unable to stop thinking about Martin’s world? Is it because his plot keeps delivering and taking on new twists when you least expect it? Perhaps. Is it the rich lore and history that he’s weaved into the fabric of Westeros? Maybe. Is it the characters, with their very human ambitions, fears and secrets? Definitely.

I suppose it comes from the author having been a screenwriter, but I find his dialogue is also one of the main things that I’m impressed with. It’s not like reading a book (you know, on paper and stuff), but it’s like listening to a really good audio book. All the dialogue feels so natural and each line fits perfectly. There’s no obvious infodumps or monologues. These people are as real as you’d want and they’re just speaking how they would if you met them. This is the mark of a good author – the ability to make everything seem so natural and un-forced that you leave the real world each time you read and actually inhabit the fantasy world itself.

Hopefully I’ll make steady progress through the last half and then I’ll share my final thoughts. I’m 99.9% sure it’s going to be all positive.

The Lesson (In Summary)

  1. Direwolves hate dwarfs
  2. Dothraki are all sex, sex, sex
  3. Arya Stark is more interesting than she first appears
  4. Jon Snow shows great potential
  5. The Lannisters cannot be trusted

Here’s a list of the book’s viewpoint characters, from my favourite to my least:

Tyrion Lannister

Jon Snow

Bran Stark

Arya Stark

Daenerys Targaryen

Ned Stark

Sansa Stark

Catelyn Stark

Come on, let’s hear who your favourite Song of Ice and Fire character is!

10 Fantasy Books I’d Like To Read

Books

As it’s the weekend, I thought I’d post a simple list of the top ten fantasy books I’m really looking forward to reading. Enjoy!

  1. The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
  2. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  3. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  4. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
  6. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
  7. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  8. The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
  9. The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams
  10. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (On its way!)