Monday, November 27, 2006
I Give Up: A Game of Thrones
Bookgasm has a rule that's changed my reading life. It's the 100-page rule: "If it’s not good by page 100, quit reading."
I gave George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones about 150 pages, and while no one could ever call it "bad," it failed to grab me. It's the first book in an epic, but it's epic itself in the number of characters that it asks you to keep track of and care about. Keeping track of them all isn't so hard -- Martin does a fine job of making them all memorable in some way -- but I can't care about them all. So I found myself impatiently reading about a spoiled little daughter of nobility and her tomboy sister, for example, when I really wanted to know what was going to happen to their bastard half-brother whose only future seems to be defending a bleak, wilderness wall against terrifying, unseen creatures (but you just know that bigger things are coming for him).
I don't want to suggest that Martin made a bad call in bouncing between members of his large cast. I don't want to suggest anything that makes it sound like Martin's a bad writer, because he clearly isn't. It's just that where my head's at right now, I need a tighter story. I don't know for sure where Martin's taking his Song of Ice and Fire series (of which A Game of Thrones is the first book), but it's obviously somewhere big. And probably somewhere interesting.
There's a lot of intrigue and political manouvering going on in A Game of Thrones and I'm halfway interested in seeing where it all ends up. But I'm much more interested in finding out what happens to that bastard kid and the crippled nobleman who accompanies him to the wilderness wall. I also want to read more about the former princess whose brother sold her to a barbarian warlord in return for military support in an endeavor to regain the brother's throne. Boy, I have a feeling that the brother's going to regret that.
I also have a feeling that I'll be coming back to A Game of Thrones when I'm able to be more patient with the parts that I'm not as into: the strained friendship, for instance, between a king and his right-hand man. Or the training of a young nobleman whose father has left the family holdings to fulfill his duty elsewhere in the kingdom.
But for now, I need something that moves faster and is more plot-oriented. I'm hoping that Terry Brooks' Armageddon's Children does the trick.
Updated to add: It didn't.