I’m (re) reading the four books in the Song of Ice and Fire Series, A.K.A. Game of Thrones. Yes, re-reading. I first read the books a couple of years ago. I thought the fifth book would be out in paperback by now, but the release has been pushed back to the end of October. When people expressed shock at certain wedding events in the TV show I thought, if you’d read the books, you’d know that.
I’ve been thinking a little bit analytically about this set of books. I’m trying to figure out why Martin chooses the particular Point of View characters he does. In A Feast For Crows most of the POV characters are female. Now I don’t think that GoT has a particularly feminist outlook, but at least women get air-time and are doing both traditional and non-traditional things. I wondered this week if Martin chooses characters with an obvious weakness for his POV set. Robb is never a POV character — and he is an eldest son, and King in the North. Underdogs, those fighting for power seem to prevail in the POV characters. Any thoughts?
Also, I read somewhere (though I cannot remember exactly where, and cannot find the reference) that GoT has no redeeming virtues. It is an un-redeemed world, a world steeped in sin. I’ve been looking for the redeeming features. There are signs that the resurrection is part of the world. And we haven’t got to the end yet, so redemption may yet come. I’m finding this search for redemption is also an interesting thing to think about in my re-reading.
I’ve been listening to the Michael Scott series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. So far I’ve listened to the first three books (The Alchemyst, The Magician, and The Sorceress) and must report a few things about the series.
- This is not a series of books, it is all one book. There is one plot arrow, there is little to no resolution at the end of each book, and the story line so far has taken about four or five days of story-time in three volumes. Compare the Harry Potter books. Each Potter book has a plot that resolves, and each book takes a school-year to come to that resolution. Yes, there is a larger trajectory in the Potter books, but you can read one Potter book and feel like something happened, not that you were dropped into the middle of a story arc and then ripped out of it just as it might make a move toward resolution.
- There is an inordinate amount of repetition in the books. Possibly this is to remind you of pertinent details since this is all one book. Even so, the amount and detail of the repetition is wearing. The use of characters full names all the time is ridiculous. Every single time the point of view shifts to someone else, the new point-of-view character’s full name is given. Possibly this is Mr. Scott’s way of signalling that a point-of-view shift has occurred, but it is also wearing. And possibly silly.
- I’ve noted that there is a lot of repetition and that the action in each book seems to be about a day and a half or so. I think that the story might have been told in much less time and to much greater effect. I think an editor could help a lot. But maybe then not so much money would be made? Who knows. I’m just glad that the library has the books and I didn’t make any financial investment in them.
Do you know of other book series that are basically all one book? Do they repeat themselves all the time? Am I just becoming a grumpy person? Do tell.
The other day I wrote about three authors I discovered this year. Today I want to talk about three more authors, one of whom was a new discovery, one a re-discovery, and one whose backlist I finished reading.
1. Deborah Crombie. I discovered Crombie’s books this year when I started taking ebooks out of the library on my iPad. I like her mysteries a lot. I read five of them in very quick succession in June. I think I need to go back to more Deborah Crombie for December.
2. Ann Granger. Granger is a re-discovery. I’d read one of her books ages ago and thought it was ok, but didn’t really follow up on reading more of her work. In the spring, a friend of mind passed me a large shopping bag full of books. I reciprocated the favour. Our public library system was on strike for a few days, so we were helping each other through this crisis. My friend had quite a few Granger books in that shopping bag, and I found I quite liked Granger’s mysteries. There was one in the pile with Fran Varady. I am going to follow up on that series in December.
3. C.J. Sansom. I finished reading Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake mysteries. I quite enjoyed these books. They were part of my Henry VIII and Tudor England run in the spring. I hope Shardlake shows up in another book soon. I will read other books by Sansom, I just haven’t tracked any down as yet. Maybe I’ll put them on my Christmas list.
Whose backlist did you finish this year?
I am currently reading the fourth book in a popular YA Fantasy series. It is overwritten (scenes far longer than needed, too much detail in descriptions, particularly in fight scenes) plus it uses some plot devices that should be illegal. It is driving me a bit crazy. The plot/suspense devices that I think should be outlawed include:
1. Killing off a character only to have the person miraculously survive.
2. Ending a chapter on a cliffhanger, then resolving the tension immediately in the next chapter. There is no need for a chapter break if the story continues from the same point in the action and from the same point of view. This is only a poor attempt at creating suspense.
3. Creating “suspense” by hiding things in plain view. If the point of view character has an idea it is cheating not to disclose that idea to the reader, especially if you show the character telling others the idea/plan but don’t reveal it to the audience. More fake suspense.
Thoughts? Things that drive you crazy that should be illegal?