In which, in short, I conclude the following: Jon is a whiny bitch (but I sort of like him anyway?), Arya & Tyrion are awesome, the Lannisters in general make me cackle, and I experience my first instance of ‘omg wat no’ almost-heartbreak. Also I hadn’t realized how much I missed people with a sense of humour or at least sarcasm of any flavour in even those first 50 pages.
I covered Jon’s first chapter up to the end of Jon’s second. So pages 49 to 98, featuring Jon, more Catelyn (!!), Arya, more Bran (!!), Tyrion, and Jon again.
So, first up was Jon’s chapter. As I mentioned yesterday, I was sort of looking to this with a bit of trepidation in regards to my own reaction. Was quite prepared to have irrational distaste for him simply out of contrariness. Luckily, that did not seem to happen! The fact that he was introduced with ‘lower sorts’ having a good laugh at getting one of their lord’s son quite drunk probably helped. Can’t help but grin at a 14-year-old getting wasted!
And yet again we see the beginning of me attempting some sort of project. I have completely awful carry-through on things like this but I’m hoping a combination of my disgruntled pride, assiduous dog-earing, and public posting will keep me on track this time.
Before I begin, some background. I haven’t watched the HBO series – don’t know if I will ever bother. And I have a habit of contrariness that makes me react to bandwagons by – generally – running the other way. In the case of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, I had heard of it some before it became absolutely huge. Had picked up a book in a bookstore and glanced at it now and again. For whatever reason, the blurbs never convinced me to do more than that. Then, when it became big at the promise of the TV series (or whatever the impetus was), I read a few critical reviews that had some sharp things to say about various Serious Issues (i.e. sexism, race, etc.) and that combined with my contrariness cemented a resolve to not, in fact, become interested in this series.
That last a year or so, I guess. A good friend of mine ended up reading them, and is somewhat prone to drunken ramblings about the series which are actually interesting to listen to. Plus I was sort of seduced by the awesomeness that is Peter Dinklage and if I ever do watch the TV show, it will be because of him. So, having little else to do this summer, I’ve finally given in and bought the first four books. (It was a box-set that cost only $25 on Chapters-Indigo online. What can I say? Not a price to pass up!) And partially as a way to maintain my wounded pride and salve my dignity and partially as a mental exercise for the fun of it, I’ve decided to read these books – or the first one, at least – with pencil in hand.
That is, read it rather more critically and consciously – and slowly – than I usually read. My usual pace is a bit more on the ‘devour it whole in one sitting’ side. So. Change is good, yes? Plus, annotations are fun. So, with that in mind, I’ve divided the first book up into roughly 50 page segments, ending each on the nearest chapter-end. I was going to do a post after every chapter, but then I realized how short the chapters are. So without further ado… I present my reaction post to the first 48 pages of <i>A Game of Thrones</i>.
Obviously massive spoilers underneath, if you, like me, have yet to read these books. Also a bit on the long side. Hopefully future posts will be shorter. But I don’t hold my breath.
Age of Fire Book One: Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 – “it was amazing”
Where I Got This Book: I bought this book at the local Chapters-Indigo store up in the mall. I had a couple of gift cards for the chain (which is headed by Indigo but out here we only get Chapters stores and the smaller Coles stores), so I went on a book buying spree a few weeks ago, to load up on books for coming weeks. It was hard to finally limit myself down to what I could buy with the gift cards! But one of the books that made the cut was this one, by E. E. Knight with some gorgeous covert art of a dragon (I suggest following the link above to see it).
The Book and Me: Aaah, dragons! I have a more than minor obsession with them. I adore any incarnation, from classic maiden-eating knight-fighting unintelligent (or at least, not sentient) beasts to the talking, immortal magical beings of High Fantasy. But there is always a special place in my heart for versions of dragons that are different from the normal tropes. And the promise of not just intelligent, sentient being-dragons in this series, but the fact that it is from their own point of view had me hooked the moment I read the back-cover blurb. I have never, as far as I know, read anything by E. E. Knight before though I know I have heard the name somewhere.
My Rating: My first 5 out of 5 on Goodreads for the year! I would have loved it anyway, being dragons and all, but like all the best books it was addictive and nigh impossible to put down. The writing is excellent, the characters are well-written and interesting, and I was completely absorbed by the depths of the Drakine culture, indeed, the presence of background to all the various cultures the reader comes across. And it proved to be a version of dragons as novel as I was expecting – in other words, a very refreshing take on old tropes with wonderful new aspects thrown in, such as the importance of song to dragons.
Why You Should Read It: Because dragons! No, seriously, if you’re a dragon aficionado like me, this is a series you must read. I certainly plan on buying the rest of the books in the series, in lovely paperback matching this one so they can sit on my shelf in place of honour with my beloved Naomi Novik and Tolkien and Tamora Pierce, their spines creased with love and appreciation. But it is not a gimmicky book, it is solidly plotted, fascinating, engaging, and features interesting, likable characters set in a well-developed fantasy world.
Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut
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The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 – “really liked it”
Where I Got This Book: If you remember last week’s post, I got this book the same place as I purchased the first book in the Damar series: the used bookstore in my hometown. It’s in a bit better condition than TBS, though – no tape on the spine! I am such a sucker for the very 80’s paperback book cover art. Raised gold lettering and all.
The Book and Me: So, remember how I kept saying “never read this one before, really looking forward to it!”? Well, I was wrong! I had read this before. When or where, I have no clue, but I definitely have. It was less familiar and less well-remembered in my mind though, and I’m assuming it was around the same time as reading TBS.
My Rating: Again, a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads. I almost put it as a 5/5, because I really, really love this book. But not quite! It is engrossing and fascinating and thoroughly delightful. TBS was still fresh, of course, which made it doubly interesting to spot bits that are of importance in that book… and at moments the knowledge I had from TBS made it so that I could predict something coming up (such as meeting Luthe), which was particularly interesting! It wasn’t spoiler-y, really, but with this book as a prequel, not a first book, it is quite elegantly done, I think.
Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut
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