current reading: game of thrones

That isn’t 100% accurate. I finished Game of Thrones and have moved on to Clash of Kings.

I don’t think I can offer any entirely original praise for Martin’s series, but I’m sure I can rehash what millions of people have already discovered they love about it.

This is fantasy post-fantasy. Westeros is a world where the “elves” are long-extinct, enchanted swords are no longer made, and even any concrete magic is absent. There are supernatural elements to these books—and, as a spoiler-free new reader, I don’t know if the standard fantasy tropes will come more into play in later books—but they take a backseat to the complex political machinations that provide the backbone for these stories.

And I love it.

I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels, and I have every intention of doing so again. A Song of Fire & Ice is refreshing because, where genre novels all too often rely on the fantastic or absurd to bolster paper-thin plots, Martin writes historical war fiction that just happens to take place in a fantasy world.

The characters, divided by various factions and rivalries, are fully-realized and well-written, playing with your loyalties as a reader. Evil characters, even when totally unsympathetic, are interesting and and possessed of clear motivations never as simple as they originally seem.

Martin writes a world of gray morality, and I’ve never been so happy to read in monochrome.

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