Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

When my friend Natalya and I weren’t already tearing up just thinking about our favorite moments in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings driving to and from the screenings in June, we were dishing about A Song of Ice and Fire. She had just finished A Game of Thrones and I was only one book ahead of her, so I got her fresh reaction to that thing that happens at the end of A Game of Thrones. You know. That thing. Combined with the fervor over the release of A Dance with Dragons in July, I got so fired up that I put A Storm of Swords on hold. Spoilers for the series abound below!

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The Sunday Salon: NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books

In June, I was alerted by my fellow The Lord of the Rings fans to NPR’s call to nominate books for their Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. Setting aside the problem of conflating the genres—I mean, I get it, but it does mean a lot of good books in both categories will fall by the wayside—I enjoyed looking through the comments for new recommendations and, of course, taking the opportunity to peddle Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering like it’s my job. (If you read and liked The Lord of the Rings, you should read it. End of story.) The nominations were counted, the votes were tallied, and on Thursday, NPR unveiled the fruit of its labors—their top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books (circa Summer 2011). I’m not going to copy the list verbatim—you can find a printable version here if you so desire—but I am going to talk about some of the selections that made it, be they good or bad in my book.

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Booking Through Thursday: Anticipation

What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read?

And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it?

Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?

It was definitely A Storm of Swords; you cannot imagine the self-control it’s taking me not to just tear through A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons right now. I’m usually excited beforehand; I think In Great Waters was the last book where I got to the point where I wanted to read it when I wasn’t reading it.

At the moment, I’m excited to start on The Silmarillion today—I finished Hard Times last night—and Kushiel’s Dart, because my hold on it came in yesterday and only the library at home has a copy of it. Also, I love and adore Jacqueline Carey.

The Sunday Salon: Endgame

I can’t watch procedurals any more. I stopped watching House not only because they killed off my favorite supporting character for little to no reason, but because I was watching a forty-four minute show for about ten minutes of character development. The Case of the Week formula was starting to feel like Chinese water torture, to be totally honest. Even Numb3rs, which boasts forty-four minutes of looking at David Krumholtz, couldn’t hold my attention. (That, and the fandom is weird. Like, Supernatural weird.) It just boils down to the fact that I can no longer take anything—television show or book—that doesn’t have an endgame in mind. It’s like life, in a way—without an end, it has little to no meaning. Or at least that’s what I think.

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The Sunday Salon: Game of Thrones

While my college is awesome and superior and all that (name another school with a sisterhood that bears Black Rings of Power—I dare you), it is quite small—any amazing event on campus is naturally open to the public. Ten minutes away, however, lies Emory, where, you may recall, I attended a lecture by the magnificent Margaret Atwood. On Thursday, my friend Natalya, to whom I owe Herculean favors now, invited me to a pre-screening of the first episode of Game of Thrones, HBO’s television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

Needless to say, it was amazing. I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but I can’t promise one hundred percent accuracy.

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The Sunday Salon: A Dance With Dragons Release Date Announced!

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011

Yes, I know. You’ve all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009. None of those were ever hard dates, however. Most of them… well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.

This date is different. This date is real.

Barring tsunamis, general strikes, world wars, or asteroid strikes, you will have the novel in your hands on July 12. I hope you like it.

from George R. R. Martin’s website

Naturally, as a recent fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, I was over the moon on Thursday, bobbing through class and life like a buoy. Since I won’t be able to watch Game of Thrones until it’s released on DVD (or I make a friend who has HBO), these were certainly glad tidings. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who read A Feast for Crows the day it came out and have been waiting ever since. Actually, I don’t—several people (several of whom I don’t even know!) have been very vocal to me about how much they hate being forced to wait… and wait… and wait. It’s been interesting, being new to the fandom and all, to examine the issue of George R. R. Martin’s debt to his fans—or, as Neil Gaiman puts it, “entitlement issues“. (His words! Not mine!)

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Review: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

It feels a little odd, I have to be honest, to be getting into Martin this late in the game—while I’m getting excited for the HBO adaptation and forcing myself to space out the books, I’ve encountered people who, quite rationally, want to wait until the entire series is finished (or in a position to be finished) and other people who are quite openly hostile about it, such as a gentleman I encountered in a book store who warned me off the books. (I ignored him.) However, I also think I came in at just the right time—I’ve a sneaking suspicion that A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the series, will be released as a tie-in with the show. (Supporting my theory is Martin claiming he can see the light at the end of the tunnel in this podcast last month. But I’d take that well-salted.) But however it works out, I’m glad I’ve gotten into this series. Spoilers for A Game of Thrones abound, so beware!

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The Sunday Salon: 2010 in Review

It’s the last Sunday in 2010, so you know what that means—it’s time for my annual top ten list, taken from the books I’ve read this year, not books only published this year. (I don’t think I’ve even read ten books that were published in 2010.) Here’s last year’s, if you’re so inclined. I have to admit, having an entire year to pull from (as opposed to last year, when I had about four months’ worth of sparser reviews to pick through) made things a bit difficult; there some books I wanted to include, but ultimately ended up deciding against. If you’re interested in what I left off the list, feel free to rifle through the 5 and 4.5 Stars subcategories under Ratings. That said, let’s dig in.
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The Sunday Salon: The Serialized Novel

The discovery that Robin McKinley’s Pegasus was the first half of a novel floored me; yes, I thought the ending was abrupt, but the idea that Robin McKinley, a much loved author who could probably get away with publishing a hearty, predator-repulsing tome, found the “freller too fricking long” to the point that she thought it better to hack a novel in half (her word! Not mine!) kind of threw me for a loop. (To be fair, Ms. McKinley does have deadlines to reach.) In fact, she describes Pegasus’s eventual sequel to be analogous to the way The Return of the King is the sequel to The Two Towers, which is to say not a sequel at all, but the rest of the story. It’s almost as infuriating as the term “literary fiction” to be quite honest. As the very wise Brian Cronin puts it, “serialized fiction is judged – as a whole, yes, but also as each part individually”. This sort of amputation has been running wild through speculative fiction recently–so much so, in fact, that it’s time I stopped complaining and listened–does this sort of thing suggest that some authors ought to go in for serialized novels instead of traditional ones?

(To preface, I am not talking about publishers deciding to separate out a novel, such as the overseas publications of some of the novels in A Song of Fire and Ice and The Lord of the Rings, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is a single novel. I’m talking about authors making that decision for themselves.)

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Booking Through Thursday: Meme of Reading Questions

1. Favorite childhood book?

A tie between Good Omens and The Count of Monte Cristo. (And by childhood, you meant awkward preteen years, right?)

2. What are you reading right now?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

None at the moment, as I’m about to move back to college and need to deal with a different library.

4. Bad book habit?

Eating messy foods while reading library books.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Stephen King’s Misery and a VHS of Disney’s The Three Musketeers.

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