Time to steer this vessel back on course. I realize that my last posts have been desperately uninteresting and read more like a public diary, so I'll try to regain focus a bit. Originally, I made the blog just for re-reading A Game of Thrones, but as I'm a geek of many colors I have added a little bit of this and a little bit of that to the blog whenever I felt like it. I've perhaps shifted the focus too far toward being geeky and blabbering on and on about stuff you're probably not interested in. This blog was first and foremost about George R.R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, with a dash of other fantasy literature liberally sprinkled. I think I'm going to try and hold on to that course from now on - yeah, it's another New Year Resolution.
So to dive back into Martinland (one could wonder if we'll ever live to see a Westeros theme park, complete with a variety of torture instruments, great halls with sumptuous feasts for a price, an execution block where you can have your picture taken as you're beheaded just like Ned, brothels, mummers, employees wearing costumes and walking around like Patchface for example, a roller-coaster with wagons built to look like flying dragons - they can call it A Dance with Wagons, tumbling, taste-a-poison booths, a house of horror with wights, Others and huge amounts of discounted copies of Wild Cards books, and so on and so on), here's a few Ice and Fire - related bits of tid.
The master himself has been busy on his blog, even wishing his readers a Merry X-Mas. That's not bad! Instead of another sour life-is-misery post (like the ones I've been putting up this week, yes I recognize my own hypocrisy right here), he wishes his readers happy holidays. This is a step in the right direction. I am amazed that the master still believes in the Santa, however. I grew out of that particular faith when I was about six. And what did Santa bring him? As someone over at Is Winter Coming?, the world's premiere Ice and Fire-forum, called it, "loot from a Dungeons & Dragons game". He's still a boy at heart, just like myself he enjoys geeky presents. A dragon for his garden, books, monster movies...sounds good to me. I do question the gift of turtles, however. Did someone actually give him turtles, and if yes, was this a sly hint that there is, let's be honest, way too much focus on turtles in A Dance with Dragons? Or has the man perhaps become fascinated by turtles in general, hence why they feature so heavily in his last novel and now people are throwing turtles at him? Both explanations seem valid to me. I noticed in the comment one user dared ask for a new sample chapter. That's a great question, actually, Mr. Martin!
He's also posted about being number two after J.R.R. Tolkien; there's been a megapoll for the best fantasy of all time, and only The Lord of the Rings beat him. This is not a surprise; I remember back when I was reading A Storm of Swords for the very first time (oh to be a virgin) that Martin frequently ranked number two in similar polls. Well deserved, Mr. Martin, but ...
...I have to disagree with this assessment. It's a nice try, but no. You are number two based on the quality and sheer entertainment that is A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. Yes, maybe some people thought of this entire series, I am well aware that there are a few fans of books four and five (and they are certainly better than many other offerings in the genre, no doubt), but it is without a doubt those first three books that have made him the successful author he has become, with a hell of a lot of help from his readers, who spread the word for him long before the general public caught on. Do I sound like a bitter Thrones vet now? That is not my intention. I do wonder, however, how the list would look if people could vote separately for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King, as well as A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings etc.
We *could* have seen A Storm of Swords topping the list, in fact. But coulds are coulds. Point is, the first three novels of Ice and Fire guarantees a top spot, and does in fact also guarantee that the rest of the books in the series - if they are ever published - will sell like lemon cakes.
I do like how mr. Martin gives his own top three, especially because these titles aren't all that mainstream - Lord of Light (in my to-read pile for 2013), The Stars My Destination and The Left Hand of Darkness (never heard of this one, but what a cool title eh).
For me it's currently...well, the thing is that The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a complete ten-novel series that seems to get better for each time a person reads it, and though the series doesn't have the immediately entertaining power of Ice/Fire, and is full of all manner of high fantasy silliness, I feel that taken as a whole, mr. Steven Erikson may just deserve that first spot (no matter how hard it is to "discredit" The Lord of the Rings; I weep at the mere thought). But heck, Erikson is really going out of his way to create a distinctive, unique thing with a complexity and language not seen elsewhere. So I'm giving him the first spot, for the first time since I read Martin's books and decided I liked those better than Tolkien's.
1. The Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Steven Erikson
2. A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin
3. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
In other Ice and Fire-related news, there have been a few more franchise releases since last I spoke of those, but not that many, actually. Green Ronin Publishing released another sourcebook for their role-playing game, The Night's Watch. It is available here. There's a PDF-version available as well.
Then there is the cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire, by two of Martin's female fans, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer (I bet Chelsea's happy having a Thrones-related name). They even managed to get in an introduction from Martin himself, but then again it shouldn't come as a surprise considering the book's subject material. It's a shame really how so many fans cash in on Martin these days.
Yes, that was tongue in cheek.
Then there's the map book of course, which I believe I've mentioned before. Still no interest in that one. It's the kind of product I really have no need for, but would have bought blindly if I was still crazy-obsessed with the series.
Elsewise it's been quiet on the franchise front. No news from the upcoming MMO, the two existing video games based on the series already forgotten by most people (classics they were not) - Steam has got them both on sale, by the way, in a bundle. Do note that their scores are 58% (for the RPG) and 53% (for the strategy game) before you buy them. I feel the RPG is perhaps underrated and deserves a 10% or so more to its score, while the strategy game is vastly overrated at 53%.
Finally, there's the 2013 calendar which I'm sure is good, but the Lady Slynt bought me a cool 3D Star Wars calendar so I'm all set up. I wonder what 2013 will bring for fans of the franchise. It doesn't seem as expansive as the last years, does it?
We have, of course, season three of the TV series (just three months to go!), which probably will bring about a small torrent of related wares; new T-shirts, coffee mugs and crap like that. I guess Fire & Ice condoms don't count (please don't tell the pope I linked to these, he would be so upset). I believe Green Ronin have plans for more sourcebooks to be published for their tabletop RPG, but there's nothing solid that I'm aware of. There certainly won't be a new novel in the series to look forward to; The Winds of Winter, like the last two books, will take a while to get done, but I'm still hoping it won't be quite that long a wait as we've grown accustomed to. Where are the action figures? I'm still waiting for the action figures. I want action figures, dammit, Star Wars-style. When I was a kid I received for christmas a Darth Vader collector's case to put figures into, I want a similar one of Ned's decapitated head. Come on, Santa!
I would buy action figures, you know. Especially of "cannon fodder" characters, say, action figures of House Lannister Knight, or House Stark Retainer, or House Frey Outrider etc. in addition to the named guys and gals. To make small medievally armies of action figures for display. Yes, I am aware I can buy knight miniatures like the man himself enjoys, but I prefer as you MAY have guessed by now action figures. With bendable joints.
|A pretty cool fan-made action figure.|
If you feel there's too little good stuff coming out, you could try to mentally go back in time and be surprised and happy all over again, of course.