Saturday, May 10, 2014

Catching up with ice and fire

As I said in the post yesterday I have been so busy with other things that I have kind of neglected Ice & Fire the last two weeks, and maybe that roaring fire of obsession that's been burning since we got those teaser chapters and the new Game of Thrones season is smoldering, I don't know.

When I first started this blog in 2009 my thought was initially to have something to do related to Ice & Fire while waiting for new novels in the series to appear. I took this theme further when my posts about the first two novels were published, adding the 'waiting' word in both titles. But these days, one can easily keep oneself immersed in Martin's world simply by going online. There are so many websites and blogs dedicated to the series now, it really goes to show how beloved the characters and story of the novels are.

So this morning I've been browsing through a few select articles and interviews here and there, my favorite being the compilation of tweets sent during the airing of Game of Thrones 4.5: First of His Name. A simple but brilliant idea to collect them like this. I checked Martin's Not A Blog for the latest updates on The Winds of Winter, coming away satisfied with posts on a Game of Thrones fan saving the day, the original scary (?) Godzilla coming to Martin's cinema (sadly I hardly get to go to the local cinema here on the other side of the world, except for the occasional children's movie), his nomination for The Princess and the Queen as Best Novella in the Locus Awards (honestly, and not trying to sound snarky here, but I had no idea a fictive history text like you find in RPG sourcebooks counted as novellas - in that case I've written quite a few novellas for my homebrew RPG campaign setting) and showing us the cover for the upcoming The World of Ice and Fire book of lore from Westeros' yore. It's a sweet enough cover, stylistically in the same vein as the more recent editions of the novels only the sigil looks like it comes out of the TV show. It does not make me more eager to read it, but I have to admit thinking, "Hey cool, the Blackfyre sigil" (as opposed to "Hey the Targaryens are really getting all the love these days").

Over at Tower of the Hand there have been interesting posts on the durability of King Tommen's reign, a discussion on the technological stagnation of Westeros (my quick opinion: the maesters have the count of years not quite right; civilization is younger; they simply don't know any better) and a plethora of TV show-related articles.

Finally, of what I've read through today, my favorite is this interview in NY Times, where Martin has to answer some questions about the degrees of sexual violence in his series. It reminded me of a thread over at Is Winter Coming? (still the coolest place to dally!) about "the grossening" of A Song of Ice and Fire. It's actually a three-year old thread, but the points being made are definitely points that should be considered, pondered and ruminated about. Recapping the thread's topic in one sentence, one could say that the c-word has 28-drupled from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.

Which leaves me kind of up to date on what's going on in the fandom this week, although I still have all the articles posted at Winter is Coming after those tweets to check out - they are not few; the preview for Game of Thrones 4.6: The Laws of God and Men being the obvious highlight I am looking forward to.

And so the hours pass, and reading this stuff is like blazing some life into the fire and I feel ready to tackle a new chapter of A Storm of Swords.

Oh, and last night when I really should be sleeping I just had to start a new novel. And once again I left King of Thorns and The Way of Kings on the night stand because, you know, I need light to read actual books and there's a baby sleeping on my right and a woman on my left, and so I ordered and started a new ebook, this time debuting author Brian Staveley's The Emperor's Blades, first in a new series (sigh) called Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. What is it with fantasy and chronicles and thrones?!

I bought this one after reading a sample of it over at TOR, which kindly provided a slew of sample chapters from it upon its release.

Usually I read one chapter of a book (if the chapter's not too long, that is) and then I am off to Never Neverland to fight pirates and wights and frolick with Emilia Clarke, but tonight I stayed up for four chapters. Yeah, I am on a right good streak this year with what books I read. I've liked them all so far. But this one is really promising. Well written (a few editorial mistakes already, but I don't want to care), stylistically close to Martin's prose, yet different in tone/setting, it reminds me of Blood Song in that it's "another gritty fantasy" but better. In Blood Song, the Night's Watch was transformed into a college of holy warriors, in The Emperor's Blades we start out with a more Asian-influenced monk warrior group, also isolated from the world. So in one sense it once again feels rather familiar (can't blame 'em, I made an order in this vein myself for my own setting), but still different enough to make it interesting. Also, the prologue chapter, just as it should be in these darker tales of fantasy, was sufficiently disturbing.

If The Emperor's Blades remaining gazillion chapters are as good as the first four, I think I may have a new favorite fantasy novel in my top five or so. One nitpick of warning: It has character names with apostrophes thrown in, but it is fortunately not overdone. Yee'ha!

Coming up next:
A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Tyrion VI, rated a whopping 8.36 at the Tower.
No really!

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