I would like to begin this post by talking about a really cool website/newsletter called ReadIt1st.com. ReadIt1st (brainchild of Hank Green, as many amazing things are) promotes reading a book before you go to see the movie.
The reasoning behind this: “While movies are great, and we love them, the stories from those movies were originally envisioned in a different way. A way that requires more interaction, more brain, more relaxation, more free time, and more commitment. We think those are all things that the world doesn’t have enough of these days.”
You can even sign a pledge swearing you will always read the book first… or you can sign a pledge saying you’re going to read the book whenever you feel like it, thank you. Either way, it signs you up for a newsletter on what books are being turned into movies. (Go to http://www.readit1st.com/ to sign a pledge and get the newsletter!)
The book vs. movie debate is something we could go on about for, I don’t know, EVER, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now. Right now I’m going to talk about A Song of Ice and Fire.
As many of you may be aware, A Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones as myself and everyone else likes to call it, since A Song of Ice and Fire is a totally weak title) is a THING right now. A ton of people I know are reading it. And as you know if you’ve read this blog before, Stephanie is just ever-so-slightly obsessed.
But despite recommendations coming from all sides, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of actually reading Game of Thrones. As ReadIt1st points out, the world could probably use a little more commitment. Game of Thrones is, if nothing else, a commitment.
I was sick not too long ago, and couldn’t do much but lay in bed, and I thought, what the heck! I’ll just watch the HBO series and see what everyone is going on about.
I watched the whole thing in one day.
Now some of you may think that this was where I made the mistake: watching the TV show before I read the book. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Even if a movie “ruins” the book, if it’s enjoyable enough, it can inspire people to read that book. I don’t even mind when books are re-printed with “movie” covers for that reason. If it encourages people to buy and read them, whatever. I wasn’t aware Lord of the Rings existed until I did a play version of The Hobbit when I was kid. And despite having read the book, I didn’t like Fellowship of the Ring until after I’d seen the movie.
I do think the whole movies-based-on-books phenomenon is getting tired, but at least it’s good marketing!
So no, I don’t think watching the show first was where I went wrong. Where I went wrong was finishing the last episode, then whipping out my Kindle and immediately downloading A CLASH OF KINGS, the SEQUEL to A Game of Thrones! (Oops!)
After an ending like that, I was DYING to see what happened next in the series! No way in hell was I going to sit through all of the nonsense I’d just spent 8 hours watching just to make sure I was doing things “properly.” I needed more of the story, and I needed it NOW. At the time I assumed I would go back and read A Game of Thrones at some point, but now that I am well into A Storm of Swords, it seems less and less likely.
I don’t want to sound like I’m advocating not reading A Game of Thrones, but once you’ve seen the show I just don’t think it’s necessary. The HBO series does an excellent job of following the story. I was concerned when I started reading Clash of Kings that I would be confused, but I can honestly say that I had no problem picking up with where the show had left off. I knew all the characters and locations, and understood what was happening, etc.
The only major issue is that I thought Drogo was a completely creepy rapist because that’s how HBO decided to portray him, and apparently he’s actually a very nice guy, and romantic too. Huh. In the show, I assumed Daenerys was able to love Drogo because she realized that it was really her brother who had disempowered her, whereas she could use Drogo to empower herself. Apparently, in the books they were just really in love.
So, okay, things like that are part of why it’s important to know the source material. New versions fuck with the story, often for no particular reason. I won’t point any fingers, but you know what I’m talking about. (HARRY POTTER.)
It doesn’t help that I am disdainful of George R.R. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect him. He’s created an amazing fantasy world that is remarkably unlike Middle-earth in every way, his writing is hyper-accessible (hence everybody is reading it–not everybody reads Lord of the Rings) and often horrifying or freaking hilarious and all kinds of good things.
What gets me about George R.R. is the whole fanfiction thing. I won’t harp on it since Stephanie has already talked about it and mentioned my views. But the man doesn’t want people writing fanfiction about his books. Thinking fanfiction can somehow ruin a book is like saying a book or a TV show can ruin a book. It can’t. The book is still there. And you know what, George R.R.? Your books aren’t really all that great anyway!
Some sentences are so silly and purposeless I have to wonder if George R.R. is even paying attention half the time. Apparently in a book I haven’t read yet someone “farts in your general direction.” Really???
I have read exactly one Davos chapter. I don’t know why–I found myself pretty interested in him originally. I guess the problem is I just don’t give a crap about Melissandre at all. Which is weird, because the whole “Lord of Light” religion is just like newly-started-Christianity as portrayed by non-Christians at the time! It’s all blood and fire and weird orgies and demons! Not to mention monotheistic, which is just totally bonkers. I perhaps more than most people should be really, really interested in this stuff. But I’m not at all. So I just sort of skim Davos’s chapters to get a grasp of what’s happening, and I move on.
Some other people I don’t want to read: Bran (Obviously. Does anyone like Bran chapters? I trudge through them anyway), Samwell (Ugh. Not cute.), and, I hate to say it, JON.
Other characters are falling in love and marrying the wrong people and getting captured and living in disguise and doing all kinds of cool stuff. Jon is wandering around in the snow making new friends. No.
And you know what else, George R.R.? I don’t CARE what everyone’s banner looks like! You don’t have to spend three pages telling me the name, homeland, and colors of every single knight who shows up at any given moment! I guess it’s like a motif and represents loyalties or something but BRO. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
I don’t even want to talk about the character deaths. I’ve only experienced a couple at this point, but Twitter has not made me feel very positive about the future. What, exactly, is their purpose? Realism? Or just the SHOCK?
Ultimately, I find Game of Thrones to be really, really frustrating. I also really, really love it. Although I have taken a break for the past few days (Bran chapter), there have been times where all I wanted to do was just read and read and read. (Which is fortunately possible since it’s so damn long!) But I have somehow managed to skip the first book entirely, and skim through several parts of the next two, and get along just fine anyway.
One last complaint: WHERE ARE THE WHITE WALKERS???
I have no regrets.