Sword of Shanara

   A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
1   A Game of Thrones
2   A Clash of Kings
3   A Storm of Swords
4   A Feast for Crows
5   A Dance With Dragons - being written
6   The Winds of Winter to be written
7   A Dream of Spring to be written
 

Amazon Spotlight Review:  

(Reviewer: sonofhotpie from CALIF BAY AREA United States on Amazon.com)

Well plotted and paced; excellent, fresh fantasy tale

First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time (started at 12; I'm now 32). Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and clichéd.

So, when I came back to fantasy at the end of 1999, I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker!

Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this series:

WHY TO READ GRRM

(1) YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY: good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds; boy is the epitome of good; he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . you get the idea. After reading this over and over, it gets old.

(2) YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER: this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story. Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back.

This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished.

(3) YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF: this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR.

(4) YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS: lots of layering; lots of intrigue; lots of clever players in the game of thrones. Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright.

(5) YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS: GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint. Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths. But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels. Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn't try to tell us which person is right in their perception. He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing.

(6) LEGENDS: some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead. We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces; something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense. Additionally, b/c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions.

(7) WORDPLAY: if you're big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy. Almost flawless flow.

(8) LOTS OF CONFLICT: all types, too; not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue.

(9) MULTILAYERED PLOTTING; SUB PLOTS GALORE: each character has their own separate storyline; especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered. This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700-900 pages.

(10) SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS: not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy; some are gritty; few are totally evil or good; GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress. This is especially true of Jaime in book three.

(11) REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE: not to the point that we can't understand it but well done.

(12) HEAPS OF SYMOBLISM AND PROPHECY: if you're big on that.

(13) EXCELLENT MYSTERIES: very hard to figure out the culprits; GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels.

(14) RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS: best male author on female characters I have read; realistic on how women think, too.

(15) LOW MAGIC WORLD: magic is low key; not over the top so heroes can't get out of jams with it.

REASON TO NOT READ GRRM

(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likeable characters after a few die. But, if that isn't your style, you shouldn't be reading it. He kills off several, not just one, so be warned.

(2) DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS: if you like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight forward story with strong archetypes.

(3) MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF: if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you.

(4) SWEARING, SEX: there's a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life.

(5) YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK: this isn't the case for all stories in the series. Some are still going on; some have been resolved; others have been created and are moving on.

(6) IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME: this can be done to some extent but not as much. This is b/c he doesn't try to make anyone necessarily good or evil.

(7) ARCHETYPES: some readers like archetypal characters because it's comfortable; we like the good young hero (sort of like Pug in Feist's THE RIFTWAR SAGA); it's familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we're this upcoming, great hero. You wont' get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters.

(8) LENGTH: you don't want to get into a long fantasy epic series. In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig.

(9) PATRIARCHY: men are most of the main characters with lots of power (one female exception). ....

Lee's Review: 

 I loved this series right from the start. Martin wrote the series so that each chapter was told from a different character’s viewpoint. The effect it has is that you never really consider a character to be good or bad when seen through their perspective –they’re all human and have traits of both. Also, because the viewpoint keeps changing you wind up with a number of main characters in the series which is good because Martin will actually kill off several of them throughout the series. This is one of the things I liked most about the series – the fact that I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next - it didn’t follow the traditional fantasy book plot. Unlike other fantasies that find the main character always getting out of a bad situation this isn’t the case and I remember reading a part where one of the main characters gets killed off and I had to stop and go back to reread the passage because I was shocked that they had just been murdered. One of the characters I liked most in the story is Tyrion – an ugly dwarf that has a great self-deprecating sense of humor. Martin has a great writing style that kept me immersed in his world. Martin paints a harsh world that has sex and violence in it that has put off some readers but I think everything fits in his world and there is nothing forced or gratuitous about any of it. This is simply great epic fantasy and I can’t wait for book 4 to come out in August 2004 to find out what happens next.

Veronica's Review: 

The style this series is written in was nice.  The story is written through the eyes of one character, and then seen again through the eyes of another.  So if one character thought someone was doing something with mal intent, you later found out (through the supposed mal intentioned character) that something was done with good intent.  It did make for disheartening feelings in that I wanted to explain the reasoning to the first character.  The book was a little suspenseful because characters were trying to meet with each other and I hoped they could meet up and read faster to see if at least 2 of them met up.  Then was frustrated and dismayed when they were so close but didn’t.  Even worse is they don’t realize how close they are but you, the reader, do because you are piecing it together from what each character sees through their eyes.  For example; character X is approaching the southern entrance to a town and sees a caravan of people exiting from the north.  Then you’re reading that character Y is leaving a town and sees a couple of riders coming up the main road leading into the Southern entrance of the town.  Only you, the reader, know they just missed each other!  It’s a tad frustrating!!  But I guess that shows how good the author is; that I can become quite upset, simply over something written.

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