I’ve known about this series for a long time now but never picked it up until last week spurned on by the “get to it before Hollywood does” mantra. I’ve had my doubts as so much fantasy in book form is just absolute tripe. Fafrd and The Grey mouser, Elric stuff, LoTR, Wizard of Earthsea and a couple of the Warhammer novels (I think actually only Konrad) is all I’ve been able to stomach from the genre. I don’t count John Gardner’s Grendel as that falls so far into the literature realm that it’s not even in the Fantasy section in bookstores.
As for Game of Thrones, The first couple chapters are rather weak, especially the prologue, and I felt I was getting into a generic fantasy novel the exact opposite of what I want to be wasting my very limited reading time on. This year so far I’ve read Suttree, Blood Meridian (for the second time) and The Far Side of the World (book 10 of the Master and Commander series). Except for the last one, those are some weighty acts to follow. Certainly, Game of Thrones is not literature, and you won’t be wowed by Hardy-esque descriptions of the Winterfell environs, or challenged by post modern discourses on language, but by chapter 3, the vast number characters, subplots and plots began unfolding and you realize sheer scale, and it really starts to rock and roll. The pacing is excellent and I think that’s what’s going to keep me reading. If I can squeeze in a chapter here and there– things happen and happen fast.
As for the show– it’s gotten glowing reviews from both critics and the impossible to please fans. I’m rarely one to say anything I read is great (except for say, Blood Meridian or Grendel; which are simply titans of modern literature) but Game of Thrones is solid stuff that ha yet to ring my cheese-bag fantasy bell.