Reading Journal Entry: A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin's sweeping saga has been the latest big thing in fantasy for several years now. The ending of the first volume, A Game of Thrones, upset me so much I put it down and waited a year before picking up the sequel. That's always a good sign.

The key to his popularity is three-fold: one, the complexity of the work - a richly detailed pseudo-medieval setting, ambiguous characters, multiple players with multiple goals. Two, a ruthlessness unmatched in other fantasy authors (with the single except of Mary Gentle); the man does not mind killing off those major characters that you like so much. Three, pretty dragons!

Unfortunately all three factors are a bit wacky here. The dragons have escaped altogether, into the next book. What was a healthy sense of violence towards his characters has turned into a tendency towards resurrection and trick endings. And the complex framework has spiraled out of control, plotlines and viewpoints multiplying without rhyme or reason.

I am trying to picture Martin writing this book and my mental image is of him wrestling a bear. Which would be something tosee, because he's quite hairy.

I'm afraid he's a victim of B.A.D.: Big Author Disease. It's happened to some of the giants of the field. Bradley, Heinlein, McCaffrey, Jordan. Something happens to certain authors once they reach a certain type of success. I don't know what it is. But someone who previously might have turned out neatly-plotted fast-paced volumes suddenly starts producing monstrous obese books that clearly need to be edited to within an inch of their lives.

And yes. It is nippletastic.

2 comments:

Fiona said...

I'm holding off on final judgement until A Dance With Dragons comes out.

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