Montag, 17. Januar 2011

Warum sollte man A Song of Ice & Fire (Ein Lied von Eis & Feuer) lesen?

Hier eine wunderbare Antwort auf die Frage, die sich einige bei dem ganzen A Game of Thrones-Tschadschenga das derzeit herrscht, sicherlich stellen: "Warum sollte ich A Song of Ice & Fire lesen?"

1) The fantasy elements are surprisingly minimal, particularly at first. Now, I can’t imagine that’s really a selling point for a guy like you, and I know that I don’t care about that one way or another either (except insofar as this is tied to one of the more unique aspects of Martin’s worldbuilding and historic/cultural constructions). I also have surprisingly little experience with post-Tolkien Medieval Europe-type high/epic fantasy series — basically zero, unless you count the Prydain Chronicles which you probably shouldn’t as they’re for kids — but I imagine the lack of overt magic or monsters or non-human creatures struck many readers immersed in your Robert Jordans and Mercedes Lackeys as refreshing. It’s also a big part of how HBO’s getting it over.
2) Similarly, there’s cursing and graphic sex and violence. I hadn’t seen that in a high fantasy either, although like I said, I’m not well-read in the genre. And it’s not for shock’s sake, as I’ll sort of articulate in a later item.
3) The structure of the narrative is highly addictive. Each chapter focuses on a particular character, whose name serves as that chapter’s title, and the characters rotate throughout the book(s). This has the effect of embroiling you in a particular character’s situation or storyline, then immediately popping you over into another’s, so that you find yourself racing through the chapters to get to the next one starring the person you’re interested in — and then getting interested in the ones you’re reading in the interim, and repeating the process over and over. It’s rather brilliant.
4) Just in terms of sheer plot mechanics it’s engrossing stuff. There’s a dynastic struggle that encompasses a murder mystery, a conspiracy, shifting and secret alliances, political machinations — and then brewing underneath it all, two major external threats. You find yourself wanting to get to the bottom of it all, and how.
5) I think Martin’s a pretty strong prose craftsman. There are a few groaners in there, especially in the first book, but let’s just say that my dayjob sees a lot of SF/F pass across my desk and some of it is embarrassingly badly written. Martin knows his way around the typewriter.
6) Nearly all of the conflicts and problems arise from complicated and totally relatable human emotions and desires. Love of family, loyalty to one’s friends, the innate irrational dislike you can sometimes develop for a person, plain old greed and envy, guilt, the unintended consequences of well-intentioned actions…there’s very, very little “it is your DESTINY,” and that makes it easier to get inside the heads of “heroes” and “villains” alike.
7) Big surprises, as shocking and powerful as any I’ve read or seen in any work of narrative fiction ever. You want to stay as spoiler-free as possible about these books, that’s all I’ll say. Like, if you start reading them, don’t even read the back-cover or inside-flap blurbs. (Seriously, DON’T.)
8)  This is hard to articulate, but suffice it to say that having read all four currently existing volumes, I’m ENORMOUSLY impressed with the loooooong game Martin’s playing. I don’t want to say too much more, but when you’ve read enough to start getting a sense of where it may head in the final three volumes, it’s kind of stunning in scope.
9) There’s basically nothing glorious whatsoever about violence as portrayed in these books. Most great fantasies don’t skimp on the emotional consequences of being enmeshed in these great struggles — the scouring of the Shire and Frodo’s departure are obviously the beating heart of The Lord of the Rings just for starters — but I don’t think I’ve ever read a heroic fiction that so relentlessly drives home how war and violence immiserate and degrade everyone who participates in them. There’s a haunting flashback in the first volume that in other hands would have been a depiction of some great and glorious last stand, but Martin imbues it so thoroughly with a sense of great sadness and loss and waste and terror. It’s beautiful and really humanistic. Now, I know Tom Spurgeon, who’s no dummy, STRONGLY disagrees with me on this — he thinks it’s Mark Millar’s Ultimate Lord of the Rings — but as he’ll also tell you, he’s in a very small minority on this.
10) That said, when there is action and violence, it’s really strong and really heart-pounding. And when there is fantasy, it’s exciting and strange and awesome.
Well, are you sold? Because in all seriousness, I recommend these books without hesitation or qualification, and have to readers ranging from my Destructor compadre Matt Wiegle to the fiftysomething mother of two grown children who works in the cubicle next to me, all of whom are basically over the moon for them.
Da bleibt mir nichts hinzuzufügen !

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