Tag Archives: george rr martin

Would you spend $1995 on Ice and Fire?

This eBay listing is for a set of all five ASOIAF books, each a first edition hardcover signed by GRRM himself.  The “Buy It Now” price is $1995.95.  This set isn’t up for auction, but the seller has set up a “Make an Offer” option.

While obtaining this collection would certainly unlock a “True Nerd” achievement, I don’t think I could ever drop $2K on signed books, unless maybe if I had all the gold in Casterly Rock.  Also, it doesn’t feel as special if GRRM didn’t sign them for me.  George wasn’t able to personalize books at the A Dance with Dragons signing I attended, but it still felt special because I had a few brief moments of contact with him.  Waiting in a bookstore for five hours was a labor of love, and the signed book was my trophy.  Somehow spending a crazy amount of money for a signature feels like cheating.

There’s something else about ASOIAF that doesn’t seem congruent with spending two grand on signed copies.  ASOIAF is one of the most successful series I have ever read.  It defies genre, breaks down cliches and stereotypes and has something to appeal to everyone.  Those very things make it seem, in my mind, like a series of “books for the people.”  While well-written, with a complex plot, extreme amount of detail and a sophisticated set of themes, ASOIAF is not bourgeois.  It’s gritty and in-your-face, much more working class than aristocratic, which is ironic considering most of its characters are noble lords and ladies.  Perhaps the fact that I classify it that way makes me reject any notion of spending thousands of hard-earned dollars on signed copies.

Would you consider buying this?  Comment with any reasons why or why not.


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Dancing with Dragons

Here on the East Coast in the States, it’s technically less than an hour until A Dance With Dragons finally makes its debut.  I feel as though I should write about my feelings or my expectations or something, however high-school-journaly that may sound.  I’ve thankfully been able to avoid spoilers up until now, and hopefully I can continue to do so until I complete the novel.  Though I know there will be many fanboys and fangirls testing my spoiler-avoiding prowess at GRRM’s signing on Thursday.  Working full time really puts a kink in any plans to hide oneself away, safe from trolls, in a nice quiet place, to read away until there’s nothing left and the world is once again safe.

To be honest, I have no right to claim that I never thought this day would come.  I’m relatively new to the ASOIAF fandom.  Several years ago in college, a friend told me to read the series.  I Wikipedia’d it to get a general idea of what it was all about.  I still have a clear image of what I imagined while reading the Wiki synopsis, which was different from what can be found today.  I imagined the Starks as a family as cold and ruthless as the winter they so anticipate.  I saw Dany as a dark-haired woman, not a child, making her way through glacial landscapes to reclaim what was rightfully hers.  And one of the main characters was a dwarf, a fact I found rather unique.  That trip down memory lane aside, I never started ASOIAF at that time.  I was wading through college and professors were throwing books at me from all directions.  I didn’t have the stamina or time to take on such an epic.  So I bookmarked the ASOIAF Wiki page and promised to pick it up in the future.

Years later, in 2010, HBO was running teasers for Game of Thrones.  I knew that if I wanted to experience the books the right way, without any precedent, I had to start them.  And so I bought each and finished each and here I am.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get into the series sooner.  Fortunately for me – and I consider this a huge plus – I didn’t have to suffer the painful five-year wait for the next title.

But now, whether you’re a fan from the beginning who has struggled to keep sane this last half a decade, or you’re someone who picked up the novels after catching the HBO show, or like me, you fall somewhere between, one thing is certain:  We can all rejoice tomorrow, when we get the next dose of the drug we’ve all been craving.

As far as expectations go, mine are high.  Maybe it’s the title, or the characters that will be featured, but I’m anticipating ADWD to be of the same caliber as A Storm of Swords, which, in my opinion, is the best in the series so far.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to the possible convergence of several storylines:  Jon Snow dumped his bastard’s baggage when he turned down Stannis Baratheon’s offer of Winterfell in exchange for the Night Watch’s support; he is now building up his identity as the Watch’s new Lord Commander, and will hopefully continue to do so between wildlings and bitter kings.  And with a Lannister, a Greyjoy and a Martell heading toward Daenerys Targaryen, we may finally see the young queen (now in practice and not just in name) insert herself into the affairs of Westeros.   For me, these two characters – ice and fire, respectively – are the two true heroes of the series, and I can only hope the fifth book ends with them on their way to connecting with each other.

There’s a host of questions in my mind.  Who is Jon’s mother?  Who is Quentyn Martell?  Did Varys truly grow up a mummer?  Who is Coldhands?  Is Tysha alive?  Is Syrio Forel alive?  Will Arya be okay?  Will Jaime run back to Cersei?  Will Bran Stark find the three-eyed crow, and what exactly is it?  Are the Children of the Forest actually extinct?  Where is Rickon?  Is Davos dead?  What will new characters like Barristan Selmy and Melisandre reveal?  Will Theon Greyjoy escape the Dreadfort?  Is there any hope for a Northern revival?  Where are you, Howland Reed, Maege Mormont?  Will we learn about Lyanna?!  Rhaegar?!  I could go on, but what’s the point?  I’m sure you all get it.  We all want the same thing, and we’re so, so close to getting it!

Finally, let me just say one thing:  HAPPY DANCING WITH DRAGONS!

Note:  There will be NO ADWD SPOILERS posted on The Kings’ Keep.  I will also most likely take a hiatus for a few days in order to complete the book without taking the risk I may stumble upon some myself.  Until then, happy reading!

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Episode 1: Winter is Coming

Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark in HBOs Game of Thrones.

*Warning:  This post contains mild spoilers for Episode 1 of Game of Thrones.

Episode One. Winter is Coming. I’d waited for this hour of television more than I’d ever waited for anything on TV. And it was marvelous. Not perfect, but a great start to something I hope gets better and better with each passing week.

When a great master would begin a painting, he started from the beginning. He drew up several sketches and transferred the final drawing onto a canvas. Next he broke out his paints and laid down the imprimatura, a first layer of paint that essentially primed the work for the more detailed and intricate layers that would follow.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are our masters. HBO is their canvas. All the fantastic actors, set dressers, costume designers, and crew members are their paints. And Winter is Coming, the first part of this 10-episode series, was their imprimatura. We didn’t get a lot of plot, but we were given a hazy view of the direction in which the work is heading. More than anything, the first episode gave us a basic understanding of the story’s central characters: a father struggling to be honorable in an unjust world; a scared and lonely princess, exiled from her home; an outcast dwarf putting mind before might; a young girl who would rather wear gauntlets than gowns; and so on. George R.R. Martin fuels his novels with his characters, who constantly change, follow unexpected paths, and challenge our morality. I whole-heartedly expect HBO’s version to follow suit, and they’ve already painted the base needed to create a beautiful and emotional final work. Each week they will give us another layer to the painting, and by episode 10, we’ll be able to discern the moments they’ve been working toward since the beginning.

Even though the most intense scenes are yet to come, this episode had its moments as well. In the Winterfell crypts, King Robert Baratheon remembers Lyanna Stark, his one true love, who he lost long ago. Actor Mark Addy shows such grief and regret that part of me wanted to weep (an urge I didn’t feel with the corresponding passage in the book). During the king’s feast, Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf, both enrages and instructs Jon Snow with his use of the word “bastard.” An unspoken, implicit bond is formed between the two outcasts. And in the tensest moment of the episode, Ser Jaime Lannister shocks us all (even if we know what’s coming!) when he proves just how far he’ll go for love.

The first episode of Game of Thrones was not perfect. Some of the scenes felt rushed, bits of the dialogue felt off, and there were perhaps too many shots of people just standing against beautiful backdrops doing nothing (Theon and Jory at the execution, Robb and Ser Rodrik in the direwolves scene). The episode is mostly exposition. But that in no way invalidates it. The series has to start somewhere, and with so much to establish early on, it can only tackle so much in its first hour. And I have the utmost faith it will only get better: Just as a Renaissance masterpiece would fall flat without its foundation layers, so too will Game of Thrones find itself lifeless unless it builds up from the beginning.

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