Tales of Ice and Fire

Last weekend I finally able to finish A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the, A Song of Ice and Fire series. This series is one of my favorite.

Many fantasy series are what might be considered “high magic,” which basically means that every fiber of the universe is dripping with magic, and magic is integral to the function of the story. For example, any D&D novel is like this, as is the dreadful Harry Potter series. Luckily, SoIF is not.

A Song of Ice and Fire might best be described as something akin to historical fiction with light touches of mysticism that add flare to both the story, and setting. I particularly like the fact that most things that appear to be magic can be explained away as “smoke and mirrors.” But, this is contrasted with other “true” mystical elements.

One of my favorite aspect of the writing style is the gritty realism throughout. It makes you feel the grime on your skin, and smell the fresh blood in the air. It is coarse, harsh, and captures the essence of the period beautifully.

Another excellent aspect of the series is the intricacies of the plot. The books are LONG, and have several point of view characters. All of these characters demonstrate all the complexities of a living world. When you’re reading you not only have to remember about the point of view character, but you also have to remember where they are, who they’re with, and what information is available to them. Since the realm is fairly large, and they only have conventional methods for conveying information, it is always interesting to see who has what information, and to see how that information has been corrupted over time. It is also interesting to see how the plots of characters play out over time. These books play no favorites.

You never know what is going to happen in the books. It goes well beyond the classical good triumphs over evil. In fact, up to this point, good is pretty much getting its ass kicked by evil. Perhaps the most solid pillar of virtue, Ed Stark, was brutally executed for essentially no reason towards the end of the first book. I am still stunned by it when I think about it. However, to a certain extent there is a level of karma in the series as well, since things always seem to come back on people.

Granted, this is all just an insubstantial rant, and not really a review (I always get crap for posting spoilers on my site). But, I hope that I have conveyed the essence of the series, and inspire someone to pick up the first book.

On my Undecim rating scale, I whole heartedly give the series a five, and encourage everyone to pick it up.