Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Re-Reading 'A Song of Ice and Fire'

It's been a busy reading month.  In preparation for reading the 'A Dance of Dragons', the latest installment of George R.R. Martin's series 'A Song of Ice and Fire', I decided to re-read the previous four novels (all 3496 pages).  It had been a few years since I had read them originally and after a reviewing the plots summaries on fan site dedicated to the series I realized much of the story hadn't stuck with me.   I really enjoyed the HBO series based on the first novel as well, so it seemed like a fun project.

When I was a kid I read and read Tolkien's LOTR multiple times and the first Dune book a couple but other than that I've never been a re-reader.  In my rough calculation it's been  25 years since I read a book more than once.  My expectation was that it would go quickly.  That's not been the case however.

I'm finding much more enjoyment in the minor characters and over arching back story than I did on the first read.   On the first pass I was so intent on finding out what was going on with the main characters that I would skim past sections where they weren't present.  It turns out I missed a lot.  At this point in my re-read I'm well into book 4, A Feast for Crows, and though it was the last book I read it's the one I remember the least details from.  I think my frantic reading pace had accelerated to the point where I was hardly paying attention when I read it the first time. 

In a previous post I wrote about an interesting theory I had encountered while reading the ASOIAF fan-sites about who one of the main characters real parents where.   On the second read through the books that theory is obvious.  Whether it's true is another thing all together  but G.R.R.M was telegraphing it pretty heavily throughout the first novel.

As much as I like HBO's Game of Thrones it's passing over a lot of the back story that ties the characters and main threads of the story together.   It's will be interesting to see how they deal with that as the series progresses.  My dream is that when G.R.R.M finishes the series and the HBO completes the main narrative that they do one extra season that tells the events that set the story in motion.  I generally hate prequels but I think this one could be awesome.

Overall it's been a lot of fun re-reading the series.  It's taken more time that I thought it would because I'm absorbing more and delighting in the all the glorious details.  Once I read ADwD I know I'll want to re-read it too.  I'm also starting to wonder what other books might be better on a second go round:  Blood Meridian perhaps.

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