I’ve decided the Once Upon A Time 8 book challenge category my reading falls into best is “The Journey”, because I don’t know what I’ll be reading next. My library holds are coming in fast and furious now, for some reason; to keep my “good library patron” street cred, I have to pick up the holds — physical and electronic — within just a few days of being notified they’re available, and then read and return them within three weeks. This past week, the library notified me that my turn had come on three separate requests, so I’m busy busy busy reading them, and none of them qualify as folklore, fairy tale, fantasy, or mythology.
That said, I’ve gathered the reviews below for the three qualifying books I have read since the beginning of this challenge. These are all part of George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” cycle. I’ve done my best to review them without spoilers for those of you whose only knowledge comes from the HBO series, Game of Thrones.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow. Some big (and unexpected) events that I totally didn’t see coming, and one I did because I’d already seen it on television.
War is still raging throughout Westeros — a storm of swords, indeed — and an ancient threat from the North has manifested. Lots of blood and death and sex and violence. The constant action and shifting viewpoints make this a relatively fast read for all its 1100+ pages; I finished it in less than two weeks, reading mostly while on my daily train commute and several hours on weekends.
That 1100+ pages bit is significant. I rarely tackle epic fantasy such as this because of the sheer volume and the fear that once I get started, my completionist nature will force me to finish long after I’ve lost interest in the series. It’s a credit to Mr. Martin’s talent that I’m still fascinated with the world he’s built.
Bring on A Feast for Crows!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a bit of a slog. Lots of story elements from some major and more minor players; lots of death, including one I didn’t even notice had happened until another character mentioned it and one that happened completely offstage (I assume it will be covered in the next book); and one character I really like had deadly stuff happen but may or may not actually be dead — I’m really not sure. And then there’s the return from the dead of a major player. Ick. Still enjoying the series because Martin can certainly tell a story, but I’m ready to get back to the dragons now.
Theory and speculation: Just to preserve my thoughts at this point in the series. I believe Jon Snow is Robert Baratheon’s legitimate son, and the rightful heir to the throne. Here’s how I think it happened. Robert married Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna in secret right before the Civil War that deposed the Targaryens and set Robert on the Iron Throne. During the war, Lyanna died in childbirth (in “a bed of blood”, according to A Wiki of Ice and Fire) but before she died, believing the child to be in danger (from Targaryens, probably), she made Ned promise to take the child and raise him, saying the child was his own bastard. Now that all the major players in this speculation are dead, though, it’s anyone’s guess who Jon Snow’s mother might be.
My first reaction upon finishing this book? “Curse you, George R. R. Martin!”
Lots of stuff going on with Danaerys and her dragons. Theon reappears, causing me to wonder if he’s going to redeem himself. I never particularly liked him, especially after Winterfell, but no one deserves to receive the kind of treatment he’s gotten from The Bastard. Not even Joffrey. Okay, maybe Joffrey, although he’s long since been dealt with, so that’s rather a moot observation. Plotting and conniving and political maneuvering, and a rather unexpected backfiring of same, takes place in King’s Landing. Another character I thought was dead isn’t, and this one I was glad to see return. More plotting and maneuvering going on at The Wall. And an ending twist that caused me to throw the book down in the last pages and curse GRRM to the skies.
When’s the next in the series scheduled to be released? Oh. We don’t know. *sigh* Now I know how my friends who read The Wheel of Time felt.
If you’re interested in seeing what other folks have read during this challenge, click the banner at the very top of this post. If you think you might want to join in, click the badge next to this paragraph to read all about the challenge. I hope you join us!