George R. R. Martin

Book review: A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with DragonsA Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Five down, two more to go. Well, assuming they’re ever finished, that is. But it does feel pretty good to have reached this point – that’s a lot of dragons, noseless dwarves and creepy sex scenes to go through. But it must be testament to the strength of the story that I’m still here … and a walk-up start for six and seven when they arrive.

The same criticisms I had for A Feast for Crows apply to this one. It’s still pretty obviously half-and-a-bit-more of one text too long for publication on its own, and the absence (or much-reduced presence) of the characters who drove the previous book sometimes leaves the reader with a feeling of isolation or amnesia. It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening where when certain people don’t turn up for a thousand pages or so. (more…)

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Book review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for CrowsA Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suppose the people were right when they suggested I’d seen nothin’ yet if I thought GRRM’s penchant for waffling was excessive in the previous book. This was easily the series’ most padded work. Many times I found myself retreading ground, or having stuff explained that’d been explained in either another book in the series or in another chapter of this book.

That’s understandable, I suppose – there’s hundreds of cast and dozens of locations in the world Martin’s created – but it certainly is very obvious when you’re reading the series (as it stands) end to end. As you start to build up your own storehouse of lore and family trees, the constant hand-holding can really weary. (more…)

Book review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The plan to read through all – well, the currently published – George R. R. Martin’s series in a row continues. Though I must admit I found this volume a little heavier going than the previous two. I can’t say why, exactly – it’s just more of the same; the writing is no more or less difficult than ever it was. But I found myself dragging my eyes’ heels (there’s a terrible image) through it.

It could have something to do with the length: locally, this is split into two books. On the Kindle it really didn’t matter, but surely to God there’s something in 1300 pages which could’ve been excised. (more…)

Book review: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, the second in the lengthy (and let’s admit it, perhaps never-to-be-completed) A Song of Fire and Ice series.

Reading this one took a little longer than the first. There’s nothing in the prose that’s changed too much, but it lacked – until the later battle passages – some of the quickfire snap of the first volume. Perhaps it’s as it spreads itself a little more widely? In the first novel there was simply Westeros and the Dothraki plains, pretty much – other places were mentioned, but the reader could pretty much think “cod-England and that sandy joint” and be pretty well situated. But here there’s more happening in Daenerys’ storyline in actual cities. It’s no longer courtly life versus who-are-these-horse-dudes? hardships. (more…)

Book review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, knee deep in the fourth season of the HBO adaptation of the cycle, I decided to read the source: George R.R. Martin’s books. And it’s the good choice: having seen the shows I’m already given a mental Cliff’s Notes to the tale, and I’m not likely to be disappointed by how the shows had dumbed-down the books; rather, I’m left in the position of learning how much the show leaves out. (more…)

Written in the WordStars

“I actually like it, it does everything I want a word processing program to do and it doesn’t do anything else. I don’t want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don’t want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.”

I was pleased to note that George R. R. Martin (whose mammoth tomes I’ve just begun to read) is fervent about something other than wearing that cap. He is one of a dying breed – the DOS user! More particularly, he uses WordStar to crank out his lengthy bestsellers. Not for him the (now Clippy-free) white screens of Microsoft Word or its free replacements. He eschews the fancy writer-friendly face of Scrivener. Instead, he spends hours facing this:

Mmm, chunky.

I said ChKWord, goddamnit.

Nice.   Of course, this isn’t the first time he’s mentioned this method of working. (more…)