I am on the horns of a dilemma. (I always liked that phrase, because it sounds as physically painful as it is emotionally and it also makes the dilemma sound like a goring, charging bull. Which dilemmas often are.)
Two men and one woman–all of whom read this blog on occassion–are responsible for goading/lightly encouraging me to read the George R.R. Martin Epic Fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire.
If it weren’t for these motley friends of mine I would have sauntered past any book display with these books in the store. It would have turned into a light trot upon glancing the word “Fantasy” and then morphed into an all-out RUN FOR YOUR LIFE upon seeing the series title.
I have long had a very, very, very low tolerance for Fantasy novels. I have friends who love them and so I keep trying to read them. But I cannot stand the general milieu. I’m not one who goes in for cordwainers and wheelwrights and sorrowful princesses lounging on divans. I’m definitely not one for elves marching through woodlands and mages with long fingernails reading spells from scrolls. You see, I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons in my time and while the games are fun, the reading material in the genre keeps seeming forced and copycattish to me. It’s as though the Fantasy Genre for the last 30 years has been one long quest to rewrite “The Lord Of The Rings”. And while I’ll not fault anyone else for enjoying their chosen form of escapism I will happily stick to reading about women who open cafes and fall for handsome but careworn builders who sublimate their grief by remodelling old Victorian houses.
In fact, I was happily reading one such book and revelling in the sheer joy of it when I got an email encouraging me to read A Game Of Thrones, the first book in Martin’s as-yet-unfinished fantasy series.
I was hooked almost instantly. I took my Kindle everywhere. Pools, bathtubs, water closets, breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables. It didn’t matter. If I was there, so was my Kindle. I breezed through the book until…
I realised that if I kept reading at that pace it would be over. And that was just something I couldn’t have. Because while I want to know what happens I also don’t want to leave that well-written and perfectly drawn world.
So I dragged my feet for the last couple of days and just now finished Book One. Book Two is lying in wait on my Kindle and I’m torn between diving in and waiting patiently to make it last.
On the upside, I’m not allowing myself to read a word of it until I get at least 500 words written on my own work. It’s a nice motivator and works really well. Since I’m not writing Epic Fantasy I don’t find my own work suffering from authorial mimicry the way it does when I read something closer to the Women’s Fiction genre. Although I am starting to worry that there will be dragons appearing out of nowhere in the middle of my heroine’s cafe.