When I was in 4th-5th grade, there was a little book series that grabbed my attention right from the beginning... it is called Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings was one of those series that always left me craving more. It was addicting, enjoyable, and exciting throughout and when I finished the books... I didn't know where to go next. Lord of the Rings made me feel like the fantasy genre was epic and that every book in a series left you craving for more. But boy was I wrong.

My next fantasy series was Inheritance...

Hopefully you could understand the shame I tried to show in that last sentence. Eragon was alright but I hated Eldest and Brisingr. I didn't even bother with the fourth book because the series was so unappealing to me. While LOTR had some interesting philosophical questions and themes plus action, Inheritance was like fantasy genre Leap Frog. While back then I didn't read for the themes, Inheritance never gave me anything exciting; it was just bland. Lord of the Rings had me staying up all night (against my parent's wishes) instead of going to bed. I read LOTR under a flashlight instead of playing Pokemon late at night (well sometimes I put in Pokemon Silver). 

From then on it seemed that I would never find a fantasy series I could put in my favorites along with Lord of the Rings. 

I think the problem is how most fantasy novels borrowed heavily from the Lord of the Rings lore. Since LOTR is widely considered the pinnacle of fantasy, most writers essentially copy and paste that storyline with new enemy names. Even fantasy films leave most of us desiring more. The fantasy films (aside from LOTR) place gore and action in the forefront instead of plot and character development. It's disappointing because the genre I so wanted to love, just kept giving me re-hashes of the Lord of the Rings storyline.

But last year I finally found the one series that give that same sense of amazement that Land LOTR gave me when I was much younger.


A Song of Ice and Fire.

One of the things that intrigued me about the series was that it didn't really follow the LOTR storyline that other novels followed; it was instead all about conspiracy, politics and the game of thrones. Having point of view character was refreshing instead of following the story of one hero. The only other book I've enjoyed that had POV chapters was Catch 22.

Another aspect that I love about ASOIAF is how all the characters are flawed. There are no morally sound, "perfect" characters in the series; everyone has their own agenda and carries their own burdens. Even Ned Stark, the "good guy", has his own flaws. No one is perfect in the series. There are no just knights in the series, there are really no "perfect" rulers; this aspect makes the series feel real.

Speaking of the series feeling real; the fact that George RR Martin is fine with killing off major characters keeps the series feeling realistic. There is no Jack Bauer character who can survive 27 nuclear holocausts; there is a chance for anyone to be killed off. Some are unexpected, some are heartbreaking, and others you celebrate.  You never know what to expect when you're reading this series as even POV characters have the possibility of being killed off. It's a marvelous thing how Martin can create engaging characters, kill them off, and then create more exciting characters.

The final aspect of the book series that I love is the intellectual part of the book. What I mean by "intellectual" is how Martin handles the philosophical questions and themes in the story. Is there more to the meaning of "winter is coming" than just a drop of temperature in the world of Westeros? How does Martin handle the contrast between fire and ice within the series; what is fire and ice used for in the series? Or you could look at the theme of power in the series.

"There are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces."

This quote by Littlefinger sums up the game of thrones and how everyone fights for power; while I don't want to spoil everything, no one can be trusted and everyone has their own philosophies for power. The final theme in ASOIAF that intrigues me is the role of women. It is interesting to see the contrast of whores and wives, who are dominated by men compared to the likes of Daenerys, Catelyn Stark and Brienne.

There is just so much rich content in both the books and the TV series, that is just at some points overwhelming. To say this series is addicting is an understatement. Every chapter leaves me longing for more and some events make me need to collect my thoughts to understand what just happened. No series has had me this engrossed since... Lord of the Rings.

Is it better than Lord of the Rings? I personally don't think so. While the series is excellent I feel that Martin has way too many POV characters at this point and the flow of the chapters has weakened because of it. It is still great, but I fear two things; that the series will become clustered and that Martin won't finish the series. Martin is old, doesn't look the healthiest, and takes a very long time to write each book.

To say that ASOIAF revitalized my fantasy genre passion is an understatement. While there are others I'm just starting to read like Robert Jordan, Martin was the first author to make me addicted since Lord of the Rings.

So... do you enjoy ASOIAF or the TV series?

Well that's it. So I'll end this blog with a final word: