My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In 2003, my 17-year-old son was going off to a week of camp, and he urged me to start reading a series of fantasy books he loved. The next one is coming out soon, he said, you should read these so we can both read the new one and talk about it! Soon I was deep in a world of wights and direwolves and vaguely medieval men and women living in a feudal system and a complex religious landscape and even dragons. I came to love the Stark family, fiercely, and to grieve at the ways life tore them apart.
We had to wait four more years for the fourth book, and it has been another four year wait for the fifth book, due to be published this summer. Given that my brain is now even more full of oldness, this seemed like the right time to re-read the books, which fortunately are available on Kindle, as I would no longer be able to lift the actual books. I pelted through the first book. The point-of-view chapters are very short compared to those in the second book which made it easy to pick up and put down and also to keep reading, knowing I would soon be at the end of another one. I remembered the book fairly well, probably better than the later books in the series, but what’s most fun is being able to verify that certain things were indeed foreshadowing.
I’m trying not to pay attention, much, to the Internet chatter shared with me by my now 20-year-old (who, for instance, is Jon Snow’s real mother?), who was also reading the books for the first time 8 years ago. He started them before I did. I probably wouldn’t have put that much sex into the hands of a 12-year-old boy on purpose. Actually, I definitely wouldn’t have, but it was his 17-year-old brother who started it. He now says it was confusing and weird for him, but I guess it was no worse than the chapter of “The Godfather” I read on the school bus at that age, or the copy of “Rosemary’s Baby” I sneaked into the bathroom. I did read one Internet review that suggested Martin should leave the sex out of it, and maybe that’s a good point. It’s not his best element. But it’s part of life and these novels with their broadly-described universe wouldn’t be fully human without it.