Last week-end I just completed the book 5 of the song of ice and fire series. Book 4 was leaving the reader somewhat puzzled with a lot of the book’s characters in limbo. Book 5 may bring closure to some of these stories, but opens up several new one as well. And while the previous books were harsh on the characters, book 5 sees no relief, maybe the story line becomes even more brutal.
The book cover reprints several praises for the book in which the reviewers compare the series to the Lord of the Rings, and the author to JRR Tolkien (naming him, “the american Tolkien”). I think they are quite wrong. Tolkien was writing for the children. Yes, it was fantasy, yes there are wars and fights in the Lord of the Rings. But the book is never gore. It never speaks of sex. Few characters die. Most characters are either good or evil, few are in between. The Song of Ice and Fire is at a 180 of that. It is not a read for children. The book is full of gore and horrors “of the war” (not a real war of course, it’s fantasy, but with a high attention to realism). Most characters die. Actually, I have never seen that many front role characters die in any book or movie. But it feels more realistic. Seldom characters are all good in the book, and the few who are do not survive long (a hero in the book is soon a dead hero). Some of the most evil one survive. But good or evil or neither, it is cunning and wisdom that help them survive. And evil tends to be a lot cunnier that idealistic heroism. So no, it does not have much of Tolkien, and that’s all the better.