DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
Until I read this series, I always looked upon fantasy through the stereotypical view of basic fairy tales blown into literal epic proportions. As you can tell from the condition of the first book, I read it two and a half times. When a book becomes an inspiration to me, I will read it more than once.
What made me fascinated by the series was the profound levels of verisimilitude, such as the strict points-of-view that were written. I always found reading the other characters’ thoughts in a single chapter distracting. The point-of-view characters always encounter genuine danger, such as being held either in the dungeon or as war captives. By understanding the scope of lost time and judging whether the character might survive or not, it caused me to root for the characters in a way that no other book has ever done for its characters.
Since there are different points-of-view, there are also varying levels of microcosm and macrocosm. In other words, there are characters who are the main players in this game while there are characters who have little to no power of their surroundings. Oftentimes the distinction is blurred. This is what provides many perspectives to a single issue or problem.
It is also important to vividly describe the places and the clothing in order to create visual immersion and not use a mental facsimile, such as the HBO television series, which I do not watch besides the short clips. This series also perfectly describes a world where the only person that can guarantee your own safety is yourself. We spend so much time, in the tangible world of politics and the abstract world of fantasy, imagining the world we want to live in, not the world we have to live in. Ironically, this work of fantasy inspired my sense of cutting-the-crap.
However blunt this theme is, Martin writes with a witty banter whether in the dialogue or description. It also made it important to me that language in creative writing is itself metaphorical and can be manipulated to suit a particular mood. Within the content of the metaphors, he will often use what exists within Westeros or Essos, such as sigils. There is a difference between a flat metaphor like “floating like a butterfly” and “He had a laugh like the snarling of dogs in a pit.” What made the latter important was the laugh belonged to a knight who’s sigil is a dog (and is even dubbed “The Hound”) and creates a sense of relevance.
I hope to read the last two installments when they are released. Instead of expressing frustration at Martin to continue writing, I started reading his earlier books, such as “Fevre Dream” and “Dying of the Light.” I am still enthralled by his world and his writing style. An author should be judged by his entire body of published work, not only on his best-selling magnum opus. However, for this series, I would highly recommend this series to dispel any fantasy stereotypes that exist.