Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE fan of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). I am also a fan of HBO programming, so it’s no surprise that the result of merging the two, “Game of Thrones,” has become my non-negotiable favorite show on TV. It’s very possible that it’s actually my favorite hour of the whole week.
My history with ASOIAF is interesting. As I mentioned, I am big into HBO and when “Game of Thrones” was announced and subsequently previewed, I knew I had to give the new show a try. One episode in and I was hooked.
I knew I would have to read Game of Thrones, the first book of the series for which the show is named after. We all know that the books are always better than movies or TV adaptations. Before I got around to starting it, I was bored one day at my former cubicle job and began looking up information about the series online. If you’ve ever done such a thing, you know that the Internet is the enemy of plot secrets. After no time at all, I knew all about the series: the characters, their stories, the twists, the deaths, the fights. Everything.
You’d think that watching the full first season of Game of Thrones and reading the Wikipedia pages of each book in the series (in many cases, taking it step further and reading characters’ pages as well), would rob any need actually READ the BOOKS. For whatever reason, I went ahead with it anyway. And so began one of the most important literary relationships of my life.
I tore through all five published books in record time. I fell in love with these fictional characters and fictional places and after reading one particular scene (a huge turning point in the third season), I sat in bed with silent tears streaming down my face for almost an hour. And I had known it was coming!
When students read the classics in school and, with the help of English teachers, analyze its literary devices, I’ve heard them wonder if books are written “that way” anymore. Do books today still give us that detailed imagery? Foreshadowing? Character development? Or, have the classics been around long enough that we (English teachers) have simply had the time to FIND these things?
ASOIAF reminds me that yes, books are still written “that way.” The writing is, simply put, beautiful. The first read gives you plot, but the re-reads give you an appreciation of the writing and all of those literary devices that can be so challenging for students to understand in school. The modern twist comes from the Internet, which is full of websites and forums where fans can ask questions and discuss their thoughts. My favorite website, Westeros.org, hosts a forum with thousands of members, threads, and topics such as “Moments of Foreshadowing,” “Favorite Lines,” and “Most Crackpot Theory.” This website gave me an even better understanding of the series’s greatness.
Of course I’m sad that season 3 of “Game of Thrones” has ended. My love of the books has overshadowed my love of the show, but the show still brings them to life. Although Martin is currently working on the sixth book of the series, my most optimistic guess for a publishing date is late next year. The closest thing I have to look forward to is October, when Martin comes to DC for Capclave, a literature convention hosted by the Washington Science Fiction Association. I bought tickets last November…
I write this post to give a little more information about myself – I’ve always been a reader, and so any book that has such an impact on my life shapes who I am. But also I want any non-readers to think about the value a book can have. As a future English teacher, my honest hope is that each student truly connects with at least one book in their life the way I have with these.