The absolutely stupendous job that HBO is doing adapting George R. R. Martin‘s “A Game of Thrones” to the small screen (which seems a lot larger in these days of affordable high-quality CGI) has sent me back to reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. My first excursion to Westeros was by audiobook in 2009, and I will confess that I was a bit overwhelmed. All the many names, locations, languages, histories – it was more than I could keep straight. Perhaps it was the drawback of experiencing GRRM’s brand of fantasy by audio, or perhaps my talent for abeyance (to use Orson Scott Card’s term) lags behind that of the seasoned fantasy reader. I certainly enjoyed quite a bit of the book, especially those incredibly memorable scenes that HBO viewers are now being wowed by, but much of the depth of the work was, sadly, wasted on me.
Well, I’m back for another visit, and I must say I’m enjoying the hell out of it this time around. Maybe it’s because this time I’m actually literally reading (on my Kindle, granted), but more likely it’s because watching the HBO series sent me to the HBO viewer’s guide, and then to Wikipedia, and I finally feel like I have a handle on my Lannisters and Tullys, Winterfells and Harrenhalls, dragons and direwolves. Truth be told, I’ve been on a bit of an all-GRRM-all-the-time kick recently.
The trouble is that the novel I’m presently writing is a futuristic science-fantasy adventure, but reading GRRM and admiring the way he manages to build a magical world for adults, populated by such fully-realized characters, puts me in a mind set to go back to epic fantasy. Does anyone else have this problem? I find that after watching a movie featuring strong accents – say, Braveheart, for instance – I often leave the theater unintentionally affecting that accent. In the same way, when I read an author with a strong voice, I find my own voice gravitating toward theirs.
The real trouble is that I wrote much of this first draft while reading Neil Stephenson, and that helped me arrive at a voice for my first-person narrator that I quite liked – and that is quite incompatible with GRRM’s style. If you’ve read the two, you’ll know what I mean.
I suppose that’s the sort of thing I’ll clean up upon revision, but in the meantime it is a bit frustrating. It’s also hard to resist starting a new work of fantasy – or embarking on yet another new-and-improved rewrite of my unsold fantasy epic – but for now I’m exercising self-restraint. I’ll just have to save that inspiration for a later date. Hell, at least there are six more books in this series to provide inspiration.