Posts Tagged 'beyond the wall'

2012 Book Meme!

Here’s a fun little 2012-in-review book meme! I found it at Catherine Pope – Victorian Geek via Ruby Bastille. Links go to my reviews.

Using only books you have read this year (2012), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

Describe yourself: Bossypants (Tina Fey)

How do you feel: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Describe where you currently live: Beyond the Wall (ed. James Lowder)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Hyperion (Dan Simmons)

Your favorite form of transportation: White Horse (Alex Adams)

Your best friend is: An Object of Beauty (Steve Martin)

You and your friends are: The Devil All the Time (Donald Ray Pollack)

What’s the weather like: Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)

You fear: Disgrace (J.M Coetzee)

What is the best advice you have to give: This Love is Not for Cowards (Robert Andrew Powell)

Thought for the day: Eat the City (Robin Shulman)

How I would like to die: Blackout (Connie Willis)

My soul’s present condition: Revenge (Yoko Ogawa)

Whew. This was harder than it looks! How would you answer these questions using books you read in 2012?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books for People who Like George R.R. Martin

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to list the top ten books for people who like a certain author. Our challenge was to pick an author and give book recommendations based on that author! As you can see, I have chosen George R.R. Martin, AKA the bearded troll god, writer of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF).

So! If you like George R.R. Martin, you might also like:

1. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Though there are some sci-fi elements (time travel!), much of this book focuses on the harsh realities of medieval life, including dirt, disease, and lack of scientific knowledge. Willis also has Martin’s same penchant for killing off your favorite characters, sympathetic and otherwise.

2. Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
To really appreciate Martin, you also need to appreciate the fantasy tropes he’s dismantling. For better or worse, many of these tropes originated with Tolkien’s massive fantasy epic. (Which isn’t to say they aren’t a good story, too!) Both also have massive casts of characters and impressively interwoven relationships.

3. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
Martin’s tales are filled with sex and violence, and thoroughly break down the idea of the good and noble knight. Duncan’s novel (first in a trilogy) reworks the werewolf–lately somewhat neutered by its depictions in Twilight and its ilk–into a savage beast that revels in killing. Both are pretty dark at times, but also give reasons for hope.

4. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
Carey’s world-building, like Martin’s, is fantastic. This series takes place in Terre D’Ange, a fictionalized version of France in a very different version of Europe. Her imaginative religions rival Martin’s for sure. (And her sex scenes are much better written.)

5. The Wolf Hall trilogy, by Hilary Mantel
Shifting alliances, gray morality, court politicking–the only difference is the lack of magic in Mantel’s world. Otherwise, you’re basically reading about Littlefinger.

6. Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler
Perhaps a bit of a leap, but I think Butler challenges sci-fi and fantasy conventions just as well as Martin does. A challenging and thought-provoking read.

7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
This just has a lot of the same bleakness and same glimmers of hope that I think ASoIaF offers.

8. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
One of Martin’s great strengths is showing the cruelty, violence, and consequences of war. Haldeman does the same thing, albeit in a sci-fi setting.

9. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
I haven’t actually read this one yet, despite it being on my TBR list for ages, but a quick glance at its back cover and reviews makes me think that it would be a perfect follow-up to your time in Westeros.

10. Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder
In my review, I suggested this book for readers who are already fans of Martin’s series who want to delve a little deeper into its themes, motivations, and characters.

ASoIaF fans, got any other suggestions? Feel free to leave your thoughts–and your own TTT lists–in the comments!

Review: Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder

Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons is a collection of essays that critically examine different aspects and themes of George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. While the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, came out in 1996, it has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the release of the fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons–and of course, with HBO’s highly-praised adaptation. With this expanded audience, the time was ripe for some solid critical writing.

I wanted to start off by saying that overall, the essays where I actually learned something new were my favorites. Some tended toward rehashes of plot points from the novels, and while that would be helpful for any ASoIaF newbies reading, I think that the audience for this book is more likely to be veteran fans (especially as there are some spoilers for later books and fan theories in Beyond the Wall!) There could probably have been a bit more editing done, with that audience in mind; each essay tended to start with some quick generalizations of Martin’s work, such as Westeros’s startling brutality, the many crimes committed against women, the serious nature of the text despite being a “genre” work, etc. If each piece were standing alone, those sorts of introductions would have been fine; however, coming one right after another, the repetition was somewhat unnecessary.

I also found that the chapters I enjoyed most were the ones coming from outside writers and critics (rather than writers or other artists within the fandom). A certain distance is helpful when trying to apply a critical lens to a popular series. I certainly don’t begrudge any of the writers their close involvement with different aspects of ASoIaF (such as helping to develop its tabletop gaming incarnations) or their personal friendships with Martin, but I think it makes it that much more difficult to provide deeper criticisms. However, the caliber of the writers assembled for this collection tended to be high, and their pedigrees–as writers, comic book artists, professors, and game creators–were impressive.

Continue reading ‘Review: Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder’


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