When thinking about this series, it is important to note the fact that George Martin has two middle names: Raymond Richard. For most normal people, one name will do and, in some cases, they don’t even have a middle name. But George has two, and because of that, you have to say George ARRRR ARRRRR Martin every time you speak of him. He seems to apply this logic to his writing. “Hey, if I can write one book about something, well, why not write two instead? So there will be two books instead of one book. Get it?” Sometimes you just have so many characters that you have to write two books for just one book’s worth of story. And sometimes it takes you three years longer than you said it would take to release the second half of the story, added to the three years that people already waited to read the conclusion to A Feast for Crows added to the five years that people waited after A Storm of Swords, and his readers find themselves waiting for eleven years for what amounts to one book. ELEVEN YEARS. That’s absurd. With two books left, I’m not quite sure that Martin’s health can hold up for the interminable amount of time he needs to finish the series.
For now, I’m sticking with The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. Starting in 1999 with Gardens of the Moon, Erikson released one book a year (except in 2005), completing his ten book series in ELEVEN YEARS with the release of The Crippled God in February of 2011. I just finished the first book, and it promises to be every bit as complicated as the Song of Ice and Fire, but with a higher learning curve by far. Gods and men both conspire against one another, manipulating characters to their own ends in a continents spanning war. Curses are deflected, people are melted and turned to dust outright, dragons fight, crows talk and cast spells, armies march, cities are razed and a seven foot guy with a bastard sword named “Dragnipur” rides around in a giant black floating rock trying his best to kill gods and humans alike. And there’s also a magically insane puppet.
The characters are fully realized, unique and subtle, even if they are only in the story for a moment. The environment is at all times fantastic and foreign. My only real complaint is that I know Erikson has a very strong idea as to how everything looks and how the magic works, and I know that he does his best to describe it, but I don’t feel like I am seeing it exactly as he does. But I guess you can say that about any author and any book. Except for The Old Man and the Sea. If you can’t imagine an old man, the sea, a rickety boat and some fishing line, you really shouldn’t be reading anyways.
I’ve already started into Deadhouse Gates about three minutes after finishing Gardens of the Moon and probably have about two more of his books left in me before I take a break. I really should take it easy on the fantasy, but that’s all I can seem to pay attention to this year. Next year, I’ll start back into the classics. But wait. The new Locke Lamora book is scheduled to come out soon. I’ll need to read that first.