Monday, June 03, 2013

George RR Martin, master storyteller

This blog post is dedicated to the proposition that George RR Martin is objectively a major figure in the literature of the early third millennium.

I speak as someone who has read the Ice and Fire books, some of them more than once, but has not been following the TV series week by week. I like many others have criticized Martin in the past for brutalizing his readers and for letting his story grow uncontrollably as he follows many many characters at greater length. I like others have before me the terrible example of Robert Jordan, another author wrote a huge fantasy series but died before he finished it. Pictures of George RR Martin made me think he doesn't follow the healthiest of lifestyles.

Nevertheless, George RR Martin has become a major force in contemporary storytelling. Four times now he has made thousands, indeed millions, scream.

Some years ago, the book version of the death of Ned Stark shocked thousands of fans, many of whom rushed to log on to fan forums and express their passionate response.

Some years later, readers had a similar reaction to the Red Wedding in its original written form.

The TV version of these events have motivated millions to express themselves, to the point that some people said that last night the reaction to the video version of the Red Wedding "broke the Internet."

Anyone who can do that is a master storyteller.

(This may seem to undervalue the contribution of screenwriters, directors and others in the TV version of Game of Thrones, but my reading of interviews with the actors convinces me that they see themselves as following Martin's vision.)

Now this may all be a flash in the pan. There are other TV series that are making a big impact, getting serious discussion in other media, being lauded as cultural touchstones of our era. But I feel it necessary to admit, publicly, that Martin is really something.

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