* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *
With the release of The World of Ice & Fire, I realized just how long it had been since I'd re-read the Song of Ice and Fire series...in fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long it's been ;) But [I think] I'm rectifying that now by not only re-reading the series but deciding to write about my, err, "adventures" in doing so, as well!
Due to the series' strong focus on the numbers seven and three, I've decided to block the books out in sets of either 7 or 3 chapters (or as close as I can, anyway). Therefore, this first post focuses on the Prologue and first six chapters of A Game of Thrones...
Yes, I've read these books several times already, and I definitely needed a lengthy break after cramming many of those times into the same year-long period. Perhaps I hoped that waiting a while would also make a positive difference in how I feel about the show, but sadly, that was not to be.
Still, the books have been my one true love from the beginning, and not three chapters into this re-read I remembered why that's the case. Which is funny, because the first time I ever read A Game of Thrones, it took me quite a bit longer to really get into it; in fact, I didn't care for the Prologue at all and found Bran's first chapter insipid. Needless to say, that's no longer the case.
The thing about reading these books over and over again is that there's really so much information, and every time I read, things jump out at me differently than they did any previous time. For example: the dead direwolf with the antler in her throat. If you go in not having watched the show or knowing much at all about the books, this likely seems like a trivial detail. Of course during subsequent readings I took note of the glaring symbolism; this time around, though, I'm also paying more attention to the characters' reactions to that symbolism. Catelyn, for instance, is especially bothered by it, which brings me to another observation...
If there's such a thing as women's intuition, Catelyn possesses it in droves. She worries about Ned going beyond the Wall, though he assures her that the dangers are minimal as the Others disappeared long ago. She knows when to fight against Ned (insisting that he must go to King's Landing) and when to acquiesce (agreeing that he needs to bring Bran along to hopefully become a companion to the princes). I may not be a *huge* Catelyn fan, but you can't deny the woman has an intelligence and grace that is lacking in many characters in this series. If you doubt me, just read her second chapter in A Game of Thrones...and hopefully you'll get a good chuckle out of her comment about "false modesty", just like I did :)
I know that one problem fans have with Catelyn is her treatment of Jon Snow, which I agree looks bad at first glance...but think about it. You marry a person who is supposed to be the epitome of honor, and then he or she is forced to go away for some time. When your spouse returns, so far as you know he or she has had an affair. The fact that Catelyn is so understanding about a "man's needs" makes me cringe a bit, but I suppose it also shows a depth of character that we living in the real, modern world would find hard to comprehend.
But then imagine that this person brings home the son that is a product of said affair, and raises that child in your home, alongside your children. Yes, this is Westeros, yes, things are different, but can you really not look at Catelyn's situation in this light and think, "Maybe she didn't handle it as well as she could have, but she handled it better than she needed to." Or at least something along those lines!
Of course, I don't think it helps that in this same set of chapters we meet Ned and Jon, and not in the best lights, either. Again, neither of these characters is a favorite of mine, and while I understand why others prefer them, it amused me that this time I found Ned sort of morose and boring, and Jon Snow was a bit, well, whiny. Now that I know what eventually happens to both of them - the decisions Ned makes and what befalls him, as well as how much Jon really grows up in the Night's Watch - it's easier to look at these first, somewhat frustrating chapters in a different light.
I feel there's also an interesting parallel between Jon's first POV chapter and those of Bran and Daenerys. Jon is twice Bran's age but only a year older than Daenerys, and while he may have a lot of growing up to do, he doesn't seem to have their innate innocence. Reading that very first chapter of Bran's was especially difficult, knowing what befalls him so soon, as well as all that comes later - including some of the important, and not altogether good, decisions he eventually makes. (I'm speaking of him warging into Hodor, here. Not good. Not good at all. But more on that much, much later.)
Daenerys had certainly seen some hard times, and the fact that she is essentially being sold into a sort of "slavery" is not lost on her or, hopefully, the readers. But her chapter still reads like that of a child, and I think I see that even more this time than any time before. Of course as we know she has to grow up very, very fast - as soon as she marries Khal Drogo, really, though she *does* end up facing far worse things.
I love how I've read these books several times already and yet don't want to put this one down right now. On to the next chapters!