Monday, November 24, 2014

The Whores of Boiled Leather

16th Century German Halberd, Cleveland Museum of Art, 2014

I recently finished reading - actually listening to while I drove or puttered around the house - George R.R. (because one 'r' isn't enough!!!!) Martin's 5 book opus (so far, with more books to follow, eventually), "Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice".  While I am a HUGE fan of the HBO show, Game of Thrones, I am less enthralled by its work of origin.  Martin's insistence on repeating himself endlessly, describing each detail over and over again as if it were new, taking up pages and pages with tiresome minutiae that detracts more than it adds to the overall narrative.  When you trim off the fat you have what the show presents, which is lean, fast-paced storytelling at its best.
But what I found most disturbing about the 5 books came about  in the last two: "A Feast For Crows" and "A Dance With Dragons".  In both books the female characters are treated even more violently than in the previous three, and are nearly universally referred to as either 'whores' or 'cunts'.   This was shocking.  I applaud Martin's abilities in world-building, of which he is a master, but he is a wretched writer, or has become a wretched writer.  Despite the conflated verbosity of the first 3 books, the writing isn't so laborious that you want to throw the book across the room with great force, but there were enormous sections of the last 2 books when I left the room while the CDs spun their tales of boiled leather and whores.  I folded laundry, I went to the post office, I took the dog for a walk.  Never once did I lose the thread of the story because precious little was happening.  Whores!  Boiled leather!  Corn!
My only interest at this point in seeing Martin finish the series is for the sake of the show.  Although if he doesn't, at this point, I trust the show runners, D. B. Weiss and David Benioff, to finish the story of Westeros for him, and us. 

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