Book Nook: The show is good; the books are better

Kathleen Duncan

April 9, 2014 at 4:01 p.m.
Updated April 8, 2014 at 11:09 p.m.

I was so mad that I threw my book at the wall, chucking it like a Frisbee of fury across the room. I fumed for a few moments and then, as I knew I would, caved.

I ran over to pick it up because I had to know what happened next. The book was too good to stop reading, no matter how infuriated or sad I was about what had just happened in the story.

That book was the first of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga. It was one of the few times in my life I have been incredibly thrilled to feel so betrayed by an author.

George R.R. Martin is exceptional because he is only loyal to the story. He will not keep someone alive just because he or she is beloved or popular or important. No one is special; no one is safe.

Martin kills, maims and destroys with flair. He will make you adore villains, detest heroes and cry over and over again when the character you hated then loved and then hated again dies in a way that makes you realize he or she was good all along. You'll shake your fist in rage, beam with joy and exclaim at his ability to always, always surprise you.

I admit, the show is good; it's excellent even. It'll make you yell and gasp and wait on the edge of your seat for the next episode.

But the books? The books are even better.

In case you haven't seen the show or read the books, I'm here to tell you that you should read the books first. (Obviously. I mean, come on).

You will start with the first in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, "Game of Thrones."

In a world where summer has lasted for ages and the coming winter promises to be even longer, the throne is in peril.

King Robert is flailing in his power. He is surrounded by subjects and family members who are less than loyal. Everyone is out to achieve their own ends, which in fact are one and the same - to be king of the Seven Kingdoms on the Iron Throne.

Those circling Robert like sharks around a bloody chop are knights, sellswords, wizards, assassins and a treacherous friend or three with a bottle of poison or a knife hidden up their sleeve.

Despite how it may sound, there are loyal subjects as well. These subjects work to harvest their land and protect their people. They will live or die by their honor. As a result of being honorable, they often experience shocking, untimely deaths. C'est la vie.

This stewing pot of betrayal, blood and familial fighting is surrounded by a wall. Outside this wall are the Others and the Children of the Forest. These creatures promise to add danger to an already treacherous existence. The wall should shield the Seven Kingdoms from them, but the wall is crumbling, and it no longer stands strong.

Now, the stage is set, and we must meet the families who battle for revenge, justice and power.

There are the Starks, loyal and honest, who reside in the cold, sparse North. They are true and loyal and believe in doing that which is right. As a result, they often suffer for it.

The Lannisters, those of golden hair and lethal smiles. Their plots are as common as their relatives.

The Targaryens, known for their relationship with dragons, survive in the last brother and sister of the old royal line. They live in exile and dream of recapturing the throne that was taken from them.

And finally, we return to King Robert. He who was once a great man and a strong ruler but is now collapsing into drink and ignorance while the throne slips from his flaccid grip.

It is delightful to see the characters of each family grow up, live, die and reap the consequences of their actions, deserved or not, fair or not.

In these books, there is true goodness and pure evil, but there is more of that which lies in the shadows of gray in between.

With the turning of every page, we learn that in "Game of Thrones," loyalty and truth doesn't always triumph, and the villainous are not always conquered.

Their world is corrupt and complicated, filled with bloodshed, intrigue and constant revelations.

The loyal may die, and the honest may crumble. The nefarious may pursue true justice, and the innocent may be betrayed or slain for absolutely no reason at all.

No one is safe.

And best of all, this is just the beginning. Wait until you get to book two.

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