Second Chances

If I have said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Life is too short to read bad books. But sometimes the parting of the ways comes not through any fault of the book itself. This year I decided to give A Game of Thrones another go.

I started reading it a couple of years ago, I guess. It was the first library loan on my brand new Kindle Fire. If you look at my top pages and posts on any given day, you will likely see how that particular relationship ended. Long story short, I sent back the device before I finished the book.

I was content to live Throneless for the rest of my days, but the universe has ways of changing our minds. It started with discovering A Clash of Kings at the Friends of the Library book sale. Hard cover, good used condition, $2. Then over the course of the year, I found three others in the series at thrift stores. A near-complete series cost me just over three bucks. The universe wins again. I found a copy of book one (at the used bookstore, and guess who had trade credit?) and a few days ago, I sat down to read.

My original thought was that the world Martin built is more memorable than the characters themselves. My second thought was that A Game of Thrones is possibly the worst book to read during the polar vortex. I’m cold. So cold. Winter is coming? Whatever, Starks. I’ve got news. Winter is already here. I hate Catelyn already, what with her nice hot water steaming through the walls, and all I’ve got is this stupid rice sock. The snow is going to pile deeper still, and we’ll never get out, and I’m almost out of milk! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! Wait. Where was I?

In the first ten pages, I was drawn into the story. I could not remember why I was able to put this book aside so easily. Oh, yeah! There it is! Now I remember! In a world with thirty main characters, it makes sense to give some of them the same name. And how’s about we toss in a nickname or three? Eddard? Sometimes we’ll call him Ned, even when the chapter header refers to him by his formal name.How about Robert and Robert and Robb. And let’s toss in a Brandon, a Bran or two and maybe some oats for fiber. I’m waiting for a Jehoshaphat to pop up somewhere. I’m just gonna call him Steve.

I’m struggling as well with the line between fantasy and reality. Newborn dire wolf pup that licks someone’s face? I’m not overly familiar with the species since they went extinct about 10,000 years ago, so maybe it was possible. No, it’s not. I’m more ready to believe that fossilized dragon eggs come to life than I am that five spoiled children have the ability to train pet wolves to advanced levels. I’ve actually trained a dog or five. There’s only so much reality I can suspend. Fantasy I can deal with; schoolgirl fantasy I cannot.

I’m hung up in the nitpicky things. Because it’s cold, and I’m grouchy, and it’s cold. But I’ll keep reading. The universe says I must. I still have hopes for it. Maybe. Except for the fact that Martin hates both his readers and his characters.

Have you ever given a book a second chance? Did it end well? I’m pretty sure this one’s not going to end well. I’ve read the jokes. “Why isn’t George R.R. Martin on Twitter? He’s already killed all 140 characters.” But I’m in, at least for now. Worst case scenario, I hate the series and resell them at the used bookstore to buy Harry Potter action figures with my windfall. Best case scenario, I find a new favorite series and languish in agony until the 6th book comes out. I’m hoping for the latter. I never pick up a book without hoping it will become my new best friend.

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33 thoughts on “Second Chances

  1. I need to give that book another chance. I started to read it but kept getting distracted.

    I tried to give Eat, Pray, Love another chance during my divorce. I made a dollar selling it at a yard sale, so I consider that a success.

    (Love the Larry, Darryl and Darryl picture; I about died laughing when I realized Larry was the original Sheriff on True Blood)

  2. I read book one, highly recommended to me by my friend who loves all books that I detest and vice versa. Naturally, I didn’t like it. His writing style wasn’t for me. I do like the story, though. I guess I’ll just watch those books instead.

  3. I haven’t read the books, but I love the series on HBO. It’s not available on Netflix to stream online but you can order it by mail, if you have Netflix. They haven’t finished the series on HBO yet either. I don’t know if I’d be able to read such a complex series, so many characters like you said.

  4. “I’m more ready to believe that fossilized dragon eggs come to life than I am that five spoiled children have the ability to train pet wolves to advanced levels.”

    ~Slightly Spoilery~

    As you read, you’ll see there’s a reason the wolves were so easily trained, but, truly, only the near-grown children (Robb, Jon, & Sansa) were able to train their wolves. Rickon’s wolf is near-wild.

  5. I decided to read the books before letting myself watch the series, it took awhile but by the time Ned’s head rolled I was hooked (just started bk 5) During the daily carpools etc I catch myself wondering how close i am to the next ‘Thyrion’ chapter! I agree, all this cold/winter dialoge is tough to take right now though.

    • I probably won’t watch the series at all. I get embarrassed by shows that are too naughty, and I know what HBO does to their programs! So it’s the books or nothing for me!

      This weekend is supposed to be above freezing, so maybe I’ll enjoy it more!

  6. I haven’t even tried to read this series yet. I’m curious, but I’m stubbornly sticking to my “not until all the books are out” rule. I mean, I’m not sure I’d want to read them all back-to-back, but I definitely don’t want to go years between books either.

    The only book I ever gave a second chance was Gregory Maguire’s Lost. I’d bought it before I came up with my rule of only buying books I’ve already read. It actually worked out well; I enjoyed it much more the second time around.

    • Martin has been kind of a turd about the last book. I heard him an interview kind of gloating about people clamoring for the last book. He said he might wait 20 years to finish it. You’re smart to wait.

  7. Wow, I’m glad I’ve read these cos there’s tons of spoilers in your comments for people who haven’t.

    I love them, but I can understand why you wouldn’t.

    • There are spoilers. But I don’t mind too much this time around because it’s helping me decide whether or not to keep reading. Martin is pompous, which bugs me. But I’m becoming more engaged in the story.

  8. I read the first four books and, despite trying to keep all the names straight, enjoyed them. Then, came the fifth one,and I gave it up entirely…..too long….too boring. I love the tv series, even if they have made changes.
    One novel that I re-read after many,many,many years was “Catcher in the Rye.” Half-way through the second time,I threw it across the room. Such self-indulgent whining! For me, it is extremely over-rated. Other books, such as “The Once and Future King,” “Catch 22,” “The Great Gatsby,” I can re-read with great satisfaction and enjoyment.Thank God, we have a world of books to choose from, and each finds its own readers.

  9. I always read the free sample on my kindle, and if it doesn’t draw me in by then, usually I put it aside. I recently just did that with “These Broken Stars” (the beginning is very Titanic-esque), but it had such good reviews that I decided to give it another go and read past the sample, and am I ever glad I did – it wasn’t at all what it first seemed to be and I loved it! So yes, sometimes they deserve the benefit of a doubt, but there has to be something there to give me one.

    BTW, the Game of Thrones books do pick up. I really enjoyed them because they really aren’t predictable at all. There are some slow parts to some of the books (at least a third of book 4 was a yawn), but they’re worth sticking with. That said, there are a lot of storylines to keep track of, so I can understand why some people may not be into that.

  10. Once you get through the first book, you know the people, and new people are slowly introduced, so it’s not too hard to keep them straight. Until the 5th book, when it’s all “POW HERE ARE A BILLION NEW PEOPLE SUCK IT UP SONNY JIM!” and I’m seriously so stalled I can’t even get up enough energy to care. I keep trying, though. I WANT to care. I just don’t know that I have the energy.

    The series is very much naughty-times. It’s nudity-a-poppin’ over there. My dad was visiting once and he was all “hey, people say this is good! We should watch!” and I was all “I WILL NOT WATCH ALL THESE BOOBIES WITH YOU, YOU ARE MY DAD!”

  11. I’m with you BC. I tried, I really tried, but I decided that I just couldn’t make it to the end because of two reasons: To many names an nicknames (so confused) and evil dominates. The world news is enough “evil triumphs” without my fantasy books ripping my heart out without giving me a hope and a prayer. The HBO was so full of nudity that you could see me blushing and that’s quite a feat since I’m brown and no prude. Sigh! I got halfway through the third book and gave up. Let me know if you make it to the end.

  12. I suspect it is because I have always loved the genre I can easily suspend and drop into the worlds the author builds, I love Game of Thrones. I read it the first time when George Martin first started writing, the only thing that annoyed me was the time I had to wait between books.

    I love the series, it is about 70% accurate and it is beautifully shot.

  13. It took me about three tries and then FOREVER to get through the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Now granted, this was back when I was a teenager and before the movies made everyone elf-crazy (although you can’t blame the masses for wanting to caress Orlando Bloom’s pointy ears…or is that just me?). Once I finally made it about halfway into the book, I was hooked and finished it and the Lord of the Rings trilogy shortly afterwards.

  14. I really loved how well written the first Game of Thrones book was…but I couldn’t get past how depressed it made me. After about 100 pages I gave up, and haven’t tried again. I hope you have better luck!

  15. GOT is waiting for me on the Kindle. Can’t get past screen 5, or something. I shall try again!

    I recently re-read We Need To Talk About Kevin. You may remember how that went. 😉

  16. First of all, I love this entry. Please always write – never mind, seems you’ve beaten me to that one 🙂
    Secondly, I personally love Game of Thrones, but I definitely see where you’re coming from with all the names. I’ve watched the first 3 seasons twice now as well as read the books, and I still get mixed up on who’s who. I’m constantly having to ask Toby. However, reading the book (well, the first one any way) did help make things slightly clearer.
    Thirdly – I recognize the Larry, Darryl and Darryl quote, but can’t place it. Where’s it from? It’s driving me nuts!

    • L, D &D are from Newhart. I loved that show!

      I just finished GoT, the first in the series. I’ve started on the second, and now there are a slew of characters that I don’t recognize. Now I have to figure out how each of them fit into the tedious politics of the other book. *sigh*

      There are a couple of characters i like. They killed off one of them. Martin is a bad, bad man.

  17. Pingback: The One In Which I Confess | Becoming Cliche

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