189 "A Rash of Kings"
March 31, 2014

I remember a time before I was introduced to Game of Thrones, but it seems so long ago now. I was pretty late to the game, though, hopping into the series not too long after the first season wrapped up. I watched those first ten episodes more times than I can recall before season two aired. I think I had started to read the books sometime after season two finished, primarily because some of my roommates had, and I could never be in the room when they discussed the series. But I had only gotten through the first book and maybe the first third of the second before I ran out of steam.

With season four right around the corner, I decided I was overdue on catching up, and I've been doing a lot of reading recently in anticipation of the new episodes--aside from drawing, most of my spring break was spent reading. Over the course of the past month and a half, I picked up from where I had left off with the second book and am currently a few chapters deep into the fifth.

Something that I really enjoy about the series is the differences between the show and the books. Obviously you're going to get more details and a different perspective from the books than any sort of film adaptation is capable of achieving on the same level, but I do think that the show is a phenomenal interpretation. But it's very interesting to see the differences in how things are presented and how they unfold between the two versions. Ultimately they're telling the same story, but as it goes on there are larger disparages between the books and the show. I haven't really heard of any complaints about the show not staying loyal to the books (aside from claims that some scenes just weren't done proper justice--Blackwater comes to mind in that regard), but I'm glad that the show isn't really trying to be a verbatim translation, since it keeps things fresh and interesting even if you're familiar with the books. Having said that, there are definitely things that I'm interested to see how they handle in the upcoming season, simply because the way those things are being approached is so different--or rather, they don't seem to be being approached at all yet.

The only thing that bums me out about reading the books is knowing that I'll soon be joining the ranks of those who are waiting books with no set release dates rather than seasons that only have nine months of downtime between them--which has been painful enough as it is. I guess I should just be thankful that my wait for the books won't be nearly as long as the wait that many more have suffered.

I also have to confess that I audiobooked most of Storm of Swords, though only to get caught up through most of season three's events, which I primarily did for two reasons. First, so I could have it on in the background while drawing, working on homework, or driving--it's a convenient way to get through reading while you're doing something else that doesn't require your undivided attention. Second, because I'm a pretty slow reader. I read somewhere recently that apparently you're not supposed to "hear" the words in your head as you read them, which up until that point I guess I hadn't really considered was even a possible thing. It turns out I've been reading incorrectly this whole time. My mind tends to wander off enough as it is when I'm reading (resulting in having to reread things multiple times, because my brain was thinking about other things while my eyes were skimming the words), and this concept of just "absorbing" words is very foreign to me. If there's a method through which I'm supposed to be comprehending things I read without digesting them as I read them, I'm not very practiced at it.

But I will say that I was thankful to switch back to regular reading when I did. I (perhaps surprisingly?) don't consider myself to be an incredibly imaginative person, and I have difficulty visualizing characters and scenes unless I have some sort of preconceived notion of those things beforehand, so I actually am glad that I started with the show rather than the books--but the audiobooks were completely destroying my interpretation of the universe. I don't know if anyone else has heard them for this series, but they've got some old English (or maybe Scottish? I'm terrible at identifying accents) dude reading them. Not only do half the characters sound like leprechauns (with some notable exceptions, like his Tywin, which I've described as a strange mix of Christopher Walken and Richard Nixon), but it was also a little uncomfortable having someone like that reading the more "intimate" scenes, including descriptions of a certain dwarf's throbbing member and the ecstatic moans of those that it encounters. I feel that those scenes are better enjoyed voicelessly.

Finally, I have to make a plug here for Fantasy Flight Games's incredible A Game of Thrones: The Board Game. If you're a fan of the series (or even if you don't know anything about Game of Thrones and you're just a fan of games like Risk, Civilization, or Crusader Kings) and you enjoy board games, I seriously can't recommend it enough. That isn't an over-exaggeration, I'd really like to recommend it enough, but I don't think it's possible. I think it was about a year ago or so that one of my roommates at the time bought it, and with one or two exceptions, we got a group together and played it literally every night for about a month. Then sometimes after we finished a game, we'd sit around the table with the board still out and discuss the session we just played and talk about potential strategies for future sessions. It's a fairly complex game, but once you know what you're doing it's wonderful. There's a huge degree of strategy and resource management involved, at it's a game that encourages alliances and betrayals between players. It can be incredibly stressful, but it's always a lot of fun. Unless you're losing. When you're losing, all the fun I talked about is gone.