I've been reading George Martin's fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice for over a month now and am mid-way through book three. Book four is now out. There are days I love the series and days I am bogged down and think it will never end. Sometimes the things I love and hate are the same.
For instance, he has created a very indepth and fully functioning world. The downside? There is so much I can't even begin to keep it straight. If Martin himself has made errors on which lord flies which banner and who that lord is currently loyal to and how that differs from whom his father was loyal to, I will never know. I cannot fathom Martin himself keeping it straight with even the best database available. The amount of minutae is amazing.
There are thirteen point of view characters, and it's possible I missed some in my counting. One of them has not yet intersected any of the others, and he's killed a couple off so I guess we're down to eleven. Thankfully she is interesting in her own right, and is advancing on the rest of them. Martin does not rotate through them like clockwork, which is a good thing because their circumstances are not all equally compelling at any given moment. Unfortunately, not each character is all that compelling either. One thing Martin HAS done well, though, is title the chapters with the pov character's name and make each pov voice distinct. They do change and adapt and learn things, but their personalities remain strong and clear. A couple of these characters are not clearly either *good* guys or *bad* guys, and that keeps them interesting as well.
What would it take to write a series like this? My mind boggles at the thought. I have to admit I don't really want to write something similar. I prefer getting in less heads and having one major story to tell with a few subplots woven in. Is it because I am a lazier or newer writer than Martin? I don't think so, but some may differ, and time may prove otherwise. This is not what I aspire to.
One thing I want to do as well, however. I want my characters to be as unique. I don't want a family to have eight kids simply because that's the size of families typical for that era or its birth rate or birth control level. If a family has eight kids in one of my stories, I want it to be because eight different personalities need to interplay to bring the story to completion. A story can't afford to have a bunch of second level characters that bring nothing distinct to the table.
Anyone read this series? What did you like or dislike about it? Enquiring minds want to know.