I imagine if I were a two and a half decades younger, I would have had a blast reading this--it would have felt sweet, as the Fear Street books did, o...moreI imagine if I were a two and a half decades younger, I would have had a blast reading this--it would have felt sweet, as the Fear Street books did, or books by Christopher Pike. I went through a phase when that was fantastic. I think, when I was a kid (tenish?) I read The Face on the Milk Carton and liked it, and maybe misremembered it as something closer to the I Am the Cheese oeuvre. Whoops. Pretty sure I need to allow that judging a book by its cover is an OK thing to do once in a while.
A few highlights:
She forced herself to cry silently. Itchy, annoying tears ran down the sides of her face and into her hair and ears.
...a redhead down the hall was waving cheerfully. “Hi, Emily! I’m Ginger.”(less)
This would be a compelling piece to teach or read with a robust book club: so much about memory and nostalgia, about fear and abuse, about beginnings...moreThis would be a compelling piece to teach or read with a robust book club: so much about memory and nostalgia, about fear and abuse, about beginnings of the world and selves, about the roles of the female characters / protective matriarchy within, about what makes a modern fairytale, even about the marketing of what was meant to be a short story and became something that reads like a YA or teen.
The whole lane was unpaved back then, just wide enough for one car at a time, a puddly, precipitous, bumpy way, with flints sticking up from it, the whole thing rutted by farm equipment and rain and time. (location 228)
She smiled at us both, brightly. She really was pretty, for a grown-up, but when you are seven, beauty is an abstraction, not an imperative. (location 1709)
She waved at the house and the sky and the impossible full moon and the skeins and shawls and clusters of bright stars. (location 2129)(less)
I think this series suffers from the syndrome that is--"I enjoyed the first book but the rest have fallen fairly flat." Part of this is because I felt...moreI think this series suffers from the syndrome that is--"I enjoyed the first book but the rest have fallen fairly flat." Part of this is because I felt an expectation: there is a family, the Starks, and though they have scattered, they would collect again and scatter, etc. But this is a formula. And Martin is following a different formula of sorts--instead, his characters are perpetually journey'ing and often dying in the process. The joke is to not fall in love with a particular character because that character will die. (Fortunately, my two favorites from the first book are still present in this book. Three, actually.)
I've reached the end of what Martin has published in this series, for now, and I hear he has two more up his sleeves, though we aren't certain he has enough years to write those. I'd like to see a conclusion, as this is one element of the series that has made me squirm a bit--the threads that get dropped for hundreds and hundreds of pages and just when I think he's forgotten about one character or another that I expected to be more important, such as (view spoiler)[Richard's illegitimate son, (hide spoiler)] they return, though only briefly.
Indeed, it could use some editing and yes, I love a wonderfully thick novel.
I also was tired of the use of "…as useless as nipples on a breastplate." (Got it. Silly.)
I'd love to have a discussion with someone some day about the female characters in the novels. They're interesting and treated in a variety of ways; they'd be useful in a class studying tropes and subverting them, as, at least, the introduction to such, in a 101 kind of way.
A few highlights (apologies for the lack of paragraph breaks; I'm reading this on a tablet and they save as blocks of text):
“Be quiet, wretched child,” scolded Lady Leona. “Young girls should be an ornament to the eye, not an ache in the ear.” She seized the girl by her braid and pulled her squealing from the hall.
“Wylla has always been a willful child,” her sister said, by way of apology. “I fear that she will make a willful wife.” Rhaegar shrugged. “Marriage will soften her, I have no doubt. A firm hand and a quiet word.” “If not, there are the silent sisters.”
And yes, I will take your women too. I have no need of blushing maidens looking to be protected, but I will take as many spearwives as will come.” “And girls?” a girl asked. She looked as young as Arya had, the last time Jon had seen her. “Sixteen and older.” “You’re taking boys as young as twelve.” Down in the Seven Kingdoms boys of twelve were often pages or squires; many had been training at arms for years. Girls of twelve were children. These are wildlings, though. “As you will. Boys and girls as young as twelve.
Oh, it was all too much. Plots within plots, but all roads lead down the dragon’s gullet. A guffaw burst from his lips, and suddenly Tyrion could not stop laughing.
For the sweet, each guest was served a skull of spun sugar. When the crust was broken, they found sweet custard inside and bits of plum and cherry.
“You started young.” “Too young. But better that than wait too late.” A stab at me, Asha thought, but let it be. “You are wed.” “No. My children were fathered by a bear.” Alysane smiled. Her teeth were crooked, but there was something ingratiating about that smile. “Mormont women are skinchangers. We turn into bears and find mates in the woods. Everyone knows.”
Dany wondered where Daario Naharis was, what he was doing. If this were a story, he would gallop up just as we reached the temple, to challenge Hizdahr for my hand.
The queen of the rabbits could not be seen without her floppy ears.
Cunt again? It was odd how men like Suggs used that word to demean women when it was the only part of a woman they valued.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A few random bits, not dwelling on the fact of this book's focus on dull plotlines and bouncing from Cersei to Jaime in tedium being a disappointment:...moreA few random bits, not dwelling on the fact of this book's focus on dull plotlines and bouncing from Cersei to Jaime in tedium being a disappointment:
“Your supper guests, I know. What plot is this, now? There are so many I lose track.” His glance fell to the water beading in the golden hair between her legs. (location 7596)
I know, Jaime, I know.
- - - - -
As always, the treatment of gender by characters is compelling, with Queen Cersei and Brienne and others as compelling figures.
And being cruel to women becomes a signal for awfulness in characters:
“The gods made men to fight, and women to bear children,” said Randyll Tarly. “A woman’s war is in the birthing bed.” (location 4505)
“Did Lord Randyll command you to follow me again?” “He commanded me to stay away from you. Lord Randyll is of the view that you might benefit from a good hard raping.” (location 7852)
- - - - -
And then there's the weird cliche (really? did they really say 'fuck that'? and did her heart really 'go out to him'?)
“Horses, that’s what we want,” one of the wounded men said. “Fresh horses, and some food. There are outlaws after us. Give us your horses and we’ll be gone. We won’t do you harm.” “Fuck that.” The outlaw in the Hound’s helm yanked a battle axe off his saddle. “I want to cut her bloody legs off. I’ll set her on her stumps so she can watch me fuck the crossbow girl.” (location 11808)
Seeing him this way made Arianne’s heart go out to him (location 12663)(less)