Have you ever read a book and thought: "I'd love to travel to or live in this universe"? From all the books that come to mind, the "A Song Of Ice AndHave you ever read a book and thought: "I'd love to travel to or live in this universe"? From all the books that come to mind, the "A Song Of Ice And Fire" series by George R. R. Martin is probably not the first one you thought of. On the contrary, this book should be high on everyone's lists of world they do not wish to travel to.
This however is exactly the premise of "The Pen Is Mightier". Labeled as both satire and homage, Andy C.F. Crawford takes on Martin's famous universe in this book, including both non-subtle references to the original ASOIAF plots and characters, fans, and even George R. R. Martin himself. This is the story of Sed, an avid fan of the fantasy series, who miraculously figures out a way to travel to the universe of "Those Accursed Chronicles" (as the "A Song Of Ice And Fire"-series is called in this book). He even convinces the author that this is not a hallucination, and both fan and author are left to face their conscience: is it right to create and enjoy a bloody and violent fictional world, if it suddenly ceased to be fiction?
This book I would definitely only recommend for fans of GRRM's original series. None of the characters in this series are particularly fleshed out, unless you can link them their "A Song Of Ice And Fire" counterparts. The representations of the author and the fans aren't in as much luck. There's little depth to any of these characters, though they would probably pass several of Tumblr's diversity standards. The lack of depth is an issue throughout the entire book I think, it was all fairly basic, and it already starts with the maps: the Kingdoms are called Marsh, Stone, Sand, Forest & Sea Kingdom, which are, if you ask me, the most basic possible names, and they never really developed beyond this status.
The good thing is however, that the plot is more driven by action than character development, so this didn't really lessen my enjoyment of the book. Though not as flowery as GRRM's prose, the book did captivate me more than I had expected. The format of many POVs with short chapters worked well for its set-up, and I loved the inclusion of Reddit discussions and Wiki-pages. The only downside to this was that the Wiki pages detailed the character's adventures in the books, and a lot of these excerpts described the same happenings. Again. And again. Sadly, I don't think we ever learned more than the basics of these events despite the repetition, but I loved the way the story was told and how the modern media were incorporated into the writing. In a story set in the modern day, it doesn't make sense to include the internet after all, especially if the protagonist is both in college and an avid fan of something.
My favourite part of the book was Paul, the author, and the struggle with his conscience. After all, Paul - and his real-life counterpart, GRRM - put their characters through some truly cruel events, so it's interesting to see them react to it. I think GRRM's made of slightly stronger stuff than Paul, but all the same, throughout the entire book I was reminded of one particular interview with GRRM about the "Game Of Thrones"-tv show, whose quote I think deserves a mention in this context:
"At the premiere, I found myself talking to three very nice actors, at one point, who were very pleasant, and I was having a great time talking with them and drinking with them, and then I suddenly realized that I had killed all three of them, at various points in the series, and that they would all shortly be unemployed actors. And I had a moment of horrible guilt, but it’s already done." (x)
An entire book on GRRM's guilt, multiplied by ten. Fantastic! I also loved that GRRM's slowness in writing these books was taken into account, because seriously, I think that's what *every* fan of these books can relate to. I just hope GRRM doesn't have to take Paul's way out.
Overall: a decent book, that I think is more homage than satire. Though it could've been a bit better fleshed out, the book was captivating as it was, and it was definitely enjoyable in its own way.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review....more
Parzival is one of the more famous medieval German works out there. The work has so much depth that some medieval scholars devote most of the researchParzival is one of the more famous medieval German works out there. The work has so much depth that some medieval scholars devote most of the research in their life to this work. My professor used to say it's a work that grows with you, and that you never tire of during your life. Of course, she was one of those professors who has devoted her life to medieval research, but the point stands: Parzival is a book that can inspire amazing devotion.
But, it must be said, Parzival is not a very easy read for our times. The book is, understandably, written in a different way than books are written nowadays, which makes the book both hard to translate and comprehend. Students reading Parzival at university generally get an entire course to help them understand the epos. Not everyone however has this chance, and I'm assuming that's where this book comes in.
The title of this book very much emphasizes that this well-known medieval work is retold for a modern audience. I think this is misleading. While I can see where Lindsay Clarke modernized the story, for most people this might not be the case. The text doesn't exactly read like a modern novel, and as the story has only been changed minimally, the book really doesn't have a modern feel to it. As such, I wouldn't say that this book is a grail romance "retold for our time".
What this book is however, is a version of the story condensed to the main plot of the original medieval work, told in prose instead of poetry. If you don't have the chance to take a class on the Parzival, then the story of Wolfram von Eschenbach may at first be rather confusing. For those people, this book might be very good. You get the chance to get familiar with the story, in a relatively light read. Once familiar with the story, a translation of Wolfram von Eschenbach's original epos should be easier to understand. Even if you just want to get familiar with the story of Parzival without wanting to plough through medieval poetry, this is a good book for you.
But you shouldn't go in expecting a modernized version of the Parzival, because that's definitely not what this book has to offer. The story is still a good and influential one, but probably more enjoyable if you're not expecting a modern romance!...more