And upon hearing that the third series is imminent (I'm not affiliated with HBO in any way, but it premieres on March 31st, 2013, and if they'd like to pay me for that plug, they're welcome to!), I began to go back in time...
It is 1997-ish, and I'm working for a toy soldier company. My responsibilities literally include selling tiny knights and dragons and castles to our independent retailers every day. I am surrounded, constantly, by an epic medieval fantasy world. It is not surprising, then, that a fantasy series pops up onto my radar before the rest of country is really aware of it. A friend loans me the first book, and it is AMAZING: "A Game of Thrones" remains one of my favorite Sunday afternoon-nothing-to-do reads, along with "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Starship Troopers" (side note here: the novel of that last has no relation AT ALL to the movie, so go read the book, because it's just wonderful.)
I was a young man, then. A child, really, still learning how the world worked.
A few months pass, and this friend (one Marty Ruark) manages to snag an early copy of the second book from England (the company which employed us both was British, which may have helped there), and so in 1998 I dove into "A Clash of Kings". It does not disappoint, and manages to change my feelings about some of the reprehensible characters from the first book, and I am eager for more.
By the year 2000, I had left the company, but still fondly remembered my time with Martin's series, and was just delighted to find the third novel, "A Storm of Swords". It is BY FAR the best book of the series, and I was eagerly looking forward to the next installment.
As of 2005, I had since completed a degree in theoretical mathematics, and was earning a (very meager) living as a high school teacher in South Carolina. The fourth book FINALLY popped up in my local bookstore, and I dashed home to devour it. Sadly, it tasted like boiled squash...which is not a good taste. I was forlorn. Yes, I had gotten to venture back to Westeros, the imaginary land where the novels are set, but all of my favorite characters were absent, and the ones that were present... didn't do anything. One character spent the entire book searching for another character, frequently asking herself, "Is she in THIS village?" The problem with this "mystery" is that we knew darned well that the young girl being sought was half a world away, as we were following her in other chapters. So the first character's "search" chapters were just tedious, because we were absolutely sure she wasn't going to find what she was looking for, and... I mean, for cryin' out loud!
In 2011, the fifth book was released, and it is much better than the fourth, but still nowhere near the standard of the first three. In the interim, I have changed careers yet again, been married and divorced, and lived and worked in three different states. I have grown older, wiser, more handsome, and yes, some would say, more humble.
It's now 2013. I have recently celebrated a birthday which makes it pretty ridiculous for me to even approach undergrads, or, being entirely honest, even grad students for dates. Le sigh. I have a few hairs on my head that are, I insist, really, really blonde. I used to have just the one, but now it has returned, and it has brought friends.
I do not in any way but one feel old, though, and the one way in which I do feel old is this:
I have been waiting for the conclusion to this story since I was 23. TWENTY THREE.
Please do read the first three, and, if you are inclined, the fourth is required to get to the good stuff again in the fifth. But George RR Martin has also aged over that time, and writes ever slower... and goes on Pizza Crawls.
These are like pub crawls, except he and his fellows go for pizza at many different joints over the course of one evening.
It is my fervent hope that this health-nut lives long enough to finish the series.
Or, hell, that I do.
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE!! :)