Lately, my reading time has been spent in Westeros, a world created by George R. R. Martin for his series, A Song of Ice and Fire. My son is a longtime Martin fan, and many library customers are as well: all are anxiously awaiting Book 5 in the set. Meanwhile, HBO is producing a TV series based on Martin's works. Called A Game of Thrones (also the title of the first book), the first episode airs April 17, and the first season is supposed to roughly correspond to the first book. I decided it was time to read the books - before the TV show airs. I'd been putting it off, because these are big books, and I have to be in the mood to read fantasy. I was soon captivated by the world of Westeros, and the intrigue and complications of life in a somewhat medieval society.
Martin has lots of realistic, complicated characters. It isn't easy to tell the heroes and villains apart. The heroes have flaws and make mistakes, and even the worst villains have some redeeming qualities (well, maybe not one of them...). Entranced by the first book, I started the second as soon as I finished the first. I enjoy piecing together bits of information to figure out something, and that happens in these books.
When I finished reading the books, I listened to the audiobooks and caught some details I had missed. Roy Dotrice, who performs the first 3 audiobooks, is marvelous; he brings the characters to life. Realistic characters I can care about are very important to my enjoyment of a book, and Martin's books are well and intricately plotted, too. There is profanity in the books, as well as graphic violence and sex. If that isn't a problem, then I highly recommend these books for folks who like to spend some time in another world.
Writing this, I‘ve remembered some of the other worlds I have loved to visit. I was in junior high when I discovered Sylvia Louise Engdahl, and her 3-book Children of the Star series, as well as her Enchantress from the Stars/The Far Side of Evil set. These are favorites which I reread every few years. Mercedes Lackey has written several related series taking place in a world she calls Valdemar. Marion Zimmer Bradley created a world called Darkover, and even invited readers in to play. Along with Bradley's books, there are collections of short stories by other writers which take place in the world Bradley created.
I love getting immersed in another place and time, and seeing the world from that different point of view. J. K. Rowling created a wonderful magical world with her Harry Potter series. In his Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer created another magical world, just as wondrous, and completely different from the Potter world. I enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, and am hoping that the sequel, The Wise Man's Fear, will be just as wonderful when it comes out this week.