Old School Fantasy: aka ‘Epic Fantasy’

Latimer: Good evening; I am the ever absent, but ever present Latimer (that’s an oxymoron I think).

My life recently has been a bit chaotic. But Ridley has bravely held the fort (actually, she built the fort; or re-built? Renovated? She’s lost in here somewhere now, the foundations of our creaky, cyber-space battle-ship of dreams!).

Fear not Ridley, like White Gandalf, I return to you now at the turn of the tide!

Basically, I have finally re-emerged from work; slightly the worse for wear, but triumphant (also like White Gandalf, I see a pattern emerging; Ridley is Frodo and I am Gandalf! It’s so obvious, ha).

Now, it’s time for tea and a blog; my first in what feels like years. Forgive my creaky style; don’t worry it’ll all gel together somewhere in the middle/end!

I wish I could be industrious like Ridley and blog a book review, but honestly I haven’t read anything (unless you want to hear about Frank Ryan’s Virolution- well once I fight my way through the rest of it-! Slowly but surely, I’ll get there; you won’t win against me Frank Ryan!).

So because of that, I’ve decided I’m going to start with a TV show that is also a book (see, it’s almost a book review! ALMOST!)—

My ‘renovation blog post’ is *drum roll* on Game of Thrones (GoTs) (one of the hottest shows on TV at the moment I reckon).

I saw this one coming over a year ago; it was a teaser for HBO way before it was due to come out in like May last year. We were being teased big time, for ages.

 It’s obvious from the get-go that HBO knows how to make a show. GoTs is shiny; it’s vast, it’s epic… and it’s peppered with a great cast (mostly England, Scotland and, Ireland as it happens; Joffrey goes to Trinity College (so Wikipedia tells me). I want to hang around Trinity and shout at him ‘you’re mad, Joffrey! Mad!’; wonder does he get that often? Hmm, I want to know!).

In the past, I used to read epic fantasy- mostly because A) my brother had an epic collection of epics and B) I was a kid and I couldn’t afford to buy my own books. I didn’t know Ridley back then so I had to make do with e.g. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and The Belgariad by David Eddings. Later in life, I read my own epics: The Guardian Cycle by Julia Gray and The View from the Mirror by Ian Irvine. There are common themes in epics:

– Author: usually a man (almost ALWAYS a man let’s be honest)

– Boy, farm boy, well, average Joe Soap. He’s just a kid; He’s a He (bar The View from the Mirror; a rare exception with a female lead)

– He might look it; but he’s not normal, he’s special (we are all writing that character, though, I will put my hands up on that score, the common in all fantasy, epic or urban)

– A terrible event, *scourging of the shire style*

– Boy leaves on a journey

– A shadow stirs in the East, a Dark Lord

– Annoying female characters, jaded knights, sex, war, blood, death, depravity, politics so confusing you no longer know where you are; names that make NO sense; place names that look like the author had a fit while typing; a million and one characters, with a million and one points of view that alter change and grow with each book in the series that seems to last an eternity to the point you no longer know if you even A) like the story anymore or B) know what happened in the beginning (so the re-reading cycle begins!)

– Mystic forces move in the dark, the characters enviably ignore them *just stories, Joe Soap of the Shire, just stories*

– And of course they aren’t

– Epic battle…

– PROPHECY! So important- ‘Joe Soap, you are the chosen one’

In the end, all the epic series you read blend together, so that you no longer know what events happened in what stories.

So, bar the lack of concrete Joe Soap (though, actually John Snow would probably suffice), Game of Thrones is a quintessential epic. Honestly, I have no particular love for epic books. They weave and twist and weave and twist; and at first you enjoy the weaving but then you realise you have gotten lost in a maze and it’s no longer fun and actually it’s just a chore to follow.

There’s a lot to be said for over-complicating stories. The reader wants to float, not struggle through your story. I want to be taken on a journey, not forced into a battle, with the plot.

I know the Game of Thrones story; I know he has a million and one characters and points of view. And for me, that’s why I can’t handle epics anymore (Lord of the Rings is the great outlier though!).

BUT wow, Game of Thrones is fun to watch!

HBO are going to work me through the confusing parts; the actors are going to show me the plot. So the stress is taken out of the epic (mostly!).

It’s not brilliant; but it’s good it’s really good. And it’s something different to watch. It’s got so much going for it. The opening theme is epic; beautiful.

The design is slick and realistic; it’s a grubby, deprived world, with nasty people, and only a few who you actually like. There is a LOT of ‘whoring’ though; sometimes very gratuitous- I’m no prude, but there’s an element of porn without plot in Game of Thrones, more often than not.

 Peter Dinklage is excellent as ‘The Imp’, Tyrion Lannister. You can’t talk about GoTs without mentioning Peter Dinklage. Although his faux-English accent is a little grating after a point, I forgive him this because Tyrion is smart, witty and he knows what’s going on (unlike much of the other characters) and I want him to outwit the people who think he’s pitiable; I enjoy the way he uses his head to fight his battles, it makes him an unlikely force to be reckoned with. He’s a political player; and you can tell he’s only going to get more and more involved in the power struggle as the story goes on. I lift my hat to George R.R Martin; the Imp is a very bold and intriguing character.

There’s also some nice eye-candy (Jaime Lannister and Rob Stark, par example). Even though my imagination can handle making a handsome man, it’s nice to have HBO doing the work for me!

I’m not in love with Game of Thrones; but I’m ‘in like’, very much so. It’s a good watch, there’s no getting around it. Once you get into it; it’s like eating a cake- ‘more! Give me MORE!’; it’s not the tastiest cake, but the sugar rush is so good! I would recommend it, if you haven’t watched it. Try a few episodes, get into it. The opening of the first episode is very atmospheric (I want to know more about the White Walkers; they seem to have been seriously neglected in series 1; I really hope they come back with a vengance in series 2).

Ah, yes, I’m blissfully ‘in like’ with Game of Thrones.

Series 2 is starting this week- so it has occupied my thoughts throughout the last week of struggling. Looking forward to something really takes the edge off the stressful things.

YES- Winter is finally here!

One thought on “Old School Fantasy: aka ‘Epic Fantasy’

  1. Ridley: Wheehay!! Latimer hath returned! Though I duno if I want to be Frodo, he wasn’t cool and had no powers, can I be a Black Rider? *nods* You have rejoined poor Ridders whose been in the peanut gallery alone for a bit, but it’s been good, I’ve been collecting things for you to go do and read! (pulls out bits of fluff, gum and shells-look look!) So, Game of Thrones, do you give it an LSA? ‘In like’ -it doesn’t seem quite there for one? Will I watch? (ha, just saw an ad on Sky for series 2…I feel as though I’m missing out…though I have Grimm! and Touch! They are gooood.)

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