It is so refreshing to be all geeked up over a fantasy series. “A Song of Ice and Fire” is the most engaging work of pop fiction I’ve ever read.
My reviews of the first and second books in the series focused on the characters and plot, so this time I want to focus on the series’ unique moral character. The struggle is not a simplistic matter of Good vs. Evil. There are certainly protagonists (those being the half-dozen or so point-of-view characters), with most of the others serving as some sort of foil, but each of the main characters can act downright barbarous at times, committing outrageous acts of dishonesty and cruelty.
Two characters in particular display the series’ complexity. Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of the deposed king of Westeros, is ruthless in her quest to regain her family’s throne — if burning a city or two is what it takes to advance her cause, well then, unleash the dragons! Yet she can also be compassionate and display an almost modern sense of decency; her banishing of both slavery and rape within her army is unheard of in this very medieval world, yet also seems perfectly consistent with her character.
And then there’s Tyrion Lannister. Selfish and cruel, the intellectual dwarf always has a self-serving agenda, and can betray a friend as easily as he allies with a foe. However, he is also at times the most noble character in the series; his scene with Sansa Stark, frightened and wary on the night of their arranged wedding, is memorably touching.
Roy Dotrice’s narration for the audiobook is again uneven. His voice is actually quite pleasant when he’s not embellishing, but his attempts to add flavor to his vocal personas too often sound contrived, at times ridiculous.