I have been discussing the aversion of a friend to fantasy fiction and tv/film and it’s interesting to note that their main problem with the genre – citing in particular Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, were the silly names – Mordor, Frodo, Targaryen etc. Why should they care about characters who were so obviously silly and made up to have names that they could hardly pronounce? They are not adverse to a bit of costume drama – having loved the Borgias for instance. Even though Game of Thrones uses names that aren’t that far away from historical ones didn’t make it any better apparently.
I did point out that Game of Thrones was immensely popular – but I have to say it probably isn’t as popular as Harry Potter, a fantasy series that really has crossed over into the mainstream. But what more mainstream name can you have than Harry Potter, Hermione etc. It’s only the bad guys who have silly names in Potter!
So where does that leave fantasy fiction looking for a mainstream audience? Ditch the silly names for your epic fantasy fiction novel – name your main characters Freddie and Ella? That doesn’t sound right somehow either. I think to a certain extent Paul Hoffman in his Left Hand of God series tried it – by using familiar historical and geographical names – and perhaps that worked in a way – or perhaps that just confuses the reader, or appears to turn fantasy fiction into just a post-modern game?
A couple of days ago I started reading the second volume of A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings. I read the first book, A Game of Thrones, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, but I hadn’t had time to pick up the second book until this week.
George RR Martin has created a great series and a very well constructed and vivid background world. And that’s what has actually given me a few problems in the last few days. I have had a real struggle to get into it again. Many of the first chapters of A Clash of Kings provide you with a bit of a summary of what happened previously, as well as telling you what’s happening now to the characters. What happens is the characters tend to talk to each other about what the current situation is and their plans. And this has been a steep remembering curve for me, with several glances to the lists (massive lists) at the back of the book, which are immensely helpful.
The world that George RR Martin creates is so detailed that I have had real problems trying to keep up, but slowly I’m getting there!
I respect George RR Martin for not just providing and idiot’s “Previously on A Song of Ice and Fire…” section at the start of A Clash of Kings, but in a way I’m such an idiot for not reading it sooner, that I probably needed it!
But after reading about 70 pages things are slowly coming back to me, and I’m hoping that the rest of the book will be an easier ride. Martin’s writing is amazing and I’m enjoying the bits without too many names a lot!