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Read the blog sites on line and save yourself a little money
on 15 October 2013
I must admit to having downloaded a few of the many books about the books; giving in to my inner geek. One of the first I read was "Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Swords" by Henry Jacoby. This is a truly excellent compilation from many writers, all of whom seem to know about their subject and offer new insights. This excellent start may have set the bar a little high, but there are several other similar books that do a pretty good job of at the very least entertaining the reader.
Valerie Frankel seems to be a true fan of George RR Martin and is clearly thrilled to have met him and heard him speak. This makes her my type of person. She has also written parodies of Harry Potter which by all accounts are extremely entertaining, so she can obviously write. Unfortunately, if you are going to write a book for geeks you have to have facts and most of them have to be accurate. This is where she falls down, she wanders into regions of history and geography that are clearly not her area of expertise. There may, for instance, have been 300 Spartans at Thermopylae - but I doubt there were many ships; the oracle was supposedly alluding to Salamis when talking of wooden walls. A geek would not get this wrong. Similarly, while George RR Martin did indeed say he based much of his book on The War of the Roses, I suspect he based it on the real war and not on the group of disjointed half facts about the war presented in Winning the Game of Thrones and I truly hope that "based" does not simply refer to a few coincidental similarities in the spelling of character's names.
Playing the name game is great fun and a favorite geek pursuit - but if you are going to write a book based on that either get really credible examples or evidence that they really were the intention of the original author. Valerie Frankel really goes to town trawling examples from the Blogosphere. Strangely she does not go with Joffre and Sansa being Gioffre Borgia and his wife Sancia (Sancha) of Aragon (my personal favorites)... and here lies the nub of my criticism. Valerie Frankel is a fan and she has read blogs from geeks that she happily has transposed to her book - but she is not a geek and she does not have the sad obsession for facts that we geeks are subject to.. so perhaps this was not the ideal book for her to write.