Anyone who has read a lot of fantasy knows how each book tends to meld into another until, on looking back, you realise that you've lose track of exactly what characters are in which book, where they live, and what's going on. Every now and then though, you find an author who somehow manages to make you feel a closeness to the characters, and a geniune fascination in their lives. It's this that makes a fantasy novel or series stand out - and which means you may just remember it a few months after reading it! Despite having been reading fantasy for years, I neglected George R.R. Martin when A Game of Thrones first came out, and have continued to do so until a few days back. I now discover my mistake. The novel is superbly written, the characters diverse and original, and despite it's seemingly typical fantasy plot - political battles, a bit of magic here and there, honour, betrayal etc etc - Martin's approach leads me to believe I will not only remember, but come back to re-read his series when a few months have passed me by. Excuse me, must go buy the second book....
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