[To our regular readers. This post falls largely in "the Universe, and Everything” aspect of Concurring Opinions' topic mix. It is going on summer, and I thought that you might enjoy a review of some fiction in case you get to the beach. Plus, I’m tired of packing]
Hi, my name is Dave, and I read epic fantasy books. In my defense, other other corporate law professors do it too. But it is still sort of hard to be a public fan of a genre that produces badly written tripe on a regular basis, serialized over multiple volumes in an apparent attempt to squeeze every last cent out of the fan base, recycling old themes over the course of many new “worlds”, which is sometimes just plain embarrassing to buy in a store. It’s no help that the “literary” writers in the genre are pretentious and extremely difficult to read. If I wanted dialog without attribution, I’d read A Frolic of His Own. At least it is about law.
Still, I consume a fair bit of this stuff over the course of the year. And I’ve noticed that authors in recent years have taken a real turn for the darker shades of grey. On the whole, this is a good thing. Adult themes mean better writing, which legitimizes my reading. George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is the best and most popular example of the trend. Martin’s method is to drive the story forward through the eyes of multiple protagonists. The novelty (for fantasy, that is) is that he regularly kills off these starring characters. There is pretty graphic sex and violence. He also refuses to make any character totally good or totally evil; almost every member of the cast is tarnished. The magic in the series is mostly an afterthought to character development and politics.