Years ago Don and I wondered into a store in downtown Toronto called Bakka Booksand fell in love with the little bookstore. It focused mainly on science fiction and fantasy novels and featured write ups on a variety of different novels that the owners, employees and patrons favored. We really enjoyed reading the reviews and picked up some really great reads because of them. It became a monthly ritual to drop into Bakka and see what was new.
Don, the lucky bastard, went to Bakka one afternoon without me. I am not sure why we weren’t together but I missed out. Big time.
He walked in on a book signing. It was quiet, but a few people were gathered around a desk at the back arguing with a man about putting the books one the small screen. One kid was even offering screen play suggestions. Don looked at the books stacked to the side of the desk, and selected one: A Game of Thrones. He read a few pages and was hooked.
After purchasing the novel he brought it over to the author, George RR Martin, and asked him to sign it. Not having read the novels, or knowing much about the series, he was at a loss for words when Martin asked him what he wanted on the book. Martin took the book and scrawled across the page: “Don, Keep your sword sharp!” and then signed his name.
Days later Don began cursing himself at fairly regular intervals. “I cannot %^$#ing believe I met the guy who wrote this book! I had the chance to ask him a ton of questions and I could not because I had not read it yet.”
We both blazed through the novel, and read all the books that followed it in the Song of Ice and Fire series. We have been waiting for the latest in the series, A Dance of Dragons, for years. (YEARS MARTIN DAMN YOU! YEARS!)
And now the series is on television, and it is awesome. Unfortunately, Don’s self flagellation has once again become a problem: as soon as the end credits roll he once again starts in on the “I cannot %^$#ing believe I met the guy who wrote this book and I had nothing significant to say to him!”
If you haven’t been watching the series on HBO, don’t start now. Go get the book, read it, thank me profusely for the suggestion and then watch the series. It is a fantastic world that Martin has created- but it is the characters that really make the novel sing. These are people you root for, mourn, love and hate. It also the characters that make the book better than the television series- and that is to be expected I think. You get so much more about who they are, what they are thinking and how they plan to act.
The series is exceptionally well done though, I thought it would be impossible to bring this particular work to the screen but they have managed nicely. We look forward to it each week- although I could seriously do without Don’s griping at the end. Come on Don, it has been about 8 years since you lost your only opportunity to speak with the author of one of your most favourite books in the world.
Let it go.