A wise man once said: a good book is worth reading. A great book is worth re-reading.
Actually I have no idea if anyone wise ever said that, but it’s true.
Right now what I’m re-reading is A Song of Ice and Fire, for the second time. These books, and the world they explore, are massive beyond words. You get the bulk of the story on your first pass, but what you really get is enough context to fully understand what you’re reading on your second. A friend of mine, who introduced me to the series, said one of his favorite things about it was that the books tend to not introduce new characters when they become important; rather, they’d alreadybeen introduced. They were always there. They just… step forward from the background.
So the first time you read the books they’re a treat because you’re learning what is happening. The second time you’re learning why, and you have a better sense for how the pieces fit together. Lists of people and places you just glazed over the first time now pop out at you. Dream sequences take on interesting new meanings.
The narrative structure of the story is such that, in each book, you see things from the perspective of about a dozen different characters. Much of the story revolves around a massive medieval conflict, and you get to experience that conflict from every different side, all at once. It also lets the story play neat tricks with some of the characters; a character painted as a villain in the first two books, for example, becomes a hero of sorts in the third when you finally get to see things from his point of view. I’ve hooked a lot of people on this series, and partway through the first book they’ll ask who my favorite character is. They gasp or groan when I say Jaime Lannister, but it’s true.
Just wait until you get to book three.
The only downside to the series is the likelihood in which it will remain forever unfinished. Even if we never see the conclusion, though, the ride so far has been worth taking. My father had Lord of the Rings and I have A Song of Ice and Fire. Heck, we even have a season’s worth of HBO series to look forward to.