Warning: fan girl here. I am reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and it is awesome. As in it makes me want to turn in my laptop and give up writing for good. You may not be a fan of epic fantasy, but I'm sure you know what I mean. We all have writers that make us feel that way, cause they're so dang good. Well, that's how Monsieur Martin affects me. He is Tolkien on steroids, a dark and twisty Rowling. If Thomas Malory and Shakespeare had a baby, this is what it would look like.
So, enough gushing, already. Here are some things I've learned from the series (and I'm only on book four!):
1. World building. OMG, the history and world building in this series are incredible. Politics, pageantry, wars, rivalries, longstanding hatreds, tragedy, backstabbing, spying, betrayal, family feuds. Layer upon layer of it, making for a rich reading experience and total immersion into the world. Yes, the names are weird and there are a lot of them. Some of them even have the SAME names -- I've lost count of all the Walders and Aerys. Don't pay them any mind. Don't try to keep the various houses and sigils straight. Read for the story.
2. POV. Every chapter is told from a different character's point of view, and there are a LOT of characters! What you get is the big picture, a more complete understanding of what's going on and the impact the War of the Five Kings is having on everyone, men, women, children, warriors, and villians.
And speaking of villains . . .
3. Multilayered creepers and mad kings. Power hungry women frustrated by the social restrictions of this medieval world. These guys make Machiavelli look like a boy scout.
4. Character arcs. One word: Kingslayer. Jaime Lannister is a guy with a built-in ick factor that is off the scale. (Spoiler alert) He and his twin sister have been lovers since they were adolescents. Ewwww, right? Wrong. By the end of book three, you LOVE the guy. Not what he's done with his sister, mind you. But the guy is a hero. Wow! How many writers can make you eat that bucket of worms and enjoy it?
5. Plot twists. I can usually see things coming, but Martin consistently surprises me. He does things I don't expect, that I wouldn't do as a writer, which leads me to . . .
6. Killing your little darlings. Mr. Martin has no problem killing his little darlings, even characters we have come to love. It's that whole reality thing. You know, that life isn't always fair and the good guys don't always win. Well, the good guys are out numbered and hard pressed in this series. But instead of making me want to throw the book against the wall, it pulls me through the pages.
What about you? What books or series have had a significant impact on you and your writing?