By Lisabet Sarai
I'm writing this on the 31st of March. Tomorrow morning, I will be embarking on a lengthy journey, from my home in Asia to the east coast of the United States. Optimistically, this means about 20 hours in the air, not to mention waiting time, transfers and so on. If all goes according to schedule, I'll arrive at my hotel in New York about 26 hours after I leave my apartment.
Lengthy plane flights aren't much fun, but living half a world away from my family and many of my friends, I've learned to endure them. One of the best ways to make the time fly (so to speak) is to lose oneself in an engrossing book. For a trip like this, I tend to prefer one long novel rather than several shorter books. I'm not likely to get bored (I'll be too exhausted), and I don't have to use up valuable carry-on luggage space with multiple volumes. The book should be something with a lot of plot, something that doesn't demand too much intellectual effort but which has enough excitement to keep me awake. (I don’t like to read ebooks on a plane. I get a headache.)
In preparation for this particular voyage, I bought a copy of A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire saga. I don't watch TV, so this is going to be mostly new to me. Everything I've heard about the book and the series sounds promising, though. Three dimensional characters, intriguing cultures, a touch of magic, and lots of action. (Sex too, I gather...) And the novel fits my external criteria; it's nearly 800 pages long, yet not too heavy.
Fantasy—if it's well-written and original—has always been one of my favorite genres. In high school, I was totally enthralled by Tolkein's Middle Earth. I knew it inside and out. I even did my senior English thesis on that fictional world.
I note that the book I discussed during our last "what are you reading" cycle (Winter's Tale) could also be categorized as a fantasy, as would the other book I mentioned in that post, John Crowley's Little Big. And I recall that on one of my most enjoyable (well, least aversive, at least!) plane trips in recent years, I read Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, another fat (650+ pages), juicy fantasy full of creative ideas.
I'm hopeful that The Game of Thrones will be equally good. It's actually quite rare for me to explicitly purchase a brand new paperback book. In fact, I tried to find a copy in several used bookshops, without success, though I did find some of the later volumes in the series. It occurred to me that this scarcity might indicate that readers wanted to hold on to their volumes, perhaps to read again. A good omen?
Wish me luck! I won't be back until the third week in April. I'll catch up on comments then.
Oh, and for the trip home, I have Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. A nice, meaty 900 pages!