Wednesday, 23 April 2014

‘A Game of Thrones, The Graphic Novel – Vol. 2’ – Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson (Bantam)

After a long time away from this series, I find myself coming back to ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ with fresh interest. If it’s not the TV series, that I still need to get round to watching (buying the box set is only the first step) it’s the books on the shelf that are gently reminding me that it has been a while since I picked them up.

Given that I’ve developed a habit of falling asleep in the bath most evenings and I have other books that I’d like to read first, reading the graphic novels seemed like a good compromise. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see what I thought of the first book; I read the second volume over Easter and it was as engaging a read as the first one. We all know the story already but here’s the blurb anyway, just in case you need to jog your memory a little. It was amazing how all the plot came flooding back to me, even though it’s been a long time (years) since I picked the first book up. But yeah, sorry, blurb…

The sweeping action moves from the icy north, where the bastard Jon Snow seeks to carve out a place for himself among bitter outcasts and hardened criminals sworn to service upon the Wall . . . to the decadent south and the capital city of King’s Landing, where Jon’s father, Lord Eddard Stark, serves as the Hand of King Robert Baratheon amid a nest of courtly vipers . . . to the barbarian lands across the Narrow Sea, where the young princess Daenerys Targaryen has found the unexpected in her forced marriage to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo: love—and with it, for the first time in her life, power.

Meanwhile, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, accused by Lady Catelyn Stark of the attempted murder of her now-crippled youngest son, must call upon all his cunning and wit to survive when he is captured and imprisoned in the lofty dungeons of the Eyrie, where Lady Stark’s sister—a woman obsessed with vengeance against all Lannisters—rules. But Catelyn’s impulsive arrest of the Imp will set in motion a series of violent events whose outcome is fated to shake the world at the worst possible moment. For now is not the time for private feuds and bloodthirsty ambitions.

Winter is coming . . . and with it, terrors beyond imagining.

So, counting volume one that’s four hundred and eighty pages of graphic novel to get through two thirds of one book (although it could end up being more, I haven’t read the third volume yet). Not only am I interested to see how Abraham tackles later books (‘A Feast for Crows’ and ‘A Dance with Dragons’ in particular), if that is the intention, but I also find myself wondering how long a graphic novel adaptation of a series can be dragged out at this pace. Three, maybe four, graphic novels to a book; it will look great on the bookshelf but will people remain interested for that long? I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that score.

That’s one for the future though. Right now, we have a story that Daniel Abraham is handling with customary aplomb. He has a very good feel for what needs to stay in the book and what can be merely hinted at; the end result being a tightly plotted tale that takes in the original book as a whole. It could have been a rambling mess if Abraham had stuck to the book but he clearly appreciates the limitations of the graphic novel format and it really pays off.

All I wanted from Tommy Patterson, after reading volume one, was a little more variety in character’s facial expressions (he does everything else superbly). This is ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ after all, no-one really smiles here. I’m pleased to say that Patterson delivers here and captures just what events mean for the characters with some really touching expressions. If I can have more of that in volume three then I’ll be a happy man.

It’s hard to write anything about the actual story that hasn’t been said already but as far as the adaptation goes, Abraham and Patterson have got it spot on here with a book that really draws you into Martin’s world. The more I read these books, the more I want to go back and read the originals and that can’t be a bad thing at all.

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