My rule is that I can't read anything written about A Dance With Dragons until I finish the book. That ought to be on a plane shooting across the Narrow Sea, since my wedding is in less than two weeks and I really ought not to be dividing my focus. But I allowed myself one indulgence: the intro to Dana Jennings' New York Times review. Wow.
Like its predecessors “Dance” has its share of flagons ’n’ dragons, and swords ’n’ sorcerers, but that doesn’t make Mr. Martin the American Tolkien, as some would have it. He’s much better than that.
The series, which started with “A Game of Thrones” in 1996, is like a sprawling and panoramic 19th-century novel turned out in fantasy motley, more Balzac and Dickens than Tolkien.
Better than being an American Tolkien! (I guess Jennings didn't want to cross the critical Rubicon of calling Martin better than Tolkien.) As it happens, George R.R. Martin keeps a LiveJournal (!). Check out what he said on it:
When GAME OF THRONES was first published in 1996, it failed to make any bestseller lists (well, maybe it made the LOCUS list, don't recall), and certainly never got within shouting distance of the Top Ten in the TIMES. While I still recall the highlights (Joe Beth in Lexington, Kentucky and Kepler's in Menlo Park, California) of that first signing tour, I recall the lowlights even better -- the St. Louis signing where the only four people in the cafe/ bookstore actually LEFT when I got up to speak, and the Dallas signing where I drew a dozen people while Clifford the Big Red Dog drew hundreds. And here we are, fifteen years later, with GAME at number one on the list. Where's that dog now, I want a rematch!
Keep to your dreams, people. It happened to GRRM. I'm very improbably getting married at the end of the month.