Attention span versus modern epic storytelling

I am one of millions of people who can say I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (plus The Hobbit; no Silmarillion for me, however) from start to finish. It took over a year, what with school and life-related distractions obligations. This isn’t something I say with pride, pushing my glasses up as part of the standard act of nerdy superiority that accompanies such statements. They were some really magical books, and the way Tolkien built such a rich and elaborate world populated with many interesting characters has stayed with me since. Yes, I did see the movies. Yes, I loved them, but I’m also one of those people who really questions the need for The Hobbit to have been split into a multi-film event. That’s a topic for another time, however, when I’m more drunk and willing to draw great and terrible ire from fans.

One thing I haven’t stopped hearing since college relates to today’s great and intimidating epic: the A Song of Ice and Fire books, or the Game of Thrones books if the person reminding me of the series happens to favor the TV show over their multi-tree, multi-ton counterparts. Let it not be said I haven’t tried, either, as I’ve given A Game of Thrones multiple chances. I’ve even tried forcing interest by starting with the TV show first and working my way back to the books. Both methods failed spectacularly, however, as I end up losing interest after time. It all goes back to the issue of having more things to do and not as much time to focus on multi-book series whose page-count dwarves the likes of its predecessors by the middle of book three (this may be a grossly inaccurate exaggeration).

Not even all of the witty one-liners produced by this guy could keep my attention. Really went for easy mode with this joke, I fear.

There would be almost no difficulty in arguing how titles such as Game of Thrones (referencing the show and lumping the books in by association here) or The Walking Dead aren’t really accessible to everyone. The average reader of present-day seems far more interested in shorter collections of stories. One novel to a handful, or lighter reading, as opposed to the denser options provided by A Song of Ice and Fire or The Walking Dead‘s rather impressive number of graphic novels. Making time for leisure reading usually doesn’t equal trying to remember what member of what house killed who for whatever morally questionable reason.

Ultimately, and perhaps rather obviously, it all comes down to personal preference with a dash or two of patience. The epic length fantasy goodness of A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t my cup of tea, but I also know I like more than a touch of humor to my fantasy genre reading. Some people, although I hesitate to refer to such creatures as people, may not find the works of Terry Pratchett or Christopher Moore to their liking.

I’m also a bit embarrassed to say I started writing this before work today and lost a fair bit of momentum by the time I got around to finishing it, which probably speaks volumes on my stance regarding epic fiction. I think I’ll have to revisit this topic another time when I’m a little more collected.

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