I ran into a dilemma the other day.
I found myself at Bullmoose, the answer to Borders Books and Music, and was browsing through the many different sections of hardcovers and used items when I stumbled across a wall devoted to George R.R. Martin. Anyone who has had the chance to hear me gush knows that I am a huge fan of HBO's adaptation, Game of Thrones, and I wait eagerly to enjoy - or not enjoy, depending on what happens to my favorite characters - the latest episodes. When the first season was out on blu ray a few years back, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to stand the long wait once I finished watching the episodes, so I purchased the first book in the series and read alongside the episodes. It provided a lot more information into the characters histories and their motivations, and I really enjoyed it.
However, when the first season was finished, and the first book was read completely (in record time for me), I hurried out and bought the second book and started reading. But, something was different this time around. The second book introduced a plethora of new characters and I found myself feeling cheated. True, friends had warned me that the second book was difficult to get through - but if I could just finish it, the third book was the best one. The truth was simply that the second book was much more of a slog than I was willing to commit to. So, I waited for the second season to air, and I ignored all the fans and their wailings that the season was leaving out so much information that it was blasphemy.
Fast forward to now, with the third season of the show nearly finished. I once again tried to pick up the second book so that I could get my fill of all things Westeros when the long haul started again in June, but I simply could not finish the second book; and there I was, in Bullmoose, staring at the third book. Against my better judgement, I decided to do what I never do, and that was to skip the rest of the second book and start the third one anyway.
Let me say, I'm glad I did. I could already tell from the first few chapters that the third book is indeed the best written so far. I stumbled across a few characters that had been left out of the show, but there was a handy app from Martin himself that lent me the information and backstory I needed. Am I sad that I skipped half of the second book - even when I know that the climax involves a large battle? Maybe a little. But not enough to trudge through 300 more pages of characters moving across a map! There is not enough time for me to struggle through a sequel that doesn't live up to its promise. Still, I am glad to say that the third book is very good so far. Perhaps I will go back later on and finish book two, when I am very desperate!