Games Of Thrones is at an interesting point in its real-world history: TV fans who’ve never read the books have caught up with the readers who have read as much as George RR Martin has published so far. So Ice And Fire readers can no longer act all smug because they know what’s coming… though increasingly, as the show diverged from the books, it’s arguable they had anything to be smug about anyway during season five; there were times when they knew as little as the non readers.
All that remains for them now is a sense of self satisfaction that they “did” Game Of Thrones the hard way – properly; like walking to the peak of Snowdon via the Pyg Track rather than using the wimpy mountain railway. They had time to soak up the sights; they could enjoy the subtlety and nuance; they saw things the rest of us missed.
But not if A Song Of Ice And Fire publisher HarperVoyager’s latest scheme is successful: a free app called Game Of Thrones: Get Into The Books could turn all those TV fans into instant Ice And Fire converts.
The idea is simple: give Ice And Fire print virgins a samples of George RR Martin’s powerful prose in the hope that they’ll be enticed into reading the actual books. Of course, a simple selection of extracts isn’t going to excite the book-shy, so this app is cleverer than that in the way it arranges its sample passages into something more fun.
Before you start the app checks how much Game Of Thrones/A Song Of Ice And Fire you’ve seen or read (because, for sure, some readers will want to check out this app too – maybe even use it for a refresher course in the key moments). This should make sure you don’t encounter any spoilers. We certainly haven’t yet but we haven’t been using it long enough to guarantee there are no glitches. (Yes, this is us covering our arses.)
Once you get in properly, the app is divided into themes: Love, Intrigue, War, Magic and Family. Each of these sections contains key moments that you can reread in their original forms from the book. They are concisely but informatively annotated with good use of icons to signify the allegiances of the key players. Better yet, there are links to a map which show you exactly where the event in question took place.
Most scenes are filed under two or more of the sections, so it’s amusing to click on “Love” and be offered the Red Wedding as an extract, especially under a subheading that says, “Relive some of the more tender moments.” We kinda understand why this makes sense but equally it could be the result of somebody’s sick sense of humour.
It’s a shame the app isn’t subdivided into characters too. Surely Dany or Tyrion fans would want to plough their way through all their scenes first? It would also be handy to have more analysis of the difference between the scenes on screen and on the page; arguably this isn’t what the app was designed for, though, and maybe HarperVoyagers hopes that newbies will turn to the books to have their questions answered.
Another handy little feature is an estimation of how long each extract will take to read. Perfect for short bus, train or tube journeys, although, of course, it depends on how fast a reader you are to an extent.
For a free app it’s gorgeously designed and intuitively usable. You’re told which episodes all the passages take place in. You may as well download it just to have to quick play around and decide if you want to keep it.
There’s still the danger that former non-readers will simply use it like a Letts Revision Guide in lieu of actually actually picking up the original books for real. Even if that is the case it’s still a fun, handy little app (and free!). If just a small percentage of them do venture further then HarperVoyager will no doubt consider the whole venture a great success.