I generally come to the party a little late. I got into the Harry Potter series just before the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was about to come out, enough voices having carried to me the hue and cry that this was a series worth chasing. Curious about this phenomenon that was said to have turned many kids, who generally weren’t all that interested, to reading– away from their X-Boxes and internet connections and into the pages of an appealing story about an orphan boy who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard – I quickly read books one and two then in paperback and bought the hardback version of the third.
After that, I was hooked and going to the midnight bookstore parties along with people half my age and a couple of also-hooked friends. That the story was set in the UK so that, despite the magic, my nostalgia could be indulged made it even better; that the children were sorted into one of four houses reminded me of the times I had spent polishing silver award cups at school, a kid myself under just such a system (yes, Rowling did not make up this detail about houses and points although not many schools were like mine and Harry’s). I remember striving for house points in sports, good behaviour, or lessons so that my house would win the shield for the most accumulated points that academic year. My school’s houses were patriotically named after the Queen’s four homes in the UK: Windsor (yellow); Buckingham (green); Balmoral (blue); and Sandringham (red)}. I wonder if my school still does this…
The same pattern occurred for the cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yes, Joss Whedon is a genius). I was very late climbing that band wagon but am still an ardent supporter, even though the series ended nine years ago. I got into the show almost accidentally as the FX channel was carrying two back-to-back episodes Monday through Friday afternoons in 2000-2001 while season five was playing re-runs during the winter hiatus; this meant that I could watch a whole season of Buffy in about two weeks and be caught up entirely in just two months. I finally realized what it was exactly that had been sending a couple of my fellow graduate students pelting out the door when our seminar was over at 7:50pm to catch buses back to their apartments to not miss a single minute of the show.
As season five continued in the spring, I got to watch Buffy become more and more isolated as she loses boyfriend, mother, sister, and, indirectly, mentor (because of a major disagreement over the right plan to defeat her nemesis, Glory) so that Buffy’s self-sacrifice becomes paradoxically both noble and a relief after years of slaying. Since it was my first “live” season, it remains my favourite.
So, it’s no surprize that it’s now, in 2012, after five books have already been published, that I have fallen in love with the Song of Ice and Fire. Currently in the middle of the fifth book after intense back-to-back readings this summer, I am already dreading the moment about ten days from now when I will close the book and have to wait with everyone else for book six and seven. I will miss reading about Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Bran, and others – and the Others! Till then, I will wait for the second season to appear on DVD after enjoying an excellent first season by HBO that starred one of my favourite British actors, Sean Bean. He too will be missed. – Eleni Anastasiou, August 1st 2012