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So ... you've probably heard of this book, which has garnered some moderate success from an otherwise unknown author by the name of George R. R. Martin. Long-winded fantasy? Who does that anymore?

My wife and I were planning two long trips this summer, so we headed to the library to find an audio book that wouldn't make the dog howl like a direwolf. We were somewhat taken aback by Game of Thrones, an audiobook roughly as thick as the U.S. tax code. It was on 28 disks.

Twenty-eight.

Winter is coming. Maybe they could get some heated cushions for that uncomfortable iron throne.

Over a two week period we were on the road for roughly 26 hours of driving, and we still had to renew it from the library for another few weeks.

Game of Thrones opens with an execution, and believe me when I saw that's far from the only death to come along. The story follows nine viewpoint characters on a world where summers can last decades but winter hits hard, where dragons once flew, and where a giant, centuries old ice wall protects the continent of Westeros from the supernatural dangers of the north.

Most of the story revolves around the Stark family, led by Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark. After a long war, Ned's best friend Robert has become king of an assemblage of former nations, and now wants the reluctant Ned to be the King's Hand--basically the guy who does all of his dirty work. The honorable and dutiful Ned--you won't find a lot of characters like that here, outside of the Stark family--packs up and dives into the politics of an increasingly divided kingdom.

What could possibly go wrong? In Martin's world, pretty much everything. Tragedy, misunderstandings, treachery, and accidents ensue, as various characters give and take allegiance while others plot for power and ... well, pretty much just power. Despite Ned's desire to just go home, he finds himself entangled in events that will bring war to their world, even while winter nears and evil from north of the wall approaches. Meanwhile, the former royal family of the kingdom plots to take back what they consider theirs.

Sound complicated? It is. You can find dozens of maps online, just to show people where all the lands and cities are, and character trees to make interrelationships a little more clear. There's also plenty of nastiness, from graphic violence to child endangerment to incest. It's dark, detailed, and horribly addictive.

Emily and I were still catching our breaths when she took the audiobook back to the library. She returned with a new book, this time on good old fashioned paper, and I later determined it was five times as long as my first published novel.

Also useful in knocking out burglars.

Yep. Second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. We haven't seen the TV series, but my biggest warning about the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the name of the entire book series) is that you should maybe schedule some vacation days before you start reading.

HBO covered this book in seasons three through twelve.

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  • Thu, 17:53: RT @NobleCoEMA: 50 W // WEST RIVER ROAD 1/2 MILE SOUTH OF WEST RIVER ROAD WILL BE CLOSED 8/16 THRU 8/20/18 FOR OVERHEAD ELECTRICAL UTILITY…
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Apparently they do this periodic special thing in the Pokemon Go world where you can catch these very special, extra-shiny Pokemon, shove them into tiny prisons, then force them to battle each other to the death. Or something like that.

I don't do Pokemon, because I'd rather be writing about tiny beings fighting to the death in tiny prisons, which come to think of it I just came up with a great story idea. But Sunday I walked up to the Noble County Courthouse square to join Emily, who'd already been up there for awhile catchin' 'em all. I could have spent the time with her making fun of Pokemon, but Emily kicks really hard. So instead, I took pictures. (As usual, you can click on these to make them bigger. I think.)

Yeah, okay, I took more photos of the courthouse. Someday I'll do a Noble County Courthouse calender, and you'll all want one.

This is the geographical center of Noble County, give or take some concrete and asphalt. It's also the location of the tiny police booth, which has become something of an icon, and the "liar's bench", which perhaps ironically is right by the police booth.

Volunteers keep downtown Albion flowered and flagged all summer long.

Just as the District of Columbia was originally formed from pieces of two states, Albion was built at the border of two townships, so they took half a square mile of each and made Albion Township--the smallest township in the USA. The streetlight on the left is a reproduction of the original from the 1800s. Lighting it by striking two rocks together is a pain.

I've often mentioned the Black Building, which is green, and the third building there built by the Black family. (The first two were wood, and thus highly flammable.) The art gallery there is the only place where you can buy all my books right off the shelf, which is appropriate considering it's mentioned in two of them.

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