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Book Review

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The World of Fire & Ice
The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones (Hardback)


Authors: George R.R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £30.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 758091 0
Publication Date: 28 October 2014

George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones has become synonymous in the zeitgeist with gritty and labyrinthine story telling. World building has always been one of the strong points of the series; however it has led to his readers demanding to know what happened in Westeros prior to Rob Stark’s fateful move to Kings Landing.

The World of Fire and Ice: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones (2014 327 pages), written by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia jr and Linda Antonsson is an illustrated coffee table book which details events prior to The Games of Thrones.

Printed on good quality, heavy and glossy paper, this weighty tome uses the conceit that the book is actually written by Maester Yandel as a gift for king Tommen and so has more in common with a history book than it does with a novel.

The first flick through the many illustrations indicates that the visuals are more akin to what Martin initially imagined, rather than that shown on the show. If nothing else the depiction of the Iron Throne gives credence to this. The book goes further with its central idea, by having the Maester adding annotations to both the text and illustrations.

The book is essentially split into a number of sections, the first being the pre-history of Westeros much of which is lost in legend. As dragons and magic retreated from Westeros it is obvious from the Maester's writings that many no longer believed such things could have happened.

The first well recorded section of history starts with the coming of the dragons and the reign of the Targaryen kings, which ended a few years before the events in The Game of Thrones. At this point most readers will be wondering just how much of the story was constructed by Martin and how much by his collaborators.

Well, in the anthology, Dangerous Women Pt 1, Martin provided a short story, The Princess and the Queen, or, The Blacks and the Greens which is essentially reproduced here as part of the history. My best guess is that Martin produced the essential outlines, as well as some more detailed writings and Garcia and Antonsson did much of the leg work. That said, it’s not obvious where each of the writers contributions start and finish, giving the book an overall uniform feeling.

Having struggled through a lengthy history, the book takes the reader through a detailed travelogue of The Seven Kingdoms, some of which we have seen and some which have yet to appear. Closely allied with this is the history of each of the ruling families and any allied or hostile tribes in their region.

Outside of The Seven Kingdoms the book traverses more esoteric lands, working their way out from the free cities towards The Bones and Beyond, a land so far away and strange that much of the information is met with scepticism. The book contains an afterword, which dedicates the book to Tommen.

The last pages contain four appendix which detail the lineage of Houses Targaryen, Stark and Lannister, before finishing with a chronology of the Kings reigns which shows how long they reigned. The book contains an index, useful given the mountain of information contained within and credits for the artists. One of the things you won’t find is any reference to the show, or the use of any of the actor’s likenesses. I don’t think that this was a copyright issue, Martin essential owns the concept and the actors would have gladly given permission, rather I feel it was driven by Martin's desire to show his readers his original interpretation.


Charles Packer

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