- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Voyager - GB (1 June 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007580916
- ISBN-13: 978-0007580910
- Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 2.7 x 31.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.7 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of the World of A Game of Thrones Hardcover – 1 Jun 2018
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‘Of those who work in the grand epic fantasy tradition, George R.R. Martin is by far the best’
‘Colossal, staggering… Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome in his imaginary world … one of the greats of fantasy literature’
‘The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads … Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias’
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As far as the text, which many of the reviews here are quick to slam or to praise, I felt the truth was in the middle and uneven would be the best word to describe. Some of the narratives are very well done - the "short story" of the Conquest, the reign of King Jaehaerys, and the history of the Vale in particular stood out as well done; the narrative flowed well, and the characterizations were very satisfying, but most importantly gave itself identity and value. As far as a common identifier of the best pieces, the text is at its best and finds a nice rhythm when it becomes character-centric as opposed to purely event-centric. When Martin et. immerse you in the rich characterizations of Nymeria, Aegon, Robar Royce, and Tywin, and let the history flow around them is extremely enjoyable.
Other portions were frustrating - several histories of reigns and a couple of the Kingdoms really felt like obligated filler as opposed to a seized opportunity to provide rich lore, and all too often the "Untold History" teased on the cover produced only empty text containing no more than "going through the motions" summations of previously known information,providing no additional lore or color. It is understandable in areas where it's obvious that Martin isn't ready to show his cards; others such as the War of the Ninepenny Kings from a 10,000 foot view and the Greyjoy Rebellion being reduced to a couple paragraphs and passing on the opportunity to add color and depth as opposed to regurgitation due to necessity were a letdown.
The choice of the maester as a point of view was overall a sound decision. The additional layer adds richness: bias is introduced, sources are referenced, and the environment of the ASOIAF novels needs to be taken into account by the reader - a very Martin-esque move. The "cop outs", where the decision to use a maester as the writer leads to lack of expansion or evasion were an unfortunate consequence.
As far as the artwork, I expected the illustrations to be filler, almost an annoyance beside the lore. It was the exact opposite - the illustrations are impressive, most absolutely stunning. The amount of artwork, fantastic detail, and affording a quality template for the production really stood out. I'm not sold that AWOIAF will be a frequent reread or that the table of contents and index reference enough consistency in the text for it to serve as a reference, but there will definitely be portions worth a bookmark and others worth perusing at times, and the art is worth a complete page through anytime.
The rest is—well, if you (like me) enjoy history or are a hard-core R. R. Martin fan you will like this book. If not, you may not—though you will love the beautiful illustrations, the embossed dragons on the front cover and the parchment-like background designs. And you will love the way this book feels. It’s wonderfully constructed. The covers are padded and the pages are sewn to the book’s spine. And the pages themselves are not the cheap-feeling pages you normally get; they’re thick and slightly glossy. So the illustrations and the construction are superb.
The text is—history book like. I learned a lot. I discovered that there are dragons just about everywhere, what Valyrians call dragon glass, what the Dorne has against the iron Throne, how greyscale came into the world, some pretty horrific stories about the Others, and much more besides. I was particularly interested in the legends the Maester mentions again and again only to dismiss them as a learned man is taught to do. Anyone who has either read R. R. Martin’s novels will know that these fanciful stories are, in fact, all too true.
And let’s face it, we have a year and half to speculate about how the Game of Thrones will end. I can’t claim to know the ending but, if the writers are at all true to the books, the ending will be rooted in the history of Westeros. And this book--while written in the often dry tone I for one often associate with history books—most definitely provides that history.
So if you need some help speculating about what (say) an ice dragon might do (and yes, ice dragons do put in an appearance here), you might want to check out the Untold History of Westeros.
The book itself is also very appealing, with a somewhat "soft", padded feeling cover that reminds me of a very old, handcrafted book. I love this book and can't wait to delve even further with the forthcoming novels and season of the TV show.
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