Intricate world-building on a global scale.
The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones is a companion book to A Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin’s collaboration with Elio Miguel García Jr. and Linda Maria Antonsson resulted in a comprehensive history behind the land of Westeros and beyond. Although I spent two weeks reading this book, do not think that I didn’t enjoy reading it. The World of Ice and Fire is an imaginary history book, and the prose certainly felt like reading one. The book is written from the perspective of an in-world maester, and I read this book exactly the same way I read our real-world history book; bits by bits instead of my daily 150-300 pages reading pace. Upon finishing it, I truly believe that the fans of the main series will have to read this companion book.
Picture: Aegon the Conqueror upon Balerion, the Black Dread by Jordi González Escamilla
It would be ridiculously crazy for me to explain every single thing about the content of this book; there’s way too much information or events to analyze in a single review. The title speaks for itself, this book contained the history of Martin’s main series. Starting from the Ancient History, it then proceeds to Reign of the Dragons, the high and low of the Targaryen Kings, the Fall of the Dragons, the Seven Kingdoms, and then what’s beyond Westeros. Battles, rivalries, cultures, architecture, landscapes, or maps, they were all explored in detail. If you loved A Song of Ice and Fire, the knowledge you gain from reading this book will immensely enhance the world-building behind the main series.
Picture: The Rhoynar facing the might of the Freehold by Chase Stone
I would’ve given this a 5 stars rating if I were to rate it merely on the content of the first 2/3 of the book. My favorite section of the book was easily the history of the Targaryen Kings that started from Aegon the Conqueror and ended at Aerys II “The Mad King”. Despite the book being written in history textbook prose, I found myself completely immersed in the Targaryen Kings section. Finishing it actually made me incredibly excited to read Fire and Blood; I simply need a more detailed version of the Targaryen’s history. The other background story that I loved was Tywin Lannister’s. I didn’t know how close he was with Aerys II and how complex their relationship was. Plus, reading this book enriched their characterizations. Unfortunately, I found the text in the last third of the book to be uninteresting and way too factual. The content of the book, from beginning up to the Seven Kingdoms—with the exception of the Ironbore—section was also written in a factual way but it almost never stops being interesting. The last third of the book was utterly boring to read that even reading them bits by bits didn’t seem to diminish the boredom.
“No man can say with certainty what the future may hold. But perhaps, in knowing what has already transpired, we can all do our part to avoid the mistakes of our forebears, to emulate their successes, and to create a world more harmonious for our children and their children, for generations to come.”
Before I close my review, I would like to give massive praises to the hundreds of fully illustrated artworks within this book. In my opinion, the artworks deserve a 6 out of 5 stars rating. The World of Ice and Fire is insanely rich in production value; all the artwork are gorgeous, fully colored, and drawn by some of the best artists in the fantasy industry. In fact, I would actually recommend getting this book just for looking at the artworks alone.
Picture: The Iron Throne by Marc Simonetti
The World of Ice and Fire shows how exceptionally detailed fantasy world-building can be. Although the world-building may be a bit overkill sometimes, reading this book made me appreciate Martin’s talent even more than I already did. If Martin wants to, he can simply choose a story or character and make a full novel out of it, and believe me there are MANY options for him to choose from. However, as we all know from his progress on The Winds of Winter, that’s very unlikely to happen. That being said, let me emphasize once again that I strongly recommend this book to A Song of Ice and Fire fans. As long that you have finished A Storm of Swords, reading this will be a spoiler-free experience that makes the fully-realized world of Westeros even more real than before.
Picture: Rhaegar Targaryen and Robert Baratheon meeting at Ruby Ford during the Battle of the Trident by Justin Sweet
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)