Does George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy masterpiece A Song of Ice and Fire even need me to introduce it?
Hell, no. If you aren’t a devoted lover of the book series, then, no doubt, you are a follower of Game of Throne on television. (And if you aren’t, what have you been doing the last decade and a half, huh?) So this guide to Martin’s Westeros will, most likely, be a book that you have been eagerly awaiting or, at least, a little interested in, and you’d probably like to know if it is worth picking up, right?
Yeah, what I’m about to admit next is a bit awkward, because I am a great lover of SoIF, but the simple fact is I didn’t love this book. It was exactly what I’d always wanted to know about Westeros’ history, but I suppose, it is also a case of “Be careful what you ask for because you might get it.” Or, to put it another way, The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones is a true-to-life history book; an especially boring history book at times, which is painful for me to write since I am actually a history lover.
Okay, now before anyone gets the pitchforks out and starts to light the torches, I want to say that there were some amazing things in this book. The pictures, maps, and illustrations throughout were stunning, capturing the essence of this amazing series beyond my wildest expectations. There really were not any that did not impress, as illustrated below by the stunning image of the Battle of the Trident.
There were even some sections of The World of Ice and Fire that were good, though not great. The beginning of the book from “Ancient History” through the “Glorious Reign” were as interesting as most well written real world history books that I’ve read, though the chapters became a bit repetitive and dry at times. I also found “Beyond the Sunset Kingdom” a decent overview of the world, just not as much as the beginning chapters of the book. The illustrations were great though!
Unfortunately, though, there were some rather boring, or bad, sections of the book; at least, sections that I personally did not find very compelling or moving. The worst culprits to me were the chapters on each of the Seven Kingdoms. These were brutal to read, reminding me of nights in college when I sat up into the depths of the night trying to force myself to finish some dusty history book for class the next day. And I honestly had to do that with the Seven Kingdom chapters. It got so bad that I found myself skimming much of it, which is a pity since these sections were detailed, filled with historical facts and descriptive details that could have been very moving, but quickly, they turned into walls of text for me with similar names and similar stories that were just brain numbing.
Does all this mean I’m recommending people not pick up this book? Not at all, I still believe that many Martin fans will adore it, but anyone diving in should merely be warned that this reads more like a history tome than the forthcoming The Winds of Winter.