George RR Martin's The World of Ice and Fire, book review: Martin weaves more magic in a welcome trip to Westeros

From the Dawn Age all the way through to the Glorious Reign, every entry is like embarking on a new journey through Martin's world

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The Independent Culture

The eagerly anticipated companion guide to George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has finally arrived. While it may not be as chunky as the original novels, The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and A Game of Thrones, it is just as rich and comprehensive.

Martin, along with his co-authors, offers readers a breathtakingly detailed history of Westeros preceding the events in the novels. From the Dawn Age all the way through to the Glorious Reign, every entry is like embarking on a new journey through Martin's world.

It's safe to say that Martin's world is more fully realised than JK Rowling's magical universe of Harry Potter and even JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth. In fact, many of the chapters could form their own series of equally weighty books.

Both die-hard fans of the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, and A Song of Ice and Fire purists can appreciate this guide. Saying this, it is probably a little bit too geeky and information-overload for fans of the TV show.

 

Those who have already devoured Martin's monstrous novels will find this guide easier to digest. Subjects that are touched upon in the original books are explored here more thoroughly.

The colourful chapters on the monarchs of Westeros read like something from the annals of long-dead tyrannical British monarchs – and it's great. For instance, Maegor the Cruel has a whole entry devoted to his life and reign. From the number of mistresses he had (each one has their own profile) to his mysterious death, Maegor's entry is certainly thorough.

There are also smaller nuggets. Tywin Lannister is a looming presence in the novels but here he is shown in a new light. Yes, he's a schemer seeking power but he has a softer side when it comes to his wife, Joanna.

The book contains beautiful illustrations on each page that leave the HBO adaptation to one side, for instance Daenerys Targaryen does not look like actress Emilia Clarke, who plays the role in Game of Thrones. Perhaps it's another sign that this is more for the novel fans? No doubt, there are clues tucked away about the rest of the series but they will only be discovered through repeatedly poring over pages and reading between the lines.

Some fans may be wondering why in seven hells Martin isn't chained to his desk, furiously typing away day and night, to complete the final instalments of his series rather than turning his attentions to this guide and other projects. It's a good question. But hopefully this book will tide readers over for a while until the forthcoming The Winds of Winter is published.

Read more: Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin on success, chess and the wrath of superfans

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