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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

The World of Ice and Fire

As this blog’s resident Game of Thrones reviewer (again, despite having never read the novels), I took it upon myself to read the newest entry into the world of The Song of Ice and Fire, a “nonfiction” companion to George R.R. Martin’s epic world. The book has Martin’s name above the title, but the smaller print points to Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson as the true auteurs behind this magnificent work. As I state in my review below, Garcia and Antonsson are experts among experts about the “World of Ice and Fire” as this new book is titled, running the best website about the books, and often called upon by Martin himself to answer questions about his own world.

Going in, I was expecting something a little on the dry side–but I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of Martin, Garcia, and Antonsson’s prose, and their facility in conjuring epic conflicts and romances in the few sentences allotted to them in various entries. More than that, this book is a treasure in itself–beautifully bound, and lushly illustrated with paintings, maps, and more. I read this somewhat unwieldy book on an airplane and found many of my fellow passengers looking over my shoulder to see the exquisite object. Highly recommended to Game of Thrones fans everywhere.

MARTIN, George R.R., Elio Garcia & Linda Antonsson. The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westoros and the Game of Thrones. 326p. glossary. illus. index. maps. Bantam. Oct. 2014. Tr $50. ISBN  9780553805444. LC 2014013093.

When Martin has a question about the world he has created in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” he asks Antonsson and Garcia, proprietors of Westeros.org and possibly the two people who know most about Martin’s fantasy epic (apparently even more than the author himself). So it is no surprise that Antonsson and Garcia are the brainchildren behind this answer to J.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Like that famously difficult work, The World of Ice and Fire is intended as a “nonfiction” companion to the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels, describing the political and social history of the worlds of Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos. And a rollicking history it is. After a relatively brief walk through the prehistory of the world, the coming of the First Men, and the invasion of the Andals, the bulk of the book’s first half is taken up by a reign-by-reign account of the Targaryen dynasty, starting with the legendary exploits of Aegon the Conqueror and culminating in the rebellion which sets the stage for A Game of Thrones (Bantam, 1996). The second half sketches each of the Seven Kingdoms, along with accounts of the ruling families. This half has less narrative drive, but goes a long way towards explaining the political state of affairs in the novels. Overall, this work shares many of the novels’ weaknesses—in particular Martin’s peculiar sense of time, in which millennia can go by without changes in language, customs, or political power.  But it also shares the novels’ strengths—sure-handed storytelling, fast-paced action, political intrigue—and will be required reading for all Game of Thrones buffs while they await the sixth novel.—Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA

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About Mark Flowers

Mark Flowers is the Young Adult Librarian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, CA. He reviews for a variety of library journals and blogs and recently contributed a chapter to The Complete Summer Reading Program Manual: From Planning to Evaluation (YALSA, 2012). Contact him via Twitter @droogmark