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Fire & Blood (A Targaryen History #1) by George R.R. Martin - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 01 Jun 2020 by  in Drew's Reviews Read 3329

How much the average reader gets from this book will be dependant on two factors; how invested they are in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and how much they enjoy history. 

This review does assume a certain familiarity with the world of Westeros, either from the books or the subsequent TV series. 

Fire and Blood is a very different dragon to the books in the main A Song of Ice and Fire series or even to the prequel Tales of Dunk and Egg. Ostensibly an "in-world" history of the first half of the Targaryen dynasty, the book covers a period of 140 years; from shortly before the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror, and following his descendants through various battles for succession up to a point approximately 160 years prior to the events to the primary novels. 

One thing the book does very well is show the paradox of histories; that even with records and testimony, there is always an element of doubt as to the truth of what really happened. This is especially apparent later in the book, where multiple sources are referred to. While each account may agree of the broader narrative, all ave their own variations when it comes to more specific details, filtered through their own prejudices and political affiliations. 

By necessity, the tone of this book is much more detached and impersonal than the novels and could be considered rather dry by comparison. Some of this is lightened in the later chapters, thank to the inclusion of eyewitness accounts from a court jester of the time, who gives many of the events related a more gossipy flavour. 

Another thing to enjoy are the illustrations. There are more than eighty black and white images interspersed throughout the book, some depicting events, some in portrait style; but all lovingly crafted. 

For those looking for something more in line with the story-telling of the Song of Ice and Fire novels, this may not be the best choice. But for those eager to know more about the background of the Seven Kingdoms or those looking for an enjoyable fictional history, this will be a worthy read.

 

4 out of 5 dragon eggs.

Drew

Drew ascribes his love of stories to an aunt giving him a hard back edition of Dracula & Frankenstein for his 8th birthday. Since then he’s been an avid reader of books, short stories, and comics. He is a regular blogger at “The Scribblings” and is working on his own writing.