By Kevin McDonnell
Featuring utterly astounding artwork alongside the rich details of the history of Westeros, The World of Ice & Fire is undoubtedly going to be seen as a welcome respite from the current drought of new A Song of Ice and Fire texts, which is more commonly known by the name of its televised adaptation, “Game of Thrones” (as if you didn’t know). But don’t expect much more than a single drop of methadone for the veins of a frenzied Westeros-addiction. After making my way through the “history book” I immediately longed for the day The Winds of Winter will be released. No amount of detailed history of highborn lords, ladies, dragons, and battles will sate your cravings for continuation of the series, but this will provide a welcome distraction.
Looking for a point-by-point recounting of the tales of Westeros is a misguided approach to The World of Ice & Fire, as I discovered. Rather than a point-by-point collection of dates and battles, this is all told from the perspective of a maester of the citadel, offering an in-world perspective on the tales of old. As with the point-of-view chapters in the Song of Ice & Fire proper, the narrator’s voice offers an entertaining perspective, despite occasionally coming at the cost of his own reliability. Accounts from other maesters and historians are woven in, though the inclusion doesn’t offer the same tonal contrast as previous character points-of-view. The resulting collection trumps the previous book releases of the year, providing a complex combination of world-building and story-telling, perfect for die-hard and casual fans alike.
Where this text (now available) falls short is only in areas that, in retrospect, are understandable. Glossed over are the lives of Ser Duncan, Daemon Targaryen and anything covered in previous side releases. These shortcomings are easily overlooked; Martin and company appear to be at the top of their game, building the already expansive universe beyond what was previously thought comprehensible. So if you’re on the hunt for a detailed history of each of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, residents both major and minor, which make up the complex and bloody history, look no further. No more scouring the internet for rumors and tidbits of info others may have gleaned, all of the most pertinent information, and a wealth of other info, is available in one beautifully bound tome.