I absolutely loved the Songs of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin. So when my local WH Smith started stocking Fire & Blood, I quickly dished out £20 (unheard of!) for a copy of the book.
The seeds of war are oft planted during times of peace.
My disappointment settled in immediately after purchase as this proved to be a very DULL book written from the point of view of several historians, maesters and even a court jester named “Mushroom” (after his member).
The stories do flow in chronological order but pretty soon you tire of hearing who got married to whom, how many children they had and what they looked like.
My eyes started wandering off the book and up to my bookcase which promises more entertaining reads.
But still, I continued. Two and a half weeks later, you kinda get an inkling of how dynasties were created, what it takes to hold the Iron Throne and how the Dance of the Dragons came to be.
It’s 300 years of history from the Landing of the Conqueror till “modern” days.
I only wish that George R. R. Martin didn’t spend his time writing this piece of crap book and continue working on Winds of Winter – the sequel we all deserve!
To save you the drudgery of reading this mammoth of a book (700 plus pages) and save you a few pence, here are the most interesting bits of the book:
- There are dragons, loads of them – you get to know them by name and nature and scale colour
The scales of a full-grown dragon were harder than steel, and even those arrows that struck home seldom penetrated enough to do more than enrage the great beasts. But as Meraxes banked above the Hellholt, a defender atop the castle’s highest tower triggered a scorpion, and a yard-long iron bolt caught the queen’s dragon in the right eye. Meraxes did not die at once, but came crashing to earth in mortal agony, destroying the tower and a large section of the Hellholt’s curtain wall in her death throes.”
- There are carnivorous dragons which feast on the flesh of other dragons or hatch-lings
- Not only Targaryians and Valerians can ride dragons. A girl of doubtful origin managed to feed “Sheepstealer” a ram a day for a fortnight and then managed to successfully mount the dragon
- Targariens were inbreeds. They married their sisters on a normal basis and even though the offspring did not normally show any deformities caused by the chromosomal mixing, there were two twins (Jahara and Jaheris) who were small for their age and had either a sixth finger or abnormally large heads.
- There is a tale of a willful daughter of a Targaryian who steals a dragon and flies away when she was 12 or so. She returns years later, very thin and carrying a fever. She dies shortly after being submerged in an ice bath and things slither out of her and die. She was believed she flew to the Valerian lands where people dabbed in blood magic and were interesting in cross-breeding dragons and humans. I keep thinking that the thing that Danaeris gave birth to in Khal Drogo’s tent must have been a similar creature, half worm, half human and scaly like a lizard..
- The jester Mushroom is used to give a voice to every nasty rumour that is said to have happened during the period it has happened… Do you trust the voice of a commoner or a gossip when it comes to building a history?
“The Queen Who Never Was; what did Viserys ever have that she did not? A little sausage? Is that all it takes to be a king? Let Mushroom rule, then. My sausage is thrice the size of his.”
- The story of Queen Reina was quite good but again, you soon lose track with the absurd number of characters involved as to who’s fighting who. Is it Aegon the Second the same as Aegon the Younger? Which one didn’t have an eye? Were the Strongs loyal?
- There are other families appearing in the chronology but there’s only a bit about Winterfell, a line or two about Dorne, who did not surrender easily and a lot about the Vale and the Tullys. The Lannisters do not appear until the later stages of the book.
- This book reads similar to the Bibles’ 4th book, Numbers. Son of ye, son of he, son of thee…and there were 4, but then there were 3…The book reads more like an outline than a story. For example – Number the names appearing in the sentence below:
“Visenya and Rhaenys, took a special delight in arranging these matches. Through their efforts, young Ronnel Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, took a daughter of Torrhen Stark of Winterfell to wed, whilst Loren Lannister’s eldest son, heir to Casterly Rock, married a Redwyne girl from the Arbor. When three girls, triplets, were born to the Evenstar of Tarth, Queen Rhaenys arranged betrothals for them with House Corbray, House Hightower, and House Harlaw. Queen Visenya brokered a double wedding between House Blackwood and House Bracken, rivals whose history of enmity went back centuries, matching a son of each house with a daughter of the other to seal a peace between them. And when a Rowan girl in Rhaenys’s service found herself with child by a scullion, the queen found a knight to marry her in White Harbor, and another in Lannisport who was willing to take on her bastard as a fosterling.”
The book lacks severely on a personal account – it’s mostly so-said historical facts, dry and un-compelling. There are long passages naming a laundry list of random nobles participating in some battle or other.
Thus did the Kingsguard come into being;|She would choose the knights herself.|Ser Richard Roote; Ser Addison Hill, Bastard of Cornfield; Ser Gregor Goode; Ser Griffith Goode, his brother; Ser Humfrey the Mummer; Ser Robin Darklyn, called Darkrobin; and Ser Corlys Velaryon, Lord Commander.
There is only one narrator and very little dialogue, turning potentially interesting characters into dry factoids.
It’s disappointing when an author who is rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams chooses to scam his fans this way. I fear that RR Martin may never finish A Song of Fire and Ice books. It would be much better for him to complete the written series than just letting HBO finish the story for him.
1/5 Burn Pile (or I think I’ll ebay it to a poor and unsuspecting GOT fan)