Book #01

Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

Although the chosen style here was a challenge to get used to, the historical text narrative was a simple and effective one. We are delving into stories of kings and queens from hundreds of years ago, and the style really lended itself to evoking feelings of historical study.

The story is drawn from accounts of maesters of old, found letters, and other historical texts. The source material is made clear throughout, and it’s interesting to see that some of these sources may not be reliable or accurate. Whether this is judged by the source’s political affinities, their location at the time of events, or just simply whether or not they had a penchant for flair, it’s useful to be reminded of bias, exaggeration, or just strategic restriction of information - all things any historian has the opportunity to be influenced by.

I was astounded by the level of detail involved in this. So rich, intricate, and exciting; I was drowning entirely in these deep accounts of politics, relationships, war, and succession. My edition had a useful family tree which I referred to far more than I expected to. The marriages and babies are impossible to keep track of, and I don’t even want to comment on all the lords, houses, and knights whose sympathies I had to juggle. It baffles me entirely that Martin continues to work on these projects instead of giving the people what they want, but I am a mere smallperson who will return to my own small lane.

It was gorgeous to see the Targaryen line and how Westeros came to be in its current position, however the overwhelming level of detail, names of lords, and evil plots became dry around Aegon III’s ascension - probably around 600 pages in. This book is an effort, if an enjoyable one, but not something I’m likely to revisit.

We’re all likely to meet the Stranger before Winds of Winter graces our bookshelves.