As a massive Game of Thrones fan I was elated to get a hold of this companion. Too many months have passed since the television show took a break, and I (like many others) have grown tired waiting for the next book release. I needed a fix, and this tome provided it!
The World of Ice and Fire is a wonderful book that is lavishly filled with informative essays, histories, and amazing artwork. Written from a Maester's viewpoint, the reader is taken back to the earliest recorded events and legends of the Seven Kingdoms and taken on an immersive journey throughout the worlds of Westeros and Essos. We are given an insight into events like Aegon's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms and the breaking of Valyria, and shown hidden nuggets of information about the mysterious peoples of the east. And you know what, it is really interesting. As a history lover I found this companion to be utterly immersive. Yes there were moments of boredom where I felt that some essays or sections were merely placed as a filler, but for the most part I was enthralled by what I was reading. I absolutely loved the sections on the geographical regions of Westeros, and everything about the Targaryens was fascinating and still shrouded in mystery and magic.
I also found myself reaching a better understanding of the events being played out in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. One of things that The World of Ice and Fire does well is to really illustrate past rivalries, conflict, and vendettas of all the houses and families. Martin's books can often be complicated and complex, and this book really helps to shed a light on things that are often referred to in them (for example, the 'divine' right to rule of the Targaryens).
The artwork is also truly stunning and amazing. Every single page leaps out at you with beautiful renderings, paintings, and drawings, and this really helps to bring to life the rich and often violent history of the Seven Kingdoms. I found myself utterly mesmerised as I poured over these pictures, deciphering the tiniest detail and taking it all in. This book is worth buying for the artwork alone in my opinion.
If I had one small criticism it would be that you can really tell when Martin is writing and when he is not. There is an obvious difference in style and skill, and it can be a little tedious when switching between the two.
All in all though The World of Ice and Fire is a must read for all Game of Thrones fan. It is a wonderful supplement and companion to the series, and it provides an immersive and richly layered history and backstory that is stunningly illustrated and depicted. The World of Ice and Fire brings to life all the violence, treachery, love and tragedy of Game of Thrones in one companion. Go out and buy this book!
4 out of 5 stars.
A review copy was provided.