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Long, long time ago
By Roisin O’Connor December 07, 2018
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Many Game of Thrones fans will be wondering why George RR Martin decided to write his latest book, Fire and Blood, at this particular time. Rather than attempt to finish his long-awaited, and oft-delayed, book The Winds of Winter Martin has chosen to publish an extensive history of one of its main families: House Targaryen. Even more frustrating: this is only the first volume, the synopsis reveals.

Billed as a history of the Targaryen Kings, from Aegon the Conqueror to Ageon III, Fire and Blood — which takes its title from the noble family’s house words — take place 300 years before those in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Unlike those books, Fire and Blood is written as an in-universe account (purportedly) by the Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel.

The Targaryens are arguably the most intriguing of Martin’s Ice and Fire families, and why wouldn’t they be? Dragons are awesome. Somehow, though, Martin manages to make these warring kings and queens and exiled princes, with their dragons and purple eyes and white-blond hair... dull. Martin appears to have made the assumption that historical writing should be dry and clinical, and that the excitement of the events themselves should be left to do the talking. Yet the prose is so dry that even descriptions of a battle in the sky between two brothers manages to fall as flat as the losing Targaryen and his dragon.

Asides from the writing style, the main problem with Fire and Blood lies not in its length (an eye-watering 706 pages) but in its complexity. The first 100 pages are OK, but as the history continues, the reader struggles to keep up.

Fire and Blood is ideal for fans of the stories who love to obsess over the most minute of details, and it’s fun to see the ancestors of other popular characters turn up along the way. But the sheer scale and exhaustive detail in Fire and Blood makes reading it feel more like you’ve been assigned a mildly interesting, but often tedious, piece of homework.

The Independent

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