Westeros has a lot of families, royal and otherwise. So many that you wonder how did George R.R. Martin come up with such diverse names. Of all the families though, the most sought-after and mysterious has been House Targaryen. Power, magic, dragons, incest; a history that promises far more than a meager number of Targaryens in Game of Thrones (the show).
Martin has come out to quench that thirst with Fire & Blood, the first of a two-volume set dedicated to the history of Targaryens essentially after they took residence on Dragonstone. It is not a traditional novel and is written in the style of a textbook, covering 150 years of Targaryen generations in Westeros. Unlike the books in ASOIAF, Fire & Blood is narrated by a single person; a maester of the Citadel, Archmaester Gyldayn. He also made an appearance in a previous history book called The World of Ice and Fire, which released in 2014 and was dedicated to the history of Westeros.
The new book is supposed to shed light over some important conundrums. What really happened during the Dance of Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the doom? What is the origin of Daenerys‘ three dragon eggs? Albeit Martin has forewarned to take the information with a pinch of salt because there’s no absolute certainty about what’s being told by Archmaester Gyldayn. “Readers will have to find them and puzzle out whether they’re hints or red herrings,” GRRM told Entertainment Weekly.
The World of Ice and Fire was also an account by a politically motivated maester Yandel, who could have tweaked or elided details about some of the more recent events such as Robert’s Rebellion. This, in turn, helped GRRM to keep some secrets up his sleeves. A similar strategy ensues here, that the versions of history could always have a potential of political motivation or superimpositions over time. And thus there is no commitment to any one of them. This helps in accommodating the changes in the narrative that could happen in the final two books of the ASOIAF series.
Fire & Blood is an unabridged version of the material that was originally written for The World of Ice and Fire but couldn’t find a place in its original conception of being a big coffee book table. The new book also has its own added flesh. George Martin had initially made a jape about naming it GRRMarillion, after J. R. R. Tolkien‘s Silmarillion.
A more detailed look at the world of Valyria or the doom that the Targaryens could foresee would have been a pleasant surprise. But the events in Fire & Blood are essentially Westerosi in nature. Thus, the book starts its journey from Aegon’s Conquest and creation of the Iron Throne, that took place some 300 years before the events in A Game of Thrones.
It moves forward with the tales of future Targaryen generations that fought to retain control over the seven kingdoms brought together by Aegon the Conqueror. And ahead into the civil war (Dance of the Dragons) that vanquished most of the dragons from Westeros and proved almost apocalyptic for the Targaryen dynasty.
There are some noteworthy Easter eggs; the mention of Alyssa Targaryen who closely resembles Tyrion Lannister, thus teasing at Tyrion’s parentage; Dany’s dragons being related to Queen Rhaena‘s Dreamfyre, one of the last and strongest of the dragons killed during the Dance of Dragons;
Queen AlyssaneTargaryen‘s dragon Silverwing refusing to fly north beyond the Wall. And her subsequent championing of the Night’s Watch to ward off the threat in the north;Queen Alicent Targaryen, who strikes a close proximity to Queen Cersei when it comes to let-the-world-burn-and-save-our-own instinct. Eventually, Alicent has a grim and lonely fate waiting for her.
With this 736 page-long first volume, Martin promises the grandeur and scope of Edward Gibbon‘s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s celebrated work contains six volumes and chronicles the journey from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of the Byzantium. Fire & Blood also contains more than eighty black and white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. The book has been published by Bantam Books on November 20, 2018. You can purchase the book on Amazon.
As we wait for the finale of the showstopper called Game of Thrones, Martin has thrown a big pile of backlog at everyone interested. Let’s hope Daenerys and Jon (or Aegon) have something to learn from it. What are your views about this historical addition to Westeros? Talk to us in the comments.