A Look at George R.R. Martin’s “A World of Ice and Fire”

Ever since I picked up George R.R. Martin’s A World of Ice and Fire at the 92Y event this weekend, I’ve been combing through it like a kid in a candy store. It reminds me of when I was younger and would buy a “making of” book of my favorite film, and then block out the whole weekend to do nothing but read it cover to cover. Martin’s 300-page tome is a true treasure for devoted fans of the Game of Thrones world, and I could spend hours looking at photos or reading excerpts.

At the 92Y event, a large portion of the evening was spent looking at the book’s gorgeous artwork, while Martin talked about how each one depicted a certain moment in A Song of Ice and Fire‘s history. It was intriguing to see the pictures up on a big screen, but having them at my disposal — being able to look closely at the details of each work and spend time analyzing everything that’s happening — is what makes me love this book so much.

But really, what I’ve been struck most by while exploring this is the history that Martin brings to life that adds to the feelings I already have for characters and houses that I love. I tend to like the the black sheeps of a dramatic series, and my love for the Lannisters (particularly Cersei and Tywin) are no exception. One of the most interesting things in Martin’s book is a recounting of the Mad King’s backstory, which includes the history of the Lannister family, from the very beginning. To attempt to discuss all of it in this post would leave me here for hours, but while we learn more about the details behind the Mad King’s rule, we’re also drawn into the detailed, intense conflicts that make Game of Thrones so fun to watch.

And we learn about Tywin Lannister. We learn about the deeds that he did prior to when we came to know him on Game of Thrones, how he’s killed and threatened and when asked to pardon hostages in war, failed to respond (which in turn reminds me of they Jaime treats Cersei in A Dance With Dragons…like father, like son.) We learn that he himself was injured in battle by a crossbow while leading a counterattack, forcing him to leave half his men for dead. We learn that he’s beheaded others (like father, like son) and that he’s never been particularly kind, and maybe we don’t like him more because of it…but we do have an understanding of the character that goes beyond what even the great Charles Dance can’t convince us of on a weekly basis.

Excerpts like this, where I can lose myself reading in pages and pages of history about my favorites, are what I love about this book. And having just breached the tip of what I know awaits, I’m eager to explore what else I can learn about Martin’s world.