Monday, September 23, 2019

Book Review: Fire & Blood (A Targaryen History #1) by George RR Martin

GRRM's Fire & Blood is a history of Westeros under the Targaryens from Aegon I through the regency of Aegon III. This is NOT the Winds of Winter or anything like the Ice & Fire series. This is a history book which would be considered non-fiction if Westeros was a real country. Think Ian Mortimer, Niall Ferguson, David Starkey, or other noted historians of the British Isles.
That said, I loved this book. The history of the Targaryens is fascinating, on par with the Plantagenets except they have dragons. Martin has created such a rich and detailed world that he could write dozens of future books to expand on various people and events included as snippets here. Who wouldn't want to read more about the Red Kraken, the other sea voyages of Alyn Velaryon, Saera Targaryen, and so on?
I love the way Martin incorporates 'sources' into his writing. He's very careful to attribute certain incidents to previously written histories of maesters or the more dubious and bawdy memoir of Mushroom, the court fool. Like any historian, he must reconcile varying sources as he recounts various events.
Martin has always used bits of English history in his stories, and I had fun trying to decipher various characters and incidents from real history. He never copies directly (there are dragons after all) but sneaks little scenes into the story. I think I recognized the first and second battles of St Albans, Richard III's fatal charge at Bosworth, the Peasant's Rebellion, as well as more bits from the Wars of the Roses. The war called the Dance of Dragons could well be the Anarchy (the civil war between Stephen and Matilda).  Aegon III's regency could be drawn from the minority of Richard II.
This is a 700 page book, and I could go on, but now, along with the Winds of Winter, I'm waiting for A Targaryen History #2.

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