LONG, LONG TIME AGO

FIRE AND BLOOD, BY GE­ORGE RR MAR­TIN, MAKES FOR AN EX­HAUST­ING READ CHRON­I­CLING TARGARYEN HIS­TORY AND THEIR DRAGONS

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - BOOKS - By Roisin O’con­nor

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 in­ish his long-awaited, and oft­de­layed, 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 irst 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 lat 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 eye­wa­ter­ing 706 pages) but in its com­plex­ity. The irst 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.

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