The most recent GRRM publication, The World of Ice and Fire, is a most interesting book, probably only for the diehard TSOIAF fans. It’s a physically big book, and it can get a little daunting seeing near two full pages of text on such a large page, but it’s size does allow for some stunning illustrations, they really strengthen the book. The book is a real compendium about the history of Westeros and the wider world (which I don’t think we have a cool name for – Martinos???).
Things I liked
Of course the whole attraction of a book like this, is that we get MORE INFORMATION! It expands the universe, and gives us so many more stories to learn about, and so much more history. And overall it was quite fascinating, the world is obviously rich, and there’s so much more that could be explored.
I did quite like that we got both a chronological history as well as a bit of information about locations both within Westeros and Beyond. I would have liked more about the old times, but I guess the whole fact that ‘they’ (being the maesters) have no clue, so we’re not supposed to know much either.
The family trees were really quite interesting. There were a few unknown connections hanging around.
Things I was disappointed by
The fact that there were whole chunks of the world missing. So in the section where we go beyond Westeros, we travel around the lands and learn about their history and people, etc, etc. We learn about so many new places which haven’t even been mentioned, and we finally get some more information on Asshai and a few places which have been mentioned in the series (please, please, please, can a character go there, just so we can see more about it, it is so mysterious – at the same time, oh goodness no character should go there, they will die – maybe that’s a good thing). But then, there’s the fact that there was nothing about Slaver’s Bay! Bad Martin! There was references to the fact that they didn’t want to talk about the remnants of Old Ghis or Valyaria, since they talked of the downfall already, and not on Qarth cause the Jade Compendium is better. But it seems more like Martin just doesn’t want them to be discussed too much since they are still too important to the rest of the series? Hopefully in his ‘Martinillion’ (Silmarillion-esque book – which I don’t fully agree with given that that had a lot of quasi-religious/origin stuff, however there was a lot of history) we get more.
The maps! Okay, I did appreciate the ones that were included, for the most part, of Westeros. But there weren’t any maps of the wider world (yes there was an unlabelled one, but that doesn’t count), and it was really annoying especially reading about the nine free cities, not to be able to geographically visualise them. Also I just love maps. So yes I have borrowed the actual map book thing that is out there, and that was wonderful.
Partly the illustrations, there were some things I would have loved to have seen, but they just weren’t there. But the illustrations that were provided, and there were already quite a few, we’re really good though.
Sometimes there were too many vague references to events and things, as if they were assumed knowledge. Now obviously this book can’t be comprehensive unless it is 100, thousand-page volumes, and obviously the style was one of an in-world history book which was cool. But, it still was frustrating. I guess Martin wants to keep some things hidden, or more likely he couldn’t be bothered writing a whole story, or more exciting that he’ll do it later (but I doubt that).
Despite all these disappointments, I still enjoyed the book a lot. And I look forward to any further books like it from Martin. And I can’t wait for The Winds of Winter!!!!!!