Reviews for Fire & blood

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Martin has done it again. Delving even deeper into the already deeply explored world of the Song of Fire and Ice series (which began with A Game of Thrones , 1996), he has composed a broad, sweeping exploration of the Targaryens, one of the most prominent families of the Seven Kingdoms. Fire and Blood is a history of the only dragonriders to escape The Doom of Valyria, beginning with King Aegon I and extending to the coming-of-age of Aegon III, some 130 years later. Presented as the transcription of an archmaester's writings, this first volume of the History of House Targaryen of Westeros reads a lot like Thomas B. Costain's Plantagenet histories. Rather than a dry recitation of dates and names, the dragonriders' history is brought to life with carefully chosen facts alongside brief descriptions of conflicting sources and stories where those facts are in dispute. This leads to a beautiful weaving of the wars, marriages, deaths, dragons, and politics that shape the world Martin has created, leaving the reader feeling like this is a true history rather than a piece of fantasy. This is a masterpiece of world-building, with much attention given to intricate details about the colors of the dragons, the clothing people wore on certain memorable occasions, and how the battles they fought played out. The tangled web of intrigues is laid out clearly, noting how each succeeding generation navigated the turbulent political landscape. While not structured like a conventional novel, the book tells a coherent story, and it does not require that the reader have a familiarity with previous books in the Song of Fire and Ice series; on the other hand, the maps found in Martin's nonfiction The World of Ice and Fire (2014) are very helpful when trying to picture where events occurred. Beyond Martin's legions of fans, anyone with a taste for richly, even obsessively detailed historical fiction or fantasy about royalty will enjoy this extraordinary work. HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY : It's not the long-awaited sequel to A Dance with Dragons (2011), but Martin fans who can get over their disappointment will be rewarded with a richer, deeper exploration of the world of Westeros and this is just volume one.--Rebecca Gerber Copyright 2018 Booklist

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Fantasy master Martin (The Ice Dragon, 2014, etc.) provides backstory for the world of Westeros, extending the story of the Targaryens centuries into the past.Martin aficionados are used to eldritch epochal terms such as the Doom of Valyria and the Dance of the Dragons, here evoked as defining points in the emergence of his Targaryen dynasty of effective if often very unpleasant rulers. Over the span of 700-odd pages, he recounts the deeds of King Aegon and his two same-named successors, dragonmasters and occupiers of the Iron Throne, neither of them jobs to be taken lightly. As in his Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin's characters are somewhat larger than life but with the foibles and misgivings of humans: Aegon the first, for instance, "was counted amongst the greatest warriors of his age, yet he took no pleasure in feats of arms, and never rode in tourney or melee"and this despite wielding the "Valyrian steel blade Blackfyre" and riding "Balerion the Black Dread." It doesn't take more than a couple of dozen pages before Aegon is the lord of "all of Westeros south of the Wall" save for the thorn-in-the-side lands of Dorne, leading to a series of Dornish Wars that ends on something of a whimper, more of a skirmish against "the minor son of a minor house with a few hundred followers who shared his taste for robbery and rape." Alas, those tastes are widely shared indeed, and there aren't many role models in Martin's pagesthe third Aegon is pretty creepy on some scores, in fact, muttering that if the "smallfolk" don't love him for the food and peace he provides, then he'll serve up other diversions: "Someone once told me that the commons love nothing half so much as dancing bears." Dancing bears aside, there are plenty of fierce dragons, impaled bodies, and betrayals to keep the storyline moving along briskly.A splendid exercise in worldbuilding and a treat for Martin's legions of fans. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal
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This fictional history of House Targaryen takes readers back three centuries, prior to the events of Game of Thrones, covering Westeros history from the time of Aegon the Conqueror, when Daenerys's ancestors unified the Seven Kingdoms, to Aegon III's ascendancy nearly 150 years later. Martin reveals that civil wars, royal incest, power struggles and betrayals are nothing new to Westerosi history, as the dragon-riders live up to their house motto, bringing vast quantities of both "fire and blood" to bear as they hold tight to the Iron Throne. This is a history of the fictional kingdoms portrayed in Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series and comes across as such-readers hoping for a novel of Westeros in the style of the rest of the works will be disappointed. This title could serve as an outline for hypothetical prequel books, but fitting a century and a half of story into a single volume means that characters are born and die within the space of a few chapters. The unnamed Westerosi historian relating the story keeps a high-altitude distance from events (readers are frequently cautioned that "historians differ on what happened next" and presented with a variety of possible outcomes), and dialog is sparse; all this makes attachment to the narrative stakes a little difficult, despite a number of genuinely exciting and engaging moments. Veteran reader Simon Vance expertly brings life and gravitas to the audio edition. VERDICT Recommended for the most die-hard of "Ice and Fire" fans craving more depth and backstory for the long-running series.-Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.