Book review; The World of Ice and Fire: Westeros and beyond

Becky Hammill, KettleMag, George RR Martin, author
Written by BeckyLouLeeds

It’s been three years since the release of the last instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire. The next book in the series, The Winds of Winter is the source of anticipation for many fans of George RR Martin’s epic series, upon which the hugely successful TV series Game of Thrones is based. So, it was with absolute glee that I ordered my copy of The World of Ice and Fire, the untold history of Westeros and the Game of Thrones.


Ancient history


I was not disappointed. The book starts with details of the ancient history of the lands now populated by the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryans and others, describing events only hinted at in the main series. We learn how Westeros came to be the home of Man, after an age of giants and children of the forest, followed by a gripping account of the lineage of Westerosi rulers and the wars they fought to gain and retain power.


Martin provides a full and fascinating account of the history of all the major families that fans of the tv series will be familiar with, and shows his sense of humour by giving an unexpected nod to another popular series in the naming of some members of House Tully. These family histories interweave with flawless intricacy, and shed light on the root of allegiances and enmity shown in the main series of books.The tome continues with histories of the lands beyond Westeros and goes into such minute detail that a series about these distant lands could certainly be just as exciting.  


Clever features and illustrations


The book is packed with beautifully drawn illustrations of the people, landscapes, battles and dragons that are included within, and provide welcome respite from the elaborate descriptions which are written as if by a Maester of the Citadel who has pulled together all the knowledge from various other texts to create a definitive history.


Most pages also include an inserted passage with extra or more detailed information, and this clever feature adds more personal colour to the stories whilst breaking up the solid text of the main narrative.




This beautifully presented book is the perfect way to distract oneself from the tedium of waiting for the next installment in the main series of books, and for me has made reading A Song of Ice and Fire even more immersive, as I now feel like I’ve been educated by my very own Maester, and have insider knowledge of George RR Martin’s’ fantasy world.


The sheer volume of information does make this book quite difficult to read at times, especially as the timelines of each family start to mingle through various marriages and loyalties, but Martin has also included illustrated family trees for each clan which serve to lessen the confusion slightly.


I would highly recommend this book to fans of Martins’ previous work, with the advice that they read it in a quiet room with no distractions in order to be able to fully absorb the history within.