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The Busy Reader


Pages in Motion. Passion for Stories.

Fire and Blood

Video Length 2:02

Who Should Read It

Fans of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones Universe.

Why Should We Read It

It is a fun prequel story to one of HBO’s most popular TV series.

What Will We Learn

What a dance with dragons really means.

Book Reflections

"...the prequel backstory to Mr. Martin's fantasy series...set three hundred years before the events of [Game of Thrones]..."

Quite recently, I was summoned for jury duty for the first time in my life. It is a civic duty critical to the American democracy, and therefore a civic duty nearly all Americans actively avoid. I myself felt upset that I was summoned, but I could not understand why. When I asked other colleagues about their jury duty experience, they uniformly groaned and joked about all the tactics I could employ "to get out of jury duty." It's as if the institution of jury duty requires us to hate it so that it can operate normally. A friend of mine said that it was a waste of time, and therefore the best I could do was to bring a book so thick that there was no way for me to finish it in one day. He had such a book for me: George R.R. Martin's Fire and Blood.

"The full truth can never be known when lies and deception are the rule of thumb..."

Fire and Blood is the prequel backstory to Mr. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (more popularly known as "Game of Thrones"). Set three hundred years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, the novel details the Targaryen family and its multi-generational conquest of the imagined continent of Westeros. The narrator is actually an in-world Maester living unspecified years after the events of Fire and Blood, who recounts the history after analyzing available primary and secondary historical documents of the time. Like any tale of dynasty and power, there were military campaigns, but much more often there was intense political intrigue and maneuvering. The full truth can never be known when lies and deception are the rule of thumb, and it was uniquely enjoyable when the narrating Maester paused to comment on the authenticity, reliability, and relevance of his sources documenting the history.

"...a remarkable feat of world building and imagination"

Reading Fire and Blood requires zero prior knowledge of Game of Thrones. Because the narrator is a historian, each chapter often begins with an outline and preliminary analysis of the time period. This literary style really helped me to stay oriented- the constant bombardment of new names and locales was overwhelming. It also makes the prose rather bland; it is a history lesson after all. Just so, this novel is probably not meant for the general reader, but for the casual Game of Thrones fan who might actually know what a "Maester" is. For the die-hard fan, Fire and Blood is probably extremely satisfying; my own (very rusty) knowledge of Game of Thrones is enough to sense that much of the novel are fleshed out details of throw-away comments from A Song of Ice and Fire. Certainly, all readers can agree that Fire and Blood is a remarkable feat of world building and imagination.

"'...gratuitous sex, gratuitous violence, and gratuitous sexual violence."

Fire and Blood is everything we can expect from a novel coming out of the Game of Thrones universe: gratuitous sex, gratuitous violence, and gratuitous sexual violence. It is therefore the best companion for jury duty, especially as reflection for our real world. The “small folk” in Westeros appear in Fire and Blood only to be victims of bored knights and temperamental kings. We are not victims in this nation because we have jury duty. I now only have greater respect for our American democratic institutions. Power resides with us, not with dragons. All the same, hopefully I don't get chosen for jury duty!


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