The World of Ice and Fire history compendium is out this week and true to the nature of the fantasy series that birthed it, it is a massive and massively detailed read. Tie-in books can often be cynical cash-ins: repeating information that is readily available, or asserting non-canonical facts within a shared universe, or charging a ridiculous amount of money for a shoddily written and shoddily illustrated product. But AWOIAF avoids all of these aspects of tie-in books, containing a novel’s worth of material from series author George R. R. Martin, supplemented and fact-checked by Westeros.org heads Elio Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson.
While there is some repetition, most of the material is brand new, offering new details for known peoples and lands and including tons of material about the lands at the edge of the map (and then some).
It’s also a gorgeous piece of work and you can see why the author and publisher needed extra time to work on it. Nearly every page is illustrated, from simple pencil and ink portraits in the margins to enormous painted spreads. There are a variety of styles on display, but they’re all consistently high quality and give you a very real sense of what it was like to inhabit this strange, strange world.
And it is strange. Hiding in this heavy tome are some interesting details about the world and characters of A Song of Ice and Fire, including what may be a look at the future of the series.