Library Journal Review
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.
Publishers Weekly Review
Martin's evocative storytelling style and gift for gripping narrative are mostly absent from this dry history of the blood-drenched Targaryens, one of the central dynasties of the land of Westeros (setting of the Song of Ice and Fire series and the HBO show Game of Thrones). Beginning with the Targaryens' fortuitous escape from the destruction of Valyria and Aegon Targaryen's subsequent conquest of Westeros, and concluding with the ascent of young King Aegon III to Westeros's Iron Throne some 130 years later, Martin gives equal weight to each member of the Targaryen family. The deliberately inbreeding Targaryens share a number of characteristics through the generations-chiefly brutality, snobbishness, and the single-minded pursuit of power-and it can be hard to keep track of who's who. Brief sections are dramatic ("the golden dragon devoured the queen in six bites") or salacious ("it aroused the princess to watch the men disporting with one another"), and there are entertaining snatches of dialogue and detailed depictions of battles, but they only last a few pages before a return to brisk summary. The conceit of the history being written by one Archmaester Gyldayn ("author" of several other works of Westerosi scholarship, most recently The Sons of the Dragon) mostly gives rise to images of unhappy Westerosi schoolchildren being forced to study this weighty textbook. Fans hungry for the next Song of Ice and Fire novel will find this volume whets, but does not satisfy, their appetites. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.