Fire and Blood – book review
The Dance of Dragons is the greatest story I have ever heard. So much to remember from this book. If HBO doesn’t screw anything up (as they did with Game of Thrones) then Dragonborn (which is a series based on a sizable portion of this book) will be a story we’ll be returning to for years to come. Truly, I have never heard a more fascinating story in my life than the one described in this book by Martin. Before I even get to the review itself, I want to point out that I read the book in an unusual order – first I slipped in the entire Dance of Dragons (that is, the last chapter of the first part and most of the second), then I read the book to the end, and then I read the chapters of part 1 that I skipped earlier.
Why do I mention this? Because it was an amazing experience for me. I slipped through Dance of Dragons, a story described in just over 260 pages, in just a few days. I devoured the following pages with blazes on my face and at a pace previously unheard of in me. This series of my reviews is called “reviews of unusual books,” and one of its hallmarks is that there is virtually no fiction at all. But when it did appear it made me finally begin to understand the book review girls on YouTube when they do reading summaries of the month – five books, eight, ten – all in just one month. A reading pace I can’t get anywhere near, but now I’m beginning to understand what it’s coming from. Such stories, fiction, are slipped in at an almost unbelievable pace. But enough of these thoughts and let’s get back to the review itself.
George RR Martin’s book “Fire and Blood” tells the story of Westeros, the world we know from the iconic “Game of Thrones.” The story begins 300 years before the Saga of Ice and Fire (the book-length original of Game of Thrones) and the two books reviewed here summarize what happened for roughly the first half of that period. For the second half, we have to wait until Mr. Martin writes them…. which may take some time (the latest book Mr. George has been writing for 12 years). The stories in the book are described in a specific form, namely as a record of a historical chronicle. That is, we do not have a typical novel here, but only an account of successively happening events.
But one would be wrong who would think that as a historical chronicle it would be boring. In George Martin’s case it is never boring. What don’t we have here – wars, conquests, duels, betrayals, dragons, sea battles, poisons, assassinations, conspiracies, courtesans, rivalries of great families, long-distance travel, arranged marriages, marriage problems, knightly tournaments, deaths in childbirth, incest, wars caused by religion, rebellions of subjects, hatred, love…. If it was taught this way in real history lessons then no one in Polish school would want to truant. And it should be noted that Fire and Blood draws extensively from the real history of the Middle Ages.
And despite the fact that the story takes place in an imaginary world, George Martin is phenomenally able to convey the actions and motivations of the characters. And not even just the primary ones, but also the side ones. The story of one man whose wife was very domineering stuck in my memory. She did not respect him and repeatedly humiliated him. Until at one point this inconspicuous man decided to bite back and…. poisoned her closest friends. Maybe such stories don’t happen anymore these days, but the way George Martin tells them allows you to incredibly empathize with the emotions of such characters. The power of the story is also revealed in other moments. When the last moments of the life and death of Good Queen Alysanne were described it felt like someone from my immediate family was dying….
And returning to the most important story described – the civil war with the sonorous name of Dance of Dragons – it is long and complicated, but the further into the woods the more evident was the main theme – war is evil. All sides lose from it. There are no winners. And thousands of people suffer. Of course, I have no illusions that Martin’s prose will change anything here. On the other hand, on an individual level, however, maybe it will give someone food for thought. Because it is not only dragons that bring fire and blood.