The days between episodes are a great time to discover more about the world of the “Song of Ice and Fire”. For those who haven’t read the series by George R.R. Martin, reading the novels behind the television series fleshes out the characters and their actions, and lets the reader delve into the history behind the events that are unfolding this season. These novels are a work of true high fantasy, and Martin is a master at world building, so that the characters and the settings are rich and complex. The novels are long so starting now should ensure you are caught up by the beginning of the final season rumoured to start in 2019.
Martin has written a companion book, “The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones”, which is heavily illustrated and full of family trees, maps and drawings which are included in this historical compendium written by a “maester” and expands upon several side stories and characters that are featured in the main book. There is also an exploration of the physical geography of the world beyond Westeros and Essos into realms that are both fascinating and terrifying.
“The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is also by Martin and concerns the adventures of Dunk and Egg, also known as Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Prince Aegon, who is hiding his ancestry. The book is a set of three novellas and is lighter in tone and scope. The events in this book take place about a hundred years prior the beginning of the deeds of the first tv season. This makes a great starting point for someone who is not quite ready to take on an epic read.
Considering the horrific nature of much of the action in the series, it is a surprise to know that Martin, who is a history fan, based a lot of Game of Thrones on the period known as the War of the Roses, which saw the struggle for the throne of England waged between two rival houses, the Yorks and the Lancasters. If you are interested in this period, there are a number fictional and factual historic accounts of what happened during the decades long conflict. A few of the most recent include historical novelist Phillipa Gregory focus on the women behind the kings and the kingmakers during the period in her series of Plantagenet and Tudor novels. The first book in the series is “The Lady of the Rivers”. Author Conn Iggulden has recreated court life with its dark secrets and darker deeds beginning in 1437 with the accession of frail and sickly king, Henry IV. “Stormbird” is the first in the Iggulden’s War of the Roses series.
For a solid factual account of the period Tom Penn, has written the “Winter King: Henry VII and the dawn of Tudor England” and Phillipa Gregory displays all research she has done in the book “The Women of the Cousin’s War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother.”