Thursday 18 February 2016

Book Review: Winter is Coming - The Medieval World of Games of Thrones by Carolyne Larrington

Title: Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Games of Thrones 
Publisher: I. B. Tauris 
Publication Date: 30 January 2016
Pages: 288
Format: eBook - PDF 
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. As Carolyne Larrington reveals in this essential companion to George R R Martin s fantasy novels and the HBO mega-hit series based on them the show is the epitome of water-cooler TV. It is the subject of intense debate in national newspapers and by bloggers and cultural commentators contesting the series startling portrayals of power, sex and gender. Yet no book has divulged how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages. Discussing novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores among other topics: sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century s most important fantasy creation. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Winter is Coming is a book that is sure to delight Game of Thrones fans interested in looking at the inspirations behind both books and TV series. That said, how much you get from it will depend on your existing knowledge. If, like me, you happen to be well read in mythology and history, many of Larrington's references will likely already have occurred to you as you read/watched. Even so, there were still a few links I hadn't considered and found interesting. If, on the other hand, you have no background in such studies, this book may prove insightful and lead you on to further reading.

I enjoyed the way the book was set out, and it was useful to have the spoiler warnings just in case the reader was not yet up to date with the series and books. The prose was readable and engaging, and the book felt the right length - long enough to look at things in detail, but not so long it got bogged down.

For my personal enjoyment and learning, I would give this book three stars; however, in light of the fact it would be useful for someone without a strong base knowledge of myth and history, I am giving it four stars.

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