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Quick Review: Fire and Blood
The comparison with The Silmarillion isn’t wrong or presumptuous, and in fact I’d say that the difference is that Fire and Blood is actually intended to be read instead of mentally “decompressed”. It may be a piece of the history of a fictional world, but it seems as “real” as it could possibly be. It even includes the use of multiple primary sources of questionable reliability in a manner that’s close to perfection, making for a well-intentioned but nevertheless somewhat unreliable narrator and plenty of times letting the reader choose what to believe. This is clearly Martin in his comfort zone, eschewing action, rushing through even the most impactful and extraordinary scenes, in order to focus on worldbuilding, and most of all on a particular aspect of it, the royal court and the noble houses and lineages.
That said, the level of detail, and I’d say the overall quality, improves gradually, as if Martin figured more things out and found better ways to present them as he went along, which he pretty much admits even in the included interview. On the other hand, the flood of names is pretty much impossible to keep track of, or at least it was for me, and after a while I just stopped trying and started skipping over pretty much any enumeration of names that appeared. And, as a comment on the particular mass market paperback edition that I read, they could have picked a font that’s easier to read at such small sizes…