This is a masterpiece of world-building, with much attention given to intricate details about the colors of the dragons, the clothing people wore on certain memorable occasions, and how the battles they fought played out. The tangled web of intrigues is laid out clearly, noting how each succeeding generation navigated the turbulent political landscape. While not structured like a conventional novel, the book tells a coherent story, and it does not require that the reader have a familiarity with previous books in the Song of Fire and Ice series ... anyone with a taste for richly, even obsessively detailed historical fiction or fantasy about royalty will enjoy this extraordinary work ... a richer, deeper exploration of the world of Westeros—and this is just volume one.
Somehow Martin manages to make these warring kings and queens and exiled princes, with their dragons and purple eyes and white-blond hair… dull. Martin appears to have made the assumption that historical writing should be dry and clinical, and that the excitement of the events themselves should be left to do the talking. Yet the prose is so dry that even descriptions of a battle in the sky between two brothers manages to fall as flat as the losing Targaryen and his dragon ... Asides from the writing style, the main problem with Fire and Blood lies not in its length (an eye-watering 706 pages) but in its complexity. The first 100 pages are OK, but as the history continues, the reader struggles to keep up ... ideal for fans of the stories who love to obsess over the most minute of details ... the sheer scale and exhaustive detail in Fire and Blood makes reading it feel more like you've been assigned a mildly interesting, but often tedious, piece of homework.
Think of it as anglosphere manga, but written down ... At some points, this gets frankly impenetrable ... Even this would be forgivable if the story drew you in, but it does not, because there isn’t one ... Occasionally the narrative shows signs of flaring up into what could have been a proper story if Martin could have been bothered to write it properly. Essentially, it is all one long synopsis for about 50 books that he will never get around to writing, which itself has only been written because he can’t get around to writing the other two Game of Thrones books that his fans are waiting for. ... Worse still, after a doorstop of a thing, we’re still a century and a half short of GoT even beginning, which means there’s another volume of this interminable, self-indulgent crap to come.