Fire & Blood: From Aegon I to the Regency of Aegon III (ASOIAF- History)

152479628X.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The rise and fall of the Targaryens in Westeros over the course of 300 years is essentially the backstory for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones). Taking on the guise as a master of the Citadel, Martin’s Fire & Blood: From Aegon I to the Regency of Aegon III is the first volume of two detailing the history of the Targaryen dynasty and the unified Westeros they ruled that readers would first meet in A Game of Thrones.

Unlike the vast majority of the books concerning Westeros, Martin writes this one as a pure—yet fictional—history book, though with a clear narrative structure, detailing the lives of the Targaryens and the events that impacted their reigns from Aegon’s Conquest down to the Regency of his great-great-great-grandson Aegon III in the aftermath of The Dance of the Dragons. The book begins with a quick family history of the Targaryens with their flight from Valyria before the Doom and the century leading up to Aegon’s conquest of Westeros before delving into said conquest with his sister-wives. Then just a regular history book, the text goes into how the new realm was brought together and how the Targaryens attempted to bring Dorne into the realm during Aegon’s life. Next came the reigns of the Conqueror’s two sons showing how the new dynasty was tested once the founder was missing and the problems faith and cultures play when interacting with one another. Follow the death of Maegor the Cruel, the long reign of Jaehaerys I with considerable influence from his sister-wife queen Alysanne shows how dynasty’s rule was cemented even though seeds were planted for a crisis in the succession of the line that would explode in civil war after the death of their grandson Viserys I between his eldest daughter and her younger half-brother that would devastate the realm and basically kill off all the dragons—both human and creature—leaving a 10-year boy left to sit the Iron Throne.

Although around half the material in this book was a reprint from A World of Ice and Fire, “The Princess and the Queen, “The Rogue Prince”, and “Sons of the Dragon” it was all the new material and some retconned details of this 700 page book that is really interesting. The reign of Jaehaerys and Alysanne was essentially all new as was the details about how The Dance of the Dragons ended and the resulting multiple Regencies for Aegon III. Along with all this information, which fleshed out the backstory of Westeros even more, were parallels of characters from the main series—as well as the Dunk & Egg novels—with historical personages that appeared in this history that gives big fans thoughts to ponder about what might be in store with the former.

Overall Fire & Blood: From Aegon I to the Regency of Aegon III is a very good book for those fans of ASOIAF/GoT who look in-depth at their favorite series. Personally as fan of the series and being interested in the depth Martin gives his series, as well as big history read, this book was fantastic. Yet if you are a casual fan or simple a show fan that hasn’t read the books, this book isn’t for you.

A Song of Ice and Fire

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Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Tales from the Eternal Archives #2

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Earth, Air, Fire, Water by Margaret Weis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The short story anthology Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis, the second and last collection of the Tales from the Eternal Archives, contains thirteen stories of varying quality loosely connected to one another through the titular mystical library. But unlike the first collection all thirteen stories were all fantasy genre.

The best story of the collection was “Strange Creatures” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which followed Chief Dan Retsler investigating the latest in a series of animal mutilations but suddenly finds out that the latest animal might be linked to mythical “selkies”. The next two best stories were “How Golf Shaped Scotland” by Bruce Holland Rogers, a fun and good natured short story about how a game of golf created Scotland’s iconic coastline, and “An Elemental Conversation” by Donald J. Bingle, a conversation between a Reverend and his friend during their weekly chess game about how the news of non-human intelligent life affects religion with a twist ending.

The two worst stories of the collection were “Water Baby” by Michelle West, which followed the life of a young woman who is emotionally connected to the ocean and how it affects her and others, and “Sons of Thunder” by Edward Carmien, in which a djinn recounts his time as a follower of Jehua and how his brother and his tribe converted to the new faith leaving him alone. These were the two “worst” examples of six stories that were not really good even though they had interesting concept, but just bad execution ruined them. An interesting facet was the unevenness of the number of stories for each element covered in the book, with Air only have one while Earth had five and Water had four and Fire starting off the book with three.

The thirteen stories that make up Earth, Air, Fire, Water were a mixed bag of quality from the excellent to downright disappoint, just like every other anthology collection that has been published. However I will be honest in how well I rated this book given how poorly it began and ended.

Individual Story Ratings
Burning Bright by Tanya Huff (2/5)
The Fire of the Found Heart by Linda P. Baker (2/5)
The Forge of Creation by Carrie Channell (2/5)
How Golf Shaped Scotland by Bruce Holland Rogers (4/5)
The Giant’s Love by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (3/5)
Family Secrets by Robyn McGrew (3.5/5)
Dvergertal by Nancy Vivian Berberick (2/5)
An Elemental Conversation by Donald J. Bingle (4/5)
Water Baby by Michelle West (1/5)
Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel (3/5)
Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold (3.5/5)
Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (5/5)
Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien (1/5)

Sons of Thunder (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

An air elemental, or maybe djinn, recounts to a missionary his time with Jehua Mashiah as one of his followers along with his brother whom Jehua names James and John, the Sons of Thunder. The djinn tells how the human sons of Zebedee replaced him and his brother as the Sons of Thunder but his brother remained in the group while he left. The djinn mourns his tribe that was converted to Mashiah’s faith by his brother, all of them becoming human in the process and die. The missionary’s sympathy breaks through the djinn allowing him to let go and find others of his kind.

This story could have been interesting, but the missionary angle just fell flat especially when she willingly had her picture taken for internet porn so she could connect with the djinn just blew any good will this story could have gotten for me.

Strange Creatures (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dan Retsler, Chief of Police of Whale Rock, overlooks his flood damaged coastal town and thinks back to what led to it. New Year’s Day (1999), Retsler is called to the beach to find a skinned seal pup which is the just the latest in a series animal mutilations. Retsler knows the culprit is probably a teenager, but things are complicated. Maria Selvado, a woman claiming to be employed by a local Science Center, keeps cropping up in various aspects of the investigation which intrigues Retsler. Yet it is Whale Rock’s secretly acknowledged weird history and speculation of mythological creatures, namely selkies, that makes Retsler a hero after learning that a bloody Selvado committed suicide by jumping into the ocean. With barely an hour to evacuate the town, Retsler visits the site of the only two victims of the flood, a father and his teenage son who had both gotten on the bad side of the selkies.

I must apologize for my bad description of this fantastic story, I didn’t do it justice. This one story mean I’ll be keeping the entire book on my shelf because I will want to reread this again.

Out of Hot Water (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jeannette, a CPA on an all-expenses-paid holiday from her company for her performance during tax time, is feeling disappointed with her life and with her holiday. While getting a massage, she engages in a conversation with the masseuse who she thinks is a elderly woman from the local Tewa tribe. Though warned that the hot springs the resort is located on are sacred, Jeannette wishes for excitement. It turns out the old woman is the spirit of the hot springs and grants Jeannette’s wish by enlisting her help to stop thieves from stealing from the ruins of the Tewa’s ancient settlement. Using her common sense, Jeannette disables the thieves’ car and gets to the local police to report the crime including a lead for one of the thieves. Months later, after being the star witness at the trial and using her accounting skills Jeannette has shut down several stolen antiquities rings. The old woman then shows up with her grandson, the Tewa tribe’s legendary hero to end the story.

Frankly the ending–the arrival of the grandson–was unnecessary to this very good story and made me downgrade it by half a star.

Only As Safe (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

On his sixteenth birthday, Lord Turell saw the blond-haired raiders returning to Brackham almost a year since they had killed his father during their last raid. Learning from the previous year, Turell and his captain have a plan only to find out the raider’s have changed tactics with a ram instead of digging under the wall. The defenders hold as best they can as Turell remembers how he was saved the previous year in the well by the aid of a naiad (who might be his mother). Unfortunately the raiders are on the verge of victory including Turell getting captured but the water from the well is killing the invaders including the foreign king thus saving the day.

I described this story not as well as it deserves, it was a nice story.

Water Baby (Tales from the Eternal Archives #2)

0886778573-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Water Baby by Michelle West
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The story follows the life of the titular character, Amy, from when she assumes the title of “Water Baby” until her death. At the age of five, Amy becomes the emotional conduit for water and must keep the element calm so as not to allow devastating storms from killing innocent people. Throughout her brief life, Amy is given counsel by Grace, her fire counterpart, though only after she’s had an emotional outburst or has done something to anger “water”.

While the concept was interesting, the execution and the narrative structure were just off making this a frustrating read.