George R.R. Martin has announced that he’ll be releasing a new book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series this fall — sort of. No, it’s not the long awaited The Winds of Winter, which promises to finally continue the saga that Martin begin back in 1996 and which fans have been waiting almost seven years to read. Rather, fans will be able to enjoy 640 pages of Fire and Blood, a collection of short stories that tell “the definitive history of the Targaryens in Westeros.”
Fire and Blood is said to be the first of two planned volumes of these historical stories, which Martin has alluded to before in the main series of the books, as well as in his companion history, The World of Ice and Fire. But Fire and Blood, along with its unnamed sequel, promise a more in-depth look at the tale. According to Martin, volume one “covers all the Targaryen kings from Aegon I (the Conquerer) to the regency of Aegon III (the Dragonbane),” while the rest will be coming in volume two somewhere down the line. (Martin promises that he’ll get to it in a “few years,” but take that with a grain of salt.)
Martin has actually published portions of the upcoming book as standalone stories in various anthologies — The Princess and the Queen, The Rogue Prince, and The Sons of the Dragon, but Fire and Blood will mark the first time that those stories have been published in a single volume, along with plenty of new material that will continue to flesh out the history of the Targaryens, along with 80 black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley.
Unlike the main A Song of Ice and Fire books, Fire and Blood is written as an in-universe history, purportedly written by the Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel, in a style that Martin’s publisher describes as channeling the “scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” assuming that was something that you were looking for in your epic fantasy novels.
As someone who’s read some of the previously published novellas, I can tell you that Martin has somehow achieved the almost impossible task of making a civil war between people with dragons seem dull, with dry prose that would fit right alongside Gibbon’s famed work. Fortunately for everyone, though, not only has George R.R. Martin decided to expand this into a 640 page long book, but there’s going to be TWO of them.
As for The Winds of Winter — which I will again remind you has been anticipated since A Dance with Dragons was published back in July 2011, a seven-year gap that has seen Martin publish a different collection of Game of Thrones novellas, a different fake Game of Thrones history book, and a fake atlas for Game of Thrones — you’ll have to keep waiting, with Martin only commenting that “No, winter is not coming… not in 2018, at least.”
Fire and Blood will be out on November 20th.