Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Winter Is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones by Carolyne Larrington

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Release Date: January 30, 2016

I love A Song of Ice and Fire and I love comparing and contrasting the parallels of fantasy to real history and historical folklore, so this book was right up my alley and it did not disappoint.

I'm not as into fantasy as some people, I mostly read the popular titles, but there's no question A Song of Ice and Fire has always been a series that interested historical fiction readers even if they are not heavy fantasy readers. This books really covers all the reasons why this is the case, exploring all the influences from and parallels to medieval history and folklore. It's well known that the series is loosely based on the Wars of the Roses, that the Lannisters are often compared to the House of Lancaster, the wall to Hadrian's Wall, etc. But this books delves much deeper than that, drawing on the authors extensive knowledge of medieval history, culture, and myths.

I was a little surprised to see the author made no connection between Cersei's walk of shame and Lady Godiva's naked ride. Granted, Godiva was not being punished like Cersei was, but it's believed the legend of her ride was based on the medieval custom for people to make public processions in nothing but a shift, or underwear, in penance for their crimes or sins. While the book does make connections of Cercei's walk of shame with other medieval examples of the same or similar custom, namely that of Jane Shore's, I really would have thought Lady Godiva deserved a mention too. I guess the mention of the medieval practice itself was the most important thing.

It should be noted that it makes comparisons not only to the books but also the TV show, especially where they differ. This gives it a fully rounded and comprehensive feel, and I found it very enlightening.

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