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Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

An essential companion to Martin¿s A Song of Ice and Fire series

Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays delving into George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and also touches on the television series and the graphic novel adaptation. It comes from Smart Pop books, which over the last few years has been publishing a line ...
Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays delving into George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and also touches on the television series and the graphic novel adaptation. It comes from Smart Pop books, which over the last few years has been publishing a line of books that in their words offers “fresh, engaging nonfiction titles on the best of pop culture TV, books, and film, with a particular focus on science fiction and fantasy television and literature.” This book tackles Martin’s fantasy series, and does an excellent job of going beneath the surface of his rich, multi-layered epic tale. It offers fourteen essays (not including the forward and introduction) that cover topics including the use of magic in the series, the moral ambiguity running rampant throughout the tale, the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in several of the characters, and more.

The essays are all well written and I eagerly devoured each one for their eye-opening scrutiny of Martin’s complex tale, only to find myself wanting more when I reached the end (and hopefully Beyond the Wall 2 is currently in the works). Among the most enlightening were:

“Men and Monsters” – which looks at rape and violence in the story and how these are more than just gratuitous elements thrown in, but an essential part of the harsh world Martin has created.

“The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros” – which looks at the rampant moral ambiguity we see in many of the characters in the tale.

“Of Direwolves and Gods” – and interesting exploration of the gods and mythology and their place in Westeros.

“A Sword Without a Hilt” – which looks at the sparse magic present in the tale that still plays an integral part of the overall story.

“Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity” – a spot on character study of Littlefinger.

“Power and Feminism in Westeros” – an interesting look at how the women of the tale are more than just the objects of the brutal whims of the more dominant male characters.

These are among the ones the stood out to me most and stuck with me after reading them, but really it is hard to single out just a few of the essays because each one adds its own perspective on Martin’s vast, accomplished work.

Now some readers may cry foul on a few essays, believing that the author is not the one best suited to address that particular topic. For example, the essay on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“Art Imitates War”), is not written by a member of the psychology or psychiatry professions. Yet the author did serve in the military and in the Iraq War, so he had first-hand experience with PTSD. And the author of “Of Direwolves and Gods” is more a student of math and science and less of mythology. Yet he, like all of the other authors of these essays, manages to speak authoritatively on his subject and presents well thought out arguments and analyses.

One very important thing to note about this collection for those with spoiler phobia, this book has plenty of reveals for what is coming, especially for those who have only watched the television series. If you hate spoilers, you may want to save this book until you have caught up to the most recent book (it covers through A Dance With Dragons). But no matter what, definitely get it on your reading list because I consider it an essential companion to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and I look forward to more editions that will hopefully delve even further into his masterpiece of fan

posted by john-j-joex on June 5, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

How is it possible to sell a paperback cheaper than a nook editi

How is it possible to sell a paperback cheaper than a nook edition?

posted by Elito on June 19, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Great companion to ASOIAF!

    Very well written and interesting insights. If you can't get enough of the world of Westeros then this is essential reading!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2014

    A great read for fans of the Song of Fire and Ice series. I enjo

    A great read for fans of the Song of Fire and Ice series. I enjoyed all chapters, and the unique and varying perspectives the authors gives an extra dimension to the book, and to the series it talks about. A must for fans of Game of Thrones. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Lilysoul

    With her wounds helped, she began. "I used to belong to this clan. Fireclan. I had three kits and a mate named Smudgepelt. Do you know him?" She shuddered and went on. "My nook was taken away, then lost." Her face crumpled. "That was at the end of august. Now l found it, and l tracked you all to here." Tears trickled down her face, and she said no more.

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    May I join?

    I am a she cat with golden eyes and an amber/black pelt. I am mostly a warrior and hunter. I do not have a name, you can name me what e ver you like.

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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