Rather than a continuation of the narrative covered in the all-conquering HBO adaptation of his A Song of Ice and Fire novel sequence, the new work is an “imaginary history” of House Targaryen beginning 300 years before the War of the Five Kings.
The TV version, masterminded by showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff, has famously outpaced the five books that make up A Song of Ice and Fire and is now following the race for the Iron Throne to its logical conclusion on the advice of the author alone.
The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is currently in production and promises to be the TV event of the decade.
The last canonical novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, appeared in 2011 and the next, The Winds of Winter, has been in development ever since, with the 70-year-old recently confessing he is “struggling” to finish it. There is still no word precisely when it will be ready for print but anticipation is huge.
In the meantime, fans will be delighted by the emergence of this new prequel, the first of a proposed two-volume history of the ancestors of Daenerys Targaryen, covering the reigns of Aegon the Conqueror – who first forged the Iron Throne – to Aegon III.
Recording the Targaryens surviving the cataclysmic Doom of Valyria, their taking up residence in Dragonstone and the civil war that almost tore the clan apart, Fire and Blood promises an exciting chronicle of an age when dragons ruled Westeros.
Likened to JRR Tolkein fleshing out the back story of his own fantasy universe Ea in The Silmarillion (1977), Fire and Blood is written from the point-of-view of scholar Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown, who may or may not prove to be a reliable narrator.
Martin released a preview excerpt from the novel on his blog in late September ahead of its publication by HarperVoyager on 20 November.
That sneak peak recounted King Jaehaerys being drawn into peace talks between the Archon of Tyrosh and the Prince of Pentos as his wife, Queen Alysanne, embarked on a diplomatic mission to Winterfell from King’s Landing.
The Independent’s Roisin O’Connor has since reviewed the new work in full and concluded: “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.”