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Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  719 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Foreword by New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore

Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.

The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Bey
ebook, 220 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by BenBella Books
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First of all, this book contains spoilers up untill A Dance with Dragons, so if havent read it yet, catch up before reading this book.
Before I get to the review, I want to share this quote from the book;

"GEORGE R.R. MARTIN’S A Song of Ice and Fire has been a success, in large part, because it has recaptured fans of the fantasy genre who had grown bored and moved away from the standard fare, and because it has reached a wide audience of those who traditionally do not read or watch fantasy genre e
Robert A. Salvatore’s “Foreword” to 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 sets a near-perfect tone for this entire book of criticism on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. He says all of those things we’d like to say to those who demean the fantasy genre in specific (and fiction, in general) and he says it all with his particular flair. I must take slight issue with his description of Martin’s work as the ...more
Disclaimer: I personally know the publisher, editor, and one of the contributors to this volume -- but will strive to be as objective as I can in my comments.

Beyond the Wall is a series of essay on George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," which had managed to stay out of my consciousness until the HBO series began airing, and certain friends of mine within the gaming community were talking about it. So I started reading the series, and was caught up in it almost immediately -- finishing t
♥~♥Geri ~ the Racy Lit Reader ♥~♥
I'm a huge fan of the books and the series, so this was a fantastic read for me. A fantastic exploration of the themes in the book A Song of Fire and Ice. I think this book is worth the read whether you're a fan of the books or the series.

A copy is provided by the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.
This is welcome addition to Smart Pop's series of books collecting essays about popular novels. All the essays are well written and informative, finding a perfect balance between academic depth and accessibility, and each reader will find what appeals the most. My personal favourite was the analysis of how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is depicted (apparently it is meticulously accurate) as it gave me new insight into the characters.... however, it is very similar to one on PTSD in The Girl Who ...more
A really good collection of essays on A Song of Ice and Fire Series, exploring many different themes, from feminism to religion and redemption in the books.

I really enjoyed this. It opened up the world of Westeros in so many different ways i haven't previously thought of.
I wasnt interested by all the chapters at first, but I read them all anyway and I ended really glad I did. Most of them are well written and enlightening.
L. Lawson
The main reason I didn't like this book very much (despite a few standout essays from Rosenberg, Cole, Staggs and Spector) is that the authors tried so hard to be 'academic' in their treatments of Westeros, tried so hard to sound so serious, but ended up not saying very much--and when they did have something valuable to say, took several paragraphs to make a very basic point (as though, to be taken seriously, judicious use of words goes out the window).

Several of the essays were also quite repe
Eustacia Tan
Beyond The Wall is one of those books that explores the world behind the books. In this case, it explores the world in the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin. You may be surprised to see this because I haven't talked about A Song of Fire and Ice before and you're right. Before I picked up this book, I had absolutely no knowledge of this amazing world.

It seems counterintuitive, not to mention spoiler-ish, but I actually became interested in this series because of this book. I'm t

INTRODUCTION: As a huge series fan and also as I own the art books inspired by the novels, I was very curious about this essay book since I heard about it some months ago.

While the recent A Feast of Ice and Fire is a bit "too out" for my interests, the upcoming map book "The Lands of Ice and Fire" is another huge asap, so this year we will have been treated with a lot of ASOIAF material, from the excellent HBO series, to three related works including the one discussed here!

Note that Beyo
This is a must have for ASOIAF fans, and even aspiring authors.

This book is a series of essays exploring various aspects of ASOIAF. Written by mostly authors, bloggers and dedicated fanboys. The book hits ASOIAF from pretty much every angle, and will have you looking at the world, the history, and it's characters in new or different ways

Some of the highlights

Author Daniel Abraham's essay on the transition of the series to a graphic novel was fascinating. I found his chapter to be full of informa
Jen*The Geeky Book Gal*
I enjoyed most of the 14 essays in this book. Some were a bit dry or overly analytical but, some were extra compelling, such as "Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity" by Matt Staggs which discussed Petyr Baelish's psychopathic nature as a clinical rather than a popular definition of the often used term. Andrew Zimmerman Jones discusses the various religions of Westeros in "Of Direwolves and Gods" ;and the essay on romanticism "The Palace of Love, the Palace of Sorrow" by Elio M. Garcia Jr goes i ...more
This was a really interesting compendium of essays on Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. As with any collection of essays, some were better than others, and some appealed more to me than others. My favourite chapters included Alyssa Rosenburg's examination of the use of rape as a war weapon in the series; the character study of Littlefinger through the lens of psychopathy; and Whitehead's chapter on the uncertain history of Westeros. The chapters on religion, magic, the Dunk and Egg prequel ...more
This book is not what it claims to be.

A typical "companion" to a well-received and award-winning series should delve into insights in the background, the characters, maybe even enlighten us to mysteries or prophecies which permeate the series.

Not so. Instead we get a rambling opening article (I refuse to use the word "essay") that honestly tries to place Martin's writing in the era of "Romanticism", not even once analyzing or comparing Martin's prose to an author of said era. The history of art
Sarah Jane
Beyond the Wall is a good educational companion to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's a compilation of different essays written about different subject matters relating to the books. I personally found R.A. Salvatore's foreward fascinating, as well as, Alyssa Rosenberg's essay about the sexual politics in the series. I also found the founders' essay about romanticism really interesting and talked about it with my husband (who has also read the books). The essay ...more
Ami Kismet
This was a really fun and interesting read, but I can't help but feel that some of the essays could have gone a little deeper in their analysis. This could very well be because the series itself is not finished and Martin defies what readers expect at every turn. It was a fun quick read though that allowed me to spend some more time in Martin's world. I am sure once the series is completed, there will be more variety and deeper explorations such as this book. As it is, check it out. Gives new pe ...more
Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays looking at A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) from a variety of angles.

I definitely appreciated Brent Hartinger’s article on the “role of freaks and outcasts” in the series. Hartinger argues, I think fairly, that Martin has created a significant number of underdog characters who “violate major gender or social norms” and are not stereotyped (examples include Tyrion, Aria, Jon, Bran, Samwell, Brienne, and Catelyn). I thought it was interesting how
Full Stop

Review by Jake Blumgart

As another season of HBO’s Game of Thrones draws to a close, it is worth asking what makes this series so damn fascinating. Why do we want to spend so much time with a work that challenges the most beloved aspects of a genre known for its ability to transport readers away from the cares, both mundane and brutal, of the real world?

There are no dark sorcerers in Westeros (the continent that contains most of the action), no boy wizards;

Read all my reviews on

I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

*Insert Game of Thrones Intro*

WARNING: This book expects you to have actually read the books, if you're following the HBO series, stay clear from this book because you will find spoilers the size of the Wall!

In preparation for the fourth season of Game of Thrones, I thought this book would be very interesting. And as it goes with coll
The Lit Bitch
I’ve read a lot of reviews about this anthology, and most people say that you can find better material online in the discussion groups for free.

While there is a plethora of material online, a lot of it isn’t structured or supported by research which was what I was looking for….something a little more organized.

This novel had a broad selection of essays about A Song of Ice and Fire and Westeros. Some were interesting and thought provoking while others left me wanting.

Some of the essays I could ha
Ryan Curry
This book was absolutely incredible. Thoroughly enjoyed all of the articles. Particularly the one about collecting the song of ice and fire, touched a special place in my heart. Also loved how intense the final essayist got about the "genre war" and how fantasy is finally starting to come into its own! All in all, i loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who has finished the series up to date!
A collection of essays on the great A Song of Ice and Fire, a few of them very interesting, most of them totally forgettable.

There is a lot which could be discussed, but must authors end up trying to create a philosophical system around the book to prove their personal, and sometime questionable points.

Not really recommended, unless maybe for a selective skim over
Ayushi Nayak
I have read innumerable accounts on TSOIAF; comparisons, fan fictions, what with free internet and rampant blogging but reading a descriptive analysis by famous authors of the same genre is pure bliss. Why?
Read an account of GRRM's perfect grasp of PTSS or maybe a talk on the inclusion of the exclusive and you would get to know.
I never could tell an academic dissertation apart from plain textbook knowledge but after this book, I think I am a step closer to getting the hang of it.
I am a big fan o
Al igual que pasaba en 'Juego de tronos. Un libro afilado como el acero valyrio' (del cual podéis leer mi reseña aquí)nos encontramos ante otra recopilación de ensayos en los que se debate sobre ciertos aspectos tanto de la obra de Martin como de la adaptación de la HBO.

En este caso podemos encontrar textos en los que se analiza el papel de la mujer en la saga, la particular medida del tiempo y lo que supone para la Historia de Poniente, la idea de romanticismo que plasma Martin en la obra, la i
Pamela D
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Beyond the Wall is a collection of 15 essays that delve into a variety of topics such as gender politics, violence, and the writing process.

I was quite excited to read this book, because I had read the first four books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I was nearing the end of A Dance with Dragons when I found it. I wanted the opportuni
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 is a collection of essays that critically examine different aspects and themes of George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. While the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, came out in 1996, it has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the release of the fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons–and of course, with ...more
Beyond the Wall is a wonderful companion read that allows the reader to view the remarkable series of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and its striking cast of characters in new ways.

It delves into our concept of good and evil and discusses how no clear line is drawn between the two in the world of Westeros and beyond. Most of the characters aren't clearly good or purely evil. The essays discuss how we're able to look past some of the character's misgivings and not others. It offers
I'm a fantasy lover but my biggest sin is to not yet have read any of George R.R. Martins works. Unbelievable, I know, unforgivable, I also know that.
But through NetGalley I found the chance to be introduced to this author's books from the eyes of people that know what to say when it comes to writing fantasy and perhaps give some light into my unforgiving "ignorance" on this great author's books.

"Beyond the Wall" was elaborated by James Lowder and had the participation of people that are master
Lauren Stoolfire
Very interesting collection of critical essays on the world of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. My favorite essays within the collection: "Men and Monsters: Rape, Myth-Making, and the Rise and Fall of Nations in A Song of Ice and Fire" by Alyssa Rosenberg, "An Unreliable World: History and Timekeeping in Westeros" by Adam Whitehead, "Of Direwolves and Gods" by Andrew Zimmerman Jones, "A Sword Without a Hilt: The Dangers of Magic in (and to) Westeros" by Jesse Scoble, "A Different Kin ...more
Amanda Pearl
I am a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's absolutely brilliant and by far the best epic fantasy I have ever read. The characters are complex and they live in a rich world with long running history, religions, and cultures (not to mention some fantastic geography, the backbone of any good fantasy in my opinion). I love discussing the different themes and events that occur in the series so I was very interested in this collection of essays about the popular series. However, ...more
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aka Richard Awlinson, J D Lowder

James Lowder has worked extensively in fantasy and horror fiction on both sides of the editorial blotter. He's authored several best-selling dark fantasy novels and has had short fiction appear in such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street and The Repentant. He's penned comic book scripts for several companies and the city of Boston. His book and film reviews, fe
More about James Lowder...

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“And as for the gods, I’ve never been satisfied by any of the answers that are given. If there really is a benevolent loving god, why is the world full of rape and torture? Why do we even have pain? I was taught pain is to let us know when our body is breaking down. Well, why couldn’t we have a light? Like a dashboard light? If Chevrolet could come up with that, why couldn’t God? Why is agony a good way to handle things?” 1 likes
“Here’s where PTSD is particularly nasty. It isn’t really a “disorder” as modern medical experts understand it. It’s a shift in perspective. Being forced into Condition Black and being trained to live in Condition Yellow are both highly traumatizing. Both shift your worldview, often permanently. Both become hard-coded into personality, changing the individual in ways they never expected. Sometimes, amazingly enough, for the better.” 1 likes
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