Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review ~ Winter is Coming by Carolyne Larrington

I B Tauris

The Blurb...

Discover the medieval myths and legends which inspired hit book and TV series, Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. It is the subject of intense debate in the national media; by cultural commentators contesting the series’ startling portrayals of power, sex and gender, and among its millions of fans across the world who devise all sorts of theories as to the story’s progression. However no book has yet divulged how George R.R. Martin constructed his remarkable universe.

Discussing the novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores the medieval world of rivalry and warfare, love and betrayal, greed and power, epitomised in the Wars of the Roses. She also delves into sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century’s most important fantasy creation.

My thoughts...

I'm a huge fan of Game of Thrones because it fulfils my passion for medieval adventure in a truly visual context and whilst I know that dragons and white walkers don't exist in the here and now, its great fun imagining just what would happen if it were all true. In this informative guide to the world behind Game of Thrones, the author, with impeccable research brings to life the medieval and ancient world.

Of course, George RR Martin’s Ice and Fire series is a fictional adventure which has caught the public’s imagination, but it must also be remembered that much of historical fiction has a foothold in fact, and many of the ideas and scenarios being played out on television may well, at some point in time, have a basis in history.

I think what this author does is put time and place into context and whilst the book is predominately targeted around events in the TV show, there is no doubt that even if you have no great enthusiasm for the conflict between the characters on television; you may well enjoy seeing where some of the ideas may have originated. It's fascinating to wander through Westeros and Essos and to see the parallels between the books, the TV series and the recognised history of medieval Europe and beyond.

A note of caution is that this book works better if you are up to date with the Game of Thrones series as the action is discussed in detail and there are spoilers if you haven't seen the show.

Best read with …a surfeit of mutton and flagons of mead.

About the Author

Carolyne Larrington is Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Literature at St John's College, Oxford. Her previous books include The Women's Companion to Mythology; The Poetic Edda; King Arthur's Enchantresses: Morgan and her Sisters in Arthurian Tradition (I.B.Tauris 2006, paperback 2014); Magical Tales: Myth, Legend and Enchantment in Children's books (edited with Diane Purkiss); and The Land of the Green Man: A Journey through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles (I.B.Tauris, 2015)

Carolyne Larrington

My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review Winter is Coming.



  1. Thanks for this! I'm just about to sign to write a second book about the TV show to come out when it's all finished. That will be about the story-lines and themes of the show and not the historical contexts. Hope you'll enjoy reading that!

    1. You're welcome, Carolyne. Will look forward to your next book.


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