The Science of Game of Thrones by Helen Keen

This was so much more fun than I was expecting. I bought it on a whim because:
1) It was super cheap at £4, and
2) Game of Thrones is life.

That was as much thought as went into the purchase, and I didn’t even really read what it was about until I got it home, at which point I promptly devoured it within the day. If you’re looking for in-depth explanations and explorations of dragon-lore, weaponry, magic and psychology as they apply to Game of Thrones then you’ll probably be disappointed. However, if you’re in the market for Horrible Histories meets Game of Thrones then this is the book for you.

Written with a clear passion for the series and an irreverent humour (for instance, comparing Viserys’ molten gold crown to the unfortunate head gear donned by Princess Beatrice at Wills and Kate’s wedding), Keen comes across with a likable warmth. Particularly amusing is the knowledge that she approached serious academics for opinions on Valyrian steel, wildfire and the long summer, and received in return serious answers.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn some interesting titbits along the way, particularly when it comes to the strange vagaries of lizard reproduction. Also, I had no idea direwolves were real, so there’s that. (Seriously, I thought they were like unicorns and phoenixes, oops).

To begin with I wondered if Keen was a show-only fan, but the more the book progressed the clearer it became that she too is a Song of Ice and Fire addict. She even references the Varys-as-merling fan theory, which delighted me (okay, it’s a weak-link attempt to shoe-horn in some cool mermaid mythology, but come on, it’s still one step away from getting Cleganebowl in print).

There are quite a few niggling spelling and grammar issues – including one stand out sentence worded so awkwardly it sounds as though Cersei was once married to Mad King Aerys II – but they were forgivable on the whole, and could easily be ironed out in a second edition.

Overall, I got a lot more than I expected from The Science of Game of Thrones, and will almost certainly be gifting it on to fellow super fans.

[Read on 23 February 2017]

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