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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 Paperback – June 19, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Beyond the Wall is a compelling read and provides plenty of food for thought when considering Martin’s writing . . . If you’re a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series, give Beyond the Wall a look. It’s well worth the time."
—GeekDad, Wired.com

"Beyond the Wall offers bracing takes on the ingrained sexism, brutal violence, and expectations for female characters in Westeros, while reminding readers that critical thinking is key . . . If you feel like some more insight into this crew of flawed, feral, fascinating characters will inform your [Game of Thrones] Season Three viewing, read on—and good luck putting it down."
—BiblioBitch, BitchMagazine.org

"A stunning array of talented creators and critics have been gathered into this scintillating essay collection of analysis/reactions to the world created by George R. R. Martin in A Song of Ice and Fire, and Game of Thrones."
The Midwest Book Review

"The essays are fascinating and insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and as a whole the collection presents the complexity, depth and richness of Martin’s creation . . . Highly recommended."
—ScienceFictionWorld.com

"A must-have for any A Song of Ice and Fire diehard . . . Whether you be Stark or Lannister, Dornish or Dothraki, Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is one book you can trust to feed your Thrones addiction until winter finally arrives."
—FanboyComics.net

"If anything, this book itself proves that the series has turned academicians on their heads. Geeks, we are finally being legitimized . . . Anyone who is a fan of [A Song of Ice and Fire] should absolutely own this book."
—Geekadelphia.com

"A great read for anyone who loves the books."
—TVOvermind.com

"Beyond the Wall leav[es] you with plenty of food for thought but also leav[es] you thirsting for more. It's a great temporary antidote to the long wait Game of Thrones fans are undergoing, both for the third season and for the sixth book in the series."
—TVRage.com

About the Author

James Lowder has worked extensively on both sides of the editorial blotter. His bestselling, widely translated dark fantasy novels include Knight of the Black Rose and Prince of Lies, and his short fiction has appeared in such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street and The Repentant. As an editor he’s helmed over a dozen anthologies, including Curse of the Full Moon and the recent Smart Pop collection Triumph of the Walking Dead, and has directed book lines or series with subjects ranging from Arthurian Britain to zombies. His nonfiction writing on film and comics has seen print in Amazing Stories, Sci-Fi Universe, and the Smart Pop collections King Kong Is Back! and The Unauthorized X-Men.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Smart Pop; 40932nd edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936661748
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936661749
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
My take on this book is considerably more positive than most of those posted here. On the other hand, I was expecting a book that looked at the work critically, as opposed to being "support material" created by fans. The contributors to this volume all come from different areas of expertise and I found it considerably better than the web-page superficiality I was expecting. That being said, here is my summary.

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 "tapestry of Westeros, filled with resonating characters who see the world through a different and sometimes magical prism." (p. xi) Rather, I would suggest that Martin's work is a mural of Westeros, carved brutally out of stone and violently defaced as the story progresses by the artist's own and deliberate hand in accordance with the tragic ebb and flow of various factions. I don't dispute the foreword's observation about resonating characters and the truth of the human condition, I merely have trouble with a metaphor about needlework when Martin is so much more effective when wielding an axe (or, at least, a chisel). But even my contention about this one elegant line in a foreword should communicate something of the strong, visceral reaction to be experienced when reading, contemplating, or dissecting Martin's magnum opus.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this thinking it was "everything you ever wanted to know how north of the wall and how the wall came to be". Instead it was an in depth look at what the underlying story is and why the characters act like they do. As it explains in great detail where the novels 1-5 had led us, it is certainly worth reading to understand the characters. If you are looking for a prehistory before Game of thrones this is not the main endeaver of the book. As I read each person's take on the series, aspects that I had missed or glossed over became clear. It is probably better to read this after you read at least some of the books or little will make sense. When there is no new book on the near horizon and maybe two to go, this at least keeps you up on events without reading the series again (I have read it twice)...shu
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The different views of the many different authors gave me a more in depth view of Martin's works. Never did I pick apart Mr. Martin's books for a meaning or subconscious "this meant that". I enjoyed Mr. Martin's books because it was a story. The story took me away from the realities of every day life. They assisted me during my deployments. Gave me someplace to go.
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If you are a fan of GRRM's series, read this. You will get more out of the books, and keen reviews of Martin's writing. By treating his series from a scholarly perspective and analyzing it as a modern classic, it wakes the reader up to some of the really relevant themes in these books.
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George R.R. Martin apparently likes to write LONG books of about a thousand pages, each. We are all impatiently waiting both for HBO's season three of "Game of Thrones," as well as Martin's book number six. During this time period, we are being bombarded with "the making of" books,as well as those providing further insights and backgrounds to the cinematography, set design and characters of all the players in the series. This is an entertaining book, with some nice new information. It will not replace book 6 (or God Bless him) George's seventh and last book (fifth HBO series?) but is an entertaining read for anyone who wants to explore a bit more "behind the wall" as we await the future book and movie releases
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