It's not The Winds of Winter, but Game of Thrones fans desperate for more Westerosi content will take it. George R.R. Martin's latest release, Fire & Blood, arrived in bookstores this week. It's the first of a planned two-volume set covering the 300 years since Aegon's Conquest when the Targaryen Dynasty ruled over a united Seven Kingdoms. But though it does not further the story initially set out in A Song of Ice & Fire doesn't mean the Game of Thrones watching crowd should pick it up. According to Martin, Fire & Blood has Game Of Thrones finale clues buried away in the story of the early Targaryen years.
Fire & Blood is told from the perspective of a new character Martin invented, Archmaester Gyldayn who is described as "a crotchety old academic." His history of the Targaryens combs through multiple primary sources, some of which contradict each other as they push their own agendas in their recordings of the news of the day.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Martin enjoyed writing part one, which covers the first 150 years of Targaryen rule:
I had some fun with inventing imaginary primary sources, particularly in the case of the [Targaryen civil war] Dance of the Dragons. So I get to tell the same different events in three different ways, which was fun, and hopefully, it will be fun for the reader too.
But, like the A Song of Ice & Fire books, nothing that happens within Fire & Blood is accidental. Martin may be struggling along with The Winds of Winter, but the future events weigh on Martin's mind. As a result, Fire & Blood contains moments of foreshadowing.
There are a few that are definitely important, but I’m not going to flag them. Readers will have to find them and puzzle out whether they’re hints or red herrings.
There's already one hint fans are puzzling over from a pre-release segment of the story Martin put up on his NotABlog to tease the book's arrival. In it, a Targaryen queen, Alysanne, takes a trip north to visit Castle Black. But her dragon, Silverwing, freaks out when they get close. He refuses to get to close to the Wall, fearing to cross to the far side, as if invisible markers were indicating a no-fly-zone.
This is a fascinating tidbit, as Daenerys' dragons crossed the Wall without fear, only to lose one in battle. But they were born in Essos, while Silverwing was born and raised in Westeros. Could Silverwing have instincts of what lay beyond the Wall Dany's dragons did not possess? Could the dragons of Westeros be able to sense the enemy to the north?
More importantly, does this mean the Targaryens and their fiery pets were once far more aware of the coming war than anyone realizes? Alysanne, for her part, is deeply concerned by her dragon's freak out, suggesting she senses something terrible must lie beyond the Wall, even if the march of history has robbed her of any knowledge of what it could be.
Fire & Blood is available now from all booksellers.