Iron, Fire and Ice

The Real History That Inspired Game of Thrones
By: Ed West
Narrated by: Rory Barnett
Length: 20 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4 out of 5 stars (265 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A young pretender raises an army to take the throne. Learning of his father’s death, the adolescent, dashing and charismatic and descended from the old kings of the North, vows to avenge him. He is supported in this war by his mother, who has spirited away her two younger sons to safety. Against them is the queen, passionate, proud, and strong-willed and with more of the masculine virtues of the time than most men. She too is battling for the inheritance of her young son, not yet fully grown but already a sadist who takes delight in watching executions. 

Sound familiar? It may read like the plot of Game of Thrones. Yet that was also the story of the bloodiest battle in British history, fought at the culmination of the War of the Roses. George RR Martin’s bestselling novels are rife with allusions, inspirations, and flat-out copies of real-life people, events, and places of medieval and Tudor England and Europe. The Red Wedding? Based on actual events in Scottish history. The poisoning of Joffrey Baratheon? Eerily similar to the death of William the Conqueror’s grandson. The Dothraki? Also known as Huns, Magyars, Turks, and Mongols. 

Join Ed West, author of Skyhorse’s A Very, Very Short History of England series, as he explores all of Martin’s influences, from religion to war to powerful women. Instead of despairing while waiting for Season 8 of Game of Thrones, discover the real history behind the phenomenon and see for yourself that truth is stranger than fiction. 

©2019 by Ed West. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Iron, Fire and Ice

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fun history for all -not just Game of Thrones fans

Ed West gives an exciting retelling of medieval history, focusing on the British Isles. He makes the world feel larger, though, by alluding to tales of 'far away lands' like China and the Middle East. In addition to telling the historical people and events behind aspects of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series, West describes castle architecture, shares tidbits of daily life, and explores the religions and cultures of the peoples involved. He even includes quotes from historical documents and other sources. If you're well-read in history, you may not learn secrets you've never heard before, but I think you'll be entertained. Ironically, I found this book much more colorful than the official histories of Ice & Fire that are formally associated with the series. Rory Barnett's posh British accent is perfectly applied here. It's exactly what I want to hear from a reader of medieval British history. Pronouncing the Latin is not his strong suit (although I'm just nitpicking - I minored in the classics myself). Barnett reads clearly and with enough enthusiasm to keep the content interesting but not so much as would seem out of place for dark subject matter. A warning: this book covers medieval wars, torture methods including the rack, and punishments including beheadings, burnings at the stake, and more. This is not for the faint of heart.

70 people found this helpful

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Fascinating and fun

Well written, entertaining, and educational. I am a big fan of Ed West books as they bring a very human perspective to legendary history. Extremely enjoyable!

14 people found this helpful

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Real History

The real history behind ASOIF is so much more intriguing and gruesome you would’ve thought GRRM was making it up if he had wrote it!

12 people found this helpful

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very interesting!

great if you love history. lots of names and story lines, very cool to tie to ASOIAF.

8 people found this helpful

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  • ST
  • 10-02-19

Like a kitten with Wobbly Cat Syndrome

Really poorly written. Meanders through history and fiction as if the border is inconsequential. Jumps from one historical topic from another like an over caffeinated child. Makes no attempt to distinguish between individuals of the same name, for instance, just uses the name Edward like you're supposed to know which one is being talked about after having made three detours to Westeros, ancient Egypt, and a discussion of Neanderthals. I don't recommend it at all.

68 people found this helpful

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Fact filled entertainment

So many interesting facts and histories I have never heard of before, a good listen!

9 people found this helpful

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Very good indeed .

As above . This has kindled my interest in the history of the lands of my ancestors . Bravo !

11 people found this helpful

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In depth look at real game of thrones

This was an interesting book with so much detail. The connection to Game of Thrones is mentioned, but the book is about the history that inspired the books and show. I love history books and this was a great one with small details that changed my perception.

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yessssss!

Ad a HUGE G.O.T. fan, I loved finding out how Martin's mind was working while incorporating real history and his own twist in creating his masterpiece. Im hoping for Winds of Winter to come around reallllly soon!

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Very interesting

I knew there was a lot of violence in the older times of England and other countries over there. But I never imagined how much and gruesome they really were. I would recommend this book because it was very interesting. The writer did a great job and the narrator was very good too.

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  • Jack Clancy
  • 03-03-20

History with all interesting and gory bits!

Ever wondered where the inspiration for the Red Wedding came from? Was Joffrey based on a real monarch? Who were the real life nomadic horseman that were the basis for the Dothraki? All these questions are answered and more throughout the book. I didn’t want it to end as it was so fascinating. Also didn’t realise until the book’s conclusion how much George RR Martin had gone through many different civilisations in history, and taken events that occurred and translated them into a series of books that I love.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Steve Sochor
  • 08-22-19

Excellent voyage through history

Absolutely loved this and it won't be a single listen for me. It's intricate look at the similarities between real history and the history of westeros is brilliantly told and I believe it helps you to understand history that bit more.
There were times in the narrative it would go somewhere or a certain time but then jump to somewhere or something else, leaving us on a cliff hanger or an unfinished story, almost like the workings of Billy Connelly's mind. That made it slightly harder to follow but once you got back into it, back to the part it had described before, it was intense focus, to listen to every moment with extreme excitement.

Definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in a wide variety of history and those who loved Game of Thrones and its vast lore.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mister B
  • 02-02-20

Disjointed

Although there were a lot of interesting facts and stories I found it hard to follow and disjointed. Dates seemed to jump all over the place, and the family names in the book seemed to merge into one. I feel it would have benefited from a slower pace and explanation about the characters and how they are linked, even if repeated through the book.

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  • Yarnspider
  • 07-23-19

pretty damned average

Yes, most of the facts are right.
Yes, the pronunciation is terrible.
No. I will not listen again. The level of mysogeny is terrible

1 person found this helpful