We are mere weeks away from the return of HBO's Game of Thrones... but for devoted fans of the series, that may feel like a very, very, long time. In the meantime, though, plenty of fans are scrambling to re-watch the entire series, or (for the uber-devoted) re-read the books... even though the series has now gone on a completely different path to the original A Song Of Ice And Fire.
However, there's another way to get that Game of Thrones fix without re-watching or re-reading - by picking up the latest installment in George R R Martin's world: Fire And Blood. This book is a history of the Targaryens, from Aegon's Conquest through the Dance of Dragons and the kings and queens that came after. It doesn't go all the way up to the start of Game of Thrones, but it fills in a lot of Westerosi history: and there are plenty of reasons to read it before the final season starts.
10 It's An Easier Read Than Many Of The Novels
For many series fans, the novels in A Song Of Ice And Fire can be incredibly intimidating. They're long, dense, and shift POV regularly (and not always to another major character). However, Fire and Blood is told in a very different style - as something between a history book and the kind of story that would be told by bards traveling the world of Game of Thrones. As such, it's straightforward and easy to read, although it's still a brick of a book. For anyone who wants to learn more about Westeros without tackling the entire series, Fire and Blood is the perfect place to start.
9 To Back Up Your Favorite Fan Theories
The fan theory debates have been heating up since the end of Season 7, with fans picking apart everything from the tiniest scenes to character motivations - even to the music of Game of Thrones. And depending on which pet theory fans are interested in, there might be some interesting tidbits to back them up in Fire and Blood. Anyone arguing that Tyrion is actually a secret Targaryen, for example, may be interested to read his book description compared to the description of Alyssa Targaryen...
8 For The King's Landing Backstory (And The DragonPit)
Since the beginning of Game of Thrones, King's Landing has been a large and well-established capital city - but Fire and Blood goes back to a time that it was barely a village. The city and the Dragonpit have a fascinating history, and as fans have already seen with various shots of underground passages and hidden ways, the secrets of King's Landing might be extremely important to invaders.
In addition, while the Dragonpit hasn't been heavily featured in the series (it finally popped up for the season 7 parley), it also has a fascinating history... and should Daenerys wish to re-take King's Landing, she may need somewhere for her own dragons to nest.
7 To Learn Where Daenerys' Eggs Come From
One of the biggest questions in Game of Thrones is how Daenerys ended up with fossilized dragon eggs in the first place - where did they come from, if the dragons themselves had died out long ago? Well, it may not be 100% confirmed (George R R Martin isn't a big fan of confirmations), but Fire and Blood readers have a solid theory about who first took the eggs from Dragonstone, and how they got to Daenerys.
In the book, a story is told of Lady Elissa Farman (a favorite of Queen Rhaena Targaryen) who stole three eggs and sailed off to explore the world. If these are the same three, there's not only a great little nod to their future in the book itself, but readers will learn about the dragon-shaped mother of the dragons that Daenerys rides.
6 To Know Everything Tyrion Does
Tyrion is definitely a fan favorite on Game of Thrones, and he's also one of the best-read characters in the series. He spent most of his early life reading every book he could find, especially about dragons, and that means that he would have read the same histories that Fire and Blood is (fictitiously) based on.
This means that anyone wishing to theorize about Tyrion's next move will know the history that he does - the rulers, the battles, how they were won, how the dragons fought... and that means being able to make a much better guess as to what happens next for the god of tits and wine.
5 To Understand How Targaryen Succession Works
One of the biggest questions in Season 8 is what will happen when Jon Snow learns that he is actually Aegon Targaryen - and the rightful heir to the throne. (For anyone not paying attention, he's the secret child of the secret marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, and the nephew of Daenerys). Some theorize that Jon will stand up against his Queen once he finds out... but Fire and Blood shows that the line of succession is nowhere near that simple.
4 To Theorize About Dragonriding
Another major question that fans have about the final season is who will mount Rhaegal, the living dragon who does not have a rider, now that the Night King has Viserion and Daenerys is riding Drogon.
Fire and Blood spends a lot of time on dragonriding, and it may surprise series-only fans to learn that there have been non-Targaryens known to ride, and that the majority of dragonriders used saddles. This opens up the playing field to allow just about anyone to become a dragonrider in season 8... if the show wants to follow book canon, of course.
3 To Know What To Expect From Dragon Battles
Along with dragonriding comes the battles between dragons - something that is bound to happen in Season 8, now that the Night King has a dragon of his own. So far, Game of Thrones has showcased the incredible power of dragons against mounted armies, but there has yet to be any dragon vs dragon showdown... and Fire and Blood is the perfect way to learn what to expect - and to understand what can kill a dragon (and where Team Cersei got the idea for that Scorpion).
2 To Understand Daenerys' History
Beyond anything else, though, this is the perfect book for those fans who want to really understand Daenerys' history, and that of House Targaryen. It's easy for show-only viewers to see that great house as largely evil - the only Targaryens that get a lot of screen-time (even in mentions) are conquerors, the Mad King, Viserys (who would have been another mad king)... and Daenerys. However, Fire and Blood showcases the incredibly good things that the Targaryens did as rulers, as well as the bad. This is the best way to understand House Targaryen as so much more than the rulers overthrown once their dragons were destroyed, and it's worth understanding.
1 To Have Something To Do Until April 14
Finally, of course, every devoted fan should read Fire and Blood because what else is there to do for the next two weeks? This is the best way to immerse yourself in the world of Westeros without having to re-read or re-watch, and it's packed with little tidbits to delight dedicated fans. From stories and legends that have only been referenced in the show to much bigger Easter Eggs (some of which have been mentioned here), any fan is sure to find something to make their nerdy heart sing with joy.