World of A Song of Ice and Fire - World and Fictional History

World and Fictional History

George R. R. Martin set the Ice and Fire story in an alternative world of Earth or a "secondary world", such as J. R. R. Tolkien pioneered with Middle-earth. The Ice and Fire story can be considered to be set in a post-magic world where people no longer believe in supernatural things such as the Others. The characters understand only the natural aspects of their world, but the magical elements are not within their understanding. Martin realized the fantasy in the shown imaginary places in avoidance of overt fantasy elements. He likes the world-building aspects of creating the world that he has to restrain himself from putting the background information in the narrative. When possible, he includes the information in suitable occasions through dialog or in story telling.

One of George R. R. Martin's aims with the Ice and Fire series was to retell the history of the fictional world, since he feels that past events from dozens or even thousands of years ago still influence the present. The narrative therefore relies on much fictional backstory, more than the novels do and ever will reveal. Each successive volume deepens the knowledge about the fictional past, filling in the gaps for the readers while the story progresses forward. Martin is reluctant to give away details too soon, but is also aware that stretching out important information for too long will leave readers guessing it correctly and eventually lead to boring condensed revelations in the last book. At least some puzzles are intended to remain unanswered until the end though. In contrast to Tolkien, Martin does not intend to publish his private backstory notes after the series is finished.

The novels' fictional backstory is told in successive revelations, flashbacks and people's memories, using tools like internal monologue, unreliable narrators, and the point of view technique. The books' lengthy appendices, the Tales of Dunk and Egg and the upcoming coffee-table book The World of Ice and Fire also provide canon information. The books' characters may clarify or provide different perspectives on past events throughout the books so that the readers' belief of what is true may not necessarily be true. Martin acknowledged that the screenwriters' lack of these tools might prove a challenge for presenting the backstory in the TV adaptation, although they have other tools at their disposal. Bryan Cogman, story editor of the TV adaptation, said that only little backstory is presented on-screen to prevent the show from collapsing under the weight of the rich backstory. Long speeches about long-dead characters also do not make for good television, so the screenwriters pick the moments that affect the present to tell the backstory.

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