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oday I want to talk about a good book celled A Song of Ice and Fire.It is set primarily in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a large, South American-sized continent with an ancient history stretching back some twelve thousand years. A detailed history reveals how seven kingdoms came to dominate this continent, and then how these seven nations were united as one by Aegon the Conqueror, of House Targaryen. Some 283 years after Aegon's conquest, the Targaryens are overthrown in a civil war and King Robert Baratheon, backed primarily by his friend Lord Eddard Stark and foster father Lord Jon Arryn, takes the Iron Throne. The novels, which begin fifteen years later, follow the fall-out from this event across three major storylines, set not only in Westeros but on the eastern continent as well. The first storyline, set in the Seven Kingdoms themselves, chronicles a many-sided struggle for the Iron Throne that develops after King Robert's death. The throne is claimed by his son Joffrey, supported by his mother's powerful family, House Lannister, but Robert's brother Stannis claims (correctly) that Robert's children are illegitimate, and claims the throne himself, to a less-than-enthusiastic response. Robert's youngest brother, Renly, also claims the throne with the support of the extremely powerful House Tyrell. Whilst these three claimants battle for the throne itself, Robb Stark, Lord Eddard Stark's heir, is proclaimed King in the North as the northmen and their allies in the Riverlands seek to break away from the Iron Throne and rule themselves. Similarly, Balon Greyjoy also claims the throne of his own region, the Iron Islands, and likewise seeks independence. The War of the Five Kings is the principal storyline in the second and third novels, with its fall-out and repercussions affecting much of what follows. The second storyline is set on the extreme northern border of Westeros. Here, eight thousand years ago, a huge wall of ice and gravel was constructed by spells and by hand to defend Westeros from the threat of 'The Others', a semi-mythical race of ice creatures living in the uttermost north. The 300-mile-long, 700-foot-tall Wall is defended by the Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch, which by the time of the novels is badly under-strength and under threat by the human 'wildlings' or 'free folk' who live to the north. This storyline strand follows Jon Snow, bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, as he rises through the ranks of the Watch and learns the true nature of the threat from the north. By the end of the third volume, this storyline has become more entangled with the civil war to the south as well. The third storyline is set on the huge eastern continent and follows the adventures of Daenerys Targaryen, the last (known) scion of House Targaryen and another claimant to the Iron Throne. Daenerys's story shows her growing rise to power, from a near-penniless wanderer to a powerful and canny ruler who possesses the last living

dragons. Though her story is separated from the others by many thousands of miles, her stated goal is to reclaim the Iron Throne. Although she is not known to many in Westeros, the chaos of two civil wars in rapid succession has led to much yearning among the smallfolk for the days of stability under the Targaryens. Daenerys' storyline will return her to Westeros before the end of the series. The eponymous Song of Ice and Fire is mentioned only once in the series, in a vision Daenerys sees in A Clash of Kings: "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire", spoken by a Targaryen (probably Daenerys's dead older brother Rhaegar Targaryen) about his infant son named Aegon. It is implied that there is a connection between the song, the promise, and Daenerys herself. This is established more clearly in A Feast for Crows, when Aemon Targaryen identifies Daenerys as the heir that was promised. The phrase "ice and fire" is also mentioned in the Reeds' oath of loyalty to Bran in A Clash of Kings. However, the song and the promise are never mentioned again, and the song itself remains a mystery. .


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