Published 2012 by BenBella Books, Inc.
How I got it: got an ARC copy of it from the publisher at BEA last year
My rating: 3.5 stars
Disclaimer: this might be a short review and have some typos- because I have a very intrusive/insistent creature (a 3 year old corgi/german shepard) sitting here next to me and licking my hands and keyboard and computer while I'm trying to type.
This is the first time I've ever felt the need to read a companion book to a series. No matter how head over heels I am with a series- I've never actively gone out to find essays that delve further into the legend and lore of the series. I am usually of the mind set that sometimes fans reach too far and read too into things that the author never intended. With that being said- I finished the latest A Song of Ice and Fire book at the beginning of the year and I was in such a state of "I NEED MORE" that I was excited to remember that I had picked this up at the BEA last year.
First off if you are going to read this book- make sure you have finished all 5 of the currently released books! It reveals pretty much everything that could be considered a spoiler in the series. I had considered reading it right when I got it last year- and I would have been really bummed because there are a lot of Book 5 details in it.
My thoughts: There were a mix of essays I liked (an essay about how magic plays its part in Westeros) and essays that either weren't things I'm interested in (such as an essay about collecting the series and how much certain editions of the book are worth). There were also essays I just did not find compelling or agree with at all (one argued that rape or fear of rape plays an essential part in forming the lives of women in westeros- which just raised my hackles in all the wrong ways).
A few of the essays helped me form my own thoughts about characters and events in the series. However, I do not think that all of the essays in it are created equal. If your library has it and you need a little Westeros in your life- I think that this is a good book to read while waiting for the next installment.