Beyond the Wall edited by James Lowder: Review

Beyond the Wall: James Lowder
Title: Beyond the Wall
Editor: James Lowder
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc
Publication Date: June 2014 (reprint)
Length: 220
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: ARC

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From GoodReads:

Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons. The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Beyond the Wall, bestselling authors and acclaimed critics offer up thought-provoking essays and compelling insights: Daniel Abraham reveals the unique challenges of adapting the original books into graphic novels. founders Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García, Jr., explore the series’ complex heroes and villains, and their roots in the Romantic movement. Wild Cards contributor Caroline Spector delves into the books’ controversial depictions of power and gender. Plus much more, from military science fiction writer Myke Cole on the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shapes many of the leading characters to author and television writer Ned Vizzini on the biases against genre fiction that color critical reactions to the series.


R.A. Salvatore (foreword)
Daniel Abraham
Linda Antonsson
Myke Cole
Elio M. García, Jr.
Brent Hartinger
John Jos. Miller
Alyssa Rosenberg
Jesse Scoble
Caroline Spector
Matt Staggs
Susan Vaught
Ned Vizzini
Gary Westfahl
Adam Whitehead
Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Beyond the Wall is a collection of 15 essays  that delve into a variety of topics such as gender politics, violence, and the writing process.  

I was quite excited to read this book, because I had read the first four books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I was nearing the end of A Dance with Dragons when I found it. I wanted the opportunity to read something thought provoking about the series. I am a bit of a nerd like that. 

This book, unfortunately, was a bit of a mixed bag for me. My disappointment was due to my expectation that there would be more big names involved in the collection. I wasn't sure why some of the people were selected except that they were fans of the series. I just kept wondering, "why should I trust this person's analysis?" I will fully admit that this mistrust is due to too many years of graduate school and being taught to question everything. I think that if my expectations were not so high, I would have enjoyed the essays more. With that said, I did find the majority of the essays interesting. 

My favorite essay was Daniel Abraham's. He wrote about the process of turning a novel into a graphic novel. His thoughts were particularly fascinating, because he discussed having to make the tough decisions of what to cut out when the series isn't complete. My heart goes out to the graphic novel and television teams. I can't imagine what it is like to translate a series into a new medium when it isn't complete yet. I also liked Myke Cole's essay on PTSD in the world of Westeros. I have worked with veterans suffering from PTSD, so I found his take interesting. At the same time, this was one of those times that I would have preferred someone with a bit more expertise. 

I hope that there is a sequel to this book once the series is completed. Like I stated earlier, these essays were interesting; however, I feel that it is hard to provide significant literary analysis of a series when the series is not complete. I have to wonder if people's opinions of gender politics, violence, etc will change once the final two (hopefully) books are published. I tend to doubt it, but who knows what will happen in the next two books? Maybe Grumpy Cat will be a new POV character.
I give this book a 3 out of 5.

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