Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 22, 2016
I love A Song of Ice and Fire. My review is not against the story, or against the artwork. I am disappointed in the cheap quality of this illustrated edition. I had high expectations, especially after The World of Ice and Fire.
The cover feels nice enough, though it is slightly damaged right out of the packaging. No big deal.
The maps in the front and back covers of the north and south are colored , lovely, and much more legible than previous versions.
Getting excited, I started to page through; I could not help but feel let down.
The paper texture is nothing special or luxurious.
A table of contents for the images would have been nice. There are art credits at the end but not a list of each picture's content.
The vast majority of pictures feel like black and white photo copies. These black and white pictures are placed at the beginning of each chapter. Many feature the most dramatic scene from within the chapter. This unfortunate arrangement results in starting several chapters with a spoiler. I first noticed this on page 140 at the beginning of Catelyn's chapter. There is a picture of Summer mauling the man with the knife. This scene does not occur until page 145. It would have been stronger to have this picture on page 146. This happens again and again. Maybe not a huge deal if you have already read the series but I would have greatly preferred it if the publisher had cared enough to figure out the best location for each picture within the story. A first time reader should definitely steer clear. Also, it may have looked nicer if the images did not fill the entire page edge to edge with no margins or decorative border, but that is just a stylistic choice.
Some of the pictures will be familiar as they have been recycled from art found in World of Ice and Fire. In World they were in color. Page 636 was on 116 of World. Page 764 was on page 9. Page 486 was on pg 46. Inexplicably, pg 268 has a picture of Ser Elmo Tully from pg 160. That just feels sloppy.
In addition to the photo copy illustrations, there are a handful of higher quality glossy colored pictures throughout (not numbered), the backs of which are completely blank. They serve to make the black and white pictures more disappointing by the comparison. A few of these are placed more appropriately within the story. But not all. Aroung page 436 a picture from the previous Bran chapter appears within a Tyrion chapter. Plus this picture is all wrong as it has Theon aiming at Stiv from the front not from behind. The picture after page 757 shows what will happen to Ned on page 761. Big spoiler there. A great picture of Dany is at the end of a Jon chapter instead of at the end of the book.
I was really looking forward to this edition. Had I known how poorly the publisher would handle the material, I would not have bought it. I will not buy future illustrated editions of the books of the series.