Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd: Game of Thrones and the official untold story of the epic series #bookreview

Hi and welcome to my review of Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon!

One of my goals this year is to read more non-fiction. Of course I set that goal with the idea of tackling the non-fiction books already on my TBR, not to buy another one on a whim and read that. Hello, my name is Frieda, Fickle Frieda, and I’ll be your host today 🙄😂

Buying books on a whim can go all sorts of wrong, but in this case it definitely worked out very well. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is the perfect non-fiction book for a fiction lover: reading Hibberd’s account of Game of Thrones I not only relived the HBO show, but also the books. Without losing himself in too much detail, Hibberd’s writing is extremely vivid. To my surprise, I found myself effortlessly recalling scenes I hadn’t thought about in years, and thoroughly enjoying it.

Having worked for TV and tired of its limitations, George R.R. Martin started writing Game of Thrones for the sheer pleasure of being able to have it all: he didn’t have to choose one epic element or the other, he didn’t have a budget, he could have his cake and eat it too. So he set about writing a story that could never be adapted for the silver screen… Or so he thought. And indeed, for those who did it anyway, it proved quite a challenge. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon essentially offers the reader a look behind the scenes and explains how Game of Thrones came to be, all the efforts that were put in from literally thousands of people, and the challenges that screen adaptation brought with it.

Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon was quite obviously written by a fan. Hibberd knows his stuff, no doubt about it, he was on set multiple times, even did a bit of swordplay with the show’s sword master, and witnessed the shooting of a number of important scenes. Maybe that is why not everything seems as objective as it might have been, his love for the show and everything and everyone in it shines through. And not just Hibberd’s. His narrative is interspersed with tons of quotes from Martin, the showrunners, the cast, people from HBO, … and everyone is so blooming positive like 99% of the time it made me question the objectivity. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that Game of Thrones really is an amazing show, and to have been a part of such a huge production must have been the experience of a lifetime.

Besides the sheer brilliance of the show, all the interviewees agree on one other fact: it was a huge amount of work. Surprisingly few scenes were shot in front of a green screen and I was truly astonished at how much effort went into the decors and the setting and the costumes and the lighting, … and getting everything just so, and all on a relatively tight budget. Creative decisions that ended up defining the look and feel of the entire show were often actually the result of having to accomplish a lot with little money, and I found that extremely interesting. Pleasing the audience while simultaneously trying to stay true to the show was sometimes really hard to do, and I loved how many choices were explained in this book, and things that might not have made sense to me at the time, make perfect sense now.

Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is, naturally, teeming with spoilers, so if you haven’t read all the books or watched the entire show yet, be sure to do that first. Don’t pick up Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon if you’re looking for a critical exposé, that’s not what this is, or at least it didn’t feel that way to me. However, it is so informative, and hugely entertaining and I enjoyed it tremendously. If you enjoyed the show and want to relive it, if you’re looking for a look behind the scenes and background info on both the production and the people in and behind it, I cannot recommend this enough.

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