Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms, Gary Gianni (Flesk Publications 978-1-64041-022-0, $49.95, 303pp, hc) March 2020. Cover by Gary Gianni.
It’s easy to get lost in the expressive, romantic linework and painting of master artist Gary Gianni’s illustrations for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms. Somehow the heroes and heroines of A Song of Ice and Fire look more heroic, the villains more dastardly, and the humor is sweeter.
This big, handsome volume from Flesk is a coffee-table-worthy collection that will provide hours of musing and escape.
In his foreword, Gianni notes that he worked only from Martin’s books and had never seen the Game of Thrones television show.
The book is organized by chapters featuring characters from Martin’s work – Ned and Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen – and powerful scenes such as Jon Snow rescuing his direwolf from a wight. Each chapter features a quote from Martin’s text relating to the illustration that follows. Preliminary sketches, color studies, the finished work and, occasionally, a detail of the work follows. Gianni provides glimpses of his process with the preliminary sketches, variations, and finished illustrations.
It helps to have some familiarity with Martin’s tales of Dunk and Egg, the Hedge Knight and his well-born squire who will grow up to become a king, but Gianni conveys so much through his art – every picture tells a story – that you can pretty much work out what’s going on. His mastery of composition and detail is especially obvious in crowd scenes in which each face is a small, expressive portrait.
I would have enjoyed an index for reference. I also wondered why why the endpages weren’t utilized for artwork or graphic elements: a missed opportunity. That said, the quality of the book is quite impressive for a tie-in: the paper, the reproduction, and the design. Gianni is the standard bearer for the Golden Age of Illustration and evokes the work of past giants such as N.C. Wyeth.
Many other artists have interpreted and illustrated the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, among them John Howe, John Picacio, Lauren K. Cannon, and Doug Wheatley. For even more interesting comparison and contrast, check out caricatures by Russian artist Tata Che: <www.popwebdesign.net/popartblog/en/2017/10/game-of-thrones-caricatures-by-tata-che/>.
This review and more like it in the December 2020 issue of Locus.
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