Art of the Genre

Let me make this very clear before I begin, I’m both a huge fan of George R.R. Martin and also one of his greatest haters.  How can that be, you might ask?  Well, I believe his first three novels in The Song of Fire and Ice may be the greatest pieces of fantasy fiction since Tolkien, but after that, Martin imploded into a kind of literary oblivion that almost fully invalidates what he did in those books.  Bottom line, it should have been a trilogy, and milking this dead and decrepit cow has spoiled everything he was so brilliantly trying to achieve, let alone the fact that he is likely to pass from this world well before any resolution appears in the series for his throngs of fans.

Now, with that rant out of the way, let me take on the Sword & Sorcery release of Guardians of Order’s A Game of Thrones RPG from 2005.

Bottom line, it is an enormous undertaking, and probably a contributing reason to why Guardians of Order when bankrupt and defunct shortly after its production.  Nonetheless, the book is a monster, and certainly one of the largest RPGs in my voluminous collection.

Art directed by Jeff Mackintoch, the book is illustrated by sixteen artists, the only one I know by name being Lee Moyer, and also the company that is Udon Studios [who we’ve seen in previous Guardians products]. 

Lee Moyer begins the book with a very nice two page full color spread depicting The Wall and the doom that comes from beyond it, before giving way to the sporadically illustrated text.

Side note: If you have this book, Guardians does an intriguing job of defining the genre in modern fantasy with an enormous setting introduction.  Certainly this is nothing that will inherently help you in gaming, but damned if it isn’t a fine history lesson.

The book itself doesn’t fill pages with spot illustration, but instead saves its budget for massive full-color two page spreads that help tell the tale of the Song of Fire and Ice, and one of my favorites of these is ‘the finding of the wolf pups’ by Mark Evans.  This type of art direction and layout is precisely what was found in Guardians Ex Machina which I spoke about on this blog months ago, although this time instead of two-page b/w spreads, the company has gone to full color.

I have to say, I’m still a taken by this concept, and although it does tend to leave the reader with large tracts of unbroken text that can be intimidating, it still manages to set a nice flow and give the reader something to look forward to [much like the Jon chapters in Martin’s own writing].

Other than the two-page spreads, the book contains a collection of Udon ‘anime’ inspired character images that remind me of various Pathfinder Adventure Path products where they enjoy featuring NPC characters for the DMs and players.

Still, the entire book takes us on an illustrated journey through the series to 2005 [when you should have stopped reading anyway] and as an intriguing artistic product.  I’m certainly taken with what Guardians was able to do.  Otherwise, it is pretty standard D20 production.

Artistic Rating: 3.5 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — July 29, 2013

Leave a comment