George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones franchise is most certainly one of the darlings of contemporary media and literary studies – the growing number of conferences and workshops on the franchise is testament to that (like this one and that one). Still, the slowly-grinding mills of academic publishing lead to a situation where everybody is talking about the GoT books, TV show and video games – but with only very little published research being available. However, this is going to change. And the first entry in what promises to be a whole series of GoT-related publications is the recently published Women of Ice and Fire, edited by media scholars Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart.
The 277-pages volume published by Bloomsbury – unsurprisingly – examines female characters in GoT and how women operate in the transmedial GoT universe. Drawing from both gender and media studies, the 11 contributors investigate gender in relation to female characters, genre, representations of sex, violence, and politics, choices of adaption, and female audience engagement. The highly stimulating essays range from Susana Tosca and Lisbeth Klastrup’s take on (female) fan expert reviews on YouTube and Mariah Larsson’s discussion of cultural conceptions of sexuality in words and images to Stéphanie Genz’s pointed critique of the gender politics of the HBO series, and my own analysis of female characters in GoT video games.
Although I am certainly biased I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It has been edited very thoroughly and all of the contributors share a strong passion for their research (and its object) while still taking a critical stance towards it. The fact that most essays arrive at different conclusions makes the volume all the more worthwhile. Or, how Martin Barker puts it in his endorsement: “So, can academic criticism take us beyond simple praise vs. condemnation? Oh yes. Agreement? Now that really would be fantasy. […] Pretty much all varieties of contemporary feminist analysis are well represented here. The issues are clearly important—but there is also fun to be had, deciding who you (dis)agree with, and why.”
You can pre-order the book over at Bloomsbury for the affordable price of £20,99. It will be available on April 7, 2016.
P.S.: Please acknowledge that I have refrained from ending this post with “Winter is Coming”…. d’oh!
 Among the notable exceptions are the anthologies Game of Trones and Philosophy (2012, ed. Jacoby, Henry), Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (2012, ed. James Lowder), and Mastering the Game of Trones: Essays on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (2015, eds. Jes Battis and Susan Johnston).