I have spent a lot of tv time this summer watching YouTube videos about Game of Thrones. Not the show, I have HBO for that. I mean videos recapping episodes, exploring theories, and explaining the history of the universe Martin built. As I build my own universe for writing a series, I like to see how others build theirs. It gives me points to consider. Martin is an amazing universe builder and the fans eat it up.
The more I watched, the more I realized I needed to read the source material. See, Martin wrote the history of his universe into it’s own book:The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. It sets up everything you need to know and sits within the universe itself. The Dune series has a similar encyclopedia, but it was written out of context and not by the author. It was soon irrelevant because of changes made by Herbert and the authors who wrote after him. Even Rowling has shut down people’s plans to write Harry Potter encyclopedias.
Universe creation needs to be done, in my opinion, by the original author. I think it helps set the framework for fan fiction. Yes, people will deviate from your universe and its rules, but you want that to be in proper context. You want writers to realize when they are in an alternative version of your universe. You want to give them room to breath, but also some structure.
You also don’t want to contradict the rules someone else sets and then upset fans. An author may not know exactly what paths they and the characters will take, but they have a pretty good idea of the summit of the mountain. They know what the mountain looks like. They know that the land around it contains. This is typically why their characters have the freedom to take any path.
As for this encyclopedia, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed learning more about cultures readers and show watchers are not exposed to just yet. It leaves plenty to be covered in future books and for fans to enter on their own.