Friday, March 21, 2014

Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros--This Brand New Book is the Best Pop-Up Book I've Ever Seen!

Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     The Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros, is a newly-released pop-up book by Illustrator, Michael Ko- marck and Designer (Paper Engineer), Matthew Christian Reinhart; this book was released on March 11, 2014, just over a week ago. So, it is a brand-new entry into the pop-up book realm.  

   When I saw the promotional photos of this book, I preordered it so I could get it on its day of release. I've been anxiously awaiting its arrival, and since this book is already a rock star in the world of pop-up books, I wanted to bring it to you today so you could see just what all the fuss is about.

Insight Editions can be found on
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THE BOOK:    The cover is hardcover; the jewels, artifacts, clasps and title are embossed, the edges treated with faux stitching around the edges. The book measures 11.3 x 9.6 x 2.5 (unopened). The book can be viewed one page/pop-up at a time, or it can be unhinged and folded out to about 46" x 30" displaying a full three dimensional map of Westeros (and Essos).


   The book, through Insight Editions, and in association with Roots of Peace, has stated that they will plant two trees for every tree that is used in the manufacturing of the book, Game of Thrones, Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Roots of Peace is an international organization dedicated and renowned for its humanitarian work dedicated to the eradication of land mines, reclaiming land-mine land and war-torn land into safe wildlife habitats and productive farms. Roots of Peace plants vineyards and trees to provide farmers with skill and to foster sustainable land use. For example, in Afghanistan, Roots of Peace plans to plant two million fruit trees to encourage farming, to provide farmers with additional farming skills, to foster sustainable land use, and to reclaim land-mine areas.[5]

One of the medium-sized pop-ups, a dire wolf.
     This pop-up book was designed to be a pop-up guide--a guide to Westeros, not a guide to the whole of the epic novels created by George R.R. Martin. You will be disappointed if you expect it to recreate the whole series of books. But, it does what is says it will do, which is, act as a general guide to the land of "Westeros." 

This raven seems to just leap off the page--I really like this one!
     It introduces the reader to the key locations and provides key concepts in understanding the land, the religions, the houses (political structure, the seven kingdoms), inter- esting and unique peoples (i.e. The Shadow Assassin, The Night Watch, Giants (10' tall), Wildlings, White Walkers, the Dothraki, and the Unsullied) and even some of the creatures in the books series (dire wolves, ravens, and dragons).

The pop-ups are recreations of the key locations in the world of Westeros. The five MAJOR pop-ups include the following: 

One side of King's Landing (the other side
shows the gate and Flea Bottoms).
The Iron Throne--located
in King's Landing.
King's Landing
   King's Landing is the capital of the Seven King- doms and named for Aegon I Tar- garyen. King's Landing is the seat of the Iron Throne--which the authors have thoughtfully in- cluded. The infa- mous "Iron Throne" is recre- ated in the pop-up image on the the right. Also at King's Landing is the Red Keep, the Great Sept of Baelor, and the squalid Flea Bottoms in which so many poor live.).   

(2) The Eyrie
     The Eyrie is located in the Mountains of the Moon in the Vale of Arryn known for its unique location as an impenetrable fortress on the mountain peak known as the Giant's Lance.

     One of the notable features of "The Eyrie," is the justice that is met at "The Moon Door." The final justice that the accused meet at The Moon Door is decidedly final and terrifying. A "weirwood hatch" is built into the floor that is opened up when needed to give the accused their day of judgment. One push through the opening and the person falls hundreds of feet to their death--as the book indicates, there is ample time for the unfortunates "to contemplate their crimes on the way down."

     This important house has played a pivotal role in George R.R. Martin's epic novels. The Lord of The Eyrie, Jon Arryn, hand of King Robert Baratheon, was poisoned at King's Landing--his wife, Lysa, grieved to the point of "paranoia and madness." Lysa then ruled the House--the very one that brought Tyrian's champion (Bronn) to battle and defeat the Captain of the Guard, Ser Vardis Egen, to win freedom (for Tyrian and the sell swords) and to escape death at the Moon Gate.

This sprawling pop-up shows the general layout of Winterfell, with the
"Heart Tree" in the background--a lovingly preserved tribute to the Old Gods.
(3) Winterfell:
     Home of House Stark. Hot springs warm the great castle located on the Kingsroad, be- tween King's Landing and the Wall. Its great crypts house the bones of the great Kings from the North; it also has a large Godswood "Heart Tree"--a Sacred tree to those who worship the old gods. You can see the "Heart Tree" in the center back of the photo, here.

(4) The Wall: The massive Wall was built 8,000 years before and acts as a barrier between the uncivilized and icey north where whitewalkers and wildlings reside--the Wall is manned by "The Night's Watch," men who swear a solemn oath, for life, to protect all. The 300 mile-long wall's main keep is "Castle Black."

This page has four additional pop-ups: one of the White Walkers, one of the Giants, one of Longclaw (the Valyrian steel sword given to Jon Snow by the Commander of the Night Watch), and one of Castle Black --home of the "Night Watch."

(5) The Continent of Essos (& Vaes Dothrak): Located across the Narrow Sea from Westeros, the continent is home to a variety of eclectic cultures and influences:

After Khal Drogo dies, everyone expects Daenerys to reside,
here, in Vaes Dothrak, in quiet retirement with the other
widows of fallen leaders. The Unsullied also reside in Essos,
eventually coming under Daenery's command.
     The port city of Pentos is known for trading, bartering, and...brokering the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen to Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo. Qarth, another powerful port city is known for its opulence based on slave labor. Daenerys Targaryn ends up here to play a dramatic part in the city's future.

This is a pop-up of "Drogon" (named after Daenery's dead husband, Khal
Drogo); he is the largest and fiercest of the three dragons. His egg was black
with red swirls of color. The green dragon is Rhaegal (named for Daenery's
dead brother, killed by King Robert), and the white (cream) colored dragon is
called Viserion (named for her brother Viserys)--he has gold accents.
     The city of Vaes Dothrak is yet another important lo- cation on the continent of Essos. It is the only city of the nomadic Dothraki. The famous "Hor- se Gate" greets visitors--no visitor can carry weapons or shed blood within the city walls.

A typical "Pull" tab with information about the various
houses--here we see House Lannister (Hear Me Roar!).
     Every page includes Pull Tabs that contain information about the book series. One type of information focuses on the various Houses in the book series, including "House Lannister" (Hear Me Roar); "House Baratheon" (Ours Is the Fury); "House Tyrell" (Growing Strong), "House Greyjoy" (We Do Not Sow); "House Stark" (Winter is Coming); "House Arryn" (As High As Honor); "House Tully" (Family, Duty, Honor); and "House Targaryen" (Fire and Blood).

     Other tabs and pull outs include information about the history of Westeros and other miscellaneous tidbits. Also included are facts about Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms and the Rebellion Against the Mad King Targaryen, for example.

This medium-sized pop-up of "Tourney of the Hand,"
location, King's Landing, almost looks like a diorama.
   And if that's not enough miscellan- eous info, a veritable plethora of topics are available, every- thing from Kings Landing, for exam- ple, and the Kings- guard to the Tourney of the Hand (see photo to the right). Religious in- formation is also provided about faith in the Seven Kingdoms; info about The Wall is also included along with The Night's Watch, Longclaw (a unique sword of Valyrian steel), and the Wildlings.

   Information about the Continent of Essos is also featured, including the trading port cities of Pentos and Qarth, and facts about the city of Vaes Dothrak as well as general information about the continent, itself.


     If you are like me, you already are quite impressed by the awesome pop-ups we have viewed, above. Some of them, all by themselves, are simply stunning--there's no other way to describe these pop-ups. But let me tell you, if you think these pop-ups are impressive, just wait until you see what I have for you, next.

     The book and the pop-ups have been so designed as to open up completely. That is, all the pop-ups can be viewed at once--the whole view of Westeros as conceptualized by the very talented team that created this book. I think it highly likely that inspiration was drawn from the opening sequence of the HBO series, Game of Thrones. Check out this trailer, and tell me what you think.

     So, what do you think? Looks pretty inspirational, doesn't it?

     You need not worry about damaging your pop-up book by opening it up all the way--if you follow the directions! I have opened my book up a number of times already, and it remains undamaged--just be careful and go slow in opening it up. The publishers have thoughtfully provided "Instructions" for "Unfolding the Map." Simply follow those directions. Additionally, I have provided photos for you to see what it looks like at each step along the way. Let's begin:

(1) Place the book face down, then spin it around so it is also upside down as it faces towards you. The spine of the book has a magnet that permits the spine to be unfolded or detached from the book--don't worry, it won't hurt the book. Just unfold the hinge on the spine like my helpful son is doing for me in the photo.

(2) Grip all the pages in your right hand (as my son is doing) except for the two at the front of the book--the two pages attached to the front cover (these are the King's Landing pages).

(3) Carefully unfold the pages you are gripping away from the front cover until you can see three sections. (Not shown) Then...

(4) Grab the back cover of the book (and the pages under the back cover), lift them up to vertical...

...Twist gently (be careful not to tear anything!) until it opens up and you can lay the page out flat.

You will see--as here--the Continent of Essos and the globe seen in the HBO trailer (see bottom left of photo). 

In this photo and in the photo just above this one, you can see the preprinted directions for you to follow. After you do this once or twice, you won't need them any more, but I highly suggest you save them, anyway!

(5) NEXT: In the photo, just below, you can see the next step. I am now standing at the other end of the table.

...just continue to unfold the sections, carefully, as I have cautioned you all along.

Open up the ice Wall and then Winterfell--you can also see Winterfell just in front of the Wall. 

Two more sections remain...just continue unfolding the remaining sections.

The next section is the Eyrie and the last section to be revealed is Kings Landing.

Voila! The map is now fully opened. Approx- imately 46" x 30", the map of Westeros is impressive. To reassemble the book, simply perform the steps in reverse order.

I have an extensive collection of pop-up books, and from my experience, this is the most awesome pop-up book I have ever seen! I have never seen anything like it. 

     The paper engineering (by Michael Reinhart) is par excellence, and the beautifully rendered images by Michael Komarck are nothing short of gorgeous! Together, these authors have impressed someone who has become a bit jaded as far as pop-up books go. This book is AWESOME!

     The only cautions I have for you is to remember this is not a pop-up book for children. It is too demanding of care for someone immature. Additionally, even adults should be cautious in handling the book to prevent damage to the beautiful pop-ups.

My rating for this book: 4.5 Stars! [3]
     This beautiful book is very easy to rate. I give it 4.5 stars (only taking off .5 stars off for the fragility of the book). It is beautiful, and the kinesthetic part of me loves handling these beautiful pop-ups. I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I have.

     Thank you for joining me this week to look at the Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros. Please join me again next week as we will look at a new book. 

     Remember to pick up something to read this week. Reading is enjoyable, so don't make too much work out of it. Let the words fill you up and bring you joy. All my love to you all.

Until next time...
White Rose [15]
...many happy pages of reading!


1. "Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros" Retrieved
2. "A Kansan Down Under" [Roots of Peace] Retrieved 03-18-14;
3. "Beats Music Review: The Ace is Back." Retrieved 04-19-14.
4. "Top 28 White Roses Picture for Free Download" Retrieved
5. 3. Roots of Retrieved 04-21-14.