It is a quirk of human nature that the fantastic is sometimes more important than the real. For example, the Wikipedia entry for Jedi Knight is longer and more detailed than that of the medieval knight. The Grand History of the Realms continues that trend by presenting the ultimate history of D&D’s Forgotten Realms setting.
Written in chronological order, the book begi begins with the Days of Thunder, the misty events that occurred 35,000 years in the past when the world was created. To put that in perspective, the lost empire of Netheril, described as unimaginably ancient in various D&D rulebooks and novels, is set at a mere 3,000 years in the past.
Chart the events leading up to the Descent of the Drow. Learn about the Sundering. Look at maps of old and lists of forgotten kings. Study 12,000 years of elven rule that allowed humans, dwarves and halflings to flourish. Read letters describing mighty and obscure events.
Some of the years’ descriptions are necessarily brief and obscure:
1330 DR Year of the Marching Moon
Lizardfolk and troglodytes join the grimlock population of Reeshov after being freed from mind flayer control.
Readers of Wizards’ seemingly limitless Realms novels will start recognizing events towards the end of the history. Usually books’ events take up less than a single year so they are typically summed up in a mere paragraph. Other entries take up more space, enhanced by "historical" letters, maps and other tidbits. For instance 1358, the Year of Shadows, encompasses the Time of Troubles described in the Avatar series of books begun in 1989, and therefore takes up over a page.
Even if you’re not a Realms-head, this book has tons of value. Just as a guide for world creation, it’s a great example. It forces you to think, how did this race or that empire become great? What became of it when its time passed? My only complaint about the book is the lack of bibliographical references. If the events of a novel are mentioned, might a footnote not be helpful for readers interested in learning more?