Here there be many a trope, in the great wide world of Ice and Fire.A Song of Ice and Fire
is a bestselling Doorstopper
epic fantasy series written by George RR Martin
, considered to be his Magnum Opus
. The first book (out of a planned seven) was published in 1996, and the series reached its fifth book in 2011. In addition to the main books there are a variety of spin-offs and related media, such as prequels and in-universe history texts.
The series is primarily set on the continent of Westeros, in a world where the seasons can last for years
. Fifteen years ago, lords Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, along with their foster father Jon Arryn, rose up in rebellion and overthrew the Mad King Aerys Targaryen
. They appointed Robert to the throne and drove Aerys' children into exile, breaking a 300-year dynasty of inbred kings. Now, Eddard rules his northern homeland and raises his own family in peace. When Jon Arryn unexpectedly dies, King Robert ventures north to name Eddard as the new Hand of the King, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms after the king himself. Eddard must leave his home to join the corrupt court in King's Landing and find the truth about Jon's death, unwittingly setting into motion a civil war. Unbeknownst to all, the vengeance-mad children of King Aerys, living in exile far away from Westeros, plot their return.
Meanwhile, Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow decides to go far north to the Wall, an ancient structure erected eons ago that is manned and protected by the Night's Watch, whom Jon Snow intends to join. The Wall is supposed to keep out the Others, a mysterious race of ice demons who once ravaged Westeros and nearly wiped out mankind. However, the Others have been unseen for so long that most living people think them a myth, and the once-honourable Watch has been reduced to a fraction of the size it once was and is now mostly composed of condemned criminals commuting their death sentences
. The Others are prophesied to return in the Longest Night, a winter colder than any other, which will last forever if the Others should conquer Westeros. Naturally, at the time these novels are set, winter is coming
, and it could not come at a worse time for a land which is soon to be engulfed in tyranny, civil war, and invaders from across the sea.
- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance with Dragons (2011)
- The Winds of Winter (TBD)
- A Dream of Spring (TBD)
Prequels and Companion Media
- Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories:
- The Princess and the Queen, or, The Blacks and the Greens: A novella written as an in-universe history text, narrating the events of the Dance of the Dragons, a war of succession between rival Targaryen branches 170 years before the time of the main series.
- The Rogue Prince, or, The King's Brother: A novella narrating the exploits of Prince Daemon Targaryen, including the events leading to "The Princess and the Queen", published in June 2014.
- Tales of Dunk and Egg - Novellas set 90 years before the conflict of the main series. Three tales - "The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword" and "The Mystery Knight", have been published, but George R. R. Martin has announced that this will be an ongoing series that will eventually chronicle the complete adventures of Dunk and Egg. These have also been adapted as graphic novels.
- A World of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. A Game of Thrones Guide): A smartphone app offering details on a multitude of events, characters, and locations written by Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonsson, the admins of popular fansite Westeros.org.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire: A book of poster-sized maps, including regions of the world that have yet to be explored in the novels.
- The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones: A series encyclopedia, co-written by Martin, Garcia, and Antonsson. The book is framed as a history written by one Maester Yandel and presented to King Robert as a gift.
The series has been received with great acclaim, with TIME Magazine even going so far as to brand Martin "the American Tolkien
." They share a Switching P.O.V.
and infrequent instances of magic, but Ice and Fire
has so many narrators that there is no central protagonist. The series is located on the far
end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
, with moral ambiguity
very prevalent and few clear-cut heroes or villains. Martin plays for keeps with his characters, and Anyone Can Die
, no matter who they are, how safe they seem, how beloved by fans they are or how important they are to the setting's stability. There is no Save The World Climax
scenario yet either, but after four books the Three Lines Some Waiting
finally started coming together in a much-alluded Myth Arc
of greater scope.
The first three books were released over the course of a decade, with the next two over another. This has led to anxiety for some fans, as when A Storm of Swords
was released, it ended on a cliffhanger, and then later A Feast for Crows
and A Dance with Dragons
suffered major structural problems that led to a lot of Schedule Slip
, exacerbated by Martin and/or over-eager vendors announcing publication dates only to miss them with little-to-no explanation. Repeat this a few times, during which time fellow Fantasy Doorstopper
writer Robert Jordan passed away
, and the end result is a very worried and inpatient fanbase.
A TV adaptation is now airing on HBO
. Scripted by Dan Weiss and David Benioff, the show is planned for eight seasons, with A Storm of Swords
comprising two seasons, the fifth and sixth seasons being a combination of A Feast For Crows
and A Dance with Dragons
but told chronologically rather than by splitting locations and characters as in the books; all other seasons roughly corresponding to a single novel. By the time of its fourth season, it has become the highest-rated show in HBO history. Martin has been very supportive of the project, even writing some of the episodes and has given Weiss and Benioff the outlines for the remaining unreleased books in the series in case they outpace him for one reason
The series has also spawned several licensed works:
For more information, see the character sheet
, GRRM's "Not-a-blog
" and Winter Is Coming
, a central nexus for news on the TV show. Feel free also to check out our recap page
as well; while it focuses on the TV show, it still contains the gist of the novels (it is quite
faithful) and documents any significant deviations.
Martin has released a few sample chapters for The Winds of Winter here
. Others can be found online.
You can vote on the best book in the series here
As the page for the novels is already considerable and ever growing, please enter the tropes found only in the live action series and video game on their own pages.
This series provides examples of: