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Literature: A Song of Ice and Fire
Here there be many a trope, in the great wide world of Ice and Fire.

He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.
Rhaegar Targaryen, A Clash of Kings

A Song of Ice and Fire is a bestselling Doorstopper epic fantasy series written by George R. R. Martin, considered to be his Magnum Opus. The first book out of seven was published in 1996, and the series reached its fifth book in mid 2011. It has also spawned four prequel short stories, with a fifth in the works, and graphic novelizations of the first two short stories.

  1. A Game of Thrones (1996)
  2. A Clash of Kings (1998)
  3. A Storm of Swords (2000)
  4. A Feast for Crows (2005)
  5. A Dance with Dragons (2011)
  6. The Winds of Winter - not yet published
  7. A Dream of Spring - not yet published

  • "The Sworn Sword" (a "Dunk & Egg" story)
  • "The Mystery Knight" (a "Dunk & Egg" story)
  • A fourth, as-yet unpublished "Dunk & Egg" story, given the tentative title "The She-Wolves of Winterfell", dealing with the eponymous duo spending time at Winterfell.
  • "The Princess and the Queen, or, The Blacks and the Greens'' (A novella written as an in-universe history text, narrating the events of a civil war 170 years before the time of the main series)

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 and 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 the 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 his friend Eddard as the new Hand of the King, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms after the king himself. The honourable Eddard must leave his home to join the corrupt court in King's Landing and find the truth about Jon's death, unwittingly setting in motion a civil war. Meanwhile, the vengeance-mad children of King Aerys live in exile in the east and plot their return to the Seven Kingdoms across the sea.

Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow decides to go far north to The Wall, an ancient structure erected to keep out a mysterious race of ice demons known as The Others, and manned and protected by the order of warriors known as the Night's Watch. 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 an Army of Thieves and Whores that's a fraction of the size it once was. 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 and civil war, and threatened by invaders across the sea.

The series has been received with great acclaim, with TIME Magazine even going so far as to brand Martin "the American Tolkien"—which is a bit of an irony, considering how different the two series are. They share a Switching P.O.V. and rather 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 much worse their death would make things. There is no Save The World Climax scenario yet, either, but after four books the Three Lines Some Waiting have finally started coming together in a much-alluded Myth Arc of great scope.


The first three books were released over the course of a decade, the second two over another. This caused some anxiety from fans, as A Storm of Swords had ended at a particularly precarious place; even worse, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons ended up suffering major structural problems that led to a lot of Schedule Slip, exacerbated by Martin and/or over-eager vendors posting a publication date and then missing it with little-to-no explanation. Repeat this a few times, during which time fellow Fantasy Doorstopper writer Robert Jordan passes away, and the end result was a very worried fanbase. Confirmation of a release was finally made by George R.R. Martin himself, and A Dance With Dragons was released on July 12th, 2011. It has not left the NYT Best-Seller list since.

The series has expanded into the "Dunk and Egg" series of prequel short stories.

A TV adaptation is now airing on HBO. Scripted by Dan Weiss and David Benioff, the show plans to do 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, and all other seasons roughly corresponding to a single novel. It has received a very positive response, both by fans of the books and newcomers, being renewed for a second season days after the season 1 premiere and subsequently granted a third season after the season two premiere. Martin has been very supportive of the project, even writing some of the episodes (which are generally considered excellent; this is hardly surprising, given not only did he write the books but that he started off many years ago as a screenwriter) and has given Weiss and Benioff the outlines for The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring in case they outpace him for one reason or another.

The series has spawned these licensed works:

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.

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!

This series provides examples of:


The Thorn BirdsThe EpicThe Spellmonger Series
Rip Van WinkleImageSource/LiteratureEvil Redhead
Snow CrashLiterature of the 1990sSong in the Silence
Silent HillTrope OverdosedGame of Thrones
Fall RevolutionHugo AwardAmerican Gods
The SomnambulistFantasy LiteratureA Game of Thrones

alternative title(s): A Song Of Ice And Fire
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