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. 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. Westeros has long been populated by Seven Kingdoms, which warred against each other and united only to repel invaders... but 300 years ago, Aegon "the Conqueror" Targaryen, a Valyrian from the continent of Essos, succeeded in taking over the whole place by using Valyria's Weapon of Choice: dragons. He became king of a united Westeros, and began the tradition of Brother–Sister Incest to keep the Targaryen bloodline (Purple Eyes, silver-gold hair) pure.

Fifteen years ago, lords Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, along with their foster father Jon Arryn, rose up in rebellion and overthrew the Royally Screwed Up Mad King Aerys. They appointed Robert to the throne and drove Aerys' children into exile, breaking the 300-year-old Targaryen dynasty. 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 his replacement Number Two. Eddard must leave his home to join the corrupt court in King's Landing and find the truth about Jon Arryn's death, unwittingly setting a civil war into motion.

Across the narrow sea, the children of King Aerys, the vengeance-mad Viserys Targaryen and his younger sister Daenerys, live in exile, scheming to return to Westeros. House Targaryen is a shadow of its former self — Princess in Rags is pretty much the way of it, and dragons went extinct more than a hundred years ago — but by marrying his sister to the leader of some Hordes from the East, Viserys hopes to win himself an army. But it's Daenerys upon whom the fortunes of the family rest...

Lastly, Eddard's acknowledged illegitimate son Jon Snow ventures north to join the Night's Watch at the Wall, an ancient structure that has stood for eight thousand years. The Wall was built to keep out the Others, a mysterious race of ice creatures who once ravaged Westeros and nearly wiped out mankind. However, they haven't been seen since, and most living people think them a myth; 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 Long 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.

Main series

  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 (TBD)note 
  7. 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 as part of an anthology of short stories Martin helped publish called Rogues. (Martin also provided the foreword)
  • 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
  • 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." Ironically, their only real trait in common is that they write Epic Fantasy. A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings share a Switching P.O.V. and infrequent instances of magic, but Ice and Fire has so many narrators that it is hard to pin down a central protagonist. The series is located on the far end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. 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. While a "Save the World" Climax has been foreshadowed ever since the series' opening chapter, it's taken five books of Four Lines, All Waiting for the Myth Arc to finally start coming together in earnest.

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.

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, defending the adaptation against detractors and even writing some of the episodes himselfnote  He has also given Weiss and Benioff the outlines for the remaining books in the series in case they outpace him, which they did in 2016.

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. Synopsis pages for each novel are in progress; in the meanwhile, feel free also to check out our recap page for the show; HBO have been fairly faithful to the original material for at least the four seasons (and the first three books), and the recaps document 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:

Alternative Title(s): A Song Of Ice And Fire