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Literature / A Song of Ice and Fire

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"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 series premiered in 1996, and there have been five books released in the series so far, with the most recent published in 2011.

Set in a medieval fantasy world, the series primarily takes place on Westeros, a hemisphere-tall continent stretching from the Lands of Always-Winter at the north to the equatorial deserts of Dorne in the south. Westeros has historically been divided into "Seven Kingdoms," which warred against each other but banded together to face outside threats.

About 300 years before the story begins, Westeros was finally united under one man as a man from Valyria, Aegon Targaryen, called "Aegon The Conqueror," managed to get the fealty of (six of the) Seven Kingdoms. He managed to succeed where others had failed because Valyrians are Dragon Riders, and flying flamethrowers have the edge over medieval knights in most cases. He founded a new capitol, crowned himself king, and married his sisters, intending to preserve the Mystical White Hair and Mysterious Purple eyes of Valyria, and to prove that Targaryens are above the laws of gods and men. That may be true, but they are not above the laws of genetics, and by the year 285 After Conquest, Royal Inbreeding had done a number on House Targaryen; the secrets of dragon husbandry had been lost, and the most recent king, Aerys II, was called "the Mad" because he, uh, was. A young lord named Robert Baratheon had his fiancée Lyanna abducted by Aerys's son; when King Aerys learned of this, he perpetrated a Revealing Cover-Up by simply having all of the fiancée's friends murdered. Robert, his Best Friend Lord Eddard Stark (also his fiancée's older brother), and their surrogate parent Lord Jon Arryn all rebelled, and the resulting Civil War, the "War of The Usurper," ended with the downfall of House Targaryen and King Robert on the throne. ...Though without Lyanna, who died during the war.

About fifteen years later, the story actually begins, quickly devolving into Three Lines, Some Waiting.

  • In the Lands of Always-Winter live a supernatural threat called "the Others," creatures of cold and snow and night. Some eight thousand years ago, they attacked, and were beat back by means now lost to history. The Wall, built of stone and snow and spell, was built across the top of the continent to keep them out, and an ancient order Border Patrol, the "Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch," founded to guard it. Of course, in the eight thousand years since, the Night's Watch, once a calling of great honor, has fallen into disrepute; the people there are criminals who Traded Bars for Stripes alongside political dissidents who were Reassigned to Antarctica or Kicked Upstairs. Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark (conceived and born during the War of the Usurper), ends up joining the organization... and learning that the Others are back.
  • Across the narrow sea on the nearby continent of Essos, the last two Targaryens live. Aerys II's son, Prince Viserys, is an Impoverished Patrician, his sister Daenerys a Princess in Rags. They've been trying to get someone to give them an army, against the promise of lavish future rewards, so that Viserys can finally reclaim his birthright; as the series starts, Viserys finally finds someone to take him up on the offer. According to their grandfather, King Jaehaerys II, "madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land." In Viserys's case, it becomes clear that the coin landed, Like Father, Like Son, on the "Royal Brat Big Brother Bully" side. But his sister Daenerys was Born During a Storm and the Royalty Superpower runs true in her veins, as proved when she — First-Episode Spoilerhatches dragons, returning magic to the world. There's more to her destiny than it seems.
  • And of course no one in Westeros is paying attention to any of this because of a massive Succession Crisis called the "War of Five Kings," caused when the legitimacy of Robert's heirs, sired in the intervening years, are put into question. Three men — Robert's eldest son Joffrey, and his younger brothers Renly and Stannis — claim the Iron Throne, while two others simply seek to return their regions of Westeros to self-rule. The result is a bloody, chaotic Civil War that strikes at the exact wrong time, with everyone forgetting the motto of Lord Eddard Stark's house: "Winter is coming."

The novels feature a large ensemble cast, narrated in chapters that relate action from the third-person limited perspective of alternating protagonists, some of them on opposing sides of a conflict. Many of the plots and subplots of the protagonists overlap with each other directly and indirectly, while others merely parallel the central action or counterpoint it in key ways.

In addition to the main series of novels, there are a variety of spin-offs and related media, including prequels and in-universe history texts.

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 spin-off media

For adaptations and other spin-offs see Franchise.A Song Of Ice And Fire.

For more information, see the character sheet and GRRM's blog.

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:


Video Example(s):


Stannis Baratheon vs. Ironborn

Stannis Baratheon muses over the Greyjoy Rebellion and how he was able to defeat a seemingly superior naval force using military tactics compared to his enemies' use of brute strength.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoldierVsWarrior

Media sources: