The Ice Dragon is a short children's book written in 1980 by George R. R. Martin, and was subsequently republished in 2007, then in 2014, with original artwork. The book is notable for featuring many thematic and specific elements that would later be reused in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, causing some readers to speculate whether this book takes place in the same universe. Though publishers claim it takes place in the same universe as A Song of Ice and Fire, Word of God from Martin has denied this, saying that A Song of Ice and Fire didn't even exist at this time. Admittedly, it's difficult to make this story fit within the detailed history of the book series.
Yet, readers of A Song of Ice and Fire will pick up many parallels and precursors to things in the series. At the core of this story is a conflict between ice and fire. Other similar elements include the importance of winter, dragons and dragon riders, kingdoms and their wars, several familiar location names, snow castles, Adara's resemblence to the Others, and of course, the ice dragon itself, which is a legendary mythological creature and a constellation in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire.
The story is written from the perspective of Adara, a young girl who was born during the coldest winter in living memory. It is said that the cold entered her mother's womb during childbirth, killing Adara's mother, but transforming Adara into a strange, wintery child. Her skin is cold to the touch, and has a cold personality as well, rarely smiling and never crying, nor feeling pain. She has a strong affinity for the cold, and she enjoys staying outside in the winter to build snow castles and play with tiny ice lizards, which only she can touch without harming.
During the winter when she is four years old, Adara first encounters the ice dragon, a creature which brings the cold with it and only appears in winter. In the next year, she first rides the ice dragon, and she rides it every year after. In the backdrop of this, there a war is raging against an enemy kingdom, involving riders of fire dragons on both sides. When the war threatens Adara's family, she must call upon her ice dragon to protect them.
This book provides examples of:
- Beast of Battle: Both the kingdom Adara lives in and the enemy use dragons as war machines.
- Breath Weapon: Though most dragons breath fire, Adara's breathes ice.
- Brought Down to Normal: After the death of the ice dragon, Adara becomes a normal girl.
- Cool Uncle: Uncle Hal to his brother John's children. He isn't this to Adara, as he only comes in Summer and she prefers the Winter.
- Creepy Child: Adara certainly comes across as this to other people.
- Death by Childbirth: Adara's mother is killed while giving birth to her.
- Dragon Rider: Adara's uncle Hal and the combatants of the war ride fire dragons, while Adara rides an ice dragon.
- Emotionless Girl: Adara is said to rarely smile and never cry.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Averted. As strange as Adara is, she is still a good-natured child. Most people think of the ice dragon as this, but Adara has a different understanding of it.
- Feel No Pain: One of Adara's unusual traits. One time, she stepped on a nail and didn't feel anything.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Uncle Hal loses his life while defending his family from the enemy dragon riders.
- The ice dragon somehow senses Adara's peril during the attack and flies to her, despite it being summer, which harms it. It then gives its life to defeat the three enemy dragons.
- An Ice Person: Adara is the very embodiment of winter, being cold to the touch and not being negatively affected by the winter. Her personality is very icy as well.
- I'm Melting!: When the ice dragon dies, all that's left of it is a cold pool of water.
- Kill It with Ice: Many men who've attempted to ride the ice dragon have suffered this fate. The ice dragon kills the three enemy dragons and their riders with its ice powers.
- Little Miss Badass: It's badass alone to ride a dragon, especially an ice dragon, but at the age of seven, Adara kills three enemy dragon riders and their dragons while riding the ice dragon.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The story contains a very early depiction of a dragon that breathes ice rather than fire.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The enemy dragon riders perform this.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: The enemy dragons have this color scheme (black, blood red, and rust color), as opposed the green of the dragons that Hal and his fellow soldiers ride.