A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. It currently consists of five novels published in 1996-2011, and with two more novels planned to complete the series.

  • A Game of Thrones (published in 1996)
  • A Clash of Kings (published in 1998)
  • A Storm of Swords (published in 2000)
  • A Feast for Crows (published in 2005)
  • A Dance with Dragons (published in 2011)
  • The Winds of Winter (is currently being written by Martin)
  • A Dream of Spring (planned)

The series deals with themes such as loyalty, piety, sexuality, pride, ambition, and the morality of violence. So far, the books have sold circa 90 million copies worldwide and been translated into 45+ languages. A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons both reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list upon their respective releases.

A Song of Ice and Fire

The existing books of A Song of Ice and Fire served as the foundation for the highly successful fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which premièred on HBO in 2011 and concluded in 2019. The show, which consisted of 73 episodes broadcast over eight seasons, was adapted from the books by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.


The events in the book series take place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos. There are several storylines that interweave:

  • A dynastic war between powerful families who fight for control of Westeros
  • A deposed king´s exiled daughter´s ambition to take control of Westeros, despite not having a powerful family to back her up
  • The rising threat of the supernatural Others who live north of Westeros
  • A nine year long period of pleasantly mild weather is coming to an end, and a long and harsh winter is expected to start soon

Narrative structure

The books are divided into chapters, with each chapter giving us the limited perspective of one of a range of point-of-view characters. In the first novel, only nine characters are featured as POV characters. Gradually, the number of POV characters grow, and by the fifth novel they are 30+.

The characters are unreliable narrators, and can also provide different perspectives on events. As readers, what we assume to be true can later turn out to be false, or not represent the full complexity of an event.

One notable feature of George R. R. Martin´s work is how the success or even survival of POV characters is never assured. Being an important character in the story will not secure anyone’s success, nor will it automatically prevent anyone from being killed off without having fulfilled their ambitions.

Origins and development

George R. R. Martin started writing A Game of Thrones (the first book in the series) in 1991 and it was published in 1996. At the time, he was already an established TV writer and his first novel had been published back in 1977.

Originality, Martin had envisioned A Song of Ice and Fire as a trilogy After writing 1400 manuscript pages and still not reaching the end, he realized that it needed to be longer. Eventually, he settled for six books which he imagined as two linked trilogies of one long story. The current plan is for seven books.

Martin has cited the Wars of the Roses as inspiration for A Song of Ice and Fire. The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars fought in the 15th century CE between two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, who both claimed they had superior rights to the English throne.

Another source of inspiration for Martin was The Accursed Kings (Les Rois maudits), a series of historical novels written by French author Maurice Druon and published in 1955-1977. The storylines take place in 14th century France, during the reigns of the last five kings of the direct Capetian dynasty and the first two kings of the House of Valois.

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