A Song of Ice & Fire is a series written by George R R Martin, an American novelist and screenwriter. This epic series includes seven volumes or books. Martin started working on the first book, Game of Thrones, in 1991 but did not publish it until 1996. The series has since then extended to seven books with the sixth one still currently being written.
In order, the books are titled “A Game of Thrones,” “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast of Crows,” “A Dance with Dragons,” “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring.” All but the sixth & seventh books have already been published.
This epic series centers on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos with three intertwined stories affecting and influencing each character.
The three stories are thus described as the war for the control of the fictitious Westeros by several families, the threat of the mythical creatures Others and the triumphs and tribulations of the exiled Daenerys Targaryen, heir to the Targaryen dynasty, to reclaim the throne with the help of fire-breathing dragons.
To the left is a political map of the Kingdom Of Westeros, which shows some of the geography but more importantly the seven principle kingdoms which make up the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Click the image for the full sized picture (very big).
These three stories, becoming interwoven, centers on the reclaim of the throne of Westeros, which was overthrown by the rebellion of Robert Baratheon and his allies 13 years before the first novel when Aerys, the last Targaryen king, was murdered.
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1 – A Game Of Thrones
In the first book, The Game of Thrones, the power struggle for Westeros was the center plot line. Here, King Robert Baratheon, who claimed the Iron Throne after the death of the last Targaryen king, was killed.
His son, Joffrey, was named king. Soon though, his siblings, Stannis and Renly, laid individual claims to the throne too. Joffrey and his siblings were found out by Lord Eddard Stark not be have been sired by King Robert but in fact through incest by Cersei and Jaime Lanninster.
In other parts of Westeros, several rulers were proclaimed that will then lead the story into the second book, A Clash of Kings, were the struggle for power has reached war and extreme violence.
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2 – A Clash of Kings
In A Clash of Kings, the northern border of Westeros was the central plot. Here, an enormous wall of ice is the only thing keeping Westeros from being devoured by the Others—mythical creatures with ancient powers that were introduced at the start of the series. This event is also connected with the story of Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark. The second part of A Clash of the Kings centers on the so-called War of the Five Kings.
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3 – A Storm Of Swords
The third book, A Storm of Swords, which was the longest of all the seven novels, continued telling the story of the War of the Five Kings. By this time, self-proclaimed rulers such as Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon are still in the midst of the war to secure their thrones. The ensuing Civil War among the five kings means that the major houses of Westeros must each choose their preferred ruler.
A Storm Of Swords also dwelled on what was happening in the northern border of Westeros where the Others are slowly advancing. It also showed Daenarys Targaryen gaining momentum in her goal to retake the crown as the rightful heir.
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4 – A Feast For Crows
In the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, the war between the kings is coming to an end. Seeing that Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy are all dead, King Stannis Baratheon went to the Wall to help Jon Snow protect Westeros from the Others. With all the kings gone, Joffrey’s eight-year-old brother Tommen Baratheon became the ruler of King’s Landing with his mother Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. The book also questioned Queen Cersei’s ability to wield power and influence that then led to her self-destruction.
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5 – A Dance With Dragons
A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book, showed the Westeros war dwindling down. With most of the rulers dead, young King Tommen is left to hold the throne with his mother and uncle serving as advisors or “puppet masters”. Meanwhile, Daenarys Targaryen is closing on her quest to reclaim the crown.
Unlike other fantasy genre, George R R Martin made this series realistic and combined the very human aspects of violence, sexuality, religion and moral ambiguity. With the series’ popularity rising and growing worldwide appeal, HBO decided to make a television show out of it. Titled the Game of Thrones, the first episode of the first season premiered in late 2009. The good reception from the public pushed HBO to produce the subsequent seasons.
The series’ wide acclamation is due largely to the themes presented in the novels. Martin’s attack on good and evil and on redemption touches a lot of human realities, which made the series relatable even amid its mythical and fictional world. He also touched on a lot of moral, religious and sexual issues that most epic fantasy series would not dare touch on.
In this series, Martin allowed main characters to die which will show, according to him, the humanity and the reality of the novels. He also said that he decided to let most “heroes” in the novels die because he would like the series to talk more about politics and the suppression of the feudal system rather than the fight between good and evil.