A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. Martin began the series in 1991 and published the first volume, A Game of Thrones, in 1996. Martin gradually extended the originally planned trilogy into four, six and eventually seven volumes. The fifth installment, A Dance with Dragons, took over five years of writing until being published in 2011. The sixth book, The Winds of Winter, is being written.

The story of A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos, with a history of thousands of years. The series is told in the third person by point of view characters, whose number reaches 31 by the fifth novel. Three stories become interwoven: the chronicling of a dynastic war for control of Westeros by several families; the rising threat of the dormant cold supernatural Others dwelling beyond an immense wall of ice on Westeros' northern border; and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter of a king murdered in a civil war shortly before her birth, to return to Westeros with her fire-breathing dragons and claim her rightful throne.

Drawing inspiration from historical events such as the English period of the Wars of the Roses, Martin defied the conventions of the high fantasy genre. The series received praise for its realism; it subdues magic in favor of battles and political intrigue. Violence, sexuality and moral ambiguity are frequently displayed among a set of over a thousand named characters. Major characters are repeatedly killed off so that readers cannot rely on the supposed heroes to remain safe and sound. The multiple viewpoint structure allows characters to be explored from many sides so that the supposed villains can provide their viewpoint. A Song of Ice and Fire also received critical commentary for its diverse portrayal of women and religion.

Originally published without much publicity, the books in the series have now sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages. The fourth and fifth volumes reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are three prequel novellas, the HBO TV series Game of Thrones, a comic book adaptation, and several card, board and video games.

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