Ever since the Game Of Thrones TV series started, many people have become passionate fans of the mythical and epic world of the Game Of Thrones. The TV series is based on the A Song Of Ice And Fire book series that was written by American author George R. R. Martin.
How many Game Of Thrones books are there?
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
The series is composed of seven novels, starting with “A Game of Thrones” published in 1996. The series was originally planned as a trilogy, however, it has now been extended to seven books in total; two currently remain unwritten or unpublished with the sixth book “The Winds Of Winter” currently being completed. Often with years between completion of each book, and Martin frustratingly pushing back intended publication dates, fans of the series have been patiently waiting for a conclusion to the epic fantasy, the loyal fans of the series are testament to its quality and its status as sitting on the throne of the fantasy genre.
Martin’s first novel in the ‘A Song Of Fire And Ice’ series introduces us to a strange world of Kings, Queens, Knights, Lords, bastards, prostitutes and an Imp; all plotting, lusting or deceiving in an attempt to climb onto, or influence who will be next to sit on the ‘Iron Throne’ in King’s Landing, as King of the Seven Kingdoms. Inspired by Tolkien’s fantasy world, Martin portrays a far more adult world littered with sex, violence, corruption, even incest; topics other fantasy series’ before it have shied away from. Martin’s world is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
An opulent and at times bloody game of chess; where you are always one wrong move away from having your head on a spike.
Told in an unusual structure, each chapter switches the reader’s view of the novel to the perspective of a different character within the ‘Game Of Thrones’. Although strange at first, Martin can attribute a lot of the series’ success to this format as it allows the reader a wider, more rounded view of characters, as well as allowing so many character arcs and separate storylines to exist simultaneously, and successfully. ‘Game Of Thrones’ concentrates on three main stories: Firstly, and for the most of the first novel, the struggle and conflict between the Families all vying for a place on the Iron Throne: The Starks, Tullys, Lannisters and Baratheon. An opulent and at times bloody game of chess; where you are always one wrong move away from having your head on a spike. The second story follows the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch whose members are forced to sever all ties with the world in order to protect the kingdoms on ‘The Wall’, a giant structure in the far north of the kingdom that leaves the reader with more questions than answers: what terrors must lurk beyond such a vast barrier? The third story follows the travels of the few remaining members of the Targaryen family, and their alliance with a barbaric race named the Dothraki. Outcasts and apparent losers of the last overhaul of the Iron Throne they seek to return to what they believe is their rightful place back in the seven kingdoms.
With plenty of twists and turns, the lack of ‘happy’ endings and the adult content makes ‘Game Of Thrones’ far from a fairytale and feel as realistic as a fantasy novel could possibly be. 9/10
The second instalment of Martin’s series: ‘A Clash Of Kings’, begins where the first thrilling book left off, detailing the civil war between families all eager to stake their claim for a place on the Iron throne no matter what it’s price in blood may be. We continue to follow the Night’s Watch who travel north of the wall to deal with wildling unrest and whatever evil may arrive to threaten the kingdom with winter, as well as Daenerys Targaryen’s quest to return to rule the seven kingdoms. Although initially slower paced than the gripping first instalment, the novel’s two defining qualities are Martin’s theme of deception, and his unrivalled ability to write believable and enthralling battles. The multiple perspective format adds a needed depth and subjectivity to characters allowing Martin to blur the lines between good and evil, always leaving the reader with questions, desperate to read on. The battles depicted in fantasy novels can often leave the reader feeling deflated and bored; Martin’s succeed where these fail. Packed with blood and emotion, the battles are depicted for adults in the same way the sex scenes are, well written and much more than just gore and death.
With the addition of the supernatural and dragons, believed to be extinct in the world, Martin’s second effort manages to more than live up to the reputation gained from ‘A Game Of Thrones’. 8/10
At almost 1500 pages long, ‘A Storm Of Swords’ continues to depict the power-struggle for the Iron Throne between the challengers. The third book sees an increase in supernatural threat and influence on the story, as well as the usual, unpredictable plot twists that make the series so captivating. The stark children, whose perspective many chapters are written from, are leading their own separate struggles within the kingdoms, and the conflict in the far north of the wall between the Night’s Watch and Wildlings takes some surprising turns as Martin continues his fantasy series. Characters are developed to arguably their devious best as Martin writes with the kind of realism that will make the reader shiver with the cold mention of Winterfell, while managing to keep the stories very human as oppose to some fantasy novels over-saturated with magic and non-human creatures. Martin is selective enough in use of magic and other creatures, to allow the reader to connect to the characters rather than having an overworked imagination that has little belief in the events or characters portrayed. Fans argue it is the best instalment in the series; they have a strong case to argue – 9/10
‘A Feast For Crows’ has been described by many critics and fans as the weakest in the series, which is testament to the quality of the series as the novel is far from a failure. With the war between kings, for the Iron Throne in King’s Landing coming to a conclusion of sorts, there is less of the violent and epic battles Martin fans are accustomed to as many plots have found a kind of resting place. This instalment leans towards setting the scene for the following book rather than conflict, with many characters you would like to hear from missing from the chapters. Martin uses this book to allow characters a lull in the violence slightly, giving them time to manoeuvre their chess pieces into place ready for their next strike. Although weaker, the defamation of ‘A Feast For Crows’ by fans and critics is due to the success of previous efforts, with events holding as much importance in the unravelling of the story as battles and deception in the previous books. 6/10
‘A Dance With Dragons‘ worryingly for fans of the series, took Martin six years to complete, and with its numerous storylines, plots and sub-plots may lead fans to worry that Martin may be in danger of not being able to tie-up all created loose ends in the final two books. While ‘A Feast For Crows’ may have been considered the weakest of Martin’s previous efforts by many critics and fans of the series, ‘A Dance With Dragons’ silenced critics with superbly crafted plots of political deception and manoeuvring, balanced perfectly with fantasy elements such as magic and dragons, as well as the usual sex and violence. Frustratingly for fans, ‘A Dance With Dragons‘ ends with several long-term characters’ fate hanging in the balance; with so long between instalments many fans only negative comments surrounding the series revolve around the anticipation and wait for the next book to be published. 7/10
The long-awaited follow-up, ‘The Winds Of winter’ has no publication date as of yet, with Martin unwilling anger fans by pushing any date back if needs be. Martin has however confirmed that main characters missing from ‘A Dance With Dragons’ will return. The cliffhangers from the two previous books were caused by Martin having to omit some chapters, that he has confirmed will be the basis for ‘The Winds Of Winter’ promising resolutions and the battles all fans found lacking in the previous instalment to happen early in latest novel. With only a few sample chapters read by Martin at conventions, or published on his website, fans have again been left hanging by the master of suspense, who will no doubt once again have us second guessing characters’ every move upon the books release.
At the moment ‘A Dream Of Spring’ will be the conclusion to George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ series, although would surprise no one familiar with the series if there is an extension to the series that has already seen numerous novellas and related works published. The strength of the series has been complex plots and numerous perspectives, but in the latter books fans are beginning to question whether these storylines and plots will all be tied up, if there simply aren’t enough pages for Martin to find a fitting conclusion, or whether Martin can bear to be without the series he began sixteen years ago. With years between publication the only thing we know for sure is fans will wait with intrigue for the supposed conclusion to the battle for the Iron Throne, anxiously awaiting the final twists and turns, until the final word of Martin’s masterpiece.
Books like Game Of Thrones
Here are a few other fantasy titles that fans of the Game Of Thrones series may also enjoy while waiting for the release of the concluding books.
Acacia: The War with the Mein - David Anthony Durham: Now completed, the Acacia Trilogy rivals Game Of Thrones for grit, as well as having a brilliant premise and plot. Worth investigation by any fan looking for something to read while Martin completes his series.
Shadowmarch – Tad Williams: With similar themes to the ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ series, the Shadowmarch series may interest fans as it contains one element that ‘A Song Of Fire And Ice’ does not: It has a conclusion as a finished series.
The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing series) – Scott Bakker: Bakker creates a fantasy world that can truly rival Tolkien or Martin in the ‘Prince Of Nothing series’. The first instalment of a trilogy, ‘The Darkness That Comes Before’ takes place in a world saturated with the dark magic intermittently portrayed in ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’.