A Song of Ice and Fire

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A Song of Ice and Fire (commonly abbreviated as ASoIaF) is a series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. According to the author, the series will consist of seven novels.

Novels and novellas

Five of these novels have been completed and published:

The remaining two novels are provisionally titled:

There are also three prequel novellas to the series, set roughly 90 years before the novels.

These short stories are commonly known as "Dunk and Egg" stories (after their protagonists). The Hedge Knight is also available as a graphic novel from Dabel Brothers Productions; an adaptation of The Sworn Sword is forthcoming from the same company. The author has said that he would like to write a number of these stories (varying from six to twelve from interview to interview) covering the entire lives of these two characters.

The series has been placed as the number 1 rated series at the Internet Book List since a revision of the rating system in October 2005.[1]

Themes of the novels

The books are known for complex characters, sudden and often violent plot twists, and political intrigue. In a genre where magic usually takes center stage, this series has a reputation for its limited and subtle use of magic, employing it as an ambiguous and often sinister background force.[2] Finally, the novels do not (presently) center around a climactic clash between "Good" and "Evil;" plot lines have revolved primarily around political infighting and civil war, with only one or two storyline arcs even suggesting the possibility of an external threat.

The novels are narrated from a very strict third person limited omniscient perspective, the chapters alternating between different point of view characters. Martin's treatment of his characters makes them extremely hard to classify: very few can be labeled as "good" or "evil". The author also has a reputation of not being afraid to kill any character, no matter how major.

Storyline overview

A Song of Ice and Fire is set primarily in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a large, South American-sized continent with an ancient history stretching back some twelve thousand years. A detailed history reveals how seven kingdoms came to dominate this continent, and then how these seven nations were united as one by Aegon the Conqueror, of House Targaryen. Some 283 years after Aegon's conquest, the Targaryens are overthrown in a civil war and King Robert Baratheon, backed primarily by his friend Lord Eddard Stark and foster father Lord Jon Arryn, takes the Iron Throne. The novels, which begin fifteen years later, follow the fall-out from this event across three major storylines, set not only in Westeros but on the eastern continent as well.

The first storyline, set in the Seven Kingdoms themselves, chronicles a many-sided struggle for the Iron Throne that develops after King Robert's death. The throne is claimed by his son Joffrey, supported by his mother's powerful family, House Lannister, but Robert's brother Stannis claims that Robert's children are illegitimate, and claims the throne himself, to a less-than-enthusiastic response. Robert's youngest brother, Renly, also claims the throne with the support of the extremely powerful House Tyrell. Whilst these three claimants battle for the throne itself, Robb Stark, Lord Eddard Stark's heir, is proclaimed King in the North as the northmen and their allies in the Riverlands seek to break away from the Iron Throne and rule themselves. Similarly, Balon Greyjoy also claims the throne of his own region, the Iron Islands, and likewise seeks independence. The War of the Five Kings is the principal storyline in the second and third novels, with its fall-out and repercussions affecting much of what follows.

The second storyline is set on the extreme northern border of Westeros. Here, eight thousand years ago, a huge wall of ice and gravel was constructed by spells and by hand to defend Westeros from the threat of 'The Others', a semi-mythical race of ice creatures living in the uttermost north. The 300-mile-long, 700-foot-tall Wall is defended by the Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch, which by the time of the novels is badly under-strength and under threat by the human 'wildlings' or 'free folk' who live to the north. This storyline strand follows Jon Snow, bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, as he rises through the ranks of the Watch and learns the true nature of the threat from the north. By the end of the third volume, this storyline has become more entangled with the civil war to the south as well.

The third storyline is set on the huge eastern continent and follows the adventures of Daenerys Targaryen, the last (known) scion of House Targaryen and another claimant to the Iron Throne. Daenerys's story shows her growing rise to power, from a near-penniless wanderer to a powerful and canny ruler who possesses the last living dragons. Though her story is separated from the others by many thousands of miles, her stated goal is to reclaim the Iron Throne. Although she is not known to many in Westeros, the chaos of two civil wars in rapid succession has led to much yearning among the smallfolk for the days of stability under the Targaryens. Daenerys' storyline will return her to Westeros before the end of the series.

The eponymous Song of Ice and Fire is mentioned only once in the series, in a vision Daenerys sees in A Clash of Kings: "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire", spoken by a Targaryen (probably Daenerys's dead older brother Rhaegar Targaryen) about his infant son named Aegon. It is implied that there is a connection between the song, the promise, and Daenerys herself. This is established more clearly in A Feast for Crows, when Aemon Targaryen identifies Daenerys as the heir that was promised. The phrase "ice and fire" is also mentioned in the Reeds' oath of loyalty to Bran in A Clash of Kings. However, the song and the promise are never mentioned again, and the song itself remains a mystery.

See also: List of all characters

Historical and literary sources

Numerous parallels have been seen between the events and characters in A Song of Ice and Fire and events and people involved in the Wars of the Roses. Two of the principal families in A Song of Ice and Fire, the Starks and the Lannisters, are seen as representing the historical House of York and House of Lancaster, respectively.

A similar reality-inspired conflict is the succession struggle called the Dance of the Dragons between two children Aegon II and Rhaenyra. A historical struggle (labeled The Anarchy) between Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England, and her cousin Stephen of Blois, provides the inspiration. Each daughter is announced as her father's successor, but due to differing reasons, male rivals seize the crown and are anointed as rulers. During the dynastic struggle, the rival claimants are deposed and succeeded by the son (Aegon III and Henry II of England respectively) of the original designated heir. Neither Empress Matilda nor Rhaenyra actually ruled in their own name.

Martin is an avid student of medieval Europe, and has said that the Wars of the Roses, along with many other events in Europe during that time, have influenced the series. However, he insists that "there's really no one-for-one character-for-character correspondence. I like to use history to flavor my fantasy, to add texture and verisimilitude, but simply rewriting history with the names changed has no appeal for me. I prefer to re-imagine it all, and take it in new and unexpected directions." [3]

Martin has also said the Albigensian Crusades are an influence for the series.

Origins of the series

Although George RR Martin had long had a love of model knights and medieval history, his early novels and short stories mostly fit into the science fiction genre, although eventually several fantasy stories did appear, such as The Ice Dragon. In the mid-1980s, Martin worked mainly in Hollywood, principally as a writer or producer on The New Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. After Beauty and the Beast ended in 1989 Martin returned to writing prose and started work on a science fiction novel called Avalon. In 1991, whilst struggling with this story, Martin conceived of a scene where several youngsters find a dead direwolf with a stag's antler in its throat. The direwolf has several pups, which are taken by the youngsters to raise as their own. Martin's imagination was fired by this idea and he developed it into an epic fantasy story, which he envisaged as a trilogy consisting of the books A Game of Thrones, A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter. Martin had previously apparently not been inspired by the genre, but reading Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series had convinced him it could be approached in a more adult and mature way than previous authors.

In 1992 he put the book to one side when one of his TV ideas was picked up by Hollywood, resulting in the production of a pilot called Doorways. The pilot was not successful and not picked up for a series.

In 1994 Martin resumed work on A Game of Thrones and completed it the following year, although he was only one-third of the way through his initial plan for the first novel. Martin then expanded the series to four books, and eventually to six. Publication of A Game of Thrones followed in early 1996. Pre-release publicity included publication of a 'sample novella' called Blood of the Dragon.

After expanding the series to four volumes, Martin remarked, "What can I say? It's a BIG story, and a cast of thousands." [4]

After A Storm of Swords was completed in 2000, Martin began writing A Dance with Dragons, the intended fourth volume which would pick up the story five years after the previous volume. Martin found it difficult to make this work without an over-reliance on flashbacks. At the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia on 1 September 2001, Martin announced that he was scrapping more than a year's work and writing a different fourth book that would fill in the gap, named A Feast for Crows. He found it extremely difficult to go back and start again, especially as this novel was not planned for in his scheme for the series, and work on the book progressed slowly.

By May 2005 A Feast for Crows had become longer than A Storm of Swords and his publishers said they could not publish the book in one volume. They suggested splitting the book in two and releasing the volumes as A Feast for Crows, Volume I and A Feast for Crows, Volume II, but Martin was unhappy with this idea. After discussing the matter with his publishers and his friend and fellow writer Daniel Abraham, Martin decided to split the book by character and location instead. The published A Feast for Crows thus contained all of the characters in the South of the Seven Kingdoms, whilst the forthcoming A Dance with Dragons will contain the characters in the North, the Free Cities and in Slaver's Bay.

In a May 2005 statement, the author also said that this move now meant that the series would require seven volumes. Martin recognized that this decision could cause frustration among some of his fans. He wrote: "I know some of you may be disappointed, especially when you buy A Feast for Crows and discover that your favorite character does not appear, but given the realities I think this was the best solution... and the more I look at it, the more convinced I am that these two parallel novels, when taken together, will actually tell the story better than one big book." [5]

Despite the problems, A Feast for Crows was released in October 2005 and immediately won largely positive reviews. Time Magazine dubbed Martin, "The American Tolkien"[3], and the novel went straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

On January 24, 2006, Martin updated a statement on his personal site to note that he had completed 542 of an estimated 1200-1300 manuscript pages for the new book, A Dance with Dragons. In the same statement, he explains that while the fifth book will run in a parallel timeline with the fourth, there is nothing to stop the line from extending further; hinting that if room remains, he will include chapters for some of the characters left in a cliffhanger-state at the end of the previous novel. He rounds out his site update by stating, "And before anyone writes me asking, yes, there is a third Dunk and Egg novella in the works as well. It's maybe three-quarters done, and sometime soon I want to find the time to finish that one too." [6]

In a later update, Martin confirmed that the fifth book will be completed in early 2007 for publication in late 2007. He lost some time in writing the book due to a demanding appearances schedule and also due to home renovations.

TV adaptation

In March 2010, HBO greenlit a television series based on A Song of Ice and Fire, with David Benioff and Dan Weiss attached to write and executive produce.[7] Called Game of Thrones, it stars Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey.[8][9] The series will cover one novel's worth of material per season,[10] and premiered on April 17, 2011.[11] Game of Thrones has been extremely well received critically, and has garnered a loyal fanbase. On April 19, 2011, after airing only one episode, HBO announced that it had renewed Game of Thrones for a second season.[12]

Spin-offs

In addition to the novels and novellas, there are number of other products inspired by the series.

Related publications

Some of the novels' chapters have appeared previously in collected form in other outlets.

  • Blood of the Dragon (Asimov’s, July 1996) based on the Daenerys chapters from A Game of Thrones. Received the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella.
  • Path of the Dragon (Asimov’s, December 2000) based on the Daenerys chapters from A Storm of Swords.
  • Arms of the Kraken (Dragon issue 305, August 2002) based on the Iron Islands chapters from A Feast for Crows.

A Game of Thrones collectible card game

This is a collectible card game (CCG) produced by Fantasy Flight Games. A number of base sets have been released for the game, each with a number of expansions. The game's primary designer is Eric Lang and the lead developer is Nate French. The A Game of Thrones: Westeros Edition won the Origins Award for Best Trading Card Game of 2002. The Game of Thrones: Ice and Fire Edition won the Origins Award for Best Card Game Expansion or Supplement of 2003. It is an ongoing project consisting of five editions and eight expansions to date.

A Game of Thrones Board Game

In 2003, Fantasy Flight Games released the A Game of Thrones strategy board game created by Christian T. Petersen. The Origins Award-winning game allows the players to take on the roles of several of the Great Houses vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms, including House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, House Tyrell, and as of the expansion A Clash of Kings, House Martell. Players maneuver armies to secure support in the various regions that comprise the Seven Kingdoms, with the goal of capturing enough support to claim the Iron Throne. Two expansions for the game, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords have been released.

Roleplaying Game

A Game of Thrones Roleplaying Game

The A Game of Thrones Roleplaying Game (2005), created by the defunct Guardians of Order company and published by White Wolf, is a roleplaying game using the d20 and the TriStat dX rules systems. The game consists of a single large, full-color rulebook featuring information on role-playing in the Seven Kingdoms and also background information to the series not found in the novels, including a detailed map of the Seven Kingdoms. The game was very well-received and was nominated for several awards, but this was not enough to save its parent company from closure in July 2006.

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying

On July 28, 2006, George R. R. Martin confirmed that he had received word from the head of Guardians of Order that the company was folding and that no further releases for the setting would take place. Martin expressed hope that the game might be salvaged by another company, and on April 24, 2007, Green Ronin Publishing announced they would be producing a new role-playing game titled A Song of Ice and Fire. Green Ronin has or will publish the following titles:

  • "A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Quick-Start Rules" (free PDF) (June 21, 2008)
  • "A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: Adventures in the Seven Kingdoms" (rulebook) (ISBN 978-1-934547-12-0, 10 March 2009)
  • "A Song of Ice and Fire Narrator's Kit" (ISBN 978-1-934547-28-1, 21 May 2009)
  • "Peril at King's Landing" (adventure) (ISBN 978-1-934547-16-8, 13 August 2009)
  • "A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide" (ISBN 978-1-934547-13-7, 18 February 2010)
  • "A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: Pocket Edition" (ISBN 978-1-934547-34-2, 14 September 2010)

The Art of Ice and Fire

This book, published in 2005 by Fantasy Flight Games, contains numerous works of art inspired by the series from a variety of different artists and illustrators. Some of the art previously appeared in the card game or on-line, but most of it was new. A second volume was released in 2011.

Models and figures

Testor Corporation announced that in late 2006 it would begin releasing model figures based on the series, to be followed by a tactical wargame. Only one product shipped, a Ruby Ford diorama. In April 2007, Martin announced that the licensing agreement with Testor had expired, and Testor's A Song of Ice and Fire product lines had been canceled.[13] In December 2006, Haute Productions signed a deal to release a range of resin mini-busts featuring characters from A Song of Ice and Fire under the name Valyrian Resin. The company plans to expand the line to include resin statues and pewter chess sets.[14] On August 13, 2007, Dark Sword Miniatures announced a line of premium pewter miniatures based on the world of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and sculpted by renowned miniatures artist Tom Meier.[15]

Computer games

On May 13, 2009, Cyanide Studio announced they will be developing a series of video games based on A Song of Ice and Fire for the PC and consoles.[16] Martin has since revealed that both an RTS and an role-playing video game game are currently in development.[17][18] Martin has since revealed that both an RTS and an w:role-playing video game game are currently in development.[19]

Blood of Dragons is an online, text-based roleplaying MUSH and the only online game specifically authorized by the author.[20] Blood of Dragons fully opened in 2007 and is set approximately 140 years prior to the initial series, during the reign of Daeron I and his conquest of Dorne. The game is maintained by the administrators of Westeros.org, who are collaborating with Martin on The World of Ice and Fire.

Several unofficial fan-created mods have been created, however, for games such as Mount and Blade, Rome: Total War, Crusader Kings, and Neverwinter Nights.

The World of Ice and Fire

A companion volume for the series, provisionally known as a 'world book', is in development by George R. R. Martin and co-authors Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson, although no publication date has been announced as yet. García and Antonsson run the largest A Song of Ice and Fire community on the web and assisted in the writing of the roleplaying game. The companion volume was given the working title The World of Ice and Fire at the 2006 Worldcon, during a discussion between the writers. They confirmed that the book will open with a historical overview of the setting, have a 'who's who' of characters and have a large amount of heraldry and at least the Targaryen family tree, possibly more. The book will also contain a large amount of artwork and will be published after A Dance with Dragons is released.[4] The artist Ted Nasmith, best known for his work on illustrated editions of J. R. R. Tolkien books, has been asked to do some landscape and castle portraits for the book. In his correspondence with the publishers, Nasmith was told that the target release date was spring 2008 [5].

Weapon Replicas

On March 20, 2007, George R. R. Martin announced on his blog[21] that he had "signed a deal with Jalic, Inc of East Lansing, Michigan, granting them a license to manufacture and sell full-sized high-quality replicas of the arms and armor from A Song of Ice and Fire", under the name Valyrian Steel,[22] starting with the bastard sword Longclaw wielded by Jon Snow. As of early 2009, Jalic has had Arya Stark's Needle from "A Song of Ice and Fire" on pre-sale. Both Needle and Longclaw are currently listed and available in a Limited Edition of 2,500 each.

Pronunciation of names

Unlike J. R. R. Tolkien, who provided detailed instructions for the pronunciation of the languages of Middle-earth, Martin has provided no canonical way of pronouncing Westerosi names, stating "You can pronounce it however you like." [23] However, it is possible to establish some guidelines based on authorial chapter readings and question-and-answer sessions (marked "GRRM" in the following list), and the audio book adaptations read by Roy Dotrice ("RD") and John Lee ("JL"). Among the multimedia clips of the author speaking, RH indicates the Random House audio interview [24] and FF indicates the Fast Forward television interview.[25] Entries marked with a question mark (?) are probably the pronunciations of RD and/or JL.

The list uses International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols. See IPA chart for English to learn about the symbols, and the IPA article proper for the problems of displaying and entering them.

Characters

  • Areo Hotah GRRM-CBC ['ɑriəʊ həʊ'tɑː], sometimes ['həʊtɑ]
  • Arya GRRM-FF ['ɑɹiə], like English aria
  • Bran GRRM-FF [bɹæn], like English bran
  • Brienne GRRM-RH [bɹi'ɛni]. RD, JL: [brʌɪ'i:n].
  • Caleotte GRRM-CBC: ['kælɪɒt])
  • Catelyn (?: ['katlɪn])
  • Cersei GRRM-RH ['sɝseɪ]. RD ['sə:sɪ]. JL ['sɪəseɪ].
  • Daenerys GRRM-RH [dən'ɛɹɪs] (?: [deɪ'nɛ:rɪs])
  • Dany GRRM-RH ['dæni]
  • Davos GRRM-RH ['dɑːvos]
  • Doran GRRM-CBC [dəʊ'ræn]
  • Jaime GRRM-RH ['dʒeɪmi] (?: ['dʒeɪmɪ])
  • Jojen (?: ['dʒəʊdʒən])
  • Jon GRRM-RH [dʒɑn], like English John
  • Lysa (?: ['laɪsə])
  • Petyr GRRM[26] [pi:'tɚ], like English Peter but RD: [pɪ'tʌɪə]
  • Rickon GRRM-RH ['ɹɪkɑn]
  • Tommen GRRM-CBC ['toʊmən], RD, JL: ['tomən]
  • Tyrion GRRM-RH ['tɪɹiən] (?: ['tɪrɪən])
  • Tywin (?: ['tʌɪwɪn])
  • Viserys (?: [vɪ'sɛ:rɪs])

Houses and surnames

  • Baratheon (?: [bə'rʌθɪən])
  • Lannister GRRM-RH ['lænɪstɚ]
  • Stark GRRM-RH [stɑɹk], like English stark
  • Targaryen GRRM-RH [tɑɹ'gɛɹiən] (?: [ta'gɛ:rɪən])

Presumably, bastard names (like Snow and Rivers) are always pronounced like the corresponding common noun.

Places

  • Asshai RD: [a'ʃʌɪ]. JL: ['aʃʌɪ]
  • Westeros GRRM-RH ['wɛstɚos]

Titles

  • Khaleesi (?: [kə'lɪ:sɪ])
  • Maester (?: ['meɪstə])
  • Ser (?: [sə:], like English sir)

Notes

  1. list Internet book list rating ASOIAF, retrieved December 20th, 2006
  2. SFX Magazine #138 feature, Christmas 2005
  3. So Spake Martin Report #1
  4. Martin in post to Legends, October 6 1998. So Spake Martin – Posts to Legends (SSL)
  5. Message on Martin's website, May 29 2005 It's Done!!!
  6. Message on Martin's website, January 24 2006 Update
  7. Hibberd, James (March 2, 2010). "HBO greenlights Game of Thrones to series". THRfeed.com. http://www.thrfeed.com/2010/03/hbo-greenlights-game-of-thrones-.html. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SciFi_2010-03-02
  9. greenlights Game of Thrones Stuart Levine, Variety.com, March 2, 2010
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named variety2007-01
  11. http://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/index.html
  12. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/04/19/hbo-renews-game-of-thrones-for-second-season-premiere-grossed-4-2-million-on-hbo-sunday-night/89922
  13. Martin, George R. R. (2007-04-17). "Testor's miniatures cancelled". George R. R. Martin's Official Website. http://www.georgerrmartin.com/archive07.html#04-17b. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  14. Martin, George R. R. (2006-12-06). ""Valyrian Resin" to produce Ice & Fire mini-busts". George R. R. Martin's Official Website. http://www.georgerrmartin.com/archive06.html#12-07. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  15. "Dark Sword Miniatures and Tom Meier to produce George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire premium miniature line". Dark Sword Miniatures Website. 2007-08-13. http://www.darkswordminiatures.com/gallery/GRRMline.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  16. Gaming Target. (05-13-09). George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire to become a video game series
  17. Not A Blog. (06-08-09). Videogame Rights Optioned
  18. (05-13-09). George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire to become a video game series
  19. Not A Blog. (06-08-09). Videogame Rights Optioned
  20. Blood of Dragons MUSH FAQ
  21. Not A Blog - Nothing Holds an Edge Like Valyrian Steel
  22. Valyrian Steel - Swords from George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire"
  23. So Spake Martin Report #107
  24. Random House audio interview with GRRM. [1] �UNIQ5cb66c0b5ee762cd-HTMLCommentStrip7f6b23883a3eac4900000001
  25. Fast Forward video interview with GRRM. [2]
  26. GRRM at To Be Continued 4 (Chicago, IL), May 6–8, 2005. So Spake Martin Report #61

External links


References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at A Song of Ice and Fire.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history of A Song of Ice and Fire.
As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.