Lit Lemon Books

A Song of Ice and Fire

George R. R. Martin

“Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you. Remember that, Sansa, when you come to play the game.” “What … what game?” “The only game. The game of thrones.” 

img_5839.jpgThe hype around this series is beyond real, recently fueled by the HBO hit series Game Of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire started in the 90s. I am in love with the show and have a love-hate relationship with the books.

I cannot lie, this series took a reading toll on me. While I enjoyed the series, it was very very long and exhausting. ASOIAF is inspired by historical events, hunt for those and read them at your own risk, and J.R.R Tolkien.

Each book is told from different perfectives, I know a major pet peeve of mine, I hated it, BUT I endured. It took a lot out of me as a reader because of this and the fact that I felt like I had to trace everything everyone was saying or had said book to book in an attempt to piece together who will end up the “winner.” Don’t do this, or do it better than me. What kept me reading? The lying, cheating, plotting, secrets, killing, and rumors of dragons, the Others (white walkers), and winter.

img_5838What is A Song of Ice and Fire about?

The story takes place in a land called Westeros. There are other places in this world, but the main focus is on Westeros. Westeros was a wild place before the first men settled and spread throughout the land. Small kingdoms and kings arose and battled often, power and alliances shifted accordingly. That is until the Targaryens came into power. They united the lesser kingdoms, forming what we know as the seven kingdoms. The Targaryens ruled through hardship and happiness before falling out of control after Robert’s Rebellion.

This is where the story picks up. Robert Baratheon is the king, and he seeks out his good friend Ned Stark for hand of the king, a royal position. You soon learn there is more to running a kingdom than meets the eye and more secrets than you could ever keep track of.

As the story progresses you soon discover who you thought might be the main characters are not, you will mourn deaths, and gasp at betrayals. Who is the real true king? Is there a true air to the throne? Dragons? Will there be a throne? Is winter coming? What are the Others? The North? Kings landing? Does it even matter if the tales are true?

There are plenty of the main character to keep track of and family lines. If you are into that and fantasy world building you should most definitely check out the series. Beyond the characters, the fantasy aspects of the story are beautifully done–different forms of magic, dragons, unearthly creatures, the children, giants, there is really something for everyone. If you are not a huge fan of those things GRRM weaves in the high fantasy elements delicately, you won’t notice what’s happened until you are searching for dragons yourself.

If you choose to dive into this amazingly complex series you will quickly realize I have only scratch the surface of this story. If any of that sparks an interest, I highly recommend you read the series! If you are on the fence, watch the first two seasons and Game of Thrones and then give the books ago. The first two seasons follow the first two books wonderfully, beyond that the show is based on the series.

How should you approach A Song of Ice and Fire?

There is a lot of content in the ASOIAF world. A lot. It can be overwhelming of how and where to start. You can read the main books in the series OR read the novellas that accompany the series. GRRM is truly a master world builder, and there is much to explore within his realm, whichever way you choose to read I promise you will be left wondering how it all ends. 

Strictly A Song of Ice and Fire series:

  • A Game of Thrones (1996)
  • A Clash of Kings (1999)
  • A Storm of Swords (2000)
  • A Feast for Crows (2005)
  • A Dance of Dragons (2011)
  • Winds of Winter (????)
  • Dreams of Spring (????)

The Chronological Order:

  • Fire and Blood (2018)
  • Fire and Blood #2 (????)
  • The Rogue Prince (2014)
  • The Princess and the Queen (2013)
  • The Hedge Knight (1998)
  • The Sworn Sword (2003)
  • The Mystery Knight (2010)
  • A Game of Thrones (1996)
  • A Clash of Kings (1999)
  • A Storm of Swords (2000)
  • A Feast of Crows (2005)
  • A Dance with Dragons (2011)
  • A World of Ice and Fire (2014)
  • Winds of Winter (????)
  • Dreams of Spring (????)

The Publication order:

  • A Game of Thrones (1996)
  • The Hedge Knight (1998)
  • A Clash of Kings (1999)
  • A Storm of Swords (2000)
  • The Sworn Sword (2003)
  • A Feast for Crows (2005)
  • The Mystery Knight (2010)
  • A Dance with Dragons (2011)
  • The Princess and the Queen (2013)
  • The Rogue Prince (2014)
  • A World of Ice and Fire (2014)
  • Fire and Blood (2018)
  • Fire and Blood #2 (????)
  • Winds of Winter (????)
  • Dreams of Spring (????)

Do you have to read the Novellas?

No. I have no read all of them yet. Mainly as I said, I love the series it is just a lot to take in. I feel like a madman trying to plot out the ending. I will definitely read everything in time, but I have a feeling that won’t be until the final books are published. I know many readers who have read everything, but you do not have to. The novellas build on the history and often have little connections that are satisfying.

Here is a bit more info on the extra stuff out there.

Strictly about the “first half” of the Targaryen rule/dynasty. There will be a second book that will be released that will cover the “second half” all the way up to Robert’s Rebellion. I have included it on the lists where I think it will fall chronologically based on what we know of the book. Personally, my favorite “extras” so far.

  • Fire and Blood (2018)
  • Fire and Blood #2 (????)

These are written as historical/scholarly pieces that cover significant events of the Targaryen Dynasty. You could read them during or after Fire and Blood. I have not read them but assume they are written in style similar to Fire and Blood and probably influenced Fire and Blood.

  • The Princess and the Queen (First published in the anthology Dangerous Women in 2013)
  • The Rogue Prince (First published in the anthology Rogues in 2014)

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (2015) has the following novellas published together, it also has a few illustrations. They focus on the characters Dunk and Egg, building more on the Targaryen line because Egg is a Targaryen.

  • The Hedge Knight (First published in the anthology Legends in 1998)
  • The Sworn Sword (First published in the anthology Legends II in 2003)
  • The Mystery Knight (First published in the anthology Warriors in 2010)

Want to learn more about the world of Westeros and beyond? The history of the land and people? This historical large illustrated book is for you. It is not a necessary read, just builds on what you already know. The illustration alone makes this worth the read.

  • A World of Ice and Fire (2014)

That Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I obviously enjoyed the books and the show, but there was plenty I did not like.

  • The books get longer as they go on, like super long. I am expecting the next book, Winters of Winter to be at least 800 pages….but who knows. With multiple perspectives, it is so much to keep up with.
  • Some perspectives are dull and I wish they didn’t exist, I will not list them, but I am not alone in this thought. The characters are not the issue. Most are if not all are crafted well, they just don’t seem to “see” anything worthwhile.
  • The writing style is one of its own. At times enjoyable, at time textbookish. The characters you don’t like drag on, to say the least.
  • SO MANY PLOTS HAPPENING AT ONCE. While this is majorly exciting, it is happening at a “slow” pace, and the build-up is unbearable at times.
  • GRRM goes into detail with things I do not care about anymore. I do not care what armor looks like when we have bigger issues at hand.
  • There is a lot of violence against women—sexual violence–I understand GRRM wanted to keep with the medieval time period, just felt a tad unnecessary with some characters.

Is it worth your time?

Like most long fantasy series, there is a load of information you will have to learn and potentially keep up with. While this series put me in a reading slump, the story was terrific and is not yet complete. I do not plan to reread them after the series finale of season 8 of Game of Thrones, but it has crossed my mind. If you are at all interested, start reading and watching.

Watching the show as I read the books made it a thousand times easier to keep track of the characters in my head. If you do not think you can make it through the series, watch the show. It is amazing.

Have you read ASOIAF? Have you watched Game Of Thrones? What do you think? Know of any similar series?

 

2 Replies to “A Song of Ice and Fire”

  1. Yeah I’m definitely wondering where this all ends! And there are so many plots! I really get what you mean about it sometimes feeling a little slow and going into details that aren’t necessarily interesting. Great review!

    Like

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