If someone said “let’s talk Game of Thrones,” almost all of us would think it’s the GOT television series.
However, in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, we know of a deeper universe of fantasy literature to which George R.R. Martin introduced us.
So, in this post, I’m talking about the famous Game of Thrones series, but… I’ve focused on the novel series because we all know that the books are usually better than the movies.
But how did this clichéd story about people contesting for a throne become so popular? If you don’t know the answer, then you have come to the right place.
Before we get into all the details, let me give you the best 3 A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) books.
Top 3 Game of Thrones Books
Who Wrote the Game of Thrones Books?
Before we get into more details, there are questions that we need to answer: who is George R.R. Martin? Is he just the author of the song of ice and fire? television producer? There’s more.
Apart from being a novelist and TV producer, George Raymond Richard Martin is also a screenwriter and short story writer.
His early works showed us galactic travel and the destruction of planets, framing love as a fundamental premise. But his success would not come until 2001, 4 years after the publication of what would be his most successful novel, “Game of Thrones” in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
However, Martin hasn’t been the fastest author out there, and, 24 years later, his saga of books has not yet concluded, and because of the winds that blow, colder than spring, the end is far from coming, at least for the next few years.
Now Martin has described the world inhabited by his characters in the books as an earth-like world similar to that of all fantasy, but it is based on Western European Middle Ages with some Mediterranean and Asian world-building mixed in.
The primary setting is the continent of Westeros in the west, which resembles a much larger Great Britain.
The secondary setting for much of the action is the continent of Essos in the east, across the Narrow Sea from Westeros. Essos is like a combination of Western Europe and the Mediterranean that then becomes like Eurasia as you head further east, with a very China-like civilization called Yi Ti in the far east.
There are other areas, like the continents of Sothoryos and Ulthos and the Summer Isles, but no action has taken place there yet.
All Game Of Thrones Books in order
- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance with Dragons (2011)
- Fire & Blood (2018)
Unpublished A Song of Ice and Fire Books
There are two more “A Song of Ice and Fire” books that George R.R. Martin has yet to finish.
- The Winds of Winter (Scheduled for 2022)
- A Dream of Spring (planned)
The Best 5 Game of Thrones Books
Out of these six books, the fan favorites have been the first five books. The favorite among favorites is A Storm of Swords. You must be wondering why the fourth book is the most popular choice among fans, and here is why.
1. A Storm of Swords
A Storm of Swords comes far enough into A Song of Ice and Fire that the world and the characters and the plot have been built up to the point that we are genuinely invested in the story.
But it also comes in just before the story gets so complex that the plot slows down, as happens in the next two books in the series. This brings us to the next point: not only is A Storm of Swords dense with major plot events, but these events have huge implications for important characters.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that many of the most iconic moments in the series’ history happened in this book.
It’s worth noting here that when HBO adapted the A Song of Ice and Fire books into the hit show Game of Thrones, the first book became season one, the second book became season two, but A Storm of Swords became seasons three and four.
And then, of course, there is the shocking epilogue that features the reveal of Lady Stoneheart.
From the moment you start reading A Storm of Swords, you know it’s going to be good. The prologue brilliantly uses dramatic irony to up the intensity by letting us in on a planned mutiny on the night’s watch from the perspective of the mutineers. It then takes things even further by announcing the arrival of the Others.
And then—shockingly—our first chapter is not from the POV of one of our heroes, but for the first time, we get inside the head of Jamie Freaking Lannister — the guy we were so sure was one of the major villains in the series back in the first half of book one.
2. A Game of Thrones
This series starts with a bang. The prologue is exquisitely ominous, starting the book with a tantalizing tease of the existential threat growing in the North.
Seriously, this chapter is such a brilliant introduction to the series that I’ll probably write a whole post on it one day.
Maybe the most underrated part of the book is the fact that it takes what should be a boring travel scene between Winterfell and King’s Landing and turns it into a riveting and page-turning piece of drama.
Most of the action in this book happens in Westeros, but in Essos, Daenerys’ story really heats up (pun intended) at the end.
Between his betrayal by Mirri Maz Duur, the death of her son, her mercy killing of her husband, and the rebirth of dragons, her storyline is tough to put down in the back half of this book.
This book is also great to come back to re-read because George R.R. Martin managed to plant an impressive number of seeds here that are still blooming.
One of the interesting things you realize when coming back to it, however, is how many false trails were laid as well. Much of the book revolves around the hero Ned Stark discovering the treachery of the Lannisters, but only some of it is actually true.
The Baratheon children are indeed bastards born of incest, but while the Lannisters certainly had motive enough to engage in the murder of Jon Arryn and the (second) attempted murder of Bran Stark, someone else was actually pulling those strings from behind the scenes.
There were several deaths in this season, but three stands above the rest in terms of the seismic effect they’ve had on the story: Ned Stark, Khal Drogo, and Robert Baratheon. All three were great characters that brought texture to the story, and all three deaths were incredibly bold moves by our author.
3. A Clash of Kings
The prologue brings us Davos, Melisandre, and Stann. Those three become such an integral part of the story that it’s easy to forget that they haven’t been around since the beginning.
There’s also Ygritte, who might not have lasted as long as the other three, but in the span of a book and a half, becomes a beloved character who humanizes the Wildlings and gives Jon Snow a compelling love interest.
There’s an amazing mix of emotions here as you read this. You desperately wanted the Lannisters to be defeated, but you didn’t necessarily want Stannis to be the one to do it.
Tyrion, the most sympathetic Lannister, is leading the defense of King’s Landing, and you don’t want him to die. You really hope that Cersei is forced to yield to the invading army, but you’re scared of what will happen to Sansa, who is with her. The drama and the stakes are high.
Also worth noting: this is the book where Jon kills Qhorin Halfhand, Catelyn frees Jamie (although you don’t find that out until the start of the next book; for all you know, at the end of this one she might have killed him), and it has a riveting journey for Arya.
4. A Dance With Dragons
Originally, these books were supposed to be one. You might think the way to go in this case would be to chop the book in half and publish part one and part two.
The problem with this approach is that the climax for all the storylines is in part two. So George decided to split the book by geography/POV character. This means that some characters hardly appear in one or the other of these books.
To be honest, this is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because the world expands and grows richer and we are introduced to more POV characters and more parts of the world.
It’s bad because at this point we are so invested that we want to move to the endgame, and we are used to moving the plot along at a certain pace.
A Dance with Dragons introduces us to a character that’s not in the show, but that might be critical to saving us from the mess that the show made out of seasons seven and eight.
5. A Feast for Crows
There’s no such thing as a bad A Song of Ice and Fire book, and Feast brings us the most unexpected treat imaginable: Cersei Lannister’s POV chapters.
By this point, readers aren’t exactly on team Cersei, but it is fascinating to see inside her head. We expected many condescending thoughts regarding others, but we didn’t expect fear. The first thing that happens in her first POV chapter is a nightmare. When she wakes up, even before she finds out that Tyrion killed Tywin, we learn she is frightened of her diminutive brother.
A Feast for Crows is so pivotal in setting the table for what is to come that many hardcore fans of the series have it ranked as one of their favorites. I would say this book and A Dance With Dragons get better and better the more you come to appreciate the series as a whole.
They get better on second reading, especially if you have time to slow down and enjoy the rich details they bring to the characters and the world.
Game of Thrones FAQs
How many Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) books are there?
The novel series has SIX books if we include Fire & Blood (2018). But there are two more books planned; one is scheduled for release in 2022 and another after 2022.
Is A Song of Ice and Fire based on a true story?
No, but Martin has acknowledged that some events and characters were “inspired by real historical events and real people.”
How many copies of the A Song of Ice and Fire series have been sold?
In 2019, The Independent reported that there had been over 90 million copies sold.
Who is the valonqar?
In High Valyrian, Valonqar means “little brother.”
Who is Azor Ahai?
Azor Ahai is a legendary character, a hero who forged Lightbringer.
Who will win the Iron Throne?
Bran Stark as he became king of Westeros.
There are countless reasons why we love the Game of Thrones. And I’m not only talking about the novels; the movies were just as good!
Although I might add that, somehow, the excitement of the first 3-4 installments fizzled out.
But Martin is not done yet. There are two more books (The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring) that we hope will bring back the excitement of the early installments.
He doesn’t want to promise definite release dates, but all of us are back to desperately hoping that George R.R. Martin can finish that one, and in time.
While we wait, it’s worth taking some time to appreciate what he was able to achieve with the first five books of the series.
You can go back to your kindle or paperback and relive the delicious 6 books that George R.R. Martin has blessed us with.