In 2011, HBO’s Game Of Thrones took the world by storm and quickly became a cultural sensation, easily joining the likes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men as one of the century’s best television shows.
Unfortunately, the show crashed and burned with its final season – but the recent success of its prequel show, House Of The Dragon, has sparked new interest in the original books.
Game of Thrones was originally based on George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series of novels – but the world and franchise expands beyond these few books.
With short stories and spin-offs, the world of Game Of Thrones is much larger than many originally expected.
So, if you want to read all of the books which inspired Game Of Thrones, then here is the guide you need.
We will be talking about each book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, its spin-off novels and short stories so you can read every piece of content there is set in this amazing, magical universe.
Before we start discussing the many ways you can read the books that inspired Game Of Thrones, we need to take stock of all the different books under the A Song Of Ice And Fire universe umbrella.
The author, George RR Martin, has been working on this universe for decades and it’s so large and detailed that it even rivals Tolkein’s Middle Earth.
So, let’s take a look at what books and works are there in the universe of A Song Of Ice And Fire.
A Song Of Ice And Fire is the name for George RR Martin’s main series collection of books which kicked off this amazing story and universe.
It all began back in 1996 with the first novel, A Game Of Thrones, and is currently still ongoing to this day.
This is because George RR Martin intends to add two more installments to this series, but many fans have doubts about whether or not that will happen.
A Game Of Thrones is the first installment in A Song Of Ice And Fire and is where the television series Game Of Thrones got its name. It was first released in 1996 and received great critical acclaim.
The story follows multiple characters through third-person point-of-view chapters, with a total of eight recurring narrators and one bonus narrator for the novel’s prologue.
Each character has its own plot, with elements and conflicts interwoven.
This stretches the plot across the continent of Westeros and even across the sea to far away Essos. This style of narration continues across the main series.
The central plot of A Game Of Thrones follows Ned Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, as he travels south with two daughters to serve as King Robert’s right-hand man.
There, Ned uncovers a plot and is faced with all the politicking that comes with the King’s Court.
The story also follows other characters and their stories: the bastard Jon Snow as he travels up to the Wall to become a man of the Night’s Watch, Bran Stark as he struggles with losing use of his legs and begins dreaming prophetic dreams, and Daenerys Targaryen, an exiled princess sold by her brother in exchange for an army to conquer Westeros.
With many twists and turns, A Game Of Thrones is a thrilling read although many first-time readers will struggle to remember who-is-who in this vast universe with hundreds of characters.
A Clash Of Kings is the second novel in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, published two years after A Game Of Thrones.
The story starts immediately after the events of A Game Of Thrones as Westeros plunges into a civil war, torn between five individual kings.
But that’s not all – across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen begins planning her invasion of Westeros to crown herself Queen, while beyond the Wall, Jon Snow is sent to investigate the Wildlings and hears stirrings of a devastating enemy from the lands beyond.
The next installment in A Song Of Ice And Fire is A Storm Of Swords, which is often published in two volumes due to its massive size. It was first published in 2000 and at the time, was the largest book in the series – but not for long.
The events of A Storm Of Swords continue directly from the previous novel.
The War of the Five Kings comes to an end, Jon Snow returns to the Wall in time to defend it from an oncoming wave of Wildlings, and Daenerys Targaryen marches through Essos.
A Feast For Crows is the fourth installment in this series but originally was never supposed to exist.
After A Storm Of Swords, George RR Martin began working on A Dance With Dragons but realized that it was far too large to publish.
As a result, he took the stories of a select few characters and published them separately under a different name – A Feast For Crows.
Rather than split the book chronologically, George RR Martin chose to divide A Dance With Dragons by location.
This means that the events in A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons run simultaneously although A Feast For Crows was published first in 2005.
A Feast For Crows picks up immediately after the previous book, but only follows the stories of a select few characters. This includes:
All of the stories above were chosen due to their shared locations.
This means that A Feast For Crows covers the events in Westeros and Braavos, while A Dance With Dragons deals with events happening elsewhere in Planetos.
Despite only covering the events in a select few parts of George RR Martin’s world, A Dance With Dragons was still the longest book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series. This means that it is sometimes split into two volumes.
The events of the book run simultaneously with the events of A Feast For Crows, although it was published six years later in 2011.
Here, characters like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen return as the story follows what went on in the North, beyond the Wall, and in parts of Essos during A Feast For Crows.
However, there are a few bonus chapters that cover important events in the rest of Westeros which happen towards the end of A Dance With Dragons, leading into the next novel.
As of 2022, A Dance With Dragons has been the most recent A Song Of Ice And Fire published novel.
Currently, George RR Martin is working on the next installment, The Winds Of Winter, which he claims will be the largest installment yet.
After that is published, George RR Martin will write the final novel in the A Song Of Ice And Fire main series called A Dream Of Spring.
Many fans believe that we will never be able to read the final two books of A Song Of Ice And Fire. George RR Martin has been working on The Winds Of Winter for over a decade and is reportedly nowhere near finishing it.
Plus, he is currently 74 years old which has led many to say (rather pessimistically) that George RR Martin will likely pass away before the final two books are published.
However, only time will tell.
The main series of A Song Of Ice And Fire books is not the only work George RR Martin has been publishing.
While also writing the main series, he has also written a number of short stories and stand-alone novels within the same universe.
This includes A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms.
These are a series of novellas written by George RR Martin set 90 years before the events of A Game Of Thrones.
So far, three novellas have been published independently before they were bundled and sold under the title A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms. Before this, the series was also known as Tales Of Dunk And Egg.
The three novellas in this series are The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003), and The Mystery Knight (2010).
They follow the adventures of the knight ‘Dunk’ and his young squire, ‘Egg’ – both of whom become important figures in Westeros history.
George RR Martin has said that he hopes to write more Dunk and Egg novellas, each one leading on from the next.
So far, he has stated that he hopes to write between six and twelve total novellas with the fourth novella currently under the working title of The She-Wolves of Winterfell.
Working titles for other future installments include The Village Hero, The Sellsword, The Champion, The Kingsguard, and The Lord Commander.
Another derived work from the A Song Of Ice And Fire series is Fire And Blood.
Fire And Blood is a two-volume work that covers the complete history of House Targaryen, one of the most important houses from the series and in Westeros History.
The first volume was published in 2018, and the second volume has yet to be published or given a working title.
What makes Fire And Blood so different from the previous works is that it is not an actual ‘story’. Instead, it is written like a history book you would find in libraries around Westeros.
The ‘author’ is a maester from the world of Westeros and it documents events in the history of House Targaryen. There’s no point of view, no detailed descriptions – it’s like the Westerosi version of a textbook.
This also puts an interesting twist on the information given in the book. Because it is told through the lens of a maester, there’s a lot of debate about how reliable this narrator is.
Like with A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms, Fire And Blood started out as three separate novellas: The Princess And The Queen (2014), The Rogue Prince (2014), and The Songs Of The Dragon (2017).
All three novellas later appeared in Fire And Blood under different titles and alongside three more.
Fire And Blood serves as the inspiration behind the Game Of Thrones prequel television show, House Of The Dragon. So, if you don’t want spoilers for the show – skip this book!
This is the final original work under the A Song Of Ice And Fire umbrella and is basically a companion book for the series.
This means that it includes lots of additional material used to help flesh out the world of Planetos including maps, family trees, illustrated images, and historical materials written by different maesters.
Basically, it’s a detailed history book for the thousands of years of events leading up to the main series.
The World Of Ice And Fire is supposed to be used as a kind of ‘reference’ book to read alongside the main series and its spin-off novellas.
While George RR Martin was involved in the writing, so were Elio Barcia and Linda Antonsson – the heads of the Westeros.org fansite for A Song Of Ice And Fire. This makes it the only work not to be solely written by George RR Martin himself.
So, now you know all the books in the A Song Of Ice And Fire universe – but in which order should you read them?
There is more than just one way to read them, so here are some of the most common reading orders people use for the A Song Of Ice And Fire books.
Most people are introduced to the A Song Of Ice And Fire universe through the main series of books, starting with A Game Of Thrones.
The main series should be followed chronologically as each book starts immediately where the previous left off.
To read any books in the main series out of order would not make sense as you would miss out on key events and introductions to important characters.
As for the novellas, you don’t have to read them at all. The events they portray are mentioned in the main series in passing comments from characters as to them, it’s just history.
If you do want to read them, then most people pick them up after finishing the main series as they have a better understanding of who characters and Houses they belong to.
The companion book The World Of Ice And Fire is just that – a companion book. You can buy it and keep it by your side as you read the main series.
You can use it to check family trees and maps or learn about maesters or the Night’s Watch to understand their history and their role within the main series.
It’s worth mentioning that all of the books in the A Song Of Ice And Fire universe contain spoilers for HBO’s Game Of Thrones and House Of The Dragon.
If you don’t want any spoilers for the ending of House Of The Dragon, then you might want to avoid all the books until the show is completed.
Despite this, this is the order you should always use as your introduction to the A Song Of Ice And Fire world. This is because this is the order George RR Martin wrote the books so they ease you into the lore very easily.
By the time you become accustomed to the ways of this fictional world (If you like Adventure/Fantasy themed books, check out The Percy Jackson Books and how to read them), you can start to get more creative with your reading order.
Apart from The World Of Ice And Fire, all the books and novellas take place during a certain period of time in Westerosi history. This means that you can read the books in chronological order, according to their timeline.
This means you need to start with Fire And Blood: Volume I. This will start with Aegon’s Conquest (and a little bit of context before) and take you right up to 157 AC (After the Conquest).
When the second volume is released in the future, you can read it as a continuation of Fire And Blood but it will overlap with the next books on your list.
These will be A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms and any future novellas released under the Tales Of Dunk And Egg series. They begin in 209 AC and according to George RR Martin, the final planned novella will be set in 259 AC.
Finally, there’s the main series which begins in 298 AC in A Game Of Thrones. The following novel A Clash Of Kings covers most of 299 AC, and A Storm Of Swords carries on through to 300AC.
A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons covers most of 300 AC, but A Dance With Dragons finished further on in the year compared to A Feast For Crows.
This will take you up to the final chronological moment in the A Song Of Ice And Fire timeline. If or when The Winds Of Winter and A Dream Of Spring are released, you can simply add them to where the main series ended.
Like with the previous order, you can read The World of Ice And Fire alongside the other books and use it as a reference for any pieces of lore and history that you don’t understand.
This final reading order is one you should only try out after you have read the main series a dozen times and know all the characters and key points by heart.
This is because the character-focused reading order involves taking a certain character from the series and only reading their POV chapters.
For example, you may be a massive fan of Daenerys Targaryen and only want to read her story.
Daenerys only appears in a few chapters per book, so reading her POV chapters only allows you to follow her arc in each book without having your focus shifted to other characters in Westeros.
You can do this for any POV character from the books. There are a total of thirty-one POV characters in A Song Of Ice And Fire but not all of them have chapters in every book.
Some characters only have POVs in one book, others do not get any POV chapters until halfway through the main series.
By focusing purely on certain POV chapters, you can get through the books a lot more quickly and read the stories of some of your favorite characters.
However, this method of reading does not extend to other works. A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms has so far been told through one perspective, and Fire And Blood read like a historical novel with no POV at all. So, this order only applies to the main series.
So, those are all the books that are a part of the A Song of Ice And Fire universe. If you are a Game Of Thrones fan, then you should definitely give the books a try!
However, if you still don’t want spoilers for House Of The Dragon, then put off reading the books until after the show is finished – otherwise, you will get some serious spoilers!