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The Long Game... of Thrones

It was twenty years ago today... not when Sgt Pepper taught the band the play, no, that was much earlier... when GAME OF THRONES was first published. August, 1996. That was when the big glossy hardcover with the silver foil cover first hit the bookstores (though some comp copies had been handed out earlier at the ABA in Chicago).

Reviews were generally good, sales were... well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly. I went on a book tour around that same time, signing copies in Houston, Austin, and Denton, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago and Minneapolis; and up the west coast to San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle. Turnouts were modest in most places. The crowds didn't reach one hundred anywhere, and at one stop (St. Louis, if you must know), not only was attendance zero but I actually drove four patrons out of the bookshop, allowing me to set my all time "bad signing" record at minus four (on the plus side, I had the time for long friendly talks with the readers who did show up).

But my oh my, things have changed a bit in these last twenty years.

My crowds are larger now (though, sadly, I can no longer chat for five or ten minutes with every customer). The novels appear on every bestseller list in the country, and most of those in the UK and the rest of the world as well. There's a successful television show that you may have heard of, with record ratings, record piracy, and a record number of Emmy Awards. There are games, miniatures, slot machines, pinball machines, cosplayers, dolls, action figures, coins, t-shirts, graphic novels, translations in more than forty languages.

It has been a helluva twenty years, twenty years that have transformed my life and career, twenty years during which the novel has never been out of print. And something like that has to be commemorated. So... well, let me quote the official announcement from my friends at Bantam Spectra.

"First published on August 1st, 1996, A Game of Thrones marks its twentieth anniversary today. In celebration of the fantasy masterpiece that started a cultural phenomenon, we’re excited to announce the publication of a special illustrated edition."

An anniversary like this requires something special, something more than just a reprint and a new novel. This new edition will be very special, I think. Same story, of course. But we've added an introduction by the World Famous Nebula Toastmaster John Hodgman... and a truly astonishing amount of artwork... a total of seventy-three (73) black and white interior illustrations, and eight (8) spectacular full color plates. Some of the artwork is drawn from the Ice & Fire calendars, from The World of Ice and Fire, and from the card and board games and RPGs... but forty-eight (48) of these pieces are completely new, never-before-seen artwork. Bantam says, "With gorgeous full-page illustrations to open every chapter, the mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure of this magnificent saga come to life as never before."

Here's a sample of some of the art we'll be including: one old piece, one new one.

The list of participating artists reads like an all star roster of fantasy illustrators, and includes such luminaries as John Picacio, Paul Youll, Gary Gianni, Didier Graffet, Victor Moreno, Michael Komarck, Arantza Sestayo, Magali Villeneuve, Ted Nasmith, Levi Pinfold, Marc Simonetti, and many more. We've had some stunning illustrated editions of A Game of Thrones before, to be sure, with the limited editions from Meisha Merlin and Subterranean Press... but each of those was illustrated only by a single artist. This will be the first edition to feature such a galaxy of talent.

A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition goes on sale October 18, 2016.

And no, before someone asks, I had no idea when this all started where it would lead... or how long the road would be. That picture of me up above was taken in 1995 in Scotland, after I'd signed the contracts for the first three books but before I'd delivered any of them. Back then, I'd thought the whole story could be told in three books, and that it would take me three years to write them, a year per book. That picture was taken just a few weeks after I blew my first (bot not my last, oh no) deadline on the series. Ah, how innocent I was... little did that guy in the picture imagine that he would be spending most of the next two decades in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Jon Snow, Bran, and all the rest.

But here I am, twenty years later... still working on book six... ((and no, sorry, I have no announcement to make on that front)).


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Aug. 1st, 2016 07:59 am (UTC)
Question ?
Hello Georges,

Congratulations for this anniversary and for all the work you've done this past twenty years. Thank you for giving us such an amazing story, thank you for making us dream, travel, think, cry... (wait... - which is fun, reading theories and look for hiding clue is part of the aura of ASOIAF !)

I was wondering, during all this years did you have changed your mind regarding WHO will be on the throne in the end ? (I always thought that it might be a reason why completing a story could be so hard !)

Again, congratulations !
Best regards,
Rafal Szczykno
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:07 am (UTC)
Love the books
I was never a book mole, I have read at most 3-4 books a year but ever since I read your saga I can't get it out of my head. I was never so absorbed by a fictional universe since I have read the Lord of The Rings as I was after discovering for my self your books. Nowadays I spend much of my relax time reading fantasy novels or just daydreaming in the fantasy world. Not a day goes by for me without thinking about some plot line, theory or just a fictional region located in the Westeros or Essos. Thank you for reigniting my love for reading.
Avto Chakhnashvili
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:11 am (UTC)
Happy twentieth anniversary!
I even can't believe that 20years has already passed. It's so big time! Can't wait before publication publication of new illustrated edition coming out on my b-day !
Bernhard Vienna
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:19 am (UTC)
That's GREAT!
It's already in my Amazon basket.

Any chance that the comic will continue, too?
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC)
RE: That's GREAT!
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:21 am (UTC)
Спасибо за книги!
... и да, ждём , ждём )))), но мы терпеливые (есть ради чего терпеть)
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:24 am (UTC)
Thanks !
Hey !
Thanks for all these years of work and creation :)

I have a question : what are the (main) characters today, that you had to develop and/or create along the way, that weren't in the "three original" ?

Thanks !
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:30 am (UTC)
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Jon Watkins
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:31 am (UTC)
Been a great 20!
Thanks for the great 20 years, Mr. Martin, and thank you for the massive addition to fantasy and literature in general. I've been along for the ride for 15 years now, and am looking forward to more. The notion that all this came spooling out of one man's imagination is a source of creative inspiration for me, and I thank you for it.

Side note: TAKE YOUR TIME. I'm not sure you hear that enough, but I for one would rather have high-quality GRRM content than something you rushed and weren't happy about.
Charles Mickelson
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:33 am (UTC)
Night Owls
Beautiful art.
& take all the time you need GRRM.
but above all enjoy life to the fullest
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:34 am (UTC)
Wow. Congratulations and what a stunningly gorgeous edition that's going to be and just wow! Wow! Wow! <3 #beams
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:36 am (UTC)
Happy anniversary, I guess! 20 years of probably one of the greatest creative work of all time (you can shake your head as much as you want, but *yes, it is*, for many, many earthlings).

If the Doctor took you to that 1995 in Scotland, would you say anything to that guy in the picture?
Aug. 1st, 2016 10:00 pm (UTC)
Eat any pizza in Scotland. That's what I assume the Doctor would tell George
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:37 am (UTC)

So many artists and craftsmen and -women struggle for years and years, and it's nice when somebody demonstrates that hard graft and good storytelling (and of course a bit of good fortune) can some times pay off. Even if success doesn't always come overnight.


Also, thank you for endless hours of living with your characters, both on screen (I subscribe for HBO Nordic streaming every time a new season airs) and on the page. A friend bought me "Game of Thrones" in a Danish translation for a birthday, and I started reading it in a fit of boredom, thinking I'd just see what the fuss was about. 100 pages in I went out and bought the original US version, because I was hooked.

Since then I bought the complete box set - and donated my two first copies of "Game of Thrones to a Red Cross charity shop. Your books are now sitting in good company in my bookcase between Norman Mailer and Guy de Maupassant...
Steven Roper
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:43 am (UTC)
Its cool
Take as much time as you need. We have faith it'll be worth it. The illustrations look good.
Will you be focusing on Sothyros in the future btw.
Aug. 1st, 2016 07:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Its cool
If I recall correctly he responded to a similar comment a few months ago saying he had no plans to take the story to Sothyros.
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:43 am (UTC)
Yes, Ted Nasmith! Super excited for this one, will it be on sale from Jean Cocteau books?
Did place an international order from them and it was the most delightful experience, they were so helpful and every appeared on time and neatly wrapped.
Alicia Viquez Rodrguez
Aug. 1st, 2016 08:47 am (UTC)
Hello! I am From Costa Rica
Reading ASOIF changed my life. I love the fantasy stories, but yours are amazing and left me speechless.
Sorry for my English I am just learning. I use to write more in Spanish.
Sincerely, congrats!
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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April 2018



  • 5 Mar 2018, 19:17
    Still working on that. When we have a final, I will share it.
  • 5 Mar 2018, 05:32
    All the Wild Cards books under Tor have had absolutely stellar covers. I'd frame them and hang them on my wall if I could.
  • 4 Mar 2018, 03:28
    Are all these examples digital artwork? It doesn't look like traditional oil on canvas. I miss the fantasy/sci-fi covers of the '70s and '80s. Even the paperbacks had amazing covers.
  • 3 Mar 2018, 17:49
    Whatever anyone can get their hands on is, I suspect, the right answer.

    At the last party, it was an open bar with pretty much everything you can imagine on offer. There were some special drinks as…
  • 3 Mar 2018, 00:07
    Any chance you could tell us who’s doing the cover art for Fire and Blood? And maybe when we can expect a glimpse of it. Thank you!
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