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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 12:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you
No doubt it was quite a crazy ride for you and everyone involved. Congratulations on the greatness you provide to your fans. I've tried to write but I don't have that gift or discipline, though I would like it. Anyway, keep up the great work we are all looking forward to what's coming. Thank you, Mr. Martin.

Jonathan Dowler
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:25 pm (UTC)
Well, that's a long (kings)road, Sir! What a cool way to commemorate it and I can't wait to check out the new illustrations! I was looking to replace my old GoT edition anyway! cheers!
Guillaume Deprez
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:30 pm (UTC)
I'm excited for te new artwork!
Dan Koifman
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:33 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Happy anniversary.

The new Hodor and Bran picture looks incredible.

It has a hyper-realistic three dimensional quality to it. The lighting is beautiful and you can just feel the branches inching about Bran.

Now all your characters have three heads; the faces in this book, the actors on the show as well as the ones in our minds eye.

But of all the heads, It's nicest to see the jubilant alien's. :)

Edited at 2016-08-01 01:08 pm (UTC)
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:36 pm (UTC)
Oct. 18th is MY Birthday!
How exciting! I'm 20 years older than I'd like to be and this extraordinary book releases on my Birth date. so, it does kind of feel like KISMET! I hope I can afford this gem! Where can I pre-order my copy? Can I get a Birthday Wish? If I didn't have so many Animals to take care of, I'd come to Santa Fe for my BDay to finally visit my childhood friend & your J. Cocteau Theater! LOL :)
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
it's already sold out on Subterranean Press!!!! :( I cant find "Meisha Merlin" to see if they have it, but I do see something on Ebay selling for $1,250. There's something wrong about this. Just announced and already gone?
Aug. 1st, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
The Meisha Merlin and Subterranean Press editions came out years and years ago. This is an entirely new edition, from Bantam.
Damian Stuart
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:47 pm (UTC)
The crying game
Hope I don't wait another 20 years for the rest. But know I'll wait as long as it takes, I love the books!
Lori Wheeler Farmer
Aug. 1st, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
I find it simply amazing that you have crafted this entire world from imagination (I can barely figure out what to make my family for dinner). Was there any inspiration behind worlds we haven't yet really seen? Like Sothoryos?
Brandon Belk
Aug. 1st, 2016 01:22 pm (UTC)
Congrats George!!
Mateus Dantas De Paula
Aug. 1st, 2016 01:31 pm (UTC)
So you didn't know the book series was going to be this loved... But do you believe it is your best quality work?
Aug. 1st, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
That's a judgment for the readers to make, not me.
Rasmus B Wayne
Aug. 1st, 2016 01:32 pm (UTC)
Any favorite memory?
Do you have any favorite memory concerning ASOIAF from these past 20 years?
Yami Sith
Aug. 1st, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC)
Eternamente agradecida por semejante obra de arte ❤

Eternally grateful
Aug. 1st, 2016 02:03 pm (UTC)
This fantasy series you have created is going down in history as one of the best ever. And I can say in my experience it certainly holds a dear place with me.
My life has gone through many a changes throughout the years and yet there seems to always be a new Ice and Fire book to wait for. Such excitement it brings and has also brought so many friendships together, all of the podcasts and groups who get together to discuss the future of the stories or even for rereading.

Very anxious for book 6! I know whatever it holds will be satisfying. Hope the writing is going well for you George. We're rooting for you
Aug. 1st, 2016 02:04 pm (UTC)
During a recent discussion at work, a coworker mentioned how he'd hope to read the sixth book by the end of this year. I replied that it may not happened. "But I've waited sooooo long," he complained. Then I told him that everyone's been waiting close to two thousand years for the Third Testament of the Bible (It's supposed to be a trilogy, no?), so a couple of years for Winds of Winter ain't that bad. (:

By the way, the artwork is gorgeous.
Aug. 1st, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC)
Mister Martin
Would you send me an autographed version through the mail as a Christmas gift?
Aug. 1st, 2016 07:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Mister Martin
If I recall correctly he stopped signing books that people send him because it was getting too much. The only way to get your book signed is going to a convention to meet him or to Sante Fe and hope you run into him somewhere in the shops.

(Or buy a signed copy from Jean Cocteau books)
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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