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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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Luke Teeninga
Aug. 1st, 2016 02:28 pm (UTC)
Hey George, I love your books! I've been wondering - in writing this series were you at all influenced/inspired by Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth"? Or have you even read/enjoyed it?

Looking forward to tWoW; you don't need my permission to take all the time you need!
Vittoria Colonna
Aug. 1st, 2016 02:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the update. This up coming edition came up on my Amazon.com search page and I was wondering who the artists were. I will order it for sure. By the way your book first came to my attention in the late 90's as a recommendation from a staff member at a book store. I bought it, read the prologue was underwhelmed put it back on my bookshelf. A few months later, I was at home with a cold and decided to give it another go, and ended polishing it off in two days. And the rest as they say is history. My favourite characters are Dany and Tyrion.
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for this wonderful world. Even on my 9th re-read of the series, there's still more to discover.

I actually have the hardcover first edition with the silver foil (alas, not autographed) as well as the hardcover first editions of the other books too. These days, I use my e-reader though since it weighs significantly less than these cinderblocks and if something happens to it, I'll just get me another one.

I'll proudly set this anniversary edition next to my 50th anniversary folio edition of Dune.

Aug. 1st, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
Many congrats to you on a spectacular achievement! I will definitely pick up the new (beautifully!) illustrated edition when it comes out in October! (I'll have a regular paycheck again then…hurrah!)

Interestingly enough, August 1st is an anniversary for me as well: it's my "bloggiversary" (not for LJ, the Wordpress I use for my writing/etc.) where I sandbox a lot of my poetry and fiction, as well as creative nonfiction, and also write opinion pieces and the like. No, it will never result in television shows or pinball machines, nor more than the low three figures in income on a yearly basis, but that isn't why we do such things, is it? ;)
Bogdan Barbu
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC)
Are there any plans for illustrated editions of the rest of the volumes?
Aug. 1st, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
People on Reddit spotted a Clash of Kings: The Illustrated Edition on Amazon a while ago. So I'm guessing the answer is yes.
Jacob Meerkin
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:20 pm (UTC)
Absolutely amazing! George cant wait to reread it! And that 6th book ☺
Thomas Rodney
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
Hustle George. Focus buddy!
George seriously.....finish the series...while we're still young and ur still alive....worry about reprint editions, new novellas and new offshoot stories when you've completed the core series. You're legacy is secured....you're fans are still waiting, please don't disappoint us further with more delays.

Hardcore GoT fan
Thomas J
Adam Wing
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on twenty years of exceptional storytelling, George! Keep up the great work and don't let anyone rush you; I would happily wait another twenty!
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you George for my all-time favorite book, those that followed it, and those that will continue to follow it.
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:45 pm (UTC)
20 years is nothing
Seasons are long in Westeros. Maybe Winter like so far... but it's only the result of our passion for your books. Will wait for your next great book.


Edited at 2016-08-01 04:04 pm (UTC)
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC)
Ride or Die
I've been riding the rails with you since 1997 (I was fresh out of high school... a sweet Summer child). Can't wait to see how it all turns out and looking forward to seeing if I'm as smart as I think I am (with my predictions). Thanks for the trip, it's been both love and hate. :)
Cristian Matos
Aug. 1st, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
no rush
Take your time. Its your world, don't let money and or any other influences try to push your creative process. I personally don't care if it takes you another year to complete book 6 because I know it will be worth the wait. Cheers!
Ashley Gillen
Aug. 1st, 2016 04:00 pm (UTC)
Congrats and many thanks!
Congrats on your immense success!! You are my absolute favorite author and I can't get enough of your writing! Thank you for bringing us the world of Westeros (and Essos) and all of the incredible characters within those worlds. You have reawakened my love of reading and encouraged me to start writing (something I haven't done since I was still in school). Thank you! Thank you!! THANK YOU!!!! And congratulations on an incredible 20+ years of captivating readers and keeping us all on the edge of our seats waiting to gobble up more of your stories.
Aug. 1st, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
My dear Mr Martin

Sorry for the off topic question... But since you're here and answering would you be kind enough to give a reading list for historic books or fiction books in general? I read your fantasy reading list and found myself wondering how much more exciting it would be if...

I don't mean right now of course... Just keep it as a though in the back of your mind for a day when you feel too tired to do anything else.

Thank you very much.

P.S. Please accept my apology for this unrelated request. I didn't have any other way of contact with you.
Aug. 1st, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
Will all the books have such editions?
I would love a matching set of illustrated books in this series.

Thank you for this creation!
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

Latest Month

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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