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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. 2nd, 2016 03:51 am (UTC)
20 years, baby!
Thank you X infinity and bless your badass geniusass soul
Cynthia Wandel
Aug. 2nd, 2016 04:04 am (UTC)
Congratulations 20 years AGOT
I am definitely getting this book, the art work is stunning! I love all the books, and I can't wait for the next one to come out. The show is also great. It makes me proud that you're from Bayonne, Nj, a fellow Bayonnite!
Aug. 2nd, 2016 04:10 am (UTC)
Aug. 2nd, 2016 04:21 am (UTC)
20 years of ASOIAF
i know you might not read this, but let me tell you how your books changed my life to the better

back in 2010 i was passing a very cruel break-up. it seemed endless to me. i was depressed so much that i became so introvert, yet someday a friend of mine realised this and decided to give me a book called "A Game of thrones", he told me to read it at least to get out of my thoughts.

i read it, i was excited to see the next chapters that i finished it in 2 weeks. i bought A Clash of kings, then the rest of it. i spent a considerable time at it. yet after finishing the last page of A Dance of dragons i had overcome depression clearly, i began to socialise with people who share same interest. I found a group on Facebook for those are interested on the book, it's 16K members now. we start to hold on meetings and share goofy theories and thoughts about the next 2 books i made about 10 new friends. strong friendships indeed

Thank you george. you paved me a way to be back on track again. Congratulations!
Matthew Smith
Aug. 2nd, 2016 06:47 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing the best story ever written. The only books i can read again and again and still want more!!

Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:31 am (UTC)
Grrm the great
Twenty years you've been writing the greatest story ever told, and I cant thank you enough for your incredible job!

Please just dont let the stress hurt you George!

Huge love from Sweden!

Aug. 2nd, 2016 08:08 am (UTC)
20 years of Ice and Fire
Happy anniversary to you and to all of us George. I was one of the lucky few that at that time when internet was an infant as were the e-shops, had a friend who lived at the States and read the first novel when it was published. When he came in Greece that Christmas (he was Greek studying in US) he brought with him his copy of the book and lent it to me to read it. It was one of my best Christmas Holidays ever. After that whenever a new book was published my friend knew that he had to buy and sent me a copy. I was addicted to the books then as I'm today.
Again Happy Anniversary to all of us lucky enough to be able to "live" in this beautiful world you created.
PS. I stopped watching the TV Series at the end of season 4. I won't risk spoiling the fun i have reading the novels by accidentantly watching something in the show that will lead to reveal parts of the plot. I'm waiting for the new novel whenever it is ready
Thank You
George Mavridis
Amanda Mclay
Aug. 2nd, 2016 10:57 am (UTC)
Thank you !
I just wanted to write to say congratulations and many thanks for the hours I spent immersed in your books. An escape from reality and a journey that not only brought laughter, tears and sometimes shock at the acts of violence and blood shed. There are times when such content would stop me reading a book because I felt that the writer was using gratuitous violence to appeal to ghouls. in your books, however, it is a true reflection of man especially from history. However, I'm sorry to say this is still present today, but it is not swords, but knives and guns, and different causes but, it is indeed a true vision of real life over the centuries.
I feel I know each of your carachters some more than others, but feel real empathy for some and real hatred and disgust of others.
Finally, having read your books before watching the dramas, while I enjoy immensely, I find it a little annoying why the producers felt they need divert from you original story. Your time and hard work has not been wasted.
Once again congratulations
And many thanks
Amanda McLay
Rilind Sahiti
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:19 am (UTC)
Congratulations George and thank you for amazing 20 Years of first class storytelling. You are the reason I begun to read Fantasy novels. It is a hell of a ride.

Your last "Update" for Winds was back in January (New Year Update). So more than half a year from now on. Are you gonna make another "update" for us readers. I don't mean something like when the book is gonna be finished. Just the process of your writing. Sorry If that annoys you, but I can not wait for it:-)). Hopefully you take it as a compliment.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Congratulations
I really don't like to talk about the "process" of my writing.

At least not until the writing is done.
Re: Congratulations - Rilind Sahiti - Aug. 4th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: Congratulations - jacobsb2440 - Aug. 5th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:33 am (UTC)
Worldwide release?
Will this wonderful piece of art be available in Europe too?
Vittoria Colonna
Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:37 pm (UTC)
Forgot to add, I didn’t realize that many of the photos are completely new. So this isn’t just a lazy money grab. Fingers crossed on my part that there will be another drawing of Daenery’s by Magali Villeneuve. The one she did of Dany (month of August) for the 2016 ASOIAF calendar is nothing short of spectacular.

She looks every inch the warrior queen out on the battle field leading her troops. Not some dilettante princess who should be painting her nails and combing her hair. It’s truly inspirational.
Alfonso Cabello
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:47 pm (UTC)

Mr. Martin, What do you think about a possibly spin-off...? Game of Thrones I say.

Matthias Karim Rahmatian
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you for this incredible gift!
Natasha Gilmore
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
It's so stunning that it's been 20 years, and that the series has grown to the size and reach it has! Congratulations! The amount of work you put into this shows, and your success is more than deserved–these stories are staggeringly amazing, and a perfect blend of a fun escape and thought-provoking intrigue. Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do!

I have always had one question. In particular, when you were writing this first book all those years ago, maybe even before it was sold? But when you were drafting it and thinking of how big it would be, what motivated you to tell the story? It's an incredible amount of work, and a massive scope, what pushed you forward?

Thanks again so much, and congrats!
Aug. 3rd, 2016 06:30 am (UTC)
Re: Congratulations!
What pushed me forward?

The same thing that has always pushed me forward. On "Sandkings" and FEVRE DREAM and "This Tower of Ashes" and DYING OF THE LIGHT and "The Skin Trade" and everything I've ever written... the desire... indeed, the need... to tell a certain story.
Re: Congratulations! - MrWalker1000 - Aug. 5th, 2016 07:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Kevin Desormeaux
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)
A man's will stronger than fate?
Hi Georges,
French fan here, i apologize in advance for my English. I already read multiple times your books and i have multiple questions but i will stay with this one for the moment : ^^

In many books, and also in yours, i feel like this need to always justify the fate of the hero by revealing at some point that the unknown relatives (a classic too) of the hero are not actually random people but key/powerful characters or royal members. For example the Targaryen family here. Not only because they are a royal family since Aegon but everything leads to think they are part of a bigger plan.
Would it be too unconventional to see at the end someone "not special" win? For example Stannis not being Azor Ahai or the prince that was promised but breaking every prophecy by the force of his will and by the faith his soldiers placed in him, crushing Dany armies and winning the Game of Thrones after saving the world. That would be anti-climatic but i like that idea of a man's will stronger than fate. What are your thought about this?

Thank you a lot Georges!
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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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