When A Game of Thrones was published in 1996, George R.R. Martin had already been making a living as a fantasy and sci-fi writer for a couple of decades, writing both books and for the screen. The book was to be part of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, originally envisaged as a trilogy. Nearly three decades on, there are already five books in the series, with another two planned. Over 90 million copies have been sold worldwide.
If you want to read the whole series or are giving it as a gift, the Game of Thrones boxset (or the stunning leather-bound boxset) is the way to go. Otherwise, here are all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series in order, starting with the first book, A Game of Thrones.
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
by George R R Martin
A Game of Thrones is the first book in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, first published in 1996. The book achieved cult status, though Martin did not start hitting the bestseller lists until later in the series (In fact, Martin joked in an interview that at one book signing for A Game of Thrones, rather than attracting a crowd, he actually drove four customers out of the bookstore). The book is nearly 800 pages long and creates a world that is essentially medieval. Different families vie for power—the 'game of thrones'—in a world of horses and knights, jousting tournaments, castles for the aristocracy and huts for the masses. Across the sea, there is also a Mongol-style empire with horsemen living out on the grasslands. The story is told through multiple perspectives, mostly though not exclusively members of one artistocractic family, the Starks. It's a brutal world, where no one can trust anyone.