A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF) is an epic fantasy series of novels by George R. R. Martin. It is the best-known of his works, and has spawned a successful trading card game and board game. The books are known for a genre-defying willingness to unflinchingly depict patriarchal and feudal systems, extremely detailed and complex characters, sudden and often violent plot twists, and intricate political intrigue. In a genre where magic usually takes center stage, this series has a reputation for its limited and subtle use of magic, employing it as an ambiguous and often sinister background force.
So far, the series consists of 4 published novels:
Martin has also published two short stories in the same setting, often called Dunk and Egg stories after their two protagonists. These stories are set about 90 years before the events in A Game of Thrones.
- The Hedge Knight (appeared in Legends, ed. Robert Silverberg, 1998), also adapted as a graphic novel
- The Sworn Sword (appeared in Legends II, ed. Robert Silverberg, 2003)
Some of the novels' chapters have appeared previously in collected form in other outlets.
- Blood of the Dragon (Asimov’s, July 1996) based on the Daenerys chapters from A Game of Thrones. Received the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella.
- Path of the Dragon (Asimov’s, December 2000) based on the Daenerys chapters from A Storm of Swords.
- Arms of the Kraken (Dragon issue 305) based on the Iron Islands chapters from A Feast for Crows.
The manuscript for the fifth volume is half written:
In a May 2005 statement, the author estimates that the entire series will require seven volumes. The seventh book will likely be required because Martin had to move some of the character arcs of the A Feast for Crows manuscript into A Dance with Dragons. Martin recognized that this decision could cause frustration among some of his fans, stating that: "I know some of you may be disappointed, especially when you buy A Feast for Crows and discover that your favorite character does not appear, but given the realities I think this was the best solution... and the more I look at it, the more convinced I am that these two parallel novels, when taken together, will actually tell the story better than one big book." 
Martin originally intended the series to be a trilogy, but later increased that estimate, explaining "What can I say? It's a BIG story, and a cast of thousands."  When A Storm of Swords was published, Martin announced that there would be six books. After A Storm of Swords he began writing A Dance with Dragons, which was supposed to take place five years after A Storm of Swords. Martin later announced that he would add another book, A Feast for Crows, to pick up where A Storm of Swords left off. Martin's original announcement that he would skip five years (and not use many flashbacks) upset many fans who didn't want to miss a moment in the lives of their favorite characters. Interestingly, Martin's decision to stop writing one book and start another in order to chronicle part of that five year gap has caused a five year wait for the fourth installment.
Plot and setting
Template:Spoiler A Song of Ice and Fire is set in a fictitious world reminiscent of Europe in the Middle Ages, except for the fact that in this world, seasons can last as long as a decade. Driven by members of the Houses, great and small, the plot is recounted from the perspectives of more than ten main characters and takes place on the continents of Westeros and the eastern continent, the former being the locale of fierce power struggles between several aristocratic families after the death of king Robert Baratheon, who by lineage, marriage and personal relationships had united them all. Meanwhile, the last scion of House Targaryen, which had ruled over Westeros before being expelled by Robert and his allies, is trying to find allies herself to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. But all of them ignore the oncoming winter and the ancient dangers it brings.
Historical and literary sources
Numerous parallels have been seen between the events and characters in A Song of Ice and Fire and events and people involved in the Wars of the Roses. Two of the principal families in A Song of Ice and Fire, the Starks and the Lannisters, are seen as representing the historical House of York and House of Lancaster, respectively.
Martin is an avid student of medieval Europe, and has said that the Wars of the Roses, along with many other events in Europe during that time, have influenced the series. However, he insists that "there's really no one-for-one character-for-character correspondence. I like to use history to flavor my fantasy, to add texture and verisimilitude, but simply rewriting history with the names changed has no appeal for me. I prefer to reimagine it all, and take it in new and unexpected directions." 
Martin has also said the Albigensian Crusades are an influence for his ASOIAF.
Pronunciation of names
Unlike J. R. R. Tolkien, who provided detailed instructions for the pronunciation of the languages of Middle-Earth, Martin has provided no canonical way of pronouncing Westerosi names. However, it is possible to establish some guidelines based on public chapter readings by the author (marked “GRRM”) and the audio book adaptations read by Roy Dotrice (marked “RD” or not at all).
- Arya ['ɑːrɪə], like English aria
- Baratheon [bə'rʌθɪən]
- Brienne [brʌɪ'i:n]
- Catelyn ['katlɪn]
- Cersei RD ['sə:sɪ]. JL ['sɪəseɪ].
- Daenerys [deɪ'nɛ:rɪs]
- Jaime ['dʒeɪmɪ]
- Jojen ['dʒəʊdʒən]
- Jon ['dʒɒn], like English John
- Petyr like English Peter (GRRM), but RD: [pɪ'tʌɪə]
- Targaryen [ta'gɛ:rɪən]
- Tyrion ['tɪrɪən]
- Tywin ['tʌɪwɪn]
- Viserys [vɪ'sɛ:rɪs]
- Asshai RD: [a'ʃʌɪ]. JL: ['aʃʌɪ]
- Khaleesi [kə'lɪ:sɪ]
- Maester ['meɪstə]
- Ser [sə:], like English sir
- ^ Message on Martin's website, May 29 2005 It's Done!!!
- ^ Martin in post to Legends, October 6 1998. So Spake Martin – Posts to Legends (SSL)
- ^ So Spake Martin Report #1
- ^ Martin at To Be Continued 4 (Chicago, IL), May 6–8, 2005. So Spake Martin Report #61
- GeorgeRRMartin.com - official website of the author.
- The Citadel at www.westeros.org - extensive archive about the series, including detailed thematic notes, timelines, artwork & heraldry, and correspondence from the author.
- Tower of the Hand: An Encyclopaedia of Ice and Fire - A comprehensive treatment of A Song of Ice and Fire with chapter summaries and individual pages for every character, location, historical event, noble house, etc. from the series all thoroughly cross-referenced and hyperlinked.
- Amoka.net Gallery of fan-created portraits of the Song of Ice and Fire characters.
- Waking The Dragon - ASoIaF livejournal community.
- The Seven Kingdoms - online text based game (MUD) based on the Song of Ice and Fire series.
- Message Board at ezboard.com - extensive topical theory discussion about current and upcoming books.
- BwB Fan Club - official GRRM fan club.
- Template:Isfdb series