It’s been 20 years since “A Game of Thrones” was released. In August 1996, a very different Clinton was president of the US, “Macarena” and “Wannabe” were at the top of the charts, and NASA announced the discovery of evidence of primitive life on Mars contained within a meteorite.

“A Game of Thrones” was not George R. R. Martin’s first book. By the time it was published, Martin was already a three-time Hugo Award winner (once each for best novella, novelette and short story), an established novelist, and a screenwriter (including writing episodes for the 1985 revival of “The Twilight Zone”).

Now, five books and seven HBO seasons later, we all know there’s a lot more going on in Westeros and Essos than most people realize. The official universe (or “canon,” as it’s called) of “A Song of Ice and Fire” books (commonly referred to as ASOIAF) includes everything written within the main books, plus quite a few prequels, some excerpts and a couple of history and art books — plus the prerelease “Winds of Winter” chapters and the graphic novels based on the main book series.

Phew. It’s a lot for anyone to keep track of.

In case you haven’t read the series, back out of here and go pick them up! Here’s an easy box set, or here they are in published order:

GRRM has been busy over the years. In between writing the ASOIAF series, he’s published other books, edited multiple sci-fi and fantasy anthologies, made numerous appearances at conferences and been quite involved with the HBO show.

On this birthday, to ease both our pain at still not having any idea when book 6 will arrive and those now-extended “Game of Thrones” withdrawals, here is nearly every major work in the canon, plus some related to the TV show only. They’re broken down by book canon, show-related and some non-canon works that are just fun to check out. They’re not in any order, nor am I trying to say that you should read them in this order. I’m just trying to give you the keys to the kingdom.

Book canon

Writings by GRRM

  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms“: The Dunk & Egg prequels. This book consolidates three previously published short stories about the adventures of Dunk (future commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall) and Egg (future King Aegon V Targaryen) and are set roughly 90 years prior to the events of the “A Song of Ice & Fire” series.

    • The Hedge Knight. Originally published in the 1998 anthology Legends, it currently exists for purchase separately only in its graphic novel format.
    • The Sworn Sword. Originally published in the 2003 anthology Legends II, it can also be purchased separately only in graphic novel format.
    • The Mystery Knight. Published in 2010 in the cross-genre anthology Warriors. It cannot be purchased separately at the moment in any format, though Random House previously announced plans to produce the graphic novel version of the novella almost two years ago.
    • Plans for more of the Dunk & Egg’s adventures have been discussed by GRRM more than once.
  • Other released prequels, short stories. There have been a few published stories that take place in-world, and they’re also buried in published anthologies.
    • The Dangerous Women anthology, published in 2013, features an abridged version of The Princess and the Queen, Archmaester Gyldayn’s story of the warfare between Targaryen women. You can read an excerpt here.
    • The Rogues anthology, published in 2014, features Everybody Loves a Rogue, an introduction to the anthology, and an abridged version of The Rogue Prince, or, The King’s Brother. This story is a prequel to The Princess and the Queen, and is also “written by” Archmaester Gyldayn.
    • GRRM has also announced that he plans to one day bring together each of these stories in unabridged form in a book of Targaryen history, tentatively titled Fire & Blood.
  • Novellas. These are essentially excerpts of chapters and were published in magazines, either ahead of or directly following the release of their book publication. If you’ve read all the books, you’ve probably seen these writings in an updated format, but I’ve included them for the sake of completeness.
    • Blood of the Dragon, published in July 1996 in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the novella would appear the following month as a Daenerys chapter in “A Game of Thrones.”
    • Path of the Dragon, published in December 2000, in Asimov’s Science Fiction, this novella is based on a Daenerys chapter that had been published in that year’s “A Storm of Swords.”
    • Arms of the Kraken, published in August 2002 in Dragon magazine, this novella would later become the Iron Islands chapters of “A Feast for Crows” that feature the Kingsmoot.
  • The Ice Dragon. A short story published originally published in 1980, it reads like an in-world fairy tale and is generally accepted as canon (but this is disputed by some). It’s currently available with newly added illustrations.
  • The “Winds of Winter” chapters. Ever since “A Dance with Dragons” (ADWD) was released, fans have been wondering when the next installment will be published. While fan pressure hasn’t sped up his writing, GRRM has taken to releasing some chapters sporadically on his personal website or reading others in person at certain appearances. Where noted, some chapters are available to read in the World of Ice & Fire app (free; available on Android and iOS), and I’ve also included links to those available to read, watch or listen to online.
    • Theon Greyjoy: Released in December 2011, this chapter takes place during the chronology of ADWD. It has been archived online and is available in the app.
    • Arianne Martell (Part 1): Released in January 2012, this chapter was destined for ADWD before being cut. It has been archived online. (Prior to this chapter release, GRRM had read bits of what he called Arianne II at a con in 2011. There are no recordings of it, but there are fan recounts.)
    • Victarion. This chapter is not available in the app, as a portion of it was read by GRRM at a convention in March 2012. Here’s where you can listen to it.
    • Ser Barristan Selmy I: First read at a convention in 2013, it is also available as a preview chapter within ADWD and in the app.
    • Tyrion: First read at Worldcon in August 2013, now available in the app.
    • Mercy: This Arya chapter was originally intended to be a part of “A Feast for Crows” and has shifted between books before being placed into “Winds of Winter.” It has been archived online and is available in the app.
    • Alayne: Sansa’s chapter was released in April 2015 and is now available archived online and in the app.
    • Arianne Martell (Part 2): Her second chapter is the latest sample released and can be read right now on Martin’s site.

Written with the involvement of GRRM

  • The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones.” Released in 2014, this history book is filled with fun facts, interesting tidbits and things you never thought you wanted (or needed) to know.
  • The Lands of Ice & Fire. This is actually a collection of 12 poster-sized maps. In the same vein as the history book, it features depictions of cities and places not discussed in the books as of yet. It has been stressed that the maps herein do not to represent the entire world and are not intended to be perfect, instead they are more like depictions of the Maester-known world.
  • “A Game of Thrones” graphic novels. Four graphic novel volumes, each of which consists of six comics, adapting the story of the first book in the series. They offer no new information, but feature a preface by GRRM, as well as commentary from his longtime editor, Anne Groell.

Published order of canon stories

Title Release Date
A Game of Thrones (ASOIAF Book 1) Aug. 1996
The Hedge Knight (Dunk & Egg story 1) Aug. 1998
A Clash of Kings (ASOIAF Book 2) Nov. 1998
A Storm of Swords (ASOIAF Book 3) Aug. 2000
The Sworn Sword (Dunk & Egg story 2) Sept. 2003
A Feast for Crows (ASOIAF Book 4) Oct. 2005
The Mystery Knight (Dunk & Egg story 3) March 2010
A Dance with Dragons (ASOIAF Book 5) July 2011
The Princess and the Queen (Targaryen prequel) Dec. 2013
The Rogue Prince, or, the King’s Brother (Targaryen prequel) June 2014
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Dunk & Egg compilation) Oct. 2015
The Winds of Winter (ASOIAF Book 6) ????!?


HBO show-related books

Various related works

Like I said in the beginning, there’s a a lot out there to (attempt to) satisfy you until either “Winds of Winter” is released or “Game of Thrones” returns for its final seasons. How will you pass the next year+ of waiting??

Editors’ Note: This post was originally published June 20, 2015, and is regularly updated.

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Happy birthday, 'Game of Thrones'! – CNET