A Game of Thrones has turned 20 this month. The book is the first chapter – erm, shall we say, 72 chapters – of A Song of Ice and Fire’s epic pitting of values vs. self-interest, masquerading as medival animalism. Without it, we’d never have the HBO series it inspired- what’s it called? Swelling String Music Presents The Nudity Swordfight of Death Hour? Yeah, that sounds right.
George R.R. Martin began writing the first book in modest in 1991. Although he had already established himself as a hard-geared fantasy novelist, the failure of his 1984 novel The Armaggedon Rag had pushed him into television, writing for Max Headroom and the Twilight Zone reboot. When he once again grew frustrated, this time that his scripts were not being produced and that shooting budgets forced him to compromise his imagination, he rebounded back into books.
It took Martin five years to finish the book, establishing just cause for me to call him ‘the Frank Ocean of Fantasy’. The sci-fi community reveled in his return, gobbling up the book and spitting back every award they could in Martin’s face, but it was almost twenty years from its conception, in January 2011, before A Game of Thrones reached wide appeal. The announcement of the HBO series was enough to propel it onto the New York Times Bestseller List. By the time the show became a bona fide sensation in July, it had assumed its rightful place as #1.
Thank you for your service, Georgie! We drink to your health tonight! In celebration, but also because we need you alive to finish the series.
Featured image courtesy of Keh Choon Wee / Deviant Art.