George R. R. Martin started his career as a professional writer by writing short science-fiction stories in the early 1970s, several of which went on to be nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards. When the 1980s came around, Martin started expanding his horizons as a writer, bringing his talents and creativity to the realm of television. In his 10 years of writing and developing pilots and feature films in Hollywood, one of the feedbacks that he most often received were that his scripts, while well-written, often went way beyond what the allocated budget would allow. Consequently, he often had to cut the length and complexity of his scripts to a more manageable level.
In 1991, Martin started working on what would be his critically-acclaimed series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He returned to the series again in 1994 with the intention of writing the best book he could write, one free from the shackles of budgetary constraints that so often showed up during his stint in Hollywood.
And that was how A Song of Ice and Fire begun to take shape. Drawing inspiration from the War of the Roses, the very bloody dynastic struggle that took place in Medieval England in the 1450s to 1480s, Martin weaved history and fantasy elements together, creating a fantasy world that was darker, more violent and felt inevitably more real than any epic fantasy series created so far. 1996 saw A Game of Thrones being published, the first book in Martin’s planned series; a following grew around it, surely but surely.
The book went on to win multiple awards and was made into a 10-episode TV series by HBO. The series received critical acclaims for its stellar cast and high production values; such was its popularity that a second season was green-lighted even before the series was midway through. At the time this guide was published, Martin has already completed five books in what he plans to be a seven-book series.
A Game of Thrones is usually classified as fantasy, but many critics and reviews say that it transcends the genre; a lot of the book’s fans are people who, before picking up Martin’s book, had never even read a single fantasy novel before. It is an excellent book, with many comparing it to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series, widely acknowledged to have single-handedly given birth to the fantasy genre. High praise for any fantasy book indeed, but it doesn’t give Martin proper credit – while there may be some general similarities on the surface, Martin’s Westeros is distinctly different from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. If there’s a series that comes close to the grandeur of Tolkien’s work, it would surely be Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.