'A Song of Ice and Fire' is a series of novels by George "Railroad" Martin that spans across the genres of epic fantasy, dark fantasy, and pornography. In an attempt to write "pure fantasy," Martin claims to write the novels by hand in Quenya, the language of J.R.R. Tolkien's elves, and then translates it into English before publication. While critics claim that this is now the "definitive way to write real fantasy," the time it takes to complete a novel has proved to be a hindrance to all but the most dedicated fans.
Despite beginning the series in 1991, Martin's first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, came in 1996, while the next three books in the trilogy have taken an average of 3 years to complete apiece. In addition to the additional time it takes, writing the books in the fictional language of the Lord of the Rings world also creates translational difficulties, most notably the fact that it commonly takes 5 words of English to adequately translate a single word of Quenya. This complexity results in the spines of the finished books measuring between 7 inches and a foot in width and weighing approximately 3 pounds each in paperback, 5 in hardcover.
All but the most careful readers have frequently complained of the spines splitting in mid-read, most often around page 592. This common problem has led many collectors to consider a complete series of Martin's books, in mint condition, to potentially be worth more than the GDP of Greece in under 50 years. The series has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, has been translated into 20 languages (including a reverse translation back into Quenya), and has been turned into a TV series, board and video games, a radio game show called The Game of Thrones and a cooking program called A Feast for Crows. A movie for the first book is currently in post-production, with a release date set for December 23, 2012 with an original score by Rhapsody of Fire, and with a running time of 2 days.
(put this in a POV change, like in the books)
George had always known that his middle name would come in handy someday. Even after years of torment at the hands of twelve year olds while in middle and high school, he knew that there would be a time when he would thank his mother for giving birth on a train car and his father's idea to name him Railroad. That time came in 1967 when, at the age of 19, he was first introduced to the Lord of the Rings books, written by J.R.R. Tolkien. George was soon insisting that people use the acronym of his name, rather than the whole thing, and began writing fantasy books. He continued writing for the rest of his life, the only exception being immediately after a close friend told him that his pseudonym G.R.R. Martin was too close to his idol.
Martin has long claimed to be an avid student of Medieval History, in particular the English Wars of the Roses, and that the events of this time period have influenced his series to an extent. This, however, has been revealed to be nothing but a front to veil the fact that the backstory of the series closely parallels ancient Greek and Roman history, from the conquests of Alexander the Great to the mad emperors of Rome, making many question his repeated claims that his series doesn't belong in the alternate history genre. (great. now many it funny)
Martin's style is, perhaps, the most notable element in his series, as it takes the traditional way of writing fantasy - with elevated language, Pure Good vs. Pure Evil struggles, romance and idealized lifestyles and battle scenes - and completely fucks with them. While Tolkien, a traditional fantasy writer, wrote of the standard Capulet/Montague friendship of Legolas and Gimli and the strictly romantic love story of Aragon and (damn it), Martin describes the complexities involved in the friendship between Jon Snow and (what's her name of the north?) and the overtly sexual nature of Tyrion's relationship with (names of the prostitutes).
Further, Martin's complete disregard for the conventions, such as keeping main characters alive and providing an objective, separated narrator, are additional kicks to fantasy genre's bollocks. (FUCK, I FORGOT ABOUT ZOMBIES) Martin's ability to kill off main characters at an alarmingly high rate and his skill with the limited third person perspective have provided him with a strong and dedicated fan base, many of whom are willing to overlook the downsides of his insistence to write the books in Quenya first.
edit Back Story
The story as a whole takes place in an apparently fictional world that includes the continents of Westeros and another continent on the other side of the eastern sea. While this secondary landmass is officially unnamed, it is called Easteros by fans, and this term is rumored to be correct.
Over the course of 12,000 years worth of back history provided by Martin in the books, appendices, prequel novellas and board game instruction marginalia, a civilization of magical and child-like jungle dwellers, comparable to the American Indians and aptly called the Children of the Forest, come into contact with the first men of the world, called the First Men, who have crossed over a land-bridge between the continents. The First Men promptly conquistadored around Westeros for awhile before signing a pact on the Isle of Faces, called the Pact of the Isle of Faces, which gave the First Men free reign over the majority of Westeros and constrained the Children of the Forest to wooded reservations. (Insert a Trail of Tears line here to continue the analogy of Spaniards/Americans vs. Indians).
After 4,000 years of relative peace and the decimation of the Children of the Forest at the hands of smallpox and firewater, the appearance in the north of Westeros of another race, called aptly the Others, further weakens the alliance. In an extended raid from the cold northern marches of the wilderness and bringing with them an El-Nino weather pattern with high winds, a variable jet stream and a stubborn cold front, the Others cause massive amount of death, destruction and downed power lines, together with a super long solar eclipse and a winter to rival nuclear fallout (maybe there's another civilization on the far side of the globe in a nuclear war at this time? Yes, and this nuclear war destroys their civilization, leading them back in technology and making them take to the seas which leads too...) They are eventually beaten back by the allied First Men and their Forest Children, who build a Great Wall along their northern border (Lewis Black reference? Immigration?), which freezes from the cold but keeps the Others out.
2,000 years later, in the equivalent of (what year?), another group of men, this time called the Andals, cross over the eastern sea from Easteros. Over the next several thousand years, they conquer or subdue the original inhabitants and the Children of the Forest become something of legend, but cannot take the northern lands. The Andals quickly divide into factions (like after Alexander the Great died?), and were subsequently conquered (yes, like the Greeks) by another raid from the Eastern landmass, this time by a group called the Valyrians, who were expelled from their eastern fortress by a massive doom that is called only The Doom. Time went on hold for another 100 years, however, as the leaders of the Valyrians, the Targeryens, mustered their forces, which, despite the huge amount of time it took in gathering, was still a small force, though with the only dragons left in the world (gotta be a joke there). The Targaryens conquered 6 of the 7 factions the Andals had divided into, and settled down onto the smallest island in the hemisphere (why?), eventually gaining hold of the last holdout faction through diplomatic means. The dragons died out soon after the Targaryens had established their rule, but their domination was not questioned.
However (queue Roman emperor jokes), a civil war broke out as a result of mad King Aerys II's rule that displaced and killed all of the Targaryens but the mad king's pregnant wife and young son. The wife died giving birth to a daughter, who was the only one to escape back over the eastern(?) sea, where it was only a matter of time before she took over the storyline once again.
In place of the Targaryens, Robert Baratheon took the throne, splitting much of the remaining land between those who'd helped him in the rebellion.