A Song of Ice and Fire may just be the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. The book sales well surpassed 60 million copies back in 2015. Look at the TV show adaptation—Game of Thrones. It’s watched in 186 countries around the world; the latest episodes from last year’s season exhibited no less than 30 million viewers. While the show is phenomenal, the book series is even better. That’s typically how it works.  

The latest publication in A Song of Ice and Fire is A Dance with Dragons—the fifth book in the series sporting a colossal 1040-page count. It released over seven years ago on July 12, 2011. Book readers are well aware that Martin takes his sweet time publishing each book in the series. A Game of Thrones (book one) released on August 1, 1996, A Clash of Kings (book two) released on November 16, 1998, A Storm of Swords (book three) released on October 31, 2000, and A Feast for Crows (book four) released on November 8, 2005. It’s all for good reason that each takes so long to release. All five of the series books are well over the average novel length, ranging from 800 to 1200 pages. Writing is no easy task, especially when the whole world is hungry for more, and an entire new world with dynamic, complex, and complicated characters is continuously changing. Additionally, Martin is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He is making absolutely certain his work is of utmost perfection and magnificence. Martin will publish when he feels it is ready and right. Until then, it never hurts to reread the series. Also, there is a side story titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms that gives plenty of insight as to what knights and squires were like during that age. Give it a go!  

The next book, The Winds of Winter, is the sixth in the series. Martin plans to complete the series with a seventh book, titled A Dream of Spring. That said, it is likely we won’t be seeing the seventh for a long while. Unless of course he releases both six and seven at once. That would be quite the surprise. The sixth will likely release once the final season wraps up next year. If Martin waits till after the show concludes to release the last two books, fans will still be longing for more Thrones. Book sales will skyrocket. Until then, Martin wants the world to know as much history about the Targaryen family as we can before the final season begins. That is why Fire and Blood is next to release. It will take us back 300 years before the events of the epic series. As you may or may not recall, Aegon the Conqueror began his conquest upon the great castle of Dragonstone. This story will recount his conquest leading up to his creation of the Iron Throne, as well as depict the ages of Targaryens who held the high seat of power.  

What is the origin story of Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons? Find out in Fire and Blood. Were Daenerys’ ancestors truly as corrupt as they’ve been made out to be by oral tradition? Find out in Fire and Blood. How was the Iron Throne truly crafted? Find out in Fire and Blood. These are questions many are waiting to know the truth of. All the answers can be discovered with the turn of the page.  

The world Martin created is vastly built on where the world once was and how that played a role in the civil war at present. It is a highly strategic move to release this before the final season because now, more than ever are the Targaryens (plural because there’s no longer only one left…hint hint) on their way to reclaim what once belonged to them. By providing us with the historical context we undoubtedly need to understand the current state of affairs, we can appreciate the show and book series so much more than we do already. Perhaps by the end of the two-part history of Targaryens in Westeros and then to Essos, we will have a clear answer as to who truly deserves to sit on the Iron Throne. Perhaps it might be best to destroy the throne and begin a democratic republic.   

Fire and Blood is 736 pages and will release on November 20 this year. Why is it titled Fire and Blood? Those are the words on House Targaryen’s family crest. Dragons breathe fire and leave behind trails of blood. Or in some cases, ice…