In August of 1996, Bantam Spectra published a fantasy novel from a prolific but not very well known author named George R.R. Martin. That novel was Game of Thrones, and 20 years later it has spawned a pop culture empire that would make Daenerys Targaryen jealous.
On his amusingly named ‘Not A Blog’ LiveJournal blog, Martin reminisced about the original release, recounting that “Reviews were generally good, sales were … well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly.” The whole thing sure picked up some steam, though. The number of books sold in the series now sits at over 15 million, and fans will soon have a new tome to purchase. No, not Winds of Winter, which Martin admits he’s “still working on.”
Instead, we’ll get a special illustrated 20th anniversary version of the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones. Details from Martin’s blog post:
An anniversary like this requires something special, something more than just a reprint and a new novel. This new edition will be very special, I think. Same story, of course. But we’ve added an introduction by the World Famous Nebula Toastmaster John Hodgman… and a truly astonishing amount of artwork… a total of seventy-three (73) black and white interior illustrations, and eight (8) spectacular full color plates. Some of the artwork is drawn from the Ice & Fire calendars, from The World of Ice and Fire, and from the card and board games and RPGs… but forty-eight (48) of these pieces are completely new, never-before-seen artwork. Bantam says, “With gorgeous full-page illustrations to open every chapter, the mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure of this magnificent saga come to life as never before.”
The special edition will come out on October 18 of this year. Alas, there’s still no timetable whatsoever regarding book six, which we’ve now reached the five year waiting mark for. Twenty years ago, George was a bit more optimistic about his writing pace for the series.
“Back then, I’d thought the whole story could be told in three books, and that it would take me three years to write them, a year per book,” he said. “[My blog] picture was taken just a few weeks after I blew my first (bot not my last, oh no) deadline on the series. Ah, how innocent I was… little did that guy in the picture imagine that he would be spending most of the next two decades in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Jon Snow, Bran, and all the rest.”
Maybe he just doesn’t want to leave that world. We can all sympathize a little.