clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The best order to read the Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire books

Here’s how to get started on George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy series

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. They’re standing in a snowfield, dressed in furs. Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series has been a fantasy stalwart since it first debuted in 1996, and it’s only grown in influence thanks to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Maybe even more importantly, the series’ highly debated ending (or on the other end of the spectrum, the mostly beloved first season of House of the Dragon) made the prospect of experiencing Martin’s original vision even more appealing... even if it isn’t finished yet.

While the order of the books is old-hat to most experienced A Song of Ice and Fire fans, the best order to read everything in can be a little confusing for new readers. Meanwhile, seasoned fans might want a new or unique way to revisit the universe. So, to help both of those groups out, we’ve compiled a list of the best order to read A Song of Ice and Fire in. Whether you’re just jumping into Westeros for the first time, or rereading the books for the dozenth time in preparation for the eventual (hopefully) release of The Winds of Winter, there are options.

Reading A Song of Ice and Fire in release order

If you’re reading this series for the first time, this is probably the best, safest option — and probably the one you’re looking for. Reading these in release order lets the focus remain on the central Song of Ice and Fire story. Martin would go on to build out the world of Westeros with the Tales of Dunk and Egg stories, so it’s best to mix those in at his pace. This order ignores the smaller releases of stories that were eventually fed into Fire & Blood in favor of waiting for the end of A Dance with Dragons, where the entire history fits best.

A Song of Ice and Fire books in chronological order of Westeros history

If this is your first time reading this series, please don’t read it in this order. It will certainly make sense, and work well enough for world building, but the narrative itself will be significantly less interesting and the style much less fun — since you’re starting with a history book and a short story collection, rather than the main novels. But it is a path!

A Song of Ice and Fire world-building order

This order isn’t much better for new fans than the chronological one, but it is a fairly interesting order for anyone looking to reread A Song of Ice and Fire. This order emphasizes the main story while supplementing it with context and world-building stories from A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. And the most important addition is pivoting to dig into Westeros history by reading Fire & Blood just after finishing A Storm of Swords, before Martin opens up the wider world of the stories with A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon