Today marks twenty-five years since A Game of Thrones was published. The first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series introduced readers to the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens, Baratheons, and many others, along with the beautiful and dynamic world of Westeros (plus the land beyond the Wall and the places across the Narrow Sea).
With over five (published) A Song of Ice and Fire books, one Targaryen history, a set of novellas, and a eight-season television show, fans across the world have been enchanted, enraged, and enthralled by Martin’s fictional world, characters, and story.
To celebrate the twenty-fifth publication anniversary of A Game of Thrones, here are 10 fascinating facts about Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series you may have never known before! (Spoilers ahead!)
1. Certain events and characters in the series were inspired by real historical events and real people.
According to BBC Radio 4, there are multiple events and people that helped inspire Martin when creating the plots for A Song of Ice and Fire. The War of the Roses being one, where the rival royal families York and Lancaster fought each other (sounds like the Starks and Lannisters, right?).
The tragic “Red Wedding” possesses elements of a few bloody events. One was the gruesome “Black Dinner” in 1440, where the sixteen-year-old Earl of Douglas and his younger brother were beheaded during a dinner with the ten-year-old king James II. In 1691 at the Massacre of Glencoe, many members of the MacDonald clan were murdered by soldiers loyal to King William of Orange. Finally, in the ancient Japanese story, the Kojiki, the Emperor Jimmu murders his political rivals during a feast.
As for characters, Brightside writes that the following characters and historical figures share parallels with each other: Joan of Arc and Brienne of Tarth, Daenerys Targaryen and Henry Tudor, and Margery Tyrell and Anne Boleyn.
Ranker also lists these following historical figures with their A Song of Ice and Fire counterparts: Henry VIII and Robert Baratheon, Edward of Lancaster and Joffrey Baratheon, King Charles VI and the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen, and Claudius and Tyrion Lannister.
2. Turtles also served as an early inspiration for the series.
As previously mentioned by Suggest and Hypable, Martin had pet turtles growing up, which he kept in a toy castle. After the animals began dying, Martin started to image that they were plotting to murder one another. He also imagined what their lives would be like as kings, lords, knights. He even wrote fantasy stories about this turtle kingdom.
3. Martin originally intended the series to be a trilogy.
According to Insider, Martin originally believed his entire story “could be told in three books.” He also thought he’d only need three years to write them, completing one book per year. Twenty-five years after the first book came out, his series stands at five volumes, with books five and six still in the works.
4. the Dallas Cowboys briefly appear in the books…sort of.
According to Suggest, Martin once made a bet with his friend Patrick St. Denis “that if the Dallas Cowboys ever had a better season than the New York Giants, he’d make St. Denis into a character and have him brutally ripped apart by giants.” Martin ended up losing that bet and in A Dance of Dragons a member of the Kingsguard named Ser Patrek is killed by giants. Ser Patrek’s heraldry also resembles the Dallas Cowboys logo!
5. All of the characters with a point-of-view (POV) for the prologues or epilogues of the book end up dead in the series.
These characters either die at the end of their chapter, or die shortly after, according to the A Song of Ice and Fire Wiki.
6. As of now, there are thirty-one total POV characters in the books, with Tyrion Lannister having the most POV chapters (49).
7. The infamous Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords was what prompted David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to option the books for television. Martin also said that chapter was the most difficult chapter for him to write out of the whole book.
8. As of April 2019, over 90 million copies of the A Song Of Ice and Fire books have been sold, according to The Independent.
9. The series was already somewhat popular before the HBO show came out, but not nearly as successful as it is today.
According to Insider, Martin said when A Game of Thrones first came out, the reviews for the book were “generally good” and sales were “okay.” Things were “solid” but the book definitely was not on any bestseller lists. When Martin went on a tour to promote his book, the crowds who came were very small and the author even made four people leave the event at one store.
10. Martin has said that Bran Stark is (and has always been) the most difficult character to write.
Martin stated Bran is the “youngest viewpoint character” (at eight years old when the series begins). Bran experiences the events around him, but Martin has to consider whether or not Bran really understands what he sees. Martin also has to carefully construct Bran’s language and think about which words he would use and which words he knows. After Bran is pushed from the tower by Jaime Lannister, he loses the ability to use his legs, thus relying on other characters to do things for him and move him around.