How to Read Every 'Game of Thrones' Book in Order

Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular fantasy series of all time, but it’s also one of the most daunting. A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin’s novel saga that inspired the HBO show, consists of five books that each clock in between 700 and 1,000 pages—and that doesn’t include the prequel books, short stories and other ephemera you can add in to complete the experience.

Even some of the actors on Game of Thrones haven’t finished the books. Peter Dinklage, who played fan-favorite character Tyrion Lannister, admitted to Martin that he’d only read the first novel, A Game of Thrones. “He looked a little hurt,” Dinklage recalled to The New York Times in 2012. “I felt bad. But no disrespect, I still haven’t read all of Tolstoy.”

Aiden Gillen, who played Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger), has said that he read all of the books—but he hinted that he did it more for work than pleasure. “I didn’t say I like to [read them], I just said I read them,” he told in 2014. “I don’t know if actors need to read them, but I felt that I could get a lot of character information from the books, so that’s the obvious reason.”

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As Season 2 of House of the Dragon approaches, it’s time to revisit Martin’s oeuvre. Whether you’re a completist like Gillen or a dabbler like Dinklage, keep reading for a complete guide on how to read the Game of Thrones books in order.

How many Game of Thrones books are there?

George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire currently consists of five novels: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. He has long claimed that the series will end after books 6 and 7, titled The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, but neither of these novels has a release date.

In addition to the five main novels, Martin has written a prequel book about the Targaryens titled Fire & Blood and a series of novellas that were later published as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.

How to read the Game of Thrones books in order of release date

The easiest way for new readers to tackle Martin’s series is by reading it in release date order. This means that prequel novel Fire & Blood comes last, but that’s for the best if this is your first time diving into ASOIAF. Fire & Blood is by Martin’s own account a history of the Targaryen dynasty, and thus it’s not always action-packed. (To make a Lord of the Rings comparison: A first-time reader starting with Fire & Blood is like a Tolkien newbie picking up The Silmarillion before The Hobbit.)

This also means sprinkling the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas between the main books in the series. While those three stories—“The Hedge Knight,” “The Sworn Sword” and “The Mystery Knight”—were republished together as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms in 2015, they originally released between the novels. They’re chronologically set before the events of A Game of Thrones, but they add fun context to many of the “historical” characters that Ned Stark and the gang reference throughout the novels.

  1. A Game of Thrones (1996)

  2. “The Hedge Knight” (From A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, 1998)

  3. A Clash of Kings (1999)

  4. A Storm of Swords (2000)

  5. “The Sworn Sword” (From A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms)

  6. A Feast for Crows (2005)

  7. “The Mystery Knight” (From A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms)

  8. A Dance with Dragons (2011)

  9. Fire & Blood (2018)

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How to read the Game of Thrones books in chronological order

If you’re rereading A Song of Ice and Fire or interested in a challenge, then your best option is tackling the books in chronological order of what’s happening in Westeros. This order starts with Fire & Blood, which is a history of the Targaryen family that begins hundreds of years before the events of A Game of Thrones.

After Fire & Blood, the chronological order continues with A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, aka the Dunk and Egg novellas, which are set about 90 years before the events of the main five books. From there, you proceed with each of the five books in ASOIAF.

  1. Fire & Blood

  2. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

  3. A Game of Thrones

  4. A Clash of Kings

  5. A Storm of Swords

  6. A Feast for Crows

  7. A Dance with Dragons

Supplemental materials

If you want to enroll in the 300-level seminar, then there are a couple of other books to add to your list. The first is A World of Ice and Fire, which Martin published in 2014 and co-authored with Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson, who cofounded the fan site A World of Ice and Fire is a lavishly illustrated compendium that offers a history of Westeros complete with maps and family trees.

In 2022, Martin, García and Antonsson teamed up again for The Rise of the Dragon, which is another reference-style book in the style of A World of Ice and Fire. This one, as hinted by the title, focuses on the Targaryens rather than all of Westeros, but it still reads more like an encyclopedia.

Finally, Martin has published several sample chapters of The Winds of Winter online. The issue here—as Martin devotees know all too well—is that there is no release date in sight for the full novel. So proceed with caution, as you may quite literally never find out what happens next.

Next, Fire Will Reign Again! All About House of the Dragon Season 2