The long-awaited fifth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, entitled A Dance with Dragons, was released this week. The work, written by George R.R. Martin, has earned huge sales and positive reviews.
A Dance with Dragons is set in the fictional world of Westeros, but takes many elements from medieval Europe mixed with fantasy. The series has gained new popularity with the launch of the Game of Thrones television series on HBO, which is based on the first book. Martin’s novels have sold 16 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 20 languages.
The fifth novel runs to 1014 pages and has already reached the #1 spot on Amazon.com’s bestseller list. On the first day of sales book stores found their copies selling out within hours. Adam Wilson, of Audreys Books in Edmonton, Canada, tells the Edmonton Journal, “The interesting thing is you couldn’t pick out who wants it and who doesn’t. No typical Hobbit nerds.”
Reviews have so far been positive about A Dance with Dragons. Megan Wasson, writing in The Christian Science Monitor, calls it “one of the best books in the five-book series so far. Martin’s prose is concise but pithy, begging to be devoured over and over again.” (Check back soon to read Medievalists.net’s review of the book)
Martin credits many influences in his writing, including J.R.R. Tolkien, historical fiction and medieval history. “There’s something about the castles and the knights and the age of chivalry that has always appealed to me,” Martin said this week on the NPR show On Point. “Particularly about knighthood – I have always thought it an interesting issue to explore and I talk a lot about it in these books. If you look at human history, the code of chivalry as was promulgated in the Middle Ages is one of the most idealistic codes ever put forward for a warrior. The whole idea of using your might to defend the weak, protect the innocent. You were more in theory more than just a soldier – you were a champion. But that was a theory – in practice, of course, knights were blood-thirsty killers and they were the great warriors of their age. In that contradiction between the ideals and the reality I think is immense drama and that’s one of the things that draws me to it.”