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How Many Game Of Thrones Books Are There?

If you're a show-only fan of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, you might not be aware of what's in the books that inspired the show: the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. If that's the case, you also may not be aware of exactly how much the show has diverged from the plot of the books—sometimes in quite extreme ways. Here's a primer on the books and how they differ from the series, along with some other Westerosi writings that Martin has penned over the years. Beware: the night is dark and filled with spoilers.

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, was released in 1996. The story chronicles the events beginning with the death of former Hand of the King Jon Arryn and concluding with the death of Ned Stark. HBO adapted the novel for the first season of Game of Thrones, and the showrunners stayed pretty faithful to the source material—with a few exceptions. Notably, all of the child or teen characters have been aged up by several years. For example, in the novel, Daenerys is only 13 when she marries Khal Drogo, while in the show she's 16.

We learn of Robert's many bastards in this book, but the series has left out several of these characters, like Edric Storm and Mya Stone. On the flip side, the show added some interesting new faces that don't exist in the book—like Ros, who eventually becomes Littlefinger's assistant in his brothel. Tyrion also got shafted a bit on the series when it shows him being knocked out before a battle—in the books, Tyrion gives a speech to his men and leads them into battle, eventually defeating a knight himself.

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings, the second book in the series, was released in 1998. The television show's second season is based primarily on this book, and it covers the events surrounding the start of the War of Five Kings and ends with the sacking of Winterfell by Theon Greyjoy (and its subsequent burning by Ramsay Bolton). Like the first season, the TV show stayed relatively faithful to the book in season two, but there were some differences, including a few major ones which add newly invented scenes or backstory to characters.

Bronn was given a much larger role in the TV series than in the books, advancing to take the post of Commander of the City Watch. During the Battle of the Blackwater, Bronn is shown firing a flaming arrow into the ship filled with wildfire, which never happened in the books. The show also left out the large chain boom Tyrion had made in order to trap the ships in Blackwater Bay. The warlock Pyat Pree is given additional powers on the show and an added plotline where he steals Daenerys' dragons.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos is implied to be attracted only to men in the books, while he lusts after Daenerys in the show. Additionally, the relationship between Loras and Renly is only hinted at in the books, never openly shown; similarly, the romance between Robb Stark and Talisa (Jeyne Westerling in the books) all happens offscreen in the novels.

A Storm of Swords

In 2000, A Storm of Swords was published. Because so much happens in this book, the TV series split it into two seasons, ending season three with the Red Wedding and Daenerys' sacking of Yunkai. Season four covers the rest of the novel, ending with the battle between the Night's Watch and the Wildlings. It's during these seasons that the show starts to diverge more heavily from the books.

Theon's imprisonment is introduced much earlier on the show than in the books. Gendry is merged with the book character of Edric Storm and taken to Dragonstone in his place. In the books, Robb legitimizes Jon Snow and names him his heir before the Red Wedding. Additionally, Robb's wife is neither pregnant nor present at the Red Wedding. Tyrion and Sansa don't have a friendly relationship after their wedding, and Shae never loved Tyrion as the show implies. The Hound and Arya never encounter Brienne; Brienne and Pod are actually tracking a rumor about Sansa, not her younger sister. Stannis and his wife never had any stillborn children, and neither of them are affectionate (or even speak directly) to Shireen in the books. The relationship between Davos and Shireen is also inflated significantly for the show. Finally, in perhaps the biggest divergence from the novels, the resurrected Lady Stoneheart (Catelyn Stark) never appears on the show to take over the leadership of the Brotherhood without Banners.

A Feast for Crows

A Feast for Crows was published in 2005. It, along with parts of A Dance with Dragons, make up the plot of season five in Game of Thrones. Plotlines continue to significantly diverge throughout this season. The prophecy of the valonqar is left out of the show's version of Cersei's flashback. The show never explores Tyrion's depression over his first wife, Tysha. Varys doesn't accompany Tyrion on his journey. Tyrion travels with a group of characters (including a secret "Aegon Targaryen") who don't appear in the show. Jorah and Tyrion never go near Valyria, and Jorah is never infected with greyscale. The two also never meet up with Daenerys before she disappears.

Jaime never goes to Dorne, and the Sand Snakes kidnap Myrcella, gravely injuring her in the process. Doran and Trystane Martell are never murdered. Loras is never imprisoned, and is later mortally wounded on Dragonstone. Margaery is arrested for accusations of adultery, and Lancel never joins the Sparrows. Sansa never marries Ramsay Bolton; she remains in the Vale. Jeyne Poole is disguised as Arya and married to him instead. Mance Rayder never actually dies, and Melisandre never asks Stannis to burn Shireen (although it's confirmed this will happen in a later book.) Brienne never encounters or kills Stannis, either. The entire battle of Hardhome takes place offscreen, and there's no "Night King" leading the White Walkers. Olly doesn't exist, and Alliser Thorne wasn't present during Jon's assassination.

A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons came out in 2011, but at this point, much of the show hardly resembles the books. A major portion of season six's material was invented for the show, which at this point has moved beyond the novels. Myrcella and Tommen are still alive. Brienne and Podrick never go to the Wall. Varys is in hiding, while Jorah and Tyrion become sellswords. None of them have any part in the governance of Meereen. Jaime remains in the Riverlands and ignores letters from Cersei; he's learned of her sleeping with other men and loathes her now. Jaime and Bronn aren't buddies, and Jaime disappears after being lured away by Brienne and Lady Stoneheart. Tommen never speaks with the High Sparrow, joins the Faith, or outlaws trial by combat. Cersei awaits her trial and never blows up the Sept of Baelor.

Arya never adds Walder Frey to her death list, and hasn't returned to Westeros. Osha and Rickon are never kidnapped by the Umbers or murdered by Ramsay Bolton. Bran never sees Hodor's origin story, the White Walker origin story, or the Tower of Joy battle in his visions. There's no attack on the cave, and Hodor and Summer are still alive. Benjen Stark's whereabouts are still unknown. Jon hasn't been resurrected (yet), and there hasn't been a "Battle of the Bastards." Theon and Asha never steal Euron's fleet or cross the sea to meet Daenerys. Daenerys hasn't yet returned to Meereen, let alone sailed for Westeros.

The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring

There are two planned books remaining in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Martin is currently working on writing The Winds of Winter, and hasn't made any concrete promises regarding when it'll be done. This, of course, has disgruntled many dedicated readers of the novels, who want to know what happens next and aren't satisfied with HBO's telling of the tale. Until then, they'll just have to be make do with whatever David Benioff and D.B. Weiss can come up with during the final two seasons of the show.

Other works

In addition to the main books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin has written several other works that touch upon the world of Planetos. The Tales of Dunk and Egg are a series of novellas that follow the story of King Aegon Targaryen's childhood adventures with Ser Duncan the Tall. Maester Aemon was the elder brother of Aegon, whom he affectionately called "Egg."  These novellas include The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight, with several more installments planned in the future.

There have also been two additional novellas which chronicle the story of "The Dance of the Dragons," a civil war between Targaryen Princess Rhaenyra and her stepmother Queen Alicent, which occurs some 200 years before the events in A Game of Thrones. These novellas include The Rogue Prince, or, a King's Brother and The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens.