"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. "The wildlings are dead."
"Do the dead frighten you?" Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.
Gared did not rise the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. "Dead is dead," he said. "We have no business with the dead."
These are the words with which George R.R. Martin starts the prologue for A Game of Thrones, the first of seven planned books of a saga called A song of Ice and Fire, and they only give the tiniest of the clues of what is to come.
In this first novel Martin begins to create such a complex world and set of characters that it would be really hard to explain without actually experiencing it. Or, at least, the enterprise would take many pages in order to create a good enough synopsis.
In A Song of Ice and Fire Martin takes us to the fictional world of Westeros. It is a world created in some way after Medieval Europe where the seasons last for decades. When the story begins we soon learn that there exists a huge background to it which we will slowly learn through the words and the memories of the main characters, and which bears a huge importance in how the plot will develop from the point where we start reading.
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the Iron Throne
The second storyline deals with the events happening to the Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch, those who defend and maintain The Wall (a 480 km long and 210 m. tall wall of ice and gravel which separates Westeros from the unknown lands of the uttermost north and the threat of The Others).
The third storyline narrates the life of Daenerys Targaryen in a different continent set to the east. Through the eyes and thoughts of Daenerys, the last heir of House Targaryen, and also from characters who appear in the other two storylines, we learn how her family conquered and ruled Westeros until fifteen years before the point when we start reading. As the Targaryens had been removed from power in a cruel civil war against an alliance of houses led by House Baratheon, Arryn and Stark, Daenerys' ultimate goal is to reclaim her right to the Iron Throne.
The studio is releasing the series next year, so we still have time to do some reading before it happens. I myself will be busy with A Dance with Dragons as soon as it becomes available, that is for sure... For now, take a look at the first teaser trailer of the series: