If you‘re a fellow fantasy fan like me who loves immersing yourself in rich fictional worlds, then you‘re probably eager to dive into George R.R. Martin‘s sprawling Game of Thrones universe. One key part of that is the Fire and Blood series, which provides crucial backstory on the Targaryen dynasty centuries before the events of Game of Thrones.
But with prequel novellas and volumes published across different years, it can get confusing figuring out the ideal reading order. Well, you‘re in luck, because I‘ve geeked out on all things Westeros to determine the optimal way to read these books!
I know you‘re excited to learn about dragon-riding Targaryens, but my recommendation is to start with Martin‘s main A Song of Ice and Fire novels first. These 5 books are the best way to immerse yourself in the world of Westeros and its history.
Here‘s the ASOIAF reading order:
- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance with Dragons (2011)
Why read these books first? A few key reasons:
- They were written first, so they provide all the foundational worldbuilding and context for appreciating the prequels.
- The events take place closest chronologically to the time period depicted in Fire and Blood.
- You get to experience the "present-day" story Martin intended, before diving back centuries into history.
Once you‘ve read those 5 novels and gotten your feet wet in Westeros, the next ideal step is…
Reading the "Tales of Dunk and Egg" novellas:
- The Hedge Knight (1998)
- The Sworn Sword (2003)
- The Mystery Knight (2010)
Okay okay, I know I said Fire and Blood next. But these novellas are short, plus they depict events from about a century before ASOIAF, bridging the gap nicely to Fire and Blood‘s timeline hundreds of years earlier.
In terms of the actual Fire and Blood lead-ins…
You can read either of these novellas first:
- The Princess and the Queen (2013)
- The Rogue Prince (2014)
The Princess and the Queen depicts the Targaryen civil war known as the "Dance of the Dragons." The Rogue Prince is set just before that, following Prince Daemon Targaryen‘s adventures.
Honestly, the reading order is flexible – the novellas recap events from each other, so you won‘t miss anything. But I‘d go with The Rogue Prince first.
Now…Fire and Blood!
You‘ve traveled decades forward and backward in Westeros history, now it‘s time for:
Fire and Blood Volume 1
This first volume covers the Targaryen dynasty‘s early history in Valyria through their first kings in Westeros. It ends right around the events described in The Rogue Prince and The Princess and the Queen.
With almost 1,000 pages, Volume 1 provides an intricate and expansive look at:
- How the Targaryens came into their dragon powers
- Their conquest of Westeros with dragons
- The reigns and succession wars of the first Targaryen kings
As a history nerd, I love how Martin uses this fictional history book device to flesh out details that enrich the ASOIAF universe. And the drama and battles it depicts are as thrilling as Game of Thrones!
Some juicy historical tidbits from Fire and Blood Volume 1:
|Years of Targaryen rule covered
|126 AC – 131 AC
|Number of Targaryen kings depicted
|Major civil wars described
This one is still forthcoming, with no set release date. Volume 2 will pick up where Book 1 ended, chronicling later Targaryen rulers like Aerys II (The Mad King and father of Daenerys).
I‘m eagerly awaiting Volume 2 myself to see ancestors of iconic Game of Thrones characters depicted. Having all this backstory will make rewatching the HBO show even more rewarding.
The Optimal Fire and Blood Reading Order
Let‘s recap the ideal progression for diving deep into the Fire and Blood saga:
- Read the 5 books of A Song of Ice and Fire
- The Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas
- The Rogue Prince (or The Princess and the Queen first)
- Fire and Blood Volume 1
- Fire and Blood Volume 2 (forthcoming)
This order provides the richest and most interconnected experience of Game of Thrones lore, taking you through decades of Westeros history.
Hope this guide helps you navigate the fantastic world George R.R. Martin has crafted! Let me know if you have any other Game of Thrones questions – I could talk about it for days. Happy reading, my friend!