Once upon a time, the words "game of thrones" didn't immediately conjure images of dragons and direwolves and ice zombies. The massive Game of Thrones franchise started off as a single fantasy book that hit shelves back in 1996, but over the past two decades, George R.R. Martin has published four best-selling sequels to form the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, and the HBO series based on his stories has been a smash success. The 20th anniversary of all things Thrones will be celebrated in a special way, and here's the first description from Bantam Spectra of what we can expect:
First published on August 1st, 1996, A Game of Thrones marks its twentieth anniversary today. In celebration of the fantasy masterpiece that started a cultural phenomenon, we're excited to announce the publication of a special illustrated edition.
George R.R. Martin shared the news of the Bantam Spectra special edition in a post on his blog, and it's worth getting excited about what's in store with this reprint of A Game of Thrones. The new version of the book will be filled with artwork, as readers will find 73 black-and-white illustrations throughout the chapters, with eight full color plates also popping from the pages. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire may recognize some of the images from existing saga merchandise, but forty-eight of the images will be entirely original to the special edition. Each chapter will open with a picture, and an extensive list of experienced fantasy illustrators have contributed their artwork, so the book should look gorgeous. As gorgeous as HBO's pricy productions? We'll have to wait and see.
Additionally, the next version of A Song of Ice and Fire will kick off with an introduction by author and funnyman John Hodgman, who is probably best known for his work on The Daily Show. Hodgman is a big fan of both Martin and the Song of Ice and Fire saga, and he has a way with words, so his introduction should a good addition to the 20th anniversary book. If not...well, how many of us read the introductions anyway?
The revamped version of the original A Game of Thrones will be sold as A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition and is set to go on sale on October 18, 2016. None of the actual content of the book will be any different, so any Song of Ice and Fire fans hoping that George R.R. Martin pulled a George Lucas and decided to go back and change the narrative are out of luck. (While the rest of us are quite content.)
Personally, I'm half-excited at the prospect of an illustrated Game of Thrones and half-bummed that George R.R. Martin isn't celebrating the 20th anniversary of his saga by announcing that the sixth book is going to be out in the near future. The announcement of another copy of A Game of Thrones sounds good, but it would sound even better with the announcement of a release date for Winds of Winter. Still, I'm glad to see that the first book is being celebrated. The novels of A Song of Ice and Fire are pretty remarkable works of literature, and they're occasionally overshadowed in pop culture by the TV show. Martin deserves to have his book that started it all to get the spotlight for this big occasion.