You’ve probably got a little while to wait until the next volume of the A Song of Ice and Fire. (No, I don’t know how long you have to wait and I wouldn’t tell you if I did!). Why gnash your teeth in anguish when you can check out Martin’s amazing back catalog?
Let’s run through five great early Martin books in this unorthodox edition of our long-running series, “Take Five”:
1. The Armageddon Rag: No less that Stephen King called The Armageddon Rag “The best novel concerning the American pop music culture of the sixties I’ve read.” It’s easy to see why: the book oozes with rock n’ roll style. Every chapter begins with a quote from a popular sixties song, and Martin’s encyclopedic knowledge of the decade shows that he could have easily been a professional music journalist had he chosen to do so. Even if you didn’t live through the sixties, you’ll still love The Armageddon Rag if you’re into horror and fantasy. Rock n’ roll band the Nazgul disbanded following the ritual murder of their lead singer, but decades later, they’re coming back, and they’re bringing Hell with them in this occult thriller.
2 and 3: Dreamsongs, Vol. I and II: Long before he published A Game of Thrones, Martin had found no small amount of fame for his clever short stories. The two volumes of Dream Songs collect the very best works of this era. Genre is no boundary to Martin’s creativity, as this collection clearly shows: Science fiction, fantasy, horror and more abound. Of particular interest to ASOIAF completists is a story in volume II titled “The Hedge Knight”. This novella was Martin’s very first entry in the ASOIAF canon, and takes place during the reign of the Targaryens. It has been out of print for a long, long time.
4. Dying of the Light: This melancholy novel of romance and science fiction depicts a dying world preparing for the day when the sun burns out for good. As two characters reconcile their difficult relationship, an entire world attempt to reckon with its inevitable, unavoidable death. The book was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1978 and a British Fantasy Award in 1979.
5. Windhaven: (Written by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle) Fisherman’s daughter Maris wants to become a flyer, one of a select class of people who make their living flying between the archipelagos of her world on silver wings. The rules of her world say it cannot be so, but Maris goes against tradition and eventually gets her wish – but at what cost? Anne McCaffrey praised the book upon publication, saying that she stayed up all night to finish it.