Random House just announced the release of A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition in celebration of the series' 20th anniversary, and this is pretty much the best news ever for fans eagerly anticipating the next season of Game of Thrones or the next installment of the book series. This interactive, enhanced ebook — available exclusively on iBooks for iPhone, iPad and Mac — is the ultimate reading experience for A Song of Ice and Fire super-fans. But it's also perfect for fans of the HBO series who want to dive into George R. R. Martin's beloved (but intimidating) series for the first time.
The first book in the series — A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition — is on-sale now, and books two through five will become available in the coming months, beginning with the release of A Clash of Kings on Oct. 15, 2016. All four remaining books are available for pre-order, and each will feature a special treat: an excerpt from Martin's forthcoming and long-anticipated sixth book, The Winds of Winter.
"We are now entering a new period in publishing," said George R. R. Martin in a press release from Apple. "The digital book gives readers to experience all the rich secondary material that had not been possible before."
So why is an enhanced ebook necessary? Well, as any fantasy lover knows, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to keep track of the characters, the locations, the languages, and the histories of fantasy worlds. But the enhanced editions feature a number of interactive features designed to streamline the reading process: there's journey maps, detailed annotations, character timelines, family trees, house and sigil summaries, and an exhaustive glossary. None of these features interfere with the reader experience. Instead, they make it a lot more fun.
Whether you're a complete ASOIAF geek or you're reading the series for the first time, you're going to nerd out hard when you see these enhanced editions. Here are nine of the coolest features:
1. The Journeys Map
Geography plays a huge role in the series, so understanding the layout of Martin's word is essential. With the Journeys map, you can track each characters' respective travels throughout the book (and it only tracks the travels of that one book — no spoilers here!). Best of all, you can pinpoint all the places where these characters' paths intersect and intertwine.
2. The Integrated Character Glossary
Let's be real: sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who's who in ASOIAF: every single character in the series (no matter how minor their role) has a long and detailed and dubiously consequential history. Plus, we all know that George R. R. Martin has a tendency to elevate seemingly minor characters into extremely important characters.
Basically, you need to pay attention to everyone and everything about them.
That's why the integrated character glossary is amazingly helpful. Hold your finger over any character's name (literally, any character) and you'll get a quick description of that character, their house and allegiances, and any other important info you may need. Plus, the app includes an index that will take you back to the first mention of the character.
3. The Map & Summary Featured With Each Chapter Heading
Each chapter in ASOIAF is told from a different point of view, which can make it incredibly challenging to keep track of everyone's' whereabouts. But in the enhanced ebooks, each chapter heading includes a map with the location of the character narrating that section. Double tap the map to receive a summary of that character's past in the book.
4. The Detailed Annotations
You might stumble across some crown icons in the text of the enhanced ebooks. If you tap that icon, an annotation will pop up. But these aren't your professor's annotations. It might be a fun piece of trivia about the series, a valuable piece of information about the ASOIAF universe, a real world tie-in, or a quote from George R. R. Martin that expands upon the reading.
5. The Interactive Maps
Location, location, location! You only have to watch the HBO show's opening once to realize that place is a crucial element in ASOIAF. This enhanced book features some extremely detailed interactive maps that allow readers to zoom in and out. If you're a fantasy map junkie like me, you'll be absolutely fascinated by all of the places you can discover.
6. The Illustrations
Throughout the text, you'll be treated to some seriously stunning color illustrations. The enhanced editions also feature custom typography and all new covers. I mean, seriously, the work speaks for itself.
7. The Audio Clips
Certain key passages in the novel are supplemented with clips from the audiobook, narrated by Roy Dotrice. Talk about an immersive reading experience...
8. The House Lineage Family Trees
Lineage is crucial (and often dangerous) in ASOIAF. Keep up with it all the descendants, marriages, and deaths (and marriages quickly followed by death) with the help of these interactive family trees.
9. House Sigils
The interactive version features a gallery of every single house's sigil, which is a real visual treat — and an opportunity to supplement your Game of Thrones knowledge.
A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition ($8.99) is available now, exclusively on iBooks for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Images: HBO, Screenshots from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin Enhanced Edition (9), Apple
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