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Dreamsongs: Volume I Hardcover – October 30, 2007

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Dreamsongs: Volume I + Dreamsongs: Volume II + The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Martin may be best known for his Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy, but this mammoth collection of short stories (the first of two volumes) highlights his work in numerous genres, including SF, horror and fantasy. Focusing on Martin's early output, volume one features The Second Kind of Loneliness, originally published in 1972, which chronicles a man's insanity-inducing introspection millions of miles from Earth; the 1975 Hugo Award–winning A Song for Lya; The Pear-Shaped Man, a disturbing horror masterpiece about a creepy apartment neighbor; and more obscure works like a 1967 fanzine story starring the Astral Avenger and an unconventional college term paper about the Russo-Swedish War of 1808. An insightful introduction by Gardner Dozois, illustrations by Michael Kaluta and extensive—and candid—author commentary make this much more than just a compilation of stories. Fans, genre historians and aspiring writers alike will find this shelf-bending retrospective as impressive as it is intriguing. (Nov.)
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About the Author

George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons—as well as Tuf Voyaging, Fevre Dream, The Armageddon Rag, Dying of the Light, Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle), and Dreamsongs Volumes I and II. He is also the creator of The Lands of Ice and Fire, a collection of maps from A Song of Ice and Fire featuring original artwork from illustrator and cartographer Jonathan Roberts, and The World of Ice & Fire (with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson). As a writer-producer, Martin has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553805452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553805451
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid '90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he's allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

170 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Reza on November 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Two things before I start the review: I am a big fan of Mr. Martin's 'Song of Ice & Fire' saga (like many fans, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of 'A Dance With Dragons'). The second point is that I have never been a fan of short stories. Well, up until now.

When I first heard about the release of Dreamsongs, I wasn't too thrilled. I knew Martin as a brilliant epic storyteller, but I was not sure whether his talents in creating complex, deep characters, exciting storylines, and magnificent settings could fit into the small world of short stories.

Suffice to say that my worries about Dreamsongs almost kept me from being exposed to some of the best stories that I have read. Dreamsongs is a collection of short stories written by Martin throughout his career as a writer. These tales cover a spectrum of genres including fantasy, science fiction, and even horror. I would like to emphasize one point: Every signature element that brought Martin to the pinnacle of fame that he has today is present in this collection of his earlier works.

Stories: Original, deep, and engaging are the words that come to mind when describing the tales in Dreamsongs. What I found surprising was how personal some of these stories were. From the fight for honor and country in 'The Fortress' to the very depths of human needs and emotions in the touching 'A Song for Lya'; From socio-political issues in 'And Death His Legacy' to war and propaganda in 'The Hero', I was hooked and pulled into the story every time. The tone of these tales can be commonly described as dark.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Scott Andrews on December 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This collection, whether in its 2003 limited-edition single-book format or in this new two-book one, showcases the career of a true master. Most fantasy novelists can't write prose well enough to succeed at the short form, and most fantasy short fiction stars can't write plots entertaining enough to attract fans to their novels. Perhaps it's Martin's cross-genre skill, equally adept at fantasy, science fantasy, and horror, that enables him to master both the short and novel formats, or perhaps it's the writerly training of that bygone era when short fiction was more common and more populist. Regardless, his classic award-winners like "Sandkings" still shine opposite early works like "The Fortress" and recent ones like "The Hedge Knight."

The other bounty in this collection is Martin's introductions to each chronological section, describing where he was at that point in his life and career, then detailing the genesis of all the stories. These commentaries offer insight into the man and the evolution of his craft.

Perhaps after he finishes his current saga, he'll dip back into short fiction, or write shorter pieces in between his longer projects like Stephen King does. That would surely offer great reads, and it might bring some fan attention back to the forgotten short fiction format.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Cecil on December 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been a big George R.R. Martin fan since reading "Fevre Dream" when I was a bit younger; although many of his fans seem to only be familiar w/ Song of Fire & Ice, I can assure you that most of his other works are just as good. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that many of his early and lesser known works were being collected and published in one volume, and I was quite upset when the original release date was changed(the release date for the US Dreamsongs was originally announced over a year ago at the same time the UK version; it was then scrapped and split into the 2 volumes for release here).
The fact that so many of the selections were award winners/award nominees speaks highly of the book to begin with, and although many of the stories in the first half of the book were written by a very young Martin (and it shows), the entire collection is filled with stories that grab hold of you and characters that you can really care about (a Martin specialty, imho). And though I've never been a big fan of anything that falls into the horror genre, I read and thoroughly enjoyed each and every story in the collection. The intros to each section are particularly enjoyable to read, as Martin discusses his sucesses and failures and the variety of influences on his early works, as well as some interesting anecdotes from his childhood.
My favorites from this volume include "The Exit to San Breta", "The Second Kind of Loneliness", "With Morning Comes Mistfall", "A Song for Lya", "The Way of Cross and Dragon", and of course, "Sandkings". I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dreamsongs, even for those who are not fans of short stories (I'm generally not); it is also a great introduction to Martin for those who are unfamiliar with his works - just don't judge the whole book by the first few stories!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
(My thoughts on all three volumes)

A Game of Thrones (and its followups) made Martin a household name among fantasy nerds, but not many of us knew he had been writing for so long.

Those who enjoyed that series but haven't checked out his back catalog are missing something special. Going back to his early 20s, it's clear that he had obvious gifts and a love for the craft, even in the face of the thankless job of writing for fanzines and short-lived monthly periodicals. Check out a story he wrote in college, set during the Swedish-Russian war of 1808, which offers crisp characters and a delicious sense of the divisions war can create among allies.

As a fantasy writer, Martin gives readers what most readers are looking for: exotic worlds populated by characters both colorful and familiar. Yet, Martin's stories tend to be darker and more ambiguous than the norm. The Hedge Knight novella is a fine example of this, taking the reader into a Knight's tournament in the Ice and Fire universe through the eyes of the likable but clueless young bumpkin, Dunk. Soon, he's in over his head with dangerous games of skill and equally dangerous intrigues between powerful lords. Sadly, many fantasy pieces offer too brief of a visit to the worlds Martin created for them -- as he acknowledges in his commentary, he'd often start a series, then never return to it.

And those who only know Martin for fantasy may be surprised to find that he's an accomplished science fiction writer. These pieces offer atmosphere, exotic worlds, and human drama, but with more reflectiveness than the fantasy pieces and a dark, speculative edge. Many of them feel surprisingly fresh and undated. The horror stories fare a bit less well.
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