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A Song of Ice and Fire, (4 Vols.): A Game of Thrones / A Clash of Kings / A Storm of Swords / A Feast for Crows Mass Market Paperback – Print, March 22, 2011
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But please recognize this important point -- the box set on this page (either the hardcover or paperback versions) was put together before the fifth volume in the series was available in paperback, and so it does not represent the best value if you want the full collection of books.
That is available here --> George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set, which includes all five books A Game of Thrones,A Clash of Kings,A Storm of Swords,A Feast for Crows (the same four books included in the box set on this page), plus the most recently released fifth volume A Dance with Dragons.
That would probably be the best you can do for now. There is a sixth book planned for release in the near future, though, so be prepared to want that one as well, just as soon as it is available.
Do you need any more justification? How about this - the expense of this five book set can easily be rationalized by considering that it provides one of the best 'bangs for the buck' currently available on Amazon for popular fantasy literature.
Think of it this way:
- Game of Thrones 5-book box set (refer to the link above) -- 4272 pages of high adventure for only 1.2 cents per page!
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy -- 1350 pages of Russian historical fiction, slightly less expensive at 0.9 cents per page, but three thousand pages shorter and far less racy and titillating!
- The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon -- approximately 4000 pages of real Roman history, originally published beginning in 1776 and with the final volume published in 1789, comparable in length to Game of Thrones but, lets face it, nowhere near as interesting to read (sorry, Rome), and somewhat expensive at 2.2 cents per page (nice slip-cased hardcover books will look good on your bookshelves and impress your friends and neighbors, though)
- World Book Encyclopedia -- over 14,000 pages and still being printed in actual paper volumes annually (!!) for those holdouts who stubbornly and inexplicably refuse to consider wikipedia to be the source of all information available to mankind. The 2014 edition does not seem to be available on Amazon at the present time, but can be purchased at the companies own website for a stratospheric 7 cents per page!
The battle lines have been drawn, and the choice is clear! Game of Thrones is the obvious winner (and again, don't forget to order the 5-volume set, not this outdated one here).
(NOTE: cost/page calculations are based upon current Amazon pricing for the particular editions I've linked to above)
If you do not like high fantasy, you will not like this series. You also will not like it if you are offended by story lines that involve sex, rape, murder, or profane language. You will not like it if you only like high fantasy that involves magical creatures, like elves or orcs, because this series, like many modern fantasy series, largely involves the trials and tribulations of human characters (which is not to say there is no magic involved, just that it is extremely understated and involves a long game plot). If you find yourself easily lost when reading a book with a very large cast of characters, you will not like this series, as there are dozens upon dozens of characters, all of whom contribute to the main plot lines. It can be a challenge to keep them all straight at times. If you dislike when authors switch perspectives often, you might find this is not for you. GRRM switches perspectives each chapter.
If you are not offended by the above, and are looking for a modern fantasy series, this is probably for you.
I purchased the mass paperback hard copy box set and I could not be more pleased. The price was very reasonable (around $20 when I purchased it), and the size of the paperbacks, although thick, are a good size for travel, the bath, or anywhere else you enjoy reading.
Please note that I am NOT reviewing the digital version of this set.