George R.R. Martin has already attracted plenty of readers—the books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series have sold millions of copies worldwide—yet some fans of the hit HBO show Game of Thrones have been reluctant to pick up the notoriously lengthy tomes.
But a new edition debuting on Thursday might help. Random House and iBooks are releasing an enhanced edition of A Game of Thrones, the first volume in the series, for iPhones, iPads and Macs that will make it much easier to keep track of the dense narrative. Each chapter of Martin's books focuses on one character, and the enhanced edition opens each section with a map of where that character is currently located. Readers can tap into the maps to expand and zoom in on details. As the story progresses, maps even include footnotes reminding readers of when they last saw that character: For instance, in Chapter 6, a note reminds the reader, "When we were last with Catelyn, her husband had returned to Winterfell after executing a deserter from the Night's Watch..."
Characters are introduced in bolded names that are tappable to tell the reader who they are; this biographical information can also be accessed in a glossary via the table of contents. Annotations are marked throughout with tappable crown icons and provide historical information, both fictional and nonfictional. After a holdfast is mentioned in the text, for instance, an annotation explains, "A holdfast is a small, local fortress—often primitive—intended for the villagers or others in its area to take refuge in..."
In addition to illustrations throughout the text, the appendix includes 92 illustrated house sigils, nine house lineages, a detailed map of "The Known World" and marked trails of several main characters' journeys throughout the first novel.
The enhanced edition comes at a poignant time for Martin: 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the first novel's publication, and as enhanced editions of the subsequent four novels in the series are released from October to March, anticipation will be growing for Martin to complete a draft of the long-anticipated sixth book in the series. Whether it will come out before the HBO series wraps in 2018 is anyone's guess—but new readers should have plenty of time to make their way through thousands of pages of story before that happens.