When Game of Thrones returns for season four on April 6, fans will be watching to see what happens to the numerous characters. Who will die? Who will live? Who will take the iron throne?

While those who have only watched the television show will sit nervously on the edges of their seats, fans of the novels will be watching to see how the story translates to the screen. Book readers watching with friends who have never read the series will find it hard to point out different things they recognize from the books, but will also be an invaluable resource for when their friends don’t understand one plot point or another.

After watching the show, many people wonder why they should bother to read the books. After all, it’s already been covered, right? Wrong. Readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire series will tell you how crazy of a journey it is to go through the series with the characters, page by page. Watching the show alone just doesn’t compare.

Not convinced? Check out our top 10 reasons for reading the Game of Thrones books.

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10. The writing is phenomenal

George R.R. Martin knows how to craft a good story. The way he describes settings and characters in the book makes them so easy to imagine. When you watch the show on television, you get a clear visual of the different cities and lands, but when you read the book, you can practically taste the food and wine.

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9. It passes the time between seasons
It’s roughly a year between seasons for the HBO series, and that’s just too long to wait to see your favorite friends in Westeros. The books are lengthy, so you have plenty of reading to catch up on during the year-long break.

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8. You won’t be spoiled
You may not want to read the books because you want to experience everything fresh with your fellow viewers. As someone who has read the books and watched the show, I can honestly say that I’m still surprised by the direction the story moves in, and watching the whole thing play out on screen makes the familiar story new again. Plus, if you’ve already read the books, it’s impossible for someone to spoil the show for you.

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7. The world is incredible
Martin built a world like no other. Many fantasy writers try to create an intricate, believable world like the one that exists in A Song of Ice and Fire, but usually they fall flat. The world in the series is rich and broad, with each city and landmark having its own history, culture, and tradition. The show glosses over these finer details, but they really make for a cool reading experience.

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6. Your ties to the television show are stronger
Read the books and you will freak out when your favorite character finally ( finally ) appears on screen. When someone criticizes them you’ll be right there with quotes from the book, ready to defend your favorite. You’ll have your own theories on who will sit upon the Iron Throne, and when a TV watcher shares his or her own theory, you’ll recognize it for the deluded nonsense it is. Renly Baratheon as King? Get real.

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5. More mythology
One of the best parts of the book is the crazy intense mythology that GRRM builds into the story. You’ll learn all about the songs, folktales, and legends of heroes and villains that came before, and it’s neat to recognize different parts of the mythology when they pop up in later books. The show doesn’t go into depth on the different religions that the characters believe in, but that kind of knowledge is incredibly useful to have. Why do so many people distrust Melisandre? What’s going on with those weird trees at Winterfell? You’ll have the read the books to find out.

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4. The language is ridiculous
People were impressed by the Dothraki language in the show, but Martin was just getting started with that one. In the books, he references tons of different (completely fictional) languages. He doesn’t write passages in it, but he does come up with handful of words in each language and uses them throughout the series. You’ll learn what people speak which language, and where they’re at geographically. It’s cool.

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3. More blood and death – and it gets emotional
You thought the show was bloody? Just wait until you read the books. People lose arms, legs, and ears every other chapter. Multiple people get roasted alive. Beheadings are no big deal. Tongues get ripped out on the daily.

Literally no one is safe from the violence, and it’s way more emotional to read about the carnage of your favorite character than it is to watch it on television. After reading a thousand pages of this person’s story, you have an honest connection to him or her. You’ve put in work. And then the character just… dies. It’s horrible.

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2. More character backgrounds
Which characters on the show are your favorite? Read the books, and you’ll learn more about them in a single chapter than you ever will just by watching the series on HBO. You’ll know what kind of food they like, who they hang out with, what types of clothes they like to wear, and their wine preferences. If your favorites are important enough, they’ll have a chapter from their first person perspective at some point in the books, and then you really get inside their mind.

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1. You’re the one in the know
As soon as you finish A Dance with Dragons , you know more about the Song of Ice and Fire universe than your TV-watching friends ever will. When the next season premieres and everyone is freaking out about the latest character death, you can be the one that turns to them and says, “Sweet summer child, you know nothing.”

Photo: Amazon