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Fantasy's Spell on Pop Culture: When Will It Wear Off?

From Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, fantasy series are big hits. But are we in a bubble?

A little over a decade ago, I picked up a book at a used bookstore. On the cover, a lone rider crossed a snow-swept field on a black horse. A raven flew above the man's shoulder and a snow-covered castle loomed off in the background. By all accounts it was as generic an illustration as any other fantasy book at the time. I had never heard of it before, but it had a catchy title: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

After reading the prologue I couldn't put it down. I read the first chapter standing in the bookstore. By the end of the second I knew it would be a late night. A Game of Thrones, I could tell already, was going to be different, and it was going to be good.

Shortly after reading the first book, which was originally published in 1996, and its sequel A Clash of Kings, the third book in the series was published. A Storm of Swords came out in October of 2000, and was the most gripping of the books to date. Although it was longer than all three Lord of the Rings books combined, I read it over the weekend.

It was five years before the fourth book, A Feast for Crows was released in October of 2005. Six more years passed before the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, was published last month.

Much has changed in the fantasy market between my long weekend of reading in 2000 and the publication of Martin's latest book: Fantasy, it seems, has gone mainstream. And as the genre has become more and more popular, pushing book sales and spawning film franchises, you have to wonder: Are we in a fantasy bubble?

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