Fans around the world are gearing up for the long-awaited season four premiere of "Game of Thrones" this week, but did you know that the fantasy series the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, was inspired by the stories of a French-Jewish novelist?
George RR Martin's widely successful saga is set in the mythical land of Westeros, where political intrigue, the ruthlessness of war and explicit sexual relationships are depicted in detail, both in print and on HBO's television version.
Yet the series' millions of loyal fans may not know that Martin's imagined land of Westeros was not inspired by fantasy, but rather by a relatively unknown series of novels set in medieval France, according to a recent article in BBC News Magazine.
Les Rois Maudits (The Accursed Kings) was written by Maurice Druon, the son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant, between the mid-1950s and the 1970s.
The seven-part saga chronicles the struggle for the French throne in the early part of the 14th century, leading to what became the Hundred Years War.
"The Accursed Kings has it all," wrote Martin in an introduction to the recently reissued translation of the French cult novel. "Believe me, the Starks and the Lannisters have nothing on the Capets and Plantagenets. It is the original game of thrones."
Druon, who died in 2009, was a much celebrated man of letters in France. He fought for the Resistance during World War II and later became head of the Académie française.