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I just finished watching Game of Thrones and would like to buy the books. Which book corresponds to the part of the story where Season 2 stops?

Do I need to read the first books as well? Are there any substantial differences between the TV show and the books?

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    You might want to split this out into multiple questions. Similar questions have been asked before. Related: (1) Will each season of Game of Thrones roughly equal a book? (2) What are the differences between the Game of Thrones TV series and the book? – BennyMcBenBen Jul 2 '12 at 19:41
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    If you enjoyed the TV-show, you won't regret reading the first two books. It will probably take you only a few days per book, and you'll be enjoying every page. – TLP Jul 2 '12 at 21:20
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    I agree with all the "read the books from the start - you won't be disappointed" answers and comments. I do just want to say, however, that each book is ~800+ pages, so "a few days per book" implies pretty fast, or long days reading. – ulty4life Jul 2 '12 at 23:27
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    So I guess I'll start reading from the first book of the series. It'll take me a little more time but i'm sure it'll be worth it. Thanks to all of you !! – amstram Jul 4 '12 at 17:59
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I highly recommend that you start reading from the first book of the series: "A Game Of Thrones". There are quite a few differences between the book and the show, especially in the second season. Also, by reading all the books you will get many subtle nuances, which are either omitted or unclear in the series.

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    +1 Definitely recommend reading the first books regardless of how far you are in the show. There will be many "Ah so that's the motivation behind that scene in the show" moments. – NominSim Jul 2 '12 at 15:39
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    I'll echo this as well. The books are, quite understandably, far more complex than it's possible to fit into a television show. There are entire characters missing, the order of events has been changed, etc. You'll get a more complete picture from the books. – Anthony Grist Jul 2 '12 at 16:00
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Exclusively about the plot, the book that pictures the events after the 10th episode of the 2nd season would be A Storm of Swords, the third book of the series.

The issue is, if one reads the third book without reading the first two, one would be confused, specially regarding some characters of the books whose parts have been condensed or combined into different characters. The books have a lot more characters than the series.

So, the best would be to start reading from the first book. You would recognize the main scenes, and would understand what was going on in the minds of the characters, as well as getting to know some of the characters that didn't appear in the series.

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