Recommended Reads: Game of Thrones Edition

So you love A Song of Ice and Fire, but the TV show is ending, the sixth book is nowhere in sight, and the Cersei-shaped gap in your heart grows ever wider.  Here are some books to get you through, all based on what you love best about Game of Thrones.

 

I like it when George R. R. Martin twists familiar character tropes into something fresh:

First Law by Joe Abercrombie

the-first-law-trilogy-joe-abercrombie-slice

The Blade Itself, Before They are Hanged, The Last Argument of Kings

The barbarian who just wants everyone to stop fighting and get along, the beautiful woman with an incredibly foul mouth and a serious drinking problem, the handsome nobleman who is utterly useless and a bit of an ass, etc. are among the amazing characters in these books. A Song of Ice and Fire is filled with similarly twisted character tropes (the wealthy and clever prince who is considered deformed, the girl who learns to become an assassin, the young woman who falls in love with the wrong prince, etc.).

Similarities/other features:

  • A complete trilogy — no waiting for books to come out!
  • Three standalone novels and a book of short stories with more coming in the future
  • Low fantasy, minimal magic (but the magic packs a punch)
  • Backstabbing, conniving, characters.  Don’t trust anyone!
  • In my humble opinion, these books are far superior to A Song of Ice and Fire

 

I like it when no one wins and everyone is miserable:

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

farseer

Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s QuestAssassin’s Quest

These are absolutely rich, beautiful books, but my god are they miserable.  In a world in which nobility are named for the traits their parents wish them to possess.  Fitz is the bastard son of King-in-Waiting Chivalry.  Fitz grows up at court in his father’s shadow, but the illegitimate child has enemies who will stop at nothing to eliminate him. Bad things happen to good people in these books and they feature one of the absolute worst (best) villains I’ve ever read.  Prepare to be emotionally broken.  All.  The.  Time.

Similarities/other features:

  • Farseer is a complete trilogy, but the story continues in three further trilogies (also complete) and two additional trilogies set in the same world.
  • Loads of magic, but it’s subtle
  • Like Arya, Fitz learns the art of assassination.  And oh, do you want him to use it.
  • Wolves!
  • Utterly heartbreakingand crushing

 

I like strong women.  The more bloodthirsty the better!

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

uk-orig-best-served-cold

More Joe Abercrombie!  Best Served Cold is a standalone novel set in the First Law world. Monza Murcatto is a mercenary, and a damn good one, with her beloved brother Benna at her side.  Unfortunately, she becomes a little too popular for her employer’s taste and he has her and her brother murdered.  Unfortunately for Duke Orso, Monza is not so easy to kill, and she wants her revenge.

For my money, Monza Murcatto is one of the most incredible female characters in fantasy fiction.  She’s cold, murderous, angry as hell, and so complex.  She’s terrifying and somehow incredibly sympathetic.  She’s the kind of strong female character I like: she’s incredibly feminine, intelligent, and physically powerful.  If you are desperate for the Starks to rise again or loved seeing a certain someone take his revenge on one of A Song of Ice and Fire‘s greatest villains, I seriously recommend this book.

I’d suggest reading  First Law before you get to Best Served Cold, but you wont miss much if you dive straight in.

Similarities/other features:

  • One of the best and most heartbreaking character arcs I’ve ever read
  • Badass ladies!
  • A standalone book, but there are other books to pick up if you like it
  • Manages to be heartbreaking, vicious, incredibly cool, and triumphant all at once
  • The best revenge story since The Count of Monte Cristo

 

Well, I like the scope of Game of Thrones, but I’m more into sci-fi than fantasy:

The Expanse novels by James S. A. Corey

leviathan_wakes_first_edition

Start with: Leviathan Wakes

You might have seen the new SyFy series The Expanse, but did you know that they’re based on a series of books?  James S. A. Corey is the pen name for two authors: fantasy writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  Franck is, in fact, George R. R. Martin’s assistant and he certainly learned a thing or two.

Mankind has expanded its reach into the solar system.  Mars and Earth have a tenuous alliance and the asteroid belt is a center of industry.  But tensions are rising between Belters and the inner planets, and one spark can start interplanetary conflict.  A missing girl, the destruction of a civilian ship, and an mysterious threat pull an unlikely group of people deep into a conspiracy to start a war.

Similarities/other features:

  • Not a complete series yet — there are probably going to be nine books — but they come out consistently.  There are six out so far.
  • Lots of tie-in novellas to tide you over!
  • Dual narratives between two very different and compelling characters with opposing viewpoints.
  • Wide range of incredible male and female characters who are shades of grey.
  • Chrisjen Avasarala is oneof the best characters ever.  It’s worth it to read the series just to get her full, sweary character.
  • No one is safe!

 

I really love the history of Westros more than anything:

The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Druon

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Start with: The Iron King

George R. R. Martin himself recommends these novels if you like his own work.  What Martin calls ‘the original Game of Thrones’, these historical novels center around the reign of brutal French king Philip the Fair, his family, and his court.  Sex, lies, and betrayal highlight these novels and the real-life events that inspired them.  Although originally written in French 1955, these books hold up well in for a modern and English-language reader.

Similarities/other features:

  • Complete series that is fully translated into English
  • A lot of these characters would fit in well in Kings Landing
  • Spitefulness, deviousness, backstabbing!

 

Ugh, more white people in a medieval Europe setting.  Boring:

The Black Wolves by Kate Elliot

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The Black Wolves is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is predominantly white characters in a European setting — it also happened to be one of my favorite books of 2016.  The incredible world is inspired by Chinese culture and is filled with fascinating traditions and compelling characters.  Filled with backstabbing, political underhandedness, and incredibly high stakes, this is seriously one of the best books you can read if you love the power-hungry and devious Lannisters, the noble Starks, or any of the other array of characters in A Song of Ice and Fire.  Like Martin, Elliot manages to create an in-depth history for her fictional world that is just begging for its own separate book.

similarities/other features:

  • The first book in a new trilogy with the second on its way later this year — you wont have long to wait.
  • Wide-ranging, diverse cast of characters of all ages and backgrounds
  • Badass women!
  • Definitely a book for those who love the politics of A Game of Thrones

 

Have anything to add to this list?  Comment below!

 

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