Now into its fifth season, Game of Thrones on HBO has brought high fantasy mainstream. Many of those who didn’t think they would be interested in ice zombies, dragons, magic, or crazy names like “Cersei” and “Melisandre” have been hooked. Between the drama, politics, backstabbing, mysteries, in-depth explorations of flawed characters, and (of course) a fascinating fantasy world, a wide variety of people have found something to love about the Game of Thrones TV series. But the show is only one for ten episodes once a year, and fans want ways to keep the excitement going! Whether you’re looking to complement a viewing of the TV series with some similar reading, or want to build up your to-be-read pile to tide you over between seasons, here’s a few books you might want to try:
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Just released this week, An Ember in the Ashes is set in a brutal and violent world based in part on ancient Rome. With battles, warriors, and spying, and chock full of political and social conflicts, An Ember in the Ashes is a great choice for those who appreciate how gritty and brutal GoT is, as well as its strong characters and world-building.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – If the combination of fantasy and politics is what you love about GoT, Rae Carson’s fantasy trilogy about a princess who has to learn to be a leader will definitely appeal to you. Bonus points for fantasy religious elements, if debating the Seven vs. the Red God is more your style.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore – First of all, seven kingdoms. Second of all, main character with staggeringly awesome fighting prowess who is at the mercy of her cruel king. Katsa’s story in some ways is like if The Hound or The Mountain decided to fight for justice instead of the Lannisters. Third of all, a truly corrupt and sadistic antagonist who you will probably hate at least as much as Joffrey.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – This series opener is mainly historical, with only the lightest elements of fantasy, so those of you who are less into swords and sorcery and more into the politics, intricate power alliances, and backstabbing of GoT, this book is for you! Not to mention it features assassin nuns – seriously!
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – Soldiers riding companion dragons into war, complete with military strategy? Dany fans rejoice. Oh, and did we mention the dragons? Because this series has LOTS of dragons.
Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – The elder statesman of all fantasy, did anyone doubt this would make the list? While many parts of GoT actually break down fantasy tropes like the good vs. evil battles and the heroic actions of the Fellowship, Tolkien’s masterpiece does feature outstanding world-building and new languages, not to mention romance and action. If you love to immerse yourself in Westerosi cultures and languages, LoTR might be the right choice for you.
Prophecy by Ellen Oh – The main character of Prophecy is the only female warrior in the king’s army, which probably reminds you of a certain lady knight we all know and love. With high fantasy and action, and yes, dragons, this book is perfect for all of you who kind of wish they’d make a whole show about Brienne.
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – For those who really don’t want anything to do with fantasy outside of GoT, give The Tyrant’s Daughter a try. A girl coming to grips with the reality of her dictator father may remind you of Dany learning just how terrible the Targaryens could be, and the maneuvering between Laila’s mother and the CIA will satisfy your urge for politics and manipulation.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski – Fantasy without so much of the sorcery, but with plenty of other elements to recommend this fictional world. With politics galore, warring factions, slave rebellions, and a star-crossed friendship and love, The Winner’s Curse is perfect for anyone particularly invested in the actual game of thrones portion of GoT.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu – This dark fantasy from the author of Legend features a deeply flawed main character with a lust for power, who will definitely remind you of some of the anti-heroes who we know and love (or hate) on GoT. And Lu is not afraid of some viciousness and violence in her world, which is something many will recognize from Westeros.