George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) series has earned accolades as one of the best fantasy series ever written, and its popularity has only grown thanks to A Game of Thrones, the hit HBO show based on the series. Unfortunately, Martin isn’t the world’s fastest writer and the show has only 10 episodes per season, leaving fans deprived of Westeros nearly 10 full months of the year.
If you’ve re-read your books so many times they’re falling apart and re-watched each episode so many times you can recite it backwards, here are 10 great novels and series that are similar to Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire and can help tide you over until the next book is released or the show returns to the air:
1. Abercrombie, Joe – The Blade Itself
Like George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie has a background in the television industry, and also like Martin, he’s now turned his pen instead to dark, gritty, and violent fantasy novels. The Blade Itself is the first book in Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy.
2. Bujold, Lois McMaster – The Warrior’s Apprentice
Fans of Tyrion Lannister will recognize a kindred spirit in quick-witted space adventurer Miles Vorkosigan, who has been described as “Tyrion if he were raised by Starks.” Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga encompasses nearly 30 novels and short stories focusing on a variety of eras and storylines within the series, so it’s hard to choose a single best starting point, but The Warrior’s Apprentice, which introduces young Miles, is as good a place as any.
3. Cook, Glen – The Black Company
If you love Jon Snow and his adventures with the Night’s Watch, you’ll love The Black Company, the first in a hard-boiled, action-packed series about an elite troop of mercenaries.
4. Cornwell, Bernard – The Winter King
George R.R. Martin is known to be a huge fan of historical fiction author Bernard Cornwell and has stated that “there’s no one who writes better action scenes, in any genre.” If you enjoy Martin’s battle scenes, you may like Cornwell’s even better! The Winter King is the first in Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles trilogy, which is a historical fiction take on the legends of King Arthur.
5. Erikson, Steven – Gardens of the Moon
For sheer epicness, not even George R.R. Martin can beat Steven Erikson’s massive Malazan Book of the Fallen series, which begins with Gardens of the Moon and fills 10 massive novels, 5 novellas, and several side series. The massiveness can be pretty daunting at first, especially since Erikson is not the type of writer to hold your hand or spell everything out in info dumps, but you’ll be rewarded for your perseverance with gritty, top-notch epic fantasy.
6. Herbert, Frank – Dune
If you’re looking for a book similar to Game of Thrones but aren’t tied to the fantasy genre, consider the classic sci-fi novel Dune. Although the cast of characters is not as large as Martin’s series, it shares many of the qualities that make Game of Thrones great, including epic worldbuilding, moral ambiguity, and lots of political intrigue.
7. Hobb, Robin – Assassin’s Apprentice
The first in Hobb’s popular Farseer Trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice follows a young bastard boy on his path to becoming a magical assassin. Although focused more closely on a single storyline than Martin’s works, the Farseer books have a similar emphasis on strong characterization and byzantine political intrigue.
8. Kay, Guy Gavriel – Tigana
Like George R.R. Martin, Guy Gavriel Kay writes fantasy novels where the magic is less important than the personal and political dramas of the characters. Kay writes mainly stand-alone novels, so his works don’t have the massive scope of Martin’s, but his world-building is outstanding and he has built up a large and loyal following of fans. Tigana, which was inspired by the complicated politics and ever-shifting loyalties of Renaissance Italy, is one of his most popular works.
9. Penman, Sharon Kay – The Sunne in Splendor
Martin has described Sharon Kay Penman as “the strongest historical novelist working the medieval period at present” and The Sunne in Splendor is her novel about the Wars of the Roses, one of the inspirations for the Game of Thrones series. Though Penman is not as gritty as Martin, fans of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire will find many interesting parallels between the denizens of Houses York and Lancaster in late medieval England and the Starks, Lannisters, Tullys, and other great families of Westeros.
10. Williams, Tad – The Dragonbone Chair
The Dragonbone Chair is the first in Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, which Martin has described as one of his favorite fantasy series. Although Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn owes more to classic fantasy series like Lord of the Rings and has more of a traditional quest format than Game of Thrones, fans will notice a number of similarities between the two series, including worldbuilding based on a wide variety of real-world cultures (including the Mongols), pet wolves, weird weather, and a boy who likes to run around on rooftops.
What are some books you consider to be similar to Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire?
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