George R.R. Martin recently ‘fessed up that the final installment of Game of Thrones won’t be done anytime soon -- or at least not quickly enough to please his ravenous fans, whose love for him has proven to have limits.
If you’re of the hungrier and hungrier population of readers who just can’t wait to find out how the series ends, I’m here to tell you something you definitely don’t want to hear: other books exist. So many other books exist, that it’d be literally impossible for you read a sliver of them in the time between now and the release of the next GoT book.
This might be as futile as telling the newly heartbroken that there are other fish in the sea. But it might do you well to get back in the reading game.
This Census-Taker by China Miéville
Miéville’s work runs the gamut of genres, but each of his books fits squarely into the genre of “weird fiction,” a type of writing that combines absurdist elements with the banality of everyday life. This Census-Taker is a slim story with a few fantastical elements -- there’s a key maker, a gang of orphans who hunt bats, and a dusty old provincial town hungry for gossip -- but it’s not brimming with facts about its world the way George R. R. Martin’s books are. This mood-oriented ambiguity might be a deal-breaker for die-hard GoT fans, but for anyone more interested in fantasy in general, it’s a fresh take on the genre.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Nobility, romance and warring societal factions are all at play in Aveyard’s YA series, which features protagonist Mare Barrow. Mare lives in a world divided into red-blooded citizens and silver-blooded citizens, the latter given special privileges due to their special powers, which they claim are genetic. But when Mare shows off her own magical skills, she’s quickly married off to a Silver, to cover up a secret that could spark a revolution.
The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis
Okay, Ian Tregillis’ series couldn’t be more different from GoT -- BUT! -- George R.R. Martin praised it effusively (“A major new talent”) and that should count for something, right? The Mechanical doesn’t have the air of being set in the distant past or far-off lands, but instead in the actual, recent past, in a world populated by enslaved robots. It’s as fast-paced as it is philosophical, but doesn’t promise any twisted love stories or undeniably treacherous villains.
The Just City by Jo Walton
Ancient past and possible futures converge in Walton’s inventive story about a meticulously constructed community, made up of thousands of kids and far fewer adults (and robots!) to offer them guidance. The god Apollo features prominently, reincarnated as a human kid, but you needn’t be a mythology geek to enjoy this wild mashup of characters and ideas.
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
If you’re looking to dive into another books-long series rather than a satisfying one-off, Johansen’s is a worthy contender for your TBR pile. Finally, a YA lady protagonist is celebrated for something more than her looks with Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, who’s just learning the ropes with the whole leader thing. She’s got big shoes to fill -- her mother’s -- and she’s got a few magical tricks up her sleeve to help her along.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
If the idyllic lands of Westeros are the series’ biggest draw for you, there are tons of other Medieval-like fantasies to explore. Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel is set during Arthurian times and centers on a couple whose hazy memories and quiet days are interrupted by a spontaneous adventure. Bonus: there’s a knight and a dragon.
Slade House by David Mitchell
If labyrinthine plots with sudden twists and turns are sort of your thing, you can whet your appetite by jumping into David Mitchell’s long and varied list of publications. Cloud Atlas may have the most expansive universe -- it’s an ambitious novel with a scope meant to match the ebbs and flows of history itself -- but Slade House could be a less intimidating introduction. It’s a haunted house story with a twist that’s far from mundane.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Probably the most overtly similar to GoT both thematically and stylistically, Abercrombie is your best bet if you’re not really looking to branch out. His The Shattered Sea series is definitely not a YA take on fantasy -- these books reach Red Wedding levels of grittiness. Take it from George R.R. Martin himself, who said, “It grabbed me from page one and refused to let me go.”
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