As I mentioned a little while back, when I’m not hanging out with the books, I teach at A Local University. And, as it happens, all my students are obsessed (seriously…obsessed) with HBO’s Game of Thrones. To the point where we make Game of Thrones analogies in class to help them better understand the History of the British Empire. To the point where we had to delay class for ten minutes today so that everyone could finish venting, speculating, wondering, and lamenting what was, apparently, a stellar episode.
For the record, I love when students bring their outside lives to class, because 1) It means they are comfortable enough in class to bring their whole selves, 2) It means they are engaged with their other students, 3) It gives me ideas for blog posts to listen to them talk.
As many of you may have heard, George R.R. Martin, the author of Song of Ice and Fire series (the first of which is titled A Game of Thrones) had always intended the books to be ahead of the series, so that readers would know in advance what was going to happen (to the extent that the show and the books aligned). Lately, however, life has gotten in the way, and Martin missed the deadline for the seventh book in the series, The Winds of Winter, meaning that, for the first time, the show was ahead of the book in term of “what happens next” (sources report, however, that we may see the book by the end of this year, or early in 2017). While this was certainly a blow to readers, who adore Martin’s detailed prose, his insanely complex world-building, and the sheer grandeur and goriness of his books, it’s made this season of Game of Thrones as much of a surprise for long-time fans as it is for those who discovered the series through HBO’s adaptations.
It turns out, my students fall into both categories. Many are just discovering the addicting power of Martin’s work, but there are a number of students who are casting around for something to keep them going through the long, dragon-less days ahead. And so for them, especially (and for you, of course!), I started putting together a list of other epic fantasy series that will tide even the most devoted Game of Thrones fan until the next scintillating episode, or series installment….
If you enjoy/enjoyed Game of Thrones, Then be sure to try:
The Darkness that Comes Before: R. Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing novels are perhaps a bit more philosophical than Martin’s books, as it focuses on a world undergoing a Second Apocalypse and all the holy men, crusaders, magicians, and prophets that herald its coming, but it does have that sense of dark foreboding that makes Martin’s work so compelling. Bakker also does an impressive job balancing the epic scope of his fiction world, known as Eärwa, its armies and teeming streets, with court intrigue, love affairs, and personal interactions, making this book a page-turner on a number of levels. There are two other books in the Prince of Nothing series, all of which have been published, so you won’t have to wait to find out what happens next.
Chronicles of the Black Company: For those whose favorite parts of Game of Thrones are the scenes on the Wall with the Night Watch, then this book is definitely for you. The men of the Black Company wander their shadowy world, doing the work that no others are brave enough–or foolhardy enough–to do. But as rumors of the White Rose begin to filter into their camps, the promise of a source of good in their bleak days, the world as they know it begins to change. Glen Cook brings the world of epic fantasy down to the individual in these books, and the relationships and interactions between the men of the Black Company is what makes this book such a success. As before, this the the beginning of a full series, so you can enjoy all their exploits without worry.
The City Stained Red: For what it’s worth, Sam Sykes is my favorite author on this list, not only because I love the world that he has created in his Bring Down Heaven series, but also because his books are delightfully funny, his characters quirky, and its evident he is having so much fun creating this world that its impossible to not have fun while reading. In these books, a rag-tag band of adventurers, lead by Lenk,(a man whose past is in itself the stuff of legends) must somehow defeat an ancient god who is tearing the city of Cier’Djaal apart at the seams. Their quest will bring them into the heart of a deeply complex city, and up against the might of two frighteningly powerful armies, with plenty of action and some great plot twists to keep things interesting. The adventures continue, and the stakes grow even higher, in the recently released The Mortal Tally.