Need another fantasy book series to read while you wait for the next George R. R. Martin release?
It may be years before George R. R. Martin releases another full-length novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. The first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996 and intended to be the first of a trilogy. As Martin wrote, though, the story expanded and instead of three books the series has grown into what is expected to be seven novels .
A Song of Ice and Fire tells the story of a world where a battle rages on for the throne, dragons fly in the sky, and creatures emerge from the dead. The novels have beentranslated into 20 languages, and been modified into an HBO series. Currently, Martin has released five of the seven novels and is writing the sixth.
When the sixth book in the series—much less the seventh—will arrive on shelves, is open for debate. It took Martin six years to complete the fifth book, and there are no signs he's writing any quicker this time around. Though he has released several chapters from the sixth book on his website, his publisher has stated that readers won't see the next book on shelves until early 2016.
In the meantime, here are 11 fantasy series full of the same love, magic, and revenge as Martin's tale to tide you over until the sixth book comes out.
The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druron
Originally published in French, The Accursed Kings is a seven book series that has it all. The Accursed Kings revolves around Robert of Artois as he fights to reclaim his country. Like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the series has strangled queens, sadistic villains, family rivalries, and the doom of a great dynasty. The books are historically based and come with an endorsement from George R. R. Martin himself who claims that Druron is one of his heroes and provided a huge inspiration for the Game of Thrones series.
The Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory is best known for her popular novel The Other Boleyn Girl, but her fantasy series The Cousins' War is a five-book epic tale of women in power. This is the series for readers who loved Sansa and Cersei in Martin's series. Gregory's intricate plots are laced with the drama of marriage, the difficulty of power, and all the history of Tudor England. Like Martin's Daenerys, the women of The Cousins' War are strong, manipulative women with an unbreakable desire for the throne.
Acacia by David Anthony Durham
The Acacia series features one of the most heated sibling dynamics in modern fantasy writing. The Akaran siblings are the Starks on steroids: they fight, they kill, and they support each other. At the center of a world teeming with war, the Akaran sibilings are forced to stand together. Durham's books are, like A Song of Ice and Fire, filled with a host of secondary characters in a world that is so complex and richly detailed that it has its own politics, economy, and culturally diverse populations. Durham tells this story beautifully and has been praised for his ability to write as much as his created world.
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
The story of Tolkien's powerful ring might be the most popular fantasy book series in English literature. Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel ever written. The series was incredibly influential on the formation of the fantasy genre in the 1960s and 70s, and as a countercultural mantra in popular culture. Like Martin's world of Westeros, this is a story that requires dutiful study of the map at the front of the book.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials is a fantastical reinvisioning of John Martin's Paradise Lost. The story follows two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a multi-universe story of swords, witches, and polar bears in armor. The trilogy was primarily marketed to young adults but quickly found a wider market. Like A Song of Ice and Fire, it has been criticized for its portrayal of sexuality, and its critique of religion.
The Sundering by Jacqueline Carey
Two books, Banewreaker and Godslayer, make up Jacqueline Carey's story of the struggle between light and dark. Like the Lord of the Rings series, Carey's duology is shown through the perspective of the "dark" side, but closely examines how fully good or evil a person can be. With only 10 major characters, The Sundering could be a brief break from the world of Westeros and Martin's hundreds of characters.
First Law by Joe Abercrombie
The First Law series is the story of a world at war. Like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Abercrombie's story consists of three major groups fighting each other for control of a medieval land. The cast of characters is a bit smaller than Martin's readers might be accustomed to, but the trilogy takes the time to build out their relationships and personalities. Like Martin, Abercrombie could not leave his story after the trilogy ended and has since published several prequels and supplementary texts.
The Inheritance by N. K. Jemisin
N. K Jemisin's The Inheritance series, reduces the power struggle of A Song of Ice and Fire to a single family. Three cousins all believe themselves rightful heirs to a floating city in the sky creating a tumultuous three-way power struggle. The Arameri family drama includes murder, revenge, and plenty of destructive wars. Like Martin's world, the Arameri people have a very close relationship with their gods. So close, in fact, that the kingdom in the sky has four of them enslaved for use as powerful weapons.
Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker
The Prince of Nothing series revolves around a holy war waged by a brilliant warrior. It too takes place on a fictional continent in a medieval-esque time period, but Bakker's work is notable for its use of philosophy. The Prince of Nothing series follows a second apocalypse, and Bakker litters the text with thoughtful allusions to secular and religious philosophies alike. Additionally, the Prince of Nothing series is only a piece of the largerSecond Apocalypse series, so there are plenty of books to occupy your time until the next Martin novel.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
Of all the books on this list, The Kingkiller Chronicles focuses the most on a single character. Kvothe, a famous musician, tells the story of his present and his past with only brief third-person interruptions by other characters. The story spans several different worlds as Kvothe travels, and includes dozens of secondary characters. So far there are two books in The Kingkiller Chronicles, and Rothfuss is set to release a third sometime in 2016.
Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Built off of her 1964 short story "The World of Unbinding," Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series grew into an empire of seven short stories and five novels. As the title suggests, the world of Earthsea is a group of hundreds of islands in the midst of an uncharted ocean. Le Guin has criticized the standard medieval European setting of most fantasy novels, and placed her story instead in a world where the people are "red-brown" and the conflict between people and magic. With dragons and wizards, Le Guin's world is a perfect place for fans of Daenerys Targaryen.
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Malazan Book of the Fallen is a series that actually could take longer to read than it takes Martin to complete the 6th book. Steven Erikson's epic high-fantasy series is composed of 10 books none of which have fewer than 700 pages. Additionally Erickson's co-creator, Ian Cameron Esslemont, wrote 5 more novels about the empire. The 15 book story of the Malazan Empire is told in a non-linear fashion tracing the paths of dozens of characters across the rise and fall of an incredible world.
The Black Company by Glen Cook
The Black Company is an elite mercenary group led by a flawed, struggling chief. The series spans nine novel and a 40 year history of the black company through armed combat and personal growth. Like Martin's series, the black company is faced with an evil leader that they must combat for the good of the country. Cook's character list changes constantly as the black company moves throughout the world, and the hand of power continues to shift.
You didn't include my favorite fantasy series!
Sorry! We didn't mean to exclude anyone's favorite series! We know that there are dozens of beautifully written fantasy series that aren't listed here. There are even some amazing series that have stood the test of time like J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
This list is a work in progress, and as we discover great fantasy series—be it by reading, reader suggestions, or the next HBO show—we'll expand the list. If there's a story you love that you think should be included, drop a line to the list's editor, Kelsey McKinney, at email@example.com.