With a little less than half a year to go before HBO brings us new episodes of Game of Thrones (but hey, who’s counting?) many fans are experiencing classic symptoms of withdrawal.
If you or someone you love have been feeling lethargic, anxious, paranoid that your (fictional) brothers are out to get you or can’t stop speaking Dothraki, here are some hand-picked books (other than the actual Game of Thrones novels, that is) to help you get through the wait.
Why you’ll love it: Simpsons jokes aside, if you enjoy the epic house rivalry, underhanded espionage, giant monsters (worms not dragons), death duels with poisoned blades, and creepy/awesome priestesses in GoT, hold onto your stillsuit because this is going to be a fantastic ride. In many ways Dune is, like GoT, a fight for the crown, but in this case it’s the Imperium and the known universe instead of the Iron Throne and Seven Kingdoms.
How it’s different: It’s a far-future story of planetary domination, the subjugation of indigenous people, and the psycho-temporal effects of the ubiquitous drug the Spice. There are also mentally supercharged servants, wine that is basically the best study drug in the world, and a little dash of allegory in reference to the oil trade. It’s also a very extensive series, so you’ll have plenty to read before the season premiere.
Why you’ll love it: Medieval castles and abbeys, stalwart fighters when called to arms, stories told from the perspectives of multiple characters over the novel (chapter by chapter, just like GoT), and plenty of ale to go around. The feasts are the best part – and The Rains of Castamere definitely isn’t on the Abbot’s playlist.
How it’s different: All the characters are mice or other woodland creatures. Redwall is only the first book in the 21 volume series, and it’s an appropriate read for kids aged about 8 and up. This is the book you give your niece or nephew when they start reading over your shoulder during a Cersei chapter.
Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Why you’ll love it: Given the chance, I’m pretty sure Sansa, Arya, and perhaps especially Daenerys would have been friends with the intelligent and straightforward Princess Cimorene. If you’re a fan of dragons, a little intrigue, and well-rounded Bechdel-test-passing female characters on quests, this is a great YA option for you.
How it’s different: Dragons in the Enchanted Forest not only talk, but they have a civil order all their own and social obligations. Intrigue in these books is rarely the work of humans – it’s almost always wizards or dragons making trouble. It’s a four book series, and an ideal read for YA enthusiasts.
Anything J.R.R. Tolkien
Why you’ll love it: He’s the granddaddy of fantasy as we know it, and you’re in for artful descriptions and sweeping epics. Long journeys, extensive histories and ancient conflicts are brought to bear in his work. Plus, you’ll be able to spot his influence when new episodes finally arrive (and get to feel super smart).
How it’s different: The language and the layout of some of his more popular works like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings tend to favor the story of one adventure, while GoT has fistfuls of adventure all happening at once. If you’re ready for songs in Elvish and Dwarven lineage explanations, this is the author for you.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight: Dragonlance Chronicles
Why you’ll love it: This series has the diverse characters and rich world building you’ve come to expect as a GoT fan, along with adventurers that are fallible (they miss shots, fall down, get sick, and have awkward crushes). There are dragons on the side of ultimate good, and dragons on the side of evil in a world where magic is a part of life for our travelers.
How it’s different: This series is based on Dungeons and Dragons modules, so the world is filled with dwarves, elves, wizards and even once-daily spells. The widely-varied characters travel together on a mission to save the world, rather than the widely-varied characters of GoT that set out to rule it. If you like Dragons of Autumn Twilight, there are 2 more books in the Chronicles and many more after that to keep you busy!
Bonus: 5th Edition D&D Player's Handbook
Why you’ll love it: It’s out now, and if you love GoT but haven’t tried D&D, well, now’s the time. One of the best ways to get by when you’re missing your favorite fantasy adventure is to build a fantasy adventure of your own. Folks are already raving about the 5th check it out and find some friends to play!
What are you reading to get you through the GoT dry spell? Leave a comment to let us know!