Tonight was the season finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the consequence of which will be months of Westeros-withdrawl for many of us. The hit show is based on George RR Martins book series A Song of Ice and Fire, a yet to be completed fantasy series originally published in the mid 90s. There is no denying that Martin has created a special world which, like the world of Tolkein before it, will continue to produce fans for generations. As you watch the season finale you may want to ask yourself whether you find yourself obsessing over the intrigues of Westeros? Do you grip the edge of your couch as fire breathing dragons face off against an army of nearly dead ice-zombies? Do you throw your fist in the air as mistreated bastards and shrewd dwarfs rise above the pressures of an unfair world, using little more than bravery and wit? Lastly (and this one is kind of important) do you ever wish that you discovered the book series before the TV show, so that you could have enjoyed the story in its original form? If so, you may be a fan of the fantasy genre.
We here at Surrey604 have some book suggestions for you to help you deal with your case of Westeros-withdrawal for the next year.
1. Gentlemen Bastards, Scott Lynch (3 Books, several pending)
This series begins in a place called Camorr, a city vaguely reminiscent of renaissance Venice, which is also a hotbed of crime in all of its varieties. The primary protagonist, Locke Lamora, is a young boy who comes under the tutelage of a thief-priest known as Master Chains. Together with his crew, Lamora reigns havoc on the elite of Camorr. Scott Lynch, the author of this wonderful series, has gone beyond creating anti-heroes. He has created a group of out-right villains and made them so likeable you cannot help but root for them!
2. Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson (7 books, one pending)
This ash-covered world has fallen into a single dominion known as the Final Empire, ruled by an immortal tyrant (the Lord Ruler) who subjects a demoralized slave class (Skaa) to acts of inhuman oppression. I cannot think of any book in this genre with a more well thought out yet understandable system of super-natural abilities. The characters, villains, and world are gripping and addictive.
3. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan (11 books)
This Tolkein inspired world is the brain child of Robert Jordan, who sadly passed before completing the series, leaving the work to Brandon Sanderson (author of the Mistborn series). The series follows a group of small town boys who find themselves at the centre of, quite literally, the battle for good against evil. While the series moves a little slow at times, the universe created by Jordan is incredibly intricate.
4. Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss (2 books, 1 pending)
Kvothe (pronounced Kw-o-th) is a living legend. We find him as an eloquent, brilliant, and brave folk hero with the misfortune of living beyond the glory of his own story. Circumstances allow for him to tell the truth of his story over the course of three days, and thus the stage is set for three books. More than anything else, this is a story of one man’s raw brilliance set against insurmountable odds.
Honourable mentions go to The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie, and The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. While I own both series, I have not yet finished the books and, therefore, could not make a recommendation out of personal experience. This is quite unfortunate, particularly in the case of Abercrombie’s work, as it is reputed to be the most similar to the work of RR Martin.
So, instead of spending the next year wondering what will happened next in Westeros, drive over to your local bookstore and enter a new world for the meantime.