Hello lovelies! How are you? Have you watched the last season of Game of Thrones? Did you love it? Hate it? Did it leave you feeling sad and empty? Are you looking for a book to fill that void in your life?
Or are you already filling it with videos of Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster Waldau on loop, cause if you’re not you should be. If you answered yes to any of that – I got you, babe! But first, let’s set the tone with a quote from my favorite poet.
“Imagine that the world is made out of love. Now imagine that it isn’t. Imagine a story where everything goes wrong, where everyone has their back against the wall, where everyone is in pain and acting selfishly because if they don’t, they’ll die. Imagine a story, not of good against evil, but of need against need against need, where everyone is at cross-purposes and everyone is to blame.”
― Richard Siken
I feel like that captures the essence of the show so well and it also gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of books we’ll be talking about in this post. There will be darker themes, morally gray characters, dangerous worlds and twisty schemes.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
There’s no dragon’s in The Pillars of the Earth, in fact there’s not magic at all. But over the span of 1000+ pages and many decades we follow a fascinating, flawed cast of characters who’s lives and destinies intertwine in many different ways. There’s love and lust, hate and fear, revenge and betrayal, religion and violence, family and duty. In short – everything you need to make a deeply compelling story.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
If you’re disappointed that your ship didn’t sail, the His Fair Assassin series will give you all the steamy Medieval romance your lil’ heart desires. The first book follows Ismae, a daughter of the god of death and a convent trained assassin, on a dangerous mission to court. The plot’s rich with political intrigue, scheming, battles and a fight for a throne which will keep you guessing.
Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
If Game of Thrones made you miserable and you’d like to stay that way – The Queens of Innis Lear will not disappoint you. It’s a King Lear retelling, which follows three sisters’ brutal battle for the crown. It’s prose is as descriptive and intricate as Martin’s and it’s characters, even the minor ones, are as complicated and imperfect. Also: all your favorites die. That’s not a spoiler, it’s just Shakespeare.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I swear I’m not putting this one of the list just because it’s my favorite. This is a fantasy story that’s deeply rooted in the historical time period it’s inspired by, with an unconventional female protagonist and a cast of morally complex characters who are at odds with each other. There’s also a religious conflict, mysterious prophecies, magical creatures, winter winds and dead people walking. (There’s even a winter king, but like a hot one.)
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
If your favorite thing about Game of Thrones is the incredibly richly developed world and lore, His Dark Materials will be right up your street. It’s also another one with a morally complex, intriguing cast of character who get in each other’s way. And if you start reading the series now, you can finish it in time to make it your new tv obsessions as well.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
I know, this a pretty big genre leap. But listen, you don’t have to read fantasy to have a perfectly miserable time. If what you drew into Game of Thrones were the morally gray characters and the dark, twisted games they play with each other – Peter Swanson’s got all that, with the added bonus of HIS BOOKS NOT BEING A THOUSAND PAGES LONG.
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
…And you don’t have to have a miserable time to read epic fantasy! If you’re feeling lost, hurt, tired or lonely and just want a hug in book form – you should pick up Kings of the Wyld. It’s the feel good fantasy bromance you didn’t know you needed, but most definitley did. Especially if you enjoyed Arya and the Hounds roadtrip adventures or Thormund just… being Thormund.