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Dreaming of more George RR Martin?

June 24, 2012

So, you’ve read all 7 books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and you’ve almost finished watching Season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.  George RR Martin might not release the next novel (The Winds of Winter) for a couple of years and Season 3 of the TV series won’t be out until at least 2013. 

What are you doing to do now?!

You might want to try some other BFFs (Big Fat Fantasy novels) or try some historical fiction from the medieval period that inspired George RR Martin’s fantasy world.  Or you might want to listen to some podcasts for background information about historical events similar to those that occur in Westeros. 

Guy Gavriel Kay writes Historical Fantasy that is as complex and character driven as George RR Martin’s novels, with equally exotic locations and machiavellian political machinations.  He has novels set in medieval France, Moorish Spain, Byzantium, China during the Tang Dynasty and Anglo Saxon England/Viking Scandinavia.  His characters love and hate each other, and these personal and political conflicts are set against some of the most epic moments and battles in history.  Start reading for the settings, but stay for the characters.  One of our best Fantasy Storytellers.  Fans of Game of Thrones might particularly enjoy The Lions of Al RassanTigana, and A Song for Arbonne

One of the great things about George RR Martin’s novels is that you get insight into powerful people’s thoughts, grief, desires and plans.  If the really human portrayal of the people who make history is something you really like in his stories, you might want to try some other authors who give us insight into the day to day lives of people living during significant historical moments.  Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall (and the just released sequel Bring up the Bodies) provides a very intimate portrait of the life of Tudor statesman Thomas Cromwell.  Like a lot of characters in Game of Thrones, Cromwell isn’t quite what he seems and his future prospects rely heavily on what happens in Europe – both in the court of his monarch, Henry VIII, and further afield in neighbouring nations.  The tension and political manouvering in these two novels should appeal to anyone who enjoys the ever changing power balance in Westeros.  The novels are also high on relationship drama, with lots of detail about Henry VIII’s marriages to his first three wives, and how those unions affected the balance of power.  What with managing the nation’s finances, the King’s women, the church, and relations with neighbouring nations, Cromwell would have made a fantastic Hand to the King.

Australian author Jesse Blackadder recently wrote a fantastic novel called The Raven’s Heart, about a young girl who is heir to a castle in Scotland, but must fight for her right to claim her title.  Set in the Scottish court of Mary Queen of Scots, just after her return to Scotland after being raised in France, this novel is full of cross dressing, double-crossing, intrigue, political tension, sexual tension, double lives, epic battles, epic betrayal, secrets and murder.  If Arya Stark were to grow up to be a court attendant with a secret in the court of Daenerys Targaryen, this is the novel you might get!

And if you’re ready for a break from all those novels, I can highly recommend the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts.  Short and fun, they cover a wide range of historical events and figures, but some of them relate directly to the War of the Roses that inspired George RR Martin’s epic fantasy world.  Not to mention other famous battles (Carthage, The Battle of Ankara, Hastings in 1066) and profiles of powerful women who could rival Cersei Lannister (Elizabeth I, Lucrezia Borgias, and Roxelana – wife of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire).


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