With George R. R. Martin’s recent announcement that Winds of Winter will likely not be released before the end of 2016, and a few months still to go before the premier of season six of Game of Thrones, you may want to try something from the following list to fill the history/action/intrigue void I think that we all currently have in our reading lives.
The thing I love most about the Song of Ice and Fire series is nutting out the real world historical situations and characters that parts of the story seem to be based on, and using them as little clues to try to work out what is going to happen next. I love the intrigue and backstabbing you so often find in Byzantine, French and Italian History (and in the War of the Roses!), and George R. R. Martin never disappoints in this department. It’s all getting very exciting now that we are so close to the end of the series. I also have favourite Game of Thrones characters that I love to cheer for, and characters that I hate so much that I read on just to speed along their demise.
The only fantasy author that I think comes close to George R. R. Martin is Guy Gavriel Kay, and I would highly recommend him for his detailed historical settings (Medieval Italy and France, Byzantium, Moorish Spain), characters you really care about, intelligent and complex plots with lots of twists and turns, and very restrained and elegant use of magic.
I’m still undecided if I want to watch season six of Game of Thrones before reading Winds of Winter, but hang in there, George – take as long as you need! I can read some of my other favourite historical and fantasy authors for now:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
The Iron King by Maurice Druon
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Sailing for Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay
A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay