Game of Thrones Read-a-Like Challenge

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Game of Thrones Read-a-Like Challenge

Fantasy. Magic. And everything in between.

The most talked about television series of this decade just concluded with an eight season run at the top. As many hardcore fans already know, HBO's Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. If you're an avid reader of fantasy realms, heroic quests, strange magic, or grandiose battles -- please consider the following recommendations. 

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
In this debut by Arden, the story concept revolves around Russian fairy tales, historical fantasy and mythological fiction. Vasya is the daughter of a witch who has inherited magic and the ability to communicate with spirits occupying her village. She provides them with offerings as they protect the village from outside harm. However, her religiously devout step-mother and a local priest interpret this activity as pagan ritual and warn the overload to intervene -- her father.  Furthermore, supernatural beings have taken notice of Vasya and seek to exploit her gifts for personal benefit. If Vasya does not avail the spiritual offerings, the spirits will become weakened and unable to fend off pending evil. But what is the imminent "evil" that only Vasya can ascertain? 

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks
The Sword of Leah holds significant power as the ancestral blade of Paxon Leah, a defender to the Druids of Paranor. In association with the Druids, he has aligned himself with their plight to pursue a dangerous sorcerer and a young magic wielder who represent conflicts of interest. One possesses great potential in the art of magic. The other has a clearly defined purpose for his sorcery: to exact revenge on the Druids. The sorcerer sees the young magic wielder as a missing link to his plans, and the Druids with Paxon Leah must confront him to prevent a devastating merger of power. Some readers may find the sorcerer's actions to be just; however, the writing of Brooks will position readers to arrive at their own conclusion.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
Nahiri is a lead protagonist who has subtle parallels to a Robin Hood type character: healing the sick and exploiting affluent nobles in 18th century Cairo. Although a common thief by nature, she proves exceptional in acquiring languages and utilizing her supernatural gifts to improve the human condition around her. In one of her con jobs involving a supposed exorcism, she unintentionally summons a real Genie who wants to transport her to Daevabad where Prince Ali resides. The reasoning behind this life changing journey is rather simple from Genie's perspective; Nahiri has a big heart for disadvantaged people and Prince Ali aligns with her sentiment despite political barriers. This is the story of a commoner providing great influence to royalty in the backdrop of Middle Eastern folklore, fantasy and magic. 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
A power struggle is brewing in the magical city of Sky where Yeine Darr is now destined for power and leadership. She is granddaughter to the current King who has announced Yeine as successor to his throne -- with an interesting catch. The King has also named her cousins to royal heirship thus unraveling the true path to possession of Sky -- a family competition. As a young woman who endured the murder of her mother, Yeine sought to live a normal life post tragedy but remembers the political influence her mother had while alive. She decides to answer the call for Sky as a means to exact her mother's legacy and discover the elusive truth behind her murder. In doing so she must quickly learn the ways of Sky culture, navigate the ruling elite and amass allies among fallen gods who are now servants to Sky. Jemisin conveys this story through the fusion of afro-futurism and afro-fantasy where politics, corruption, murder and a magical city are front and center. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first entry within The Dark Star Trilogy and has been called the "African Game of Thrones" by some reviewers online. The epic story begins with "Tracker," a hired mercenary who accepts a mission to locate the whereabouts of a missing boy. Tracker is not particularly sure why the boy is of value and worth reclaiming, but sets out to do a dangerous job with other mercenaries in tow. At the core of the story lies a quest across mythical Africa where giants, witches, shape-shifters, flesh eating trolls, demons and rival mercenaries pose a threat to success. The individual who employs the group communicates a message that adds further mystery to the boy in question, "Just as I wish him to be found, surely there are those who wish him to remain hidden." Is the boy being held by captors with nefarious plans? Or perhaps the employer is problematic and poses the real threat. James paints a story featuring classic fantasy elements that emphasize supernatural beings and the obstacles they create for the lead protagonist to overcome.

Looking for even more GoT read-alikes? Check out On to the Next Game (of Thrones) for a collection of fantasy titles soon to be adapted for the screen.