The fifth book in George R.R. Martin's bloody "Song of Ice and Fire," A Dance with Dragons, hit bookstores shortly after the Game of Thrones TV series started in 2011. Surely, you thought, there’s no way the show will catch up to the books. It couldn't take Martin five years to finish the sixth book. But here it is, six years later, and The Winds of Winter is still the literary equivalent of vaporware. Martin even sent out a New Years' message to fans apologizing that the book would not be finished before the sixth season's April première.
Then came news that George Martin had died, and you went into a panic until you realized it was the Beatles producer and not the author. While we're holding out hope that Winds will appear some time this year, there's still A Dream of Spring to conclude the series, and who knows when that will come?
Which is why it's time to line up some contingency reading.
Luckily, there are plenty of complete fantasy series to fill the hole Martin has left on your bookshelf. Here are 10 that Westeros lovers are sure to appreciate, depending on what you love about Martin's world. And because these are already finished, they won't leave you wondering what happened to (spoilers!) for years.
If you like: Family members vying against each other for an empty throne
Read: "Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne" by Brian Staveley
Titles: The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire, and The Last Mortal Bond
Staveley concludes his debut trilogy on Tuesday, March 15. The Emperor of Annuria has been assassinated and his heir, the young monk-in-training Kaden, is not prepared to assume the throne. His brother Valyn, a sort of magical commando, has also been targeted by the mysterious assassins, and seeing his brother's unpreparedness, defects and attempts to take the throne himself. Meanwhile, the only one qualified to take her father's position, Adare, is denied the throne as a woman. Throw in some godlike beings that were thought banished, a death cult, prostitute priestesses, and ancient magic, and you have an award winning trilogy.
If you like: Dragons and economics
Read: "The Dagger and Coin Quintet" by Daniel Abraham.
Titles: The Dragon's Path, The King's Blood, The Tyrant's Law, The Widow's House, and The Spider's War
Abraham is a protege of Martin's, having written comic adaptations of several of his novels and co-authored the sci-fi book Hunter's Run with Martin. It shows in this multi-faceted examination of an oft-ignored aspect of worldbuilding - banking and commerce. The series follows Cithrin, an orphan raised in a bank, as she attempts to navigate the growing tide of war using her financial wherewithal. She is joined by a former soldier and the outcast son of a noble family on her quest. The finale of the series, The Spider's War, came out on March 8.
If you like: Lots of sex
Read: "Kushiel’s Legacy" by Jacqueline Carey
Titles: Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, Kushiel's Avatar, Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, and Kushiel's Mercy
Inspired by Jewish folklore mixed with a healthy dose of Christian mysticism, and set in a re-imagined version of France, Carey's erotic fantasy series is divided into two trilogies. The first follows Phedre, a young outcast marked by the angel of punishment Kushiel, to bring balance to the shattered world through S&M, using her magical power to turn pain into pleasure. The second trilogy, which kicks off with Kushiel's Scion, focuses on Imriel, a prince raised by Phedre as the ideal of Elua's tenet, "Love as thou wilt." Carey has won multiple awards for the acclaimed series since Kushiel's Dart debuted in 2001.
If you like: Fantasy loosely based on European history
Read: "The Powder Mage Trilogy" by Brian McClellan
Titles: Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic.
Inspired by the Napoleonic Wars, this "flintlock fantasy" follows the exploits of Field Marshal Tamas and his son Taniel Two-Shot. The pair are powder mages, able to consume gunpowder and channel it into magical powers. The series begins with Tamas leading a revolutionary coup to overthrow the tyrannical monarchy of Adros, plunging the country into a bloody civil war as Tamas' forces hunt down the surviving members of the Royal Cabal. Meanwhile Taniel and a police inspector are trying to solve a mysterious riddle that hints at the return of ancient deities who are also taking sides in the conflict. The up-and-coming McClellan studied under Brandon Sanderson, and Sanderson's influence is felt throughout this award-winning debut.
If you like: Khal Drogo and the Dothraki
Read: "The Eternal Sky Trilogy" by Elizabeth Bear
Titles: Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky
Elizabeth Bear's acclaimed trilogy trades fantasy's traditional Western European-influenced setting for a decidedly Silk Road feel. The novel follows Temur, the exiled heir of the slain Great Khan as he seeks to consolidate power amidst the nomadic tribes and warring empires of the mighty Khaganate. Joined with the outcast daughter of a rival empire who has rejected her family to learn the ways of magic, Temur embarks on a quest to unite the Khaganate against their greatest enemy. All this is set against a unique backdrop, where the polytheistic gods are reflected in the heavens, as their respective influence rises and falls, the sky itself changes. The "Endless Sky Trilogy" is a unique fantasy from the award-winning Bear.