. . . And you're thinking about reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and perhaps other books/series in a similar vein?
Since the first episode of Game of Thrones aired on HBO a little over a week ago, hundreds of newbies have ended up on the Hotlist to peruse past and present posts covering the TV series.
First of all, let me welcome you to my own little sandbox in the intrawebs! =) It's been pointed out on the Game of Thrones Facebook page and I can't emphasize the point enough: DO NOT visit the A Game of Thrones wikipedia page. It contains too many spoilers that will kill the story for you. Though there has only been two episodes so far, I'm pretty sure it has dawned upon you that this is not your usual fantasy series. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is filled with shocking and unexpected scenes and moments, and those sequences would lose most of their edge without that shock value. Jaime and Cersei getting their groove on and the sacrifice of Lady seem to have made an impression on viewers not familiar with the series. Well, let me just tell you that you guys ain't seen nothing yet!
Although I can't recommend reading the books enough, I would suggest you wait till the HBO series is over before doing so. That way, A Game of Thrones will not spoil it for you, and you'll have an unforgettable summer of reading ahead of you! Even better, the much-anticipated A Dance With Dragons should be released in July, just in the nick of time!
Meanwhile, should you want to read some contemporary fantasy works that readers new or more or less unfamiliar with the genre might enjoy, works that capture a bit of the essence that makes Game of Thrones so much fun to watch, here are a few suggestions that might scratch that itch:
The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
Here's the blurb for The Blade Itself:
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.
The Godless World by Brain Ruckley
Here's the blurb for Winterbirth:
An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods.
Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. They instead will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But all, soon, will fall under the shadow that is descending.
For, while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him – and his legacy will be written in blood.
The Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch
Here's the blurb for The Lies of Locke Lamora:
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…
An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.
Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying...
The Macht trilogy by Paul Kearney
Here's the blurb for The Ten Thousand:
On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend.
For centuries now, they have remained within the fastnesses of the Harukush Mountains. They have become little more than a rumour.
In the vast world beyond, the teeming races and peoples of Kuf have been united within the bounds of the Asurian Empire, a continent-spanning colossus. The Empire rules the known world, and is invincible. The Great King of Asuria can call up whole nations to the battlefield. His word is law across the face of the earth.
But now the Great King's brother means to take the throne by force, and in order to do so he has sought out the legend. He hires ten thousand mercenary warriors of the Macht, and leads them into the heart of the Empire.
This is their story.
This should keep you out of trouble for a while. . .
As for Game of Thrones, stay tuned for the best is yet to come. You are about to embark on quite a journey. . .
Winter is coming. . .