What to Read While You’re Waiting for The Winds of Winter

The show may be over, but A Song of Ice and Fire still has a long way to go – two massive books-worth of plot to go, to be exact. Even if you’re a literary purist and refuse to touch the HBO adaptation, you’ve probably heard that a huge number of fans are incensed at the entire last season of the show. Good thing we’ve got all those hundreds of pages left, right?

But The Winds of Winter is nowhere to be seen. It could come six months from now or an eternity from now, because George R.R. Martin’s lips are sealed as to a release date. What’s a bookworm to do in the meantime? Seek out similar flights of fancy, opulent worlds, elegant prose, and complex characters, of course! We’ve lined up some truly epic fantasy titles to tide you over as you wait for book number six.

The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind is the first novel in an epic series that chronicles the life of Kvothe, infamous wizard and orator extraordinaire. Raised and trained as a musician and entertainer, Kvothe eventually makes his way to a magic academy and swears to learn the titular name that will enable him to call upon the wind. Fans of R.R. Martin’s tendency to twist tropes and subvert expectations will find plenty of the same in this heroic tale. And with a sizeable 662 pages followed by two more novels – the final volume is also awaiting a release date – you’ll have quite a lot of plot to keep you busy as you wait to return to Westeros.

Alanna: The First Adventure

Give us all the female knights! Seriously, we can never get enough of ladies in armor and chainmail kicking butt, taking names, and wielding swords with a vengeance. Obviously, we’d pay big bucks to see a meetup between Brienne of Tarth and our childhood hero, Alanna of Trebond. Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure is a classic bildungsroman with just about everything fantasy fans could want – an intriguing magic system, strong female characters, and absorbing plotlines. Alanna, much like Brienne and Arya Stark, eschews the feminine and dreams of fighting. Disguising herself as a boy, she switches places with her twin brother and sets off on the path towards knighthood.  

The Three-Body Problem

Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem may be more hard sci-fi than fantasy, but its windy plot and complex characters make it a logical option for A Song of Ice and Fire fans. After witnessing her father’s murder, Ye Wenjie is blackmailed into working at a government defense research facility that’s searching for life in the dark depths of space. Forty years later, a number of physicists begin committing suicide. Not only does the story do a wonderful job of walking through complex physics topics, but it also breathes life into them, intertwining the science with quick action and a conundrum that spans decades.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf has already been called “an African Game of Thrones.” How could you not pick it up based on that promise alone? Tracker, a skilled mercenary known for finding people who don’t want to be found, is hired to find a boy who has been missing for three years. Though he normally works alone, he finds himself traveling through the wilderness with an odd assortment of characters, including a shapeshifter all hoping to locate the boy. As Tracker presses onward, he discovers that this is about much more than finding one lost boy. Rich with mythology and captivating in its cast of characters, this novel grabs you from the instant you set your eyes on its stunning cover and refuses to let go even after you’ve reached the last page. As an added bonus, James lives in our home base of Minneapolis!

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

N.K. Jemisin has won three (three!) Hugo Awards for her Broken Earth trilogy, but fans of the political machinations and deadly intrigue in A Song of Ice and Fire should reach for her older Inheritance trilogy, beginning with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Jemisin’s debut novel tells the story of Yeine Darr, a girl from a northern tribe who finds herself transported to the heart of a sparkling city and declared heiress to the king upon her mother’s death. In this world, gods are slaves to the whims of even young children of the ruling family, and blood relations mean nothing when there’s a crown on the line. Now, Yeine must stay alive by fighting to win a throne she doesn’t even want.

Red Queen

Victoria Aveyard takes the now tried-and-true, post-apocalyptic, YA fantasy-romance and does it well. Red Queen immerses readers in a bleak world dominated by the elite Silvers who rule over the oppressed Reds. Silvers have incredible powers that allow them to do things ranging from invading minds to growing plants to setting explosions. Reds have nothing – until our main character discovers an incredible power running through her Red veins. Aveyard is also a screenwriter, and her cinematic writing shines in a number of epic fight scenes that will make readers all the more hungry for what R.R. Martin has in store.

Assassin’s Apprentice

Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice is the first book in the Farseer trilogy, which follows the gutsy Fitz, a young boy with a magical link to animals. Turned out onto the streets for his questionable lineage, he takes comfort in his ability. But the members of the nobility despise this power, and he learns to hide it when he’s adopted into the royal household and begins training to become a royal assassin. Arya fans, rejoice! If you’re dying for more intel on the youngest Stark daughter’s deadly training, Fitz is up to the task.

Set the Scene with Frostbeard

It can be absolutely agonizing to wait for a new release, especially when you don’t even have a date to anticipate. We’re right there with you. Our solution – or coping method, to be more accurate – is to brew a hot mug of our favorite tea, light a book scented candle, and curl up with a conciliatory read on a comfy couch. Good luck with the waiting game, and let us know if you give any of these epic fantasy novels a try!