The Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series was famous in the fantasy book world long before it became an HBO TV sensation. This sprawling epic series was published in 1996 to immediate success. The Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire won the 1997 Locust Award and was nominated for both the World Fantasy Award and the Nebula Award.
The series is a complex interwoven story of the Stark family of Winterfell, the northernmost protectorate of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, ruled by King Robert Baratheon. When King Robert falls, the Starks and the Seven Kingdoms degrade into political chaos. The house of Stark is scattered across Westeros. The novel follows these complex and beautifully-crafted characters through diverse magical lands and political landscapes.
The Game of Thrones is just that, the political games played by royalty for centuries as they compete for the throne – if you add in fantastic beasts, terrors, and dark magic. The 20 books like The Game of Thrones listed below all have elements of Martin’s epic grimdark series: political intrigue, dark magic, deeply flawed and heroic gray characters, and fantastical lands, peoples, and beasts.
You can buy The Game of Thrones here.
The Lord of the Rings: Volume One (The Lord of the Rings Series)
By JRR Tolkien
George RR Martin has been called the American Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings bears many important similarities to The Game of Thrones. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the original and arguably most beloved epic fantasy series, first published in 1954-1955. It has sold over 150 million copies and is the highest-selling high-fantasy novel to date.
The Lord of the Rings follows a complex cast of characters, hobbits, elves, dwarves, men, and wizards, on an epic journey to save their world from the forces of evil. The character development is as complex and nuanced as the epic plot.
You can purchase The Lord of the Rings here.
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 1)
By Patrick Rothfuss
Have you ever wondered what a high fantasy epic would look like if the hero told the story years after it happened – and was a washed-up barkeep/innkeeper stripped of his magical abilities? If so, The Kingkiller Chronicles is exactly the series you’re looking for.
The Name of the Wind is the story of Kvothe, a man with a mysterious past. He was a child beggar. He was ejected from a magical musical university at a young age, having shown incredible talent and ability, yet an inability to bend to authority. He was once a powerful magical practitioner. And, he is now one of the biggest underdogs of the fantasy epic genre.
Patrick Rothfuss is a fabulous talent, and the two completed books in The Name of the Wind series are beautiful, nuanced, and surprising. The third book is expected in the future, on Rothfuss’s own timetable.
You can get your copy of The Name of the Wind here.
The Eye of the World: Book 1 of The Wheel of Time series
By Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time series is an epic high fantasy fan favorite, recently made into a streaming series on Amazon Prime. The Eye of the World follows the mysterious magical Moiraine as she seeks out the champion prophesied to defeat The Dark One. Rand al’Thor and his young friends leave their rural homes to seek their fortunes, flee from and fight against the dark forces, and learn or be overtaken by magic.
Robert Jordan is another of the original high fantasy epic authors. This is not a beginner fantasy, as it is a towering 14-book series published in 1990. If you appreciate novels from the historical context of the time they were published, you will likely love The Eye of the World and The Wheel of Time Series.
You can buy The Eye of the World here.
The Poppy War: A Novel
By R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War was published in 2019 to great acclaim. Kuang, created a fantasy reimagining of the Sino-Japanese War in The Poppy War series. It is a fantasy wartime story that examines warrior training practices and what creates a dictator. The Poppy War also imagines what could have happened if Opium were a source of Shamanistic powers and deals closely with drug use.
Rin is a young lady with a sharp mind, shamanistic powers, and a surprising aptitude test score that advances her to the realm’s prestigious military school. Rin’s training can turn her into the perfect warrior, but will she lose her soul in the meantime? This historical fantasy story has all the political intrigue, cruelty and violence of war, and complex interpersonal dynamics that a Game of Thrones could ask for.
You can buy The Poppy War here.
A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle
By Ursula LeGuin
A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of The Earthsea Cycle by the incredible Ursula LeGuin. The Earthsea Cycle is one of the most well-loved series in fantasy, earning copious awards and selling a plethora of copies since its debut in 1968.
Ged, a young man with a powerful gift for the magic of names, unleashes a shadow force in a duel with another young wizard. The shadow plagues Ged, and the story follows his epic quest to rid the world of its darkness. It is a powerful coming-of-age story, written by an absolute literary master.
You can purchase A Wizard of Earthsea here.
The Way of Kings
Kaladan, a medical apprentice turned warrior slave, leads his men in a horrible war where ten kingdoms fight against one all-encompassing power in The Way of Kings, the first of four books in The Stormlight Archive series. The world Sanderson creates in this story is amazingly fantastical, as waves of power flow through the land at random, and the world itself reacts to this power – the flora and fauna moving and hiding from its influence.
Much like The Game of Thrones, The Way of Kings rotates through multiple points of view. Fans who appreciate the complexity of political intrigue and carefully curated magic systems in The Game of Thrones will love The Way of Kings and The Stormlight Archive series.
You can buy The Way of Kings here.
The Emperor’s Blades: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
By Brian Staveley
Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades is a gritty, dark story told through three points of view, those of the Emperor’s three children who are spread across the Empire.
Kaden, heir to the Unhewn Throne, lives among monks undergoing training in the mountains.
Adare, the suspicious and justice-minded Minister of Finance does her courtly duty to the Empire while working to solve the mystery of her father’s murder. Valyn is a cadet to the Ketteral, an elite force of soldiers who fly into battle on the backs of giant birds. Each are distinct characters with complex character arcs and journeys.
You can purchase your copy of The Emperor’s Blades here.
Blood of Elves (The Witcher Saga Series)
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, whose life was created to slay monsters for humanity. For most of his life up to this point, Geralt has done just that. But through a twist of fate, he becomes the protector of a prophesied child with great and terrible power. It becomes his life’s work to protect her (and others) from evil.
But the physical prowess, mystical powers, and strangeness that he, his ward Ciri, and his sometimes lover-sometimes-ally the sorceress Yennifer wield create complicated relationships with humanity.
Blood of Elves is the first novel of The Witcher Series. Though this is the first full length novel of The Witcher Series, it is third in chronological order, with two prequel short story collections.
You can buy Blood of Elves here.
His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass
By Philip Pullman
Lyra’s world is a place where people have familiars, called daemons, giant armored polar bears and witch clans live at the north pole, and mysterious “Dust” leaks through from a parallel universe.
Lyra’s Uncle Asriel tells her of the northlands and his studies there. Then, her best friend Roger is kidnapped by the “Gobblers”, along with many other children rumored to be kept at the north pole. Lyra embarks on a journey to the North to help those she loves.
The Golden Compass is the first in this epic tale, His Dark Materials trilogy. Fans of Game of Thrones will appreciate this trilogy for its dark themes, exploration of the intentions of organized religions, discussions of the soul, and the complexity of the high-fantasy world-building Pullman creates.
Though His Dark Materials can be read by those 12 and up, the dark thematic depth likely would be appreciated best by adult audiences.
You can purchase The Golden Compass here.
The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth
By N.K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season is an epic grimdark fantasy and Hugo Award winner. This geologic fantasy came out to critical acclaim, and the story’s originality is impressive. The Broken Earth series defies genres, and both sci-fi and fantasy claim the story as their own.
The story takes place on a supercontinent turbulent with earthquakes. The Orgene can control the power of the earth. Others shun and fear the Orgene for their power. The world can and does fall into seasons that last for years, devastating the land and peoples.
The POV characters are three women, Essun, a rage-filled woman of middle age hiding her Orgene powers, Damaya, a child mature before her time, and Syenite, an ambitious young Orgene woman trained at the Fulcrum. As the story moves along, we find that the three are one and the same, at different times in her lifetime. A complex and intelligently plotted story, The Fifth Season is a Game of Thrones fan win.
You can buy The Fifth Season here.
The Ruin of Kings: A Chorus of Dragons Series
By Jenn Lyons
In this epic high fantasy, the missing son of a cruel prince, Kihirin is plucked from his life as a musician, thief, and commoner and thrust into a world of intrigue, machinations, and practical slavery as a royal.
Jenn Lyons twists typical fantasy tropes in unique ways, challenging the hero’s journey trope. This is a fast-paced adult high-fantasy, with adult themes dealing with mental health, trauma, torture, and life and death.
The story is told from two points of view from two different timelines, and the characters are diverse with fully formed story arcs. Lyons weaves a complex story with complex worldbuilding, which Game of Thrones fans will love.
You can purchase The Ruin of Kings here.
Gardens of the Moon: The Malazan Book of the Fallen
By Erik Stevenson
In this first book of ten, Erik Stevenson weaves a true epic fantasy including men, gods, dragons, magic, and mages. Stevenson is a dark high fantasy giant, a #1 New York Times Bestselling author whose The Malazan Book of the Fallen series has had major international critical acclaim.
Empress Larseen rules the land with an iron fist, led by her dread Claw assassins. The expansionist Malazan Empire and their allies, the Moranth, wage war against the Darujhistani and Pale people. The story follows soldiers, sorceresses, divinators, and mages as they battle over the rule of the empire.
The plot of this series begins disjointedly, pulling threads from a vast universe, slowly weaving plot from alternate timelines, and picking up speed as the story goes on. Stevenson keeps the reader on their toes, in true George RR Martin fashion, so your favorite main character may or may not live through the series.
You can buy Gardens of the Moon here.
The Assassin’s Apprentice
By Robin Hobb
Fitz, an outcast royal bastard, communicates telepathically with animals, called Wit, which is considered dangerous and low by the high-born of the land. At just six-years-old, Fitz is given over to be raised by and trained by soldiers. Fitz must give up his natural ability to be (partially) accepted in royal circles, and must train to be an assassin.
Robin Hobb is an award-winning author of high fantasy and a force in the genre. Fans of Game of Thrones will appreciate The Farseer Trilogy for its complex worldbuilding, life and death grit, complex gray characters, and the power plays behind the throne.
You can buy your copy of Assassin’s Apprentice here.
The Dragon’s Path: The Dagger and the Coin Series
By Daniel Abraham
The story explores the meta-story of the Free Cities and the Severed Thrones collision course that will strike a match in a tinderbox of tenuous peace. The Dragon’s Path follows the point of view of four individual and decidedly gray characters, Geder, Marcus, Cithrin, and Dawson in their small contributions to the overall plot.
Marcus is a washed-up Mercenary Captain doing his best to avoid war. Dawson is a court negotiator, a swift-minded man behind the throne. Geder is a noble soldier with a chip on his shoulder that often lands him as the fall guy when things go poorly. And Cithrin is an orphaned young lady who smuggles coin out of the city.
This first of five The Dagger and The Coin books is an epic dark fantasy sure to please Game of Thrones fans.
Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen Book 1)
By John Gwynn
The Banished Lands have a bloody past, and likely, a bloody future. Ancient evils awaken across the land, from restless giants to titanic wyrms. The story follows four characters, Evnis, Corban, Nathair, and Veradis.
Corban wants to be a warrior but doesn’t yet know the meaning of sacrifice. High Prince Nathair schemes behind his father’s and the other king’s backs. Veradis, one of High Prince Nathair’s warband, lives in the shadow of his brother, despite being the standout swordsman. Evnis wants nothing short of the power to rule after giving up so much, and he might just get it.
This story has it all; a coming-of-age story, political and interpersonal treachery and betrayal, giants, wyrms, royalty, valor, angels and demons, swordsmen and blood.
You can pick up a copy of Malice here.
The Blade Itself (The First Law – Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)
The Blade Itself is the first in The First Law Trilogy, a grimdark fantasy series. Logan Ninefingers, a barbarian, Jezal dan Luther, a soldier nobleman, Bayaz, a powerful magi, Farro, an angry former slave, and Glokta, a torturer who was tortured, make up a cast of exceedingly gray characters. This fantasy follows the characters as they are drawn into a mysterious magical conflict.
Each character has a distinct writing style awarded to his or her chapters, which makes the characterizations more real and individualized. Abercrombie masterfully creates characters that the reader has a vested interest in, despite their morally questionable choices, in a brutal, bloody world.
You can buy The Blade Itself here.
The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy, Book 1
By Tad Williams
Tad Williams is one of the original epic high-fantasy writers. According to George RR Martin, Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy was an inspiration for writing A Song of Ice and Fire.
Osten Ard is a land heading for a crisis. The old king is dying, and the new king has struck a bargain with the Storm King, an undead elf-like race, called the Sithi. The king’s younger brother joins the League of the Scroll in an effort to head off the treacherous bargain. A young servant in the castle, Simon, is sent on a quest to recover long-lost swords of power, in this classic sword and sorcery tale.
You can purchase The Dragonbone Chair here.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy, Book 1)
By Marlon James
This fantasy epic with African mythic and historical roots is the first of the Dark Star Trilogy. The second in the series has been released, but the third is still in the writing phase. Black Leopard, Red Wolf received major accolades upon its debut, being a finalist in the National Book Award, and winning the Ray Bradbury prize.
Tracker is on the hunt for a boy who disappeared three years ago. He must join with other seekers of the boy, something he is loath to do. His quest includes partnering with closed-off secretive people and a man who can shape-shift called Leopard. On this quest, fierce animals attack, assassins besiege them, and they are pursued in their pursuit of the boy.
You can buy Black Leopard, Red Wolf here.
Daughter of the Empire: An Epic Saga of the World on the Other Side of the Riftwar (Riftwar Cycle: The Empire Trilogy)
By Raymond Fiest and Janny Wurts
In the world of Kelewan, warlords threaten the empire of Tsuranaunni. Mara, a young lady, inherits her family’s title, land, and power as clan ruler, though she is untested in the Game of Councils.
Mara must play the Game of Councils, rally rebel forces, and even marry a brutish man from an enemy faction, all in the name of survival. And once all this is done, Mara must face her most impressive enemy in his own hold.
You can purchase Daughter of the Empire here.
Who Fears Death
By Nnedi Okorafor
Who Fears Death is a remarkable novel with many awards akin to the likes of Game of Thrones. In this story of post-apocalyptic Africa, war is waged in the most brutal fashion. Onye is an Ewu, a child of rape, outcast by her birth. Her life is predetermined to be marked by the extremes of violence and suffering, according to culture.
But she is clever, brash, and powerful. She has inherited magic from her shapeshifting mother, and her own brand is particularly potent and unique. Onye, and the magic she wields, has a special role in changing the world.
Who Fears Death has been optioned by HBO, and George RR Martin is slated as an executive producer. Fans of Game of Thrones will love Who Fears Death for its unflinching, gritty look at the worst of wartime, societal, and personal woes while weaving high fantasy, fabulous character development, and magic into the narrative.
You can purchase Who Fears Death here.
Is there a book series as good as Game of Thrones?
Different people think different series are better than Game of Thrones. But the article above is a good place to start searching for your next series to read, which might just prove to be as good. What we love are the complex characters, the forbidden magic and epic battles, the supernatural forces, and the complex themes of this high fantasy series.
What is the most liked fantasy book series?
The Harry Potter Series has outsold all other series of novels. J.K. Rowling has sold over 500 million copies of the series, which is 150 million more than any other series.
What is the largest book series ever?
The Guin Saga is the largest series ever, with over 146 volumes and 26 companion novels, and counting. This Japanese series is a heroic epic fantasy manga series.
What epic fantasy series has the most novels?
Discworld, by Terry Pratchet. Discworld is a comic fantasy series set in Discworld, a flat world that is held aloft by four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. Discworld has 41 novels in the series.
What age is Game of Thrones for?
Game of Thrones’ publisher lists the appropriate age at 17+. Some reviewers online have stated that the range can go down to 14, but the series includes adult themes, gore, explicit sex, rape, torture, death and murder. It is a series written for an adult audience. Of course, it’s a parent’s decision at what age mature themes from epic fantasy books and even the historical fiction genre are appropriate.
What is the epic fantasy Broken Empire trilogy about?
Often appreciated by fans of George R. R. Martin’s writing, the Broken Empire trilogy follows Jorg Ancrath, who becomes the Prince of Thorns. He is a charming but immoral boy who becomes the leader of a gang of outlaws. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront both his horrific childhood and survive to see another day.
What is the Ice and Fire Series?
A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin.
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