If You Like George R.R. Martin Novels Try Reading Books by These Authors
Discuss George R R Martin's style of writing and suggest several authors who write in a similar manner for fans to read.
George G G Martin
George R.R. Martin's series called A Song of Ice and Fire is clearly different from the Fantasy novels of the 80's and 90's.
George R. R. Martin published A Game of Thrones in 1996. Martin had written other novels, as well as writing for film and television, but A Game of Thrones, the first in a projected series of seven books entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, was clearly something different. Martin's Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which a barbarian horde, the undead, and direwolves menace the south as years of winter approaches.
A hallmark of Martin's style is cruelty. These are not gentle times, and these are not stories of heroic pig keepers who become princes. The royal houses are in fierce combat, their daughters are marriage barter, and the "smallfolk" who get in the way will be exploited and murdered. The battles and language are graphic, and though there are no scenes of rape, it is referred to often. Incest is a pervasive theme, with most of the characters abhorring it, and a very few practicing it ardently.
Another difference from conventional sword and sorcery novels, in addition to the matter-of-fact language, is the absence of much sorcery. There is little magic in Martin's series, though a priestess manages several dark murders from a distance, and there are also no magical objects; cups, rings, swords, etc. Political and personal conflicts drive the incredibly complex plots. With a dozen major characters and action covering a continent, the novels move briskly, and there is plenty of action to keep the reader engrossed.
If you're new to Martin’s books, you may want to start with The Hedge Knight, a novella published in the Legends anthology and also as an excellent graphic novel. This novella is a prequel to the Song of Ice and Fire series, and without plunging into the intricate plot of the long cycle, you can discover his gripping style and characters.
Robin Hobb's writes three series — the Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders and the Tawny Man — they all combine into a lengthy, convoluted, political and dark saga. Hobb also keeps her magic off-stage, provides a wealth of very diverse characters, and places her stories firmly in a medieval landscape. Less graphic and brutal than Martin, she nonetheless does not shy away from the pain of her characters, whether orphaned boys or sadistic tutors. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice to experience this brilliant writer from the very beginning.
Robert Jordan is an obvious suggestion for Martin admirers. His world and characters are more in the vein of Tolkien, with more explicit magic and a traditional quest plot, but the elements of politics, adventure and battle make the Wheel of Time series a good choice for readers. The Eye of the World begins the series, but some readers may want to start with New Spring, a "prequel" that is shorter and gives a good introduction to Jordan's world and style.
Barbara Hambly’s Winterlands quartet, beginning with Dragonsbane, focuses on a young mage named Jenny Waynest, her lover Lord John Aversin, and a chill land where dragons, gnomes (and not the cheerful kind) and demons all clash. While the books are not as long or complex, the physical and psychological pain of the characters is reminiscent of Martin. Jenny's magic is powerful, but unreliable, and there is no great college of magic or wand waving to distract from the realism of the story.
Greg Keyes new series, the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, promises to satisfy as well. Keyes uses a multiple-viewpoint narrative to describe a Medieval-like kingdom that is suddenly threatened by an ancient power and a murderous schemer for the throne. Like Martin, the books offer complex characters, political struggle, and tense adventure. With two degrees in anthropology, Keyes builds his imaginary world on vivid layers of myth and history until it feels real. The first title is The Briar King.