'Game of Thrones' May Be Over, But These Books Will Scratch Your Fantasy Itch
This Sunday saw the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones. No matter what your feelings are about the finale, one thing is certain: our time with the show’s many characters, one way or another, is over.
But while we’ve had to say goodbye to the world of Westeros (this version, at least; George R.R. Martin has said that no current characters will be in any of the Game of Thrones spin-offs), there are reams of other epic fantasy tales out there for GOT fans to try out.
So many, in fact, that you can find novels with protagonists similar to your favorite female GOT characters. Here’s a list of books to try out if you’re craving more time with the Game of Thrones women.
Arya Stark: The Asiana Series by Rati Mehrotra and The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V. E. Schwab
Arya Stark began Game of Thrones as an adventurous child, and ended the show as a skilled killer who saved all of humanity from becoming the frozen undead. If you’re a fan of Arya’s assassin-like tendencies, you’ll love Markswoman, the first book in The Asiana Series that follows Kyra, a young assassin who aims to avenge her murdered family. The books revolve around uncovered secrets and the political machinations surrounding the Order of Kali, the organization of women assassins Kyra is part of. Throw in some magical teleportation hubs, and you’ve got a riveting story that takes Kyra to new lands.
The last scene on Game of Thrones has Arya becoming a seafaring adventurer as she sails toward whatever is west of Westeros. If the idea of Arya on the seas appeals to you, and/or you’re a fan of Yara Greyjoy (full disclosure: before the finale, this book recommendation was under Yara’s section), you’ll love Lila Bard from V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic Trilogy. Like Arya, Lila is a strong-willed, independent woman who will kill if she needs to. And like Arya (and Yara), Lila also spends time on a boat doing adventurous things.
Yara Greyjoy: Daughter of the Pirate King Duology by Tricia Levenseller
Yara Greyjoy proved herself over and over again as a steely seafarer on Game of Thrones, and ends the show as ruler of the Iron Islands. As mentioned above, V. E. Schwab’s Lila Bard will also scratch that Yara itch you might have. If you’re looking for a novel that spends more time on the high seas, however, give Daughter of the Pirate King a try. This two-book series follows a young pirate captain named Alosa, who purposefully gets captured by her enemies to retrieve a map to buried treasure. The duology is targeted to teenagers, and much of the book focuses on Alosa’s romantic tension with her enemy-turned-ally Riden, but fans of Yara’s seafaring ways will find this tale an exciting adventure.
Brienne of Tarth: The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce and The Sacred Throne Series by Myke Cole
Brienne’s been kicking ass since the second season of Game of Thrones, and her lifelong dream is fulfilled in “The Long Night,” when Jamie Lannister knights her before the final battle against the army of the dead. Brienne survives that battle and, in one of the last scenes of the show, earns a leadership position on Bran the Broken’s Small Council. Fans of Brienne will be glad to see her finally get the recognition she deserves, and can read about another female knight in The Song of Lioness series, where a young girl named Alanna of Trebond pretends to be a boy so she can train to become a knight. The books are targeted toward younger readers, but are enjoyable at every age.
If you’re looking for an adult fantasy with a woman warrior as the lead, however, give The Armored Saint, the first book in the Sacred Throne Trilogy, a try. This series follows Heloise, a village girl who, with the help of some magical mecha-like armor, becomes the leader of a rebellion against a malicious Order. Unlike Brienne, Heloise doesn’t seek her warrior status. Once she has it, however, she becomes a symbol to those looking to overthrow an oppressive regime, something Brienne would approve of.
Sansa Stark: The Lost Queen Trilogy by Signe Pike
Many fans cheered when Sansa Stark became Queen of the North at the end of the Game of Thrones finale. Her path to becoming Queen was a hard one, even by GOT standards, but there’s no doubt she’ll be a fair and just ruler for her people. Those looking for another smart woman ruler may enjoy The Lost Queen, a historical tale tinged with magic that is based on the real-life Languoreth, the Queen of sixth-century Scotland. Sansa and Languoreth have much in common, including having a magic-touched sibling; while Sansa has Bran (AKA the Three-Eyed Raven, AKA King of the Six Kingdoms of Westeros), Languoreth has her twin brother Lailoken, who becomes the wizard Merlin.
Daenerys Targaryen: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery
Daenerys and her dragons share an unbreakable bond in Game of Thrones, with the last of her children, Drogon, mourning her death by turning the Iron Throne into a clump of melted metal. Those that loved the close relationships Dany had with her dragons might also love Dragonflight, a classic novel that more than likely influenced George R. R. Martin’s crafting of Daenerys’s story. Dragonflight focuses on Lessa, the last of a noble line who starts the novel hiding out as a lowly kitchen maid. By the end of the book, however, Lessa is bonded to a mighty dragon and tasked with protecting the world from a malevolent, existential force called Thread.
This list is but a sampling of fantasy books out there with female protagonists that may remind you of certain Game of Thrones characters. Now that our watch has ended for GOT, I hope that one of these books provide you a new world to escape into, a new world where women kick ass.
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