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The HBO series "Game of Thrones" won't begin its next season until next spring. Those who follow the show might feel a bit lost right now, whether they have read the books or not. Here are some stories of politics, romance, adventure and fantasy that will keep "Thrones" fans occupied until next spring.
If you haven't read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series on which the television show is based, start with "A Game of Thrones." There are four books in the series, with the fifth, "A Dance with Dragons," coming out July 12.
Brandon Sanderson continues to amaze me with his gift for plot twists and strange new magic systems. In the stand-alone novel "Warbreaker," some places have banned color because of its use in magic. Gods live in a breathtaking palace, but are not permitted to leave, and everyone has an agenda.For another series, read "The Way of Kings" (the first in The Stormlight Archive series), set in a storm-ravaged land where the environment shapes the course of events as much as the characters' choices do.
You'll also love Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series (which provided the basis for the ABC show "Legend of the Seeker"). This traditional fantasy follows Richard Cypher's journey from small-town boy to hero. While the good guys and bad guys are more obvious than in "Thrones," Martin's fans will love the continuing story (currently spanning 12 books), dark tone and very creepy villains.
In "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss, innkeeper Kvothe tells the story of his life from street actor to student of the arcane, to legendary hero. His life is colored by his twin desires to learn magic and find the demons who destroyed his family. The sequel, "The Wise Man's Fear," came out in March.
Fans who love the historical setting should try Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth," set around the building of a cathedral in the midst of a civil war. The sequel, "World Without End," features the descendants of the "Pillars" characters during the Black Plague. If you want a shorter read, try Geraldine Brooks' character-driven stand-alone historical fiction, such as "Year of Wonders," also set during the Black Plague in a small English village, or "People of the Book," which traces the surprising history of an ancient Jewish illuminated manuscript.
"The Game of Kings" by Dorothy Dunnett -- not to be confused with "A Game of Thrones" or "The Way of Kings" -- is the first in The Lymond Chronicles, a sweeping historical romance series set in 16th-century Scotland. Lovers of adventure, history and charming Scotsmen will also love Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, starting with "Outlander."
"Here Be Dragons" by Sharon Kay Penman is another great choice for history lovers, set in 13th-century Wales. "Dragons" is the first in a trilogy, but the story is also satisfying on its own. King John's illegitimate daughter Joanna is married off to the Welsh prince Llewellyn. As her father works to subdue the Welsh, Joanna must decide whose side she's on. As in "Thrones," bloody war, unfortunate love affairs and shameless backstabbing abound.