A Song of Ice and Fire fans have long lamented the rate at which author George R.R. Martin has completed books in the bestselling series. Originally intended to be a trilogy, the series adapted into the HBO hit television show Game of Thrones is currently five books long with two additional books forthcoming. Since A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance With Dragons were each published at approximately five year intervals George R. R. Martin fans often find themselves discussing what books they should read while awaiting the next book in the series (or next season of the television show). Instead of reading A Song of Ice and Fire books again why not consider reading some of the best of George R. R. Martin’s books or novellas.
The Skin Trade
Starting out as a seemingly mundane whodunit novella The Skin Trade quickly becomes an entrancing, slightly horrific, read. As the daughter of a murdered police officer turned private eye and a bill collector with a heart of gold investigate a particularly grisly murder it is apparent that the murder has a dark motive. Though the story is short, George R. R. Martin is able to skillfully craft memorable characters and a vividly described (and depressing) world. Widely considered one of the best works of fiction in it’s particular paranormal genre The Skin Trade is one story that will stick with you for quite some time.
This particular series is actually an anthology that George R. R. Martin contributes to and edits. Set in a universe where Earth was accidentally exposed to an experimental alien chemical that caused the Wild Card virus, the world is populated by super heroes and monsters. Those affected by the virus either become an “Ace” who is someone with a desirable ability (flight, telepathy, super strength, eternal youth, etc.), a “Joker who is someone with a physical deformity of varying degree, or they draw the “Black Queen” which means instant (or prolonged) death. Throughout the series the people on the transformed Earth deal with equal rights for all (including Jokers), continued extraterrestrial contact, and the machinations of those with dangerous powers but no scruples. While we have only read the six books in the ongoing series, each anthology has consistently developed existing characters while successfully introducing new characters. The series contains over 20 books giving you plenty of material to enjoy.
Written along with two other authors (Daniel Abraham and Gardner Dozois) Hunter’s Run is a science fiction novel that explores the sense of self, morality, and other themes. Taking place on a colony planet a man is forced to hide in the wilderness after committing a serious crime. While he is hiding the protagonist stumbles upon a group of aliens and, after another human captive escapes from the aliens, he finds himself tracking his fellow human. Throughout the story our protagonist finds himself questioning his decision to chase a fellow human while simultaneously becoming antiquated with his alien captors. The book takes a unique look at the first contact scenario that many science fiction books utilize and George R. R. Martin does a fantastic job of portraying a high stakes hunt that pits one man against another.
The Sworn Sword
No list of books containing some of the best of George R. R. Martin would be complete without at least a nod to A Song of Ice and Fire or the intricate universe that Martin has created for his readers to enjoy. One of our favorite novellas set in the Game of Thrones universe is The Sworn Sword, the second book in the Dunk and Egg series. While readers would benefit from reading the first book in the series, The Hedge Knight, it is possible to read The Sworn Sword by itself if you are familiar with the universe in general. The reason this story is our favorite because it shows us what life for a hedge knight is really like especially during difficult times. Our protagonists find themselves sworn to an impoverished lord who is on the verge of losing the last of his land. Determined to uphold their vows and not dishonor themselves the protagonists must find away to serve their lord even though they promised to serve him based on a lie. The story itself gives fans of A Song of Ice and Fire a further insight into the ultimate fall of the ruling house and the reason for continuing unrest. Additionally, the graphic novel version of the story is absolutely stunning.
Each book/story has a unique voice and captivating tale that will help readers who are suffering from Game of Thrones or general Song of Ice and Fire withdrawal. Additionally, George R. R. Martin has published several collections of short stories that are fantastic. Two of our favorite short stories by Martin are Meathouse Men, Sandkings, and Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels.