A Song of Ice and Fire then read The Mistborn Trilogy

A Song of Ice and Fire–or as the series is better known as, Game of Thrones–has in many ways redefined the epic-fantasy genre. From the sprawling world George R.R. Martin has created to its incredibly diverse cast of characters, this series has gone from one of the top selling fantasy series to one of the most successful television shows of our generation.

gotMany–including myself–would find it difficult to summarize the series aptly in just a sentence or two. But I will do my best.

The series (mostly… in the beginning…) follows the family of the Starks, who are quickly entangled in the political intrigue of the Seven Kingdoms, while a Dragon King matures in exile hoping to reclaim his throne.

(Not a shabby summary, if I do say so myself.)

joffreyFor myself, this series (especially the first three books) are among my top favorites of all time. What I like the most about Martin’s books is that the world outside of the narrative still has weight and effects the story in meaningful ways. The reader is not given every detail and therefore has to make conjectures based on context clues and rumors given by the characters and events.

The characters themselves are very complex, and not just defined by one or two traits doled out by Martin. He invests in them and allows them to change. Without providing spoilers: one of the characters I immediately hated in the first book became one of my favorite characters in book three.

Not really relevant, but everyone should enjoy Joffrey being slapped repeatedly.
Not really relevant, but everyone should enjoy Joffrey being slapped repeatedly.

Finding a series that was comparable in every way to A Song of Ice and Fire would be difficult if not near impossible. But I think I found something that can stand up to it.

The Mistborn Trilogy

mistbornEnter: The Mistborn Trilogy. Admittedly small compared to the unfinished A Song of Ice and Fire, but what it lacks in number of pages it makes up with a fully realized world and characters that are more than just a few defining characteristics. And, like Martin, Sanderson enjoys surprising the reader with well thought out twists and turns, leaving a rare sense of satisfaction.

The series begins as Kelsier, a man who is as charismatic as he is reckless, starts assembling a team to overthrow the Lord Ruler, a tyrant who keeps the skaa class subservient to the elite aristocracy through fearsome power.

Kelsier stumbles across Vin, who is naturally skilled in the world’s magic system, Allomancy, but isn’t aware. As he trains her, the team made up of colorful characters begin to act on their plans, which are successful, then thwarted, overcame, then thwarted again.

What made me connect Mistborn to Song of Ice and Fire are the twists and turns the plot makes. The tried and true formula that most readers are accustomed to is used and then betrayed, making for a compelling story.

Sanderson’s characters are not two-dimensional with only one or two traits to define them. Where Kelsier is easy to root for because he stands up for the skaa, he also has deep rooted prejudices that threaten their coup.

Everything is not given to the reader upfront in the first book. To answer all of your questions about the world, its magic system, and its creatures, you will need to read all the way through.

And that reminds me, I almost forgot the best part of the series!

IT’S FINISHED!

That’s right, you can start and finish this series without years of waiting between books.

No waiting?!
No waiting?!

So, while you’re biding your time waiting for Book 6, why not try an equally satisfying trilogy already finished?

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Fairy Tale Adaptions then read ‘The Girls at the Kingfisher Club’

With the rise of YA came the rise of fairy tale adaptions, re-emphasizing that there are only so many “original” ideas and everything else is just a rehash of what has already been done. That being said, there have been books I have thoroughly enjoyed out of this trend based solely on a combination of good writing, good story, and inventive/original spin on the stories we know backwards and forwards.

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Cinderella is by far the most popular character to be “re-imagined”, if only because her story allows the most flexibility and does not need magic to work. A lot of authors have take it upon themselves to make fairy tale heroines their own heroes, not allowing a prince to come save them from an evil witch or stepmother. Some even take the side of the villain’s point of view (re: Gregory Maguire’s Wicked or Jon Scieska’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) just to prove that the story we all know is not what really happened.

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These re-imaginings have gone on to include not just fairy tales but different mythologies and other classics such as The Wizard of OzPeter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland, each with varying degrees of success. They have also included “sequels” following whatever happens after Happily Ever After or the fairy tale characters’ children and whether or not they are affected by their parents’ stories.

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Depending on your tastes, you can probably find an adaption that suits you. There have dark re-imaginings; feminist re-imaginings; goofy re-imaginings; epic re-imaginings; specific time period re-imaginings; and the list goes on. However, some adaptions/re-imaginings are not as well known as others and I would like to recommend one of my new favorites.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

kingfisherThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club was loaned to me by one of my best friends (with whom I share an affinity for reading) with her highest recommendations. I then proceeded to devour the book in a span of two days. (It would have been one sitting, but I was visiting said friend along with many others at my old college stomping grounds and therefore was required to be social at least for some of the time.)

It is a spin on the Grimm fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. While this story does have its own adaptions (one of them being taken on by no one other than the fashion icon Barbie™ herself), it is not as popular as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or Snow White.

In Genevieve Valentine’s version, the story takes place in New York City in the Jazz Age, which is itself a revolution for American dance. The princesses are daughters of a man who keeps them hidden due to his embarrassment at his failure to produce a male heir. The sisters sneak out not just as an act of rebellion but also to expand on their world experiences and liberation from their father’s unjust rule.

The story is mostly told from the point of view of the eldest sister, Josephine, who takes on the role as the General or Commander, protecting her sisters from their father and their own reckless behavior. However, some of her sisters see Jo’s protectiveness as yet another form of oppression. Events begin to spiral out of control as their father becomes aware that his daughters might be disobeying him and it is up to the sisters to resolve their differences in order to save each other from a fate worse than death: marriage to men who share their father’s view on how women should be kept.

The story is short and written with modern language that is reminiscent of a fairy tale. Valentine is not overly verbose in her descriptions but lets the characters’ words and actions speak for themselves. The father is easy to loathe and Josephine’s story is filled with hope and heartbreak. The reader is made to understand why she made the choices that she did (not all likable), even at the cost of her own sisters’ love and adoration.

This book may not be easy to find (most large book sellers such as Barnes and Noble only carry one or two copies at any given time (if at all)) and may require a special order through a bookseller of your choice. The story is also available on Kindle, but the hardcover version is especially lovely (see pictured above).

Happy Reading!

~Nicole