7 Books To Keep You Going As You Wait For 'Game Of Thrones' To Season 5 To Start
In the evenings when I curl up on the couch to read, or write, or binge on the latest Netflix offerings, I like to light a few candles, turn off the overhead lights, and squint at my cat with my head tilted to the side. That's because at just the right angle and in exactly the right light she looks like she could almost be a dragon... which would of course make me the Mother of Dragons. No, I'm not crazy (although I haven't put that to a vote or anything) — I am, quite simply, a Game of Thrones superfan.
Do I hum the theme song while I brush my teeth? Yes. Do I have a special dance to get myself excited for the start of every episode? You betcha. Do I all-too-often wake up in a panic and feel around for my sword after a particularly intense nightmare? Abbbbbsolutely. And those nightmares only get worse as the great chasm between seasons widens, and my GoT withdrawal deepens.
I won't lie to you, it has been a long few months between Seasons 4 and 5, but now, at long last, my desperate prayers to the gods of entertainment have been answered — the 2 minute trailer for Game of Thrones Season 5 has been released. The countdown to the season premier of the world's most downloaded show is on, but there's still a few weeks between now and the sweet satisfaction of a return to Westeros. So, while you wait for April 12 and Season 5 Episode 1, satiate yourself with these 7 books that bring the Seven Kingdoms to life right here at home:
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My love for Ursula K. LeGuin is surpassed only by my adoration for the Mother of Dragons, although I have to say I think the two would get along famously. With A Wizard of Earthsea, Le Guin transports readers to the archipelago of Earthsea and begins one of the world's great fantasy series with the story of a young mage named Ged and the dangerous path he cannot help but walk. The pages don't run red with blood, but in Earthsea as in Westeros, no one is safe and nothing is sacred.
In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson
With Game of Thrones, the good people at HBO led by one remarkable writing team of bring George R. R. Martin's harrowing fantasy landscape to life with unwavering adherence to one fundamental idea: in Westeros, anyone can be killed. The Seven Kingdoms are rife with lust, murder, betrayal, and a great number of very, very bad people scheming for a greater piece of the power pie. If you can't get enough of the backstabbing and the brutal betrayals, Erik Larson's shuddering story of the family of the first Ambassador to Hitler's Germany may be just what you need to make it to Season 5.
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
There's just something about those erstwhile British monarchs that evoke an aura of power, intrigue, and decadence perfect for soothing a heart aching for more from stories from King's Landing. Philippa Gregory's The Constant Princess presents a highly fictionalized account of Catherine of Aragon's rise to power in the Tudor court, and If you harbor carefully guarded sympathies for Cersei Lannister, or imagine yourself walking in the less than modest shoes of Margaery Tyrell, Gregory's retelling of the timeless tale of one young girl's rise to power against all odds is absolutely a must-read.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
I like to imagine that any peek at the bookshelves of the key players at war in the game of thrones would reveal one common title: Sun Tzu's The Art of War. As Cersei Lannister once so contemptuously declared to a wounded Ned Stark, "when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die," and Tzu's timeless classic may just be the one volume capable of clarifying how this dangerous game might be won. If you're interested in understanding the subtle machinations guiding the main players on Game of Thrones, spending some time with The Art of War over the next few weeks may just be the perfect way to prep for Season 5.
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
In the waning years of the 15th Century, in the service of the Medici family, Niccolò Machiavelli crafted a "primer for princes" on acquiring and maintaining absolute power. If time and place were as fluid as Machiavelli's morals, I would be willing to bet that Tywin Lannister was a careful student of the brutal philosophy of power for power's sake. If you've ever fancied a glance inside the mind of Westeros' most infamous father, or looked to get a leg up on your own competition for a metaphorical iron throne, Machiavelli's The Prince is the perfect text for you.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Macbeth may just be the ultimate story of desire, betrayal, and the brutal unravelling of a plot for power. The Scottish play dramatizes the caustic consequences of a desire, and if there is a story better able to capture the ethos of Game of Thrones I cannot think what it would be. With a murderous prince, a haunted queen, magic, grief, and vows of revenge, Macbeth is the perfect reminder that Game of Thrones is never far from our own experience, even when the TV set has gone dark.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
David Mitchell's enigmatic exploration of an isolated and hidden Empire calls to mind the far-flung lands on the edges of the Seven Kingdoms harboring the unsullied armies of the Mother of Dragons and a good many more of the key players in the complex game of thrones. With a delicately constructed, highly detailed environment into which bright, broad characters can sink there teeth and spread their claws, Mitchell's magnificent novel takes you as far from Westeros as you can get without feeling like you've ever really left.