George R. R. Martin knows his readers are impatient.
It was six years between the publication of the fourth book in his epic A Song of Ice and Fire (the basis for HBO's Game of Thrones) saga, 2005's A Feast for Crows, and the fifth, 2011's A Dance with Dragons. The sixth book of the projected seven-book series, The Winds of Winter, still has no firm release date, and fans have long since made a hobby of commenting on, joking about and publicly lamenting Martin's writing speed. Some have even reached out to the author himself to ask what they should read while they're waiting for him to finish the next ice and Fire novel.
So earlier this month, Martin took to his online journal "Not A Blog" to pass along some reading recommendations to fans of his Westeros saga, beginning with the classics of fantasy literature.
"It never ceases to amaze me to discover that some of my own fans have never heard of all the great fantasists who came before me, without whom A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE could never have been written... without whom, in truth, there might not be a fantasy genre at all," Martin said. "If you have enjoyed my own fantasy novels, you owe it to yourself to read J.R.R. Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry), Jack Vance (THE DYING EARTH, Lyonesse, Cugel the Clever, and so much more), Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, MAIA), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea, the original trilogy), Mervyn Peake (GORMENGHAST), T.H. White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, H.P. Lovecraft (more horror than fantasy, admittedly), Clark Ashton Smith, and... well, the list is long. But those writers should keep you busy for quite a while."
But Martin isn't just interested in the classics. Declaring that we are living in the "golden age of epic fantasy," he also recommended some contemporary authors.
"Just for starts, check out Daniel Abraham (THE LONG PRICE QUARTET, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, Scott Lynch (the Locke Lamora series), Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie (especially BEST SERVED COLD and THE HEROES)... they will keep you turning pages for a good long while, I promise..."
But fantasy isn't all Martin reads. He's a major history buff, and he mentioned a few of his favorite historical fiction authors as well.
"Sir Walter Scott is hard going for many modern readers, I realize, but there's still great stuff to be found in IVANHOE and his other novels, as there is in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's WHITE COMPANY (he wrote more than just Sherlock Holmes). Thomas B. Costain (THE BLACK ROSE, THE SILVER CHALICE) is another writer worth checking out, along with Howard Pyle, Frank Yerby, Rosemary Hawley Jarman. Nigel Tranter lived well into his 90s, writing all the while, and turning out an astonishing number of novels about Scottish medieval history (his Bruce and Wallace novels are the best, maybe because they are the only ones where his heroes actually win, but I found the lesser known lords and kings equally fascinating). Thanks to George McDonald Fraser, that cad and bounder Harry Flashman swashed and buckled in every major and minor war of the Victorian era. Sharon Kay Penman, Steven Pressfield, Cecelia Holland, David Anthony Durham, David Ball, and the incomparable Bernard Cornwell are writing and publishing firstrate historical fiction right now, novels that I think any fan of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE would find easy to enjoy."
Martin also took time to single out French historical novelist Maurice Druon. Like Martin, Druon was also best known for a seven-book epic, a historical fiction series set in 13th- and 14th-century France collectively known as The Accursed Kings. The first book in the series, The Iron King, has just been published in a new English-language edition, and Martin himself penned the introduction. If you're interested, you can check that out here.
So, even if you don't plan to stop nagging Martin about The Winds of Winter, you can't say he hasn't provded you with plenty of other reading material.
(Via Not A Blog)