The trailer for the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones hit the web last week, and if you love fantasy stories, you’ve likely watched it a couple (dozen) times. No matter where you stand on the show—whether you’ve rewatched every season or are still woefully bitter that Sansa’s story arc doesn’t align with the books—there’s no denying Game of Thrones offers a gripping story that leaves you wanting more.
But what to do while you wait for the season to begin? Between watching the trailer another few times to admire the dragon animations, you should pick up these books, all fantasy YA novels perfect for folks who can’t stop bingeing that trailer.
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An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
The dark, deadly world found in the Song of Ice and Fire series—and, of course, in HBO’s adaptation—is rivaled by the dangerous world of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, the first in her series of the same name. Laia and Elias live on two different sides of the Martial Empire: one is an embedded slave and member of an oppressed people, and the other soldier and member of the ruling class, but both are bound to a life they don’t want to lead. Laia wants freedom from oppression for her people, and to free her brother from prison; Elias wants out of the military and to fight against the Martial Empire’s tyranny, despite being one of its finest soldiers. When their lives collide, working together could reshape the fate of the Empire—and everybody in it.
Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson
What if the political scheming of Game of Thrones aligned with a fascinating magic system? Sorcery follows Elisabeth, a foundling growing up in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries—until the director of the librarian is killed and Elisabeth framed for her murder. After a brief imprisonment, Elisabeth aligns herself with the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn and his demon familiar Silas. Together, they’ll have to unravel what’s happening in their country and why the libraries are under attack before somebody tries to strike down Elisabeth…again. Okay, yes, the book doesn’t release until June, but you can pre-order it now and eagerly wait for it to arrive on your doorstep.
The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
One of the best things about Game of Thrones is its villains, in a world that is delightfully morally gray. Who isn’t a bit fascinated by Cersei Lannister? Those who love a good baddie should pick up this first installmenrt in Lu’s Young Elites series. When Adelina Amouteru survived the blood fever that ravaged her country, it changed her—and while it may not have changed her for the better, it certainly left her more powerful, in possession of a mysterious gift that acquires the attention of the Young Elites. This mysterious group is full of survivors with powers just like Adelina, but when a sect called the Daggers finds Adelina, they realize she has powers beyond anything they’ve seen—and a desire for revenge that even they cannot quench.
The Girl King, by Mimi Yu
What if Arya and Sansa battled over the throne? If you’re looking for a dynamic sister story, pick up debut The Girl King. Lu knew her destiny was to become the first female ruler of the Empire, and she’s prepared to inherit her father’s throne when he died—until he declares their male cousin Set his heir, forcing Lu on the run to reclaim her birthright. Left behind is Min, quiet and dangerous, for her new magic could guarantee Set’s claim to the throne…or allow her to claim it herself, and leave Liu to the wolves.
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman
Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from hard topics, and neither does Rachel Hartman. Her third novel set in Goredd, the kingdom Hartman introduced in Seraphina, where men and women bow to rigid gender expectations and dragons—who can take human form—can be whomever they choose. Human girl Tess defies all those norms, and her family banishes her to a nunnery. But the ever-defiant Tess gathers the courage to head toward the open road instead. Her journey is one of self-reliance, exploring the weight of guilt shouldered by so many women, and the never-ending process of learning to forgive yourself.
Thief’s Covenant, by Ari Marmell
There are so many YA backlist books to discover, and Thief’s Covenant is one of my favorites—and perfect for Game of Thrones fans. What if you had a god talking to you in your head? The girl once known as Adrienne Satti is now the thief Widdershins, navigating the streets of Davillon with a sharp blade and the god Olgun whispering to her. The city guard wants her in prison, her Guild wants her dead, and the city is plotting against her—but when an ancient horror resurfaces, Olgun and Widdershins will have to find unlikely allies to stop the madness and get revenge on those who stole everything they loved.