It’s Game of Thrones week here at Flavorwire, and while much of our excitement is based upon the return of the TV series, we’re not forgetting George R. R. Martin’s books, either. The A Song of Ice and Fire series has done a great deal in legitimizing fantasy as a Serious Genre — a welcome development, given that a lot of people tend to disparage fantasy novels as a homogenous lump of sword-and-sorcery clichés with little literary merit. That’s not the case at all, so if you’re one of those starting to explore the genre — or if you’re a fan looking for some new books to read — check out our selection of the best fantasy novels you haven’t read. And, of course, let us know your favorites!
Mordant’s Need by Stephen R. Donaldson
Donaldson’s books seem characterized by the idea of putting different and compelling spins on the time-honored fantasy trope of summoning a reluctant hero from another land to battle evil. His Thomas Covenant books are his best-known works, and they’re pretty great (although his swallowed-the-entire-dictionary prose is an acquired taste) but this duology is an under-appreciated pleasure, featuring some of his best characters, a genuinely clever plot that keeps the pages turning, and a world that’s so richly realized that it’s a shame he only chose to set two books in it.