I’ll admit it, y’all — three* weeks in, and I’m already sucked back into the world of Westeros with House of the Dragon. Have I learned nothing from the disastrous end to the original Game of Thrones? Perhaps! But as it stands, I AM RIDE OR DIE FOR RHAENYRA TARGARYEN, THE FIRST OF HER NAME. And what better way to honour the Realm’s Delight than with a list of royalty and/or dragon fantasy books to read under the godswood while commanding a bard to play the same song over and over again?
*This post is being written before Episode 4 of Season 1 but being published afterwards, which might put that ride-or-die status to the test lol.
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For her entire life, Mira’s been the face of her island nation, the Hopebringer, born on the same day as a treaty that changed everything—most think for the better. She’s been raised to look pretty and say pretty things, to do what her (overbearing) mother says and believe wholeheartedly in the truth behind the treaty. Her one escape is working with dragons, and even that’s not something her mother totally approves of.
When Mira and her two best friends discover that some of their beloved dragons are missing, they investigate and tell the authorities what they find. But the authorities don’t like being questioned, and Mira quickly finds herself in the Pit, a deadly prison.
The daughter of historians with a specific interest in the history of witches, Lady Filore “Fi” Nenroa has spent much of her life trudging through ruins and researching the lives of long-dead individuals.
The first-born daughter of a warrior king who never wanted to follow in his footsteps, Shane left her home to give her twin brother a chance to lead and has spent the time since treasure hunting and hiring her skills with the battle axe out to those who are in need of security.
When Shane finds an ancient map written in a magical language she can’t read, she reaches out to Fi to see if a partnership is in order; Shane hopes to keep the riches while Fi takes anything of historical value. Neither one of them expects to find themselves major players in breaking a hundred-year-old curse involving a sleeping prince named Briar Rose, however.
Harper’s life is going downhill fast. Her father split on her dying-of-cancer mom, leaving their family with his massive gambling debt. Her protective yet gentle older brother has resorted to breaking knees for the very same debt collectors in an attempt to pay off said debt, but Harper’s worried he’ll lose sight of his humanity. Being the youngest—and having cerebral palsy—means she often gets stuck as the look-out, unable to help in any significant way. But she sees her chance to be a hero when she spies a man trying to abduct a woman in the same alleyway she’s hiding in. The upside: Harper manages to rescue the woman. The downside: she gets herself accidentally abducted instead.
Once upon a time, Prince Rhen made an error in judgment and his entire kingdom has paid a terrible, terrible price. Doomed to repeat the same season over and over until he finds a woman to fall in love with him, Rhen has lost track of the days he has repeated; the countless women his very last guard, Grey, procures to break the curse; and the amount of times he’s had to hear those damned magical instruments play a jaunty tune over the blood and mayhem in his castle. But the enchantress who started it all, Lilith, has finally given him a deadline: this will be his last season. If he does not succeed in his task, the kingdom of Emberfall will belong to her, and Prince Rhen will be stuck as the monstrous creature he turns into at the end of every cycle—forever.
When Grey returns to Emberfall in the midst of defending himself against a scrawny, spitfire scrap of a girl, Rhen knows they are doomed. But maybe, just maybe, that determination Harper exhibits is very the thing they need to break the curse…
Orïsha used to be filled with magic. But then the king decided that magic—and its wielders, the divîners—were too dangerous to live. The king ordered a massacre of all divîners and the end of magic.
Zélie Adebola watched the night her mother was tortured and killed, simply for being different. And since that terrible night, Zélie and other divîners like her have been treated as something less than human, taxed and beaten and forced into slavery. She despises the king and all that he’s done to her family and her people, but there’s little she can do other than keep her head down.
When a chance encounter gives Zélie the opportunity to change everything, she takes it, but much adversity stands in her way.
Crier is the “daughter” of the sovereign of the kingdom of Rabu, but she wasn’t actually born—she was Made, like most of the ruling class of the kingdom. Years prior, the Automae rose up against their human rulers and took over, and the humans have been chomping at the bit ever since. Especially Ayla, whose parents were killed by Crier’s father’s soldiers for seemingly no good reason. Ayla, who now has a job in the palace … and dreams of exacting vengeance.
In a world where magical creatures are common, two disparate people come together on a quest. Lukasz, the last of the Wolf-Lords, is a dragon slayer who’s looking for his brothers. Ren, a human who’s also sometimes a lynx, is looking for someone to slay the Golden Dragon wreaking havoc on her forest and bringing evil creatures into their world. Their end goals might not be the same, but sometimes working together turns out to benefit all.
Mari is a yōkai, a type of paranormal creature. Her specific clan are known as the Animal Wives, beautiful women who can turn into terrifying monsters and enjoy marrying men, then stealing their wealth. But Mari was born somewhat plain, and without the ability to shift completely, so her clan has long seen her as something lesser. Her mother, however, had a specific destiny in mind for her daughter: compete to become the next Empress. As dangerous as the competition can be, it’s even more so for Mari, as the Emperor—and his son, the Cold Prince, who’ll become the winner’s husband—hate yōkai, particularly those who aren’t under the Empire’s control.
Once, three dragonlords ruled Callipolis and its surrounding lands. If you ask them, they did what must be done, and life was good. If you asked their people, well, you may get mixed opinions depending on the amount of money one had. To that end, ten years past, a man named Atreus began a revolution—the bloodiest Callipolis had ever seen—and killed all the dragonlords and their families in order to bring about a new regime. One with equal opportunities for all, where a simple serf could ride a dragon instead of starve. Except he didn’t quite kill all the dragonlords’ families. Some managed to escape to the islands of New Pythos, where there are rumors they have dragons who are mature enough to breathe fire. And one dragonlord’s child, a little boy renamed Lee, never actually left.
Lee has lived the last ten years under a false identity, becoming a dragonrider who is now competing against people like his best friend, Annie, for the title of Firstrider, leader of all the dragonriders and defender of the city. But if the rumors of New Pythos are true, will Lee be able to fight his long-forgotten family? And, more importantly—does he want to?
Westeros High School is chock FULL of drama, y’all. You know how sometimes when you’re from a small town, everyone ends up knowing your business and getting overly invested with your life? Picture that but, like, with dragons and stuff. Check it:
Handsome Robb Stark should be the Big Man on Campus, what with his flowing curly locks and super-cute direwolf puppy, but senior year is just NOT working out the way he’d like it to. First of all, his half-brother, Jon, is way more popular than him, even though he refuses to parlay that popularity to get the girls. His younger brother, Brandon, is a total pain in the ass. And to top it all off, Robb’s dad totally ditched his family to go on an extended dude’s vacation with his creepy college roommate, and didn’t even invite Robb along! Now Robb is stuck at home on boring old Winterfell Lane, mowing the lawn and listening to his mom’s complaints. The only person that Robb has to hang out with is his neighbor Theon, and Theon has been acting super jerky lately.
But Robb still has it better than his younger sister Arya, who was dragged along on the dude’s vacation, much to her disdain. Arya doesn’t want to hang around with her dad’s gross college roommate and his awful family! She just wants to play field hockey and listen to Tegan and Sara! And even though her dad is cool with her sexuality, nobody else is, and Aria constantly has to dodge her babysitter’s requests to play dress up. The only person who understands Arya is her dance teacher Syrio, and he is obsessed with cats.
Arya’s older sister Sansa is the most popular junior varsity cheerleader at Westeros High School, but she’s totally unlucky in love. Sansa has a huge crush on the Prom King, Joffrey, but just isn’t so sure that he loves her back. Sometimes he’s super nice to her and they kiss behind the bleachers, but other times he has her dog killed. Plus, his mom is totally overbearing, and is making Sansa’s life miserable. And if that weren’t bad enough, Sansa still hasn’t had her first period, even though all the other girls on the cheerleading squad are always talking about their PMS. How will Joffrey ever see her as potential girflfriend material if she can’t even reach puberty correctly?
As for Dany, the smart and hot new girl, she doesn’t have boy troubles – she’s got a guy that her family loves and who treats Dany like a queen. But she’s just not sure she’s ready to go all the way with Drogo- what if he doesn’t respect her in the morning? What if dumps her for one of the girls who is always hanging around his band, The Dothrakis? And why is Dany’s algebra teacher Mr Jorah staring at her boobs so often?
Can any of these crazy kids figure out the pains of growing up? Or is Westeros High School doomed to be an endless war of cliques and self-doubt?
There was and was not a shahzadeh no one in Atashar could touch. The very blood in her veins can release a toxin deadly to any living creature, all thanks to a div’s curse placed on her mother when she was young and foolish. In order to keep her people’s faith in the shah, who also happens to be her twin brother, Soraya stays so far removed from the palace life to the point where her mere existence is more rumor than fact.
When her brother’s engagement to their mutual childhood friend is announced; a div is captured and held in the dungeon; and, a young man who really sees Soraya joins the palace guard, Soraya begins to question the quiet life she’s been living. If she could speak to the div, could she learn of a way to remove her curse? Would the freedom of knowing another’s touch be worth the potential cost?
Title: Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)
Author: Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire
Lei’s eyes have betrayed her. She is Paper, the lowest caste, the ones who are completely human with none of the animal features or qualities the Steel and Moon castes revere; yet her eyes are liquid gold, seemingly touched by the Moon goddess herself. It’s those beautiful eyes that catch the notice of General Yu, an advisor to the Demon King who is looking to bolster his status after a failed campaign. Suddenly Lei is ripped away from everything she knows to become the ninth Paper Girl: a group of young women who have the distinct—and dubious—honor of being the Demon King’s consorts for a year.
Under the constant threat of her family’s safety, Lei must submit to her position that brings wealth beyond the likes of her simple village upbringing: delicious food, beautiful gardens to roam in, education in the arts of womanly pursuits, and the unwanted attention of a powerful and arrogant man. But even though her body is a prisoner, Lei’s mind and emotions are still free, and she finds herself falling for one of her own. It’s a dangerous and foolish move, but it might just be the thing that saves her life.
When she was young, Rovan watched as her father was killed by the city’s bloodmages and their terrifying guardian shades—dead beings who are connected to bloodmages to keep them under control. Since then, she’s been very careful not to reveal her own powers, lest she be taken and forced to have a guardian … or worse.
But then one drunken evening turns into Rovan having to save someone from dying, revealing her true nature in the process. She’s taken to the palace and forced into a life she never wanted for herself. A life she can’t wait to escape.
Nikolai Lantsov is the current King of Ravka, a country slowly recovering from a nasty civil war. Ravka’s neighboring countries are pushing their boundaries and questioning how fit Nikolai is to rule—and Nikolai himself can’t help but have his own doubts, thanks to a dark power simmering just underneath his skin.
Along with Zoya Nazyalensky, a supremely powerful Grisha, and a young monk with some questionable beliefs, Nikolai must travel to Ravka’s most mystical places to find a way to both save himself and his people.
And meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, a certain waffle-loving crow is working for her king …
The life of a princess isn’t always easy—particularly when you’re about to be married off to the son of a neighboring kingdom, a son who you’ve never met or even seen. For Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia (Lia for short), the First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, it’s the last straw. So, on her wedding day, Lia and her maid Pauline set out for a distant village, one where they’re hoping they can find a fresh start.
When you’re the First Daughter, however, escaping isn’t really possible. Not only does Lia’s father put a bounty on her head, but also the jilted prince, who’s not even close to being the ugly old toad Lia had imagined, and an assassin from a barbarian tribe, who’s got a hidden past, set off in search of her. Little does Lia know that the two mysterious men she meets in the tavern will change her life forever…but for better or worse remains to be seen.
When Vanja was small, her mother gave her to the gods Fortune and Death because she was convinced that Vanja, as the thirteenth-born, was bad luck. Raised as their goddaughter, Vanja knows more than most about the workings of the world. Especially what it means to be a servant—a lesser citizen. So when she glimpsed a way out, Vanja took it, disguising herself as a princess and pulling a half-Robin Hood to fund her eventual escape.
But Vanja’s thievery isn’t the only suspect activity happening in the territory of Bóern. And as the proverb goes, “The little thief steals gold, but the great one steals kingdoms; and only one goes to the gallows.”
With her mother dead and her sister’s life hanging in the balance, Ning leaves her tiny village to journey to the capital of Jia and participate in a competition to become the next court shennong-shi, a wielder of magic in the form of tea making. Shennong-shi can fortify a person’s spirit, heal minor and major injuries, use teas as truth serums and divine futures. Except…Ning isn’t actually a full shennong-shi. She wasn’t even her mother’s actual apprentice—that was her sister. But she knows enough — and has enough tenacity — to fight through her competitors in order to win so she can be granted a boon from the future empress to heal her sister.
But as Ning begins to understand more about the court, the emperor’s disgraced and exiled brother, and the poisonous tea that has been killing unsuspecting subjects all over the empire, she starts to realize that her request isn’t so simple, and there’s so much more she’ll have to learn of the world outside her village if she wants to save what she loves.
How would you like to get whisked away from your poor existence in a farming village, and into the life of a princess at the imperial palace? Sounds too good to be true, right? (Perhaps even like a mirage, if you’d like. And I’m incorrigible, so I would like.)
All you’d have to do is be forcibly separated from everybody you’ve ever known and taken off of the moon you’ve grown up on. Because it’s not actually a choice; you’ve been kidnapped! Which is Amani’s fate for looking identical to the cruel Princess Maram, who needs a body double on account of all the people who’d like to see her dead aka LOTS OF ‘EM.
Sure, it’s not the worst gig in the galaxy — the palatial life is pretty swanky, and hanging out with Maram’s fiancé ain’t too shabby, either — but there’s just the constant threat of Amani never getting to see her own family again and not surviving any possible attempts on Maram’s life. So, no pressure.
All her life, Princess Dennaleia has been preparing to marry a prince whom she’s never met of a kingdom that she’s never been. Denna’s also had to keep her ability to conjure fire on the DL—a particularly critical secret now more than ever, with her arrival in her new homeland of Mynaria where magic is expressly forbidden.
But that’s not Denna’s only concern; she has to learn how to ride a Mynarian warhorse for her upcoming nuptials, and her instructor is the equally intimidating sister of her betrothed, Princess Amaranthine (or Mare, for short). And when an assassination disturbs the already precarious peace throughout the land, Denna and Mare must team up to prevent the country from engaging in an all-out war. As the two princesses get to know each other better, an unlikely friendship forms – and maybe even more?
Title: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1)
Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
For more than a decade, Kelsea Raleigh has been hidden away in a forest far from her birthplace of New London. And for most of those years, Kelsea has also been hunted. You see, Kelsea’s the rightful queen of Tearling, and her uncle—a terrible waste of space of a man—wants nothing more than to claim her throne for his own. Kelsea’s also been kept in the dark about her country, and her mother’s reign, “for her own good.”
On her 19th birthday, a group of men—the Queen’s Guard—come to take Kelsea back to New London so that she can take her place on the throne. The trip there will be filled with danger, and there’s no telling how long she’ll last once she reaches the Keep, but Kelsea resigns herself to her duty and goes with. If, at the very least, to figure out what all she doesn’t know.
The stories are set in another era (they have glass and guns, but also gods and goddesses), and the small, rival kingdoms in question are loosely based on the Byzantine Empire. Eugenides (Gen) is a thief – but not just any thief, as he’ll be quick to tell you. He can steal anything. When the king’s magus comes to get him out of prison (Gen’s skills are great, but his talent for keeping his mouth shut about them is not), he finds that his talents are needed to steal a rare stone called Hamiathes’ Gift, which the magus needs to take over a neighboring country. So begins an epic road trip that sets the stage for the rest of the series.
The first book is an outlier in at least two ways. First, it’s first person, from Eugenides’ perspective. Second, it is entertaining, but it is in no way as complex and swoonworthy as the next books.
Still, I think you’ll be strangely amused by Eugenides, who is so insolently charming that he ought to be a cat. He’s the original unreliable narrator, smart as a whip, and doesn’t make his captors’ lives easy. You will also love Megan Whalen Turner’s writing style, which is vivid and well-considered. When she writes, there are no extraneous words, which makes discovering the twists and turns of this series a true pleasure. Within the first thirty pages of the second book, the series drastically changes from a swashbuckling quest to a brutally intense tale of political intrigue and the depths of the characters’ psyches.
After hacking the head off the Vile One and ridding the kingdom of Ere from that evil, Arek and his companions aren’t sure what comes next. The prophecy they’ve been following ends there, and they don’t have another one to work from. Ere needs a ruler, however, and so Arek takes the job—on a totally interim basis. Or so he assumes until he feels the magical connection to the crown and learns of the stipulation that the ruler of Ere must be soul-bonded to another person before their 18th birthday or else. Which, for Arek, is only three months away.
Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1)
Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Solstasia, a once-every-50-years celebration for the city of Ziran, brings with it opportunities and change. For Malik, it’s a chance to earn money to send back to his mother and grandmother. For Crown Princess Karina, it’s an opportunity to avoid the ire of her mother, the sultana—if that’s ever possible.
But then Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, is kidnapped, and the kidnapper makes Malik a bargain: Kill Karina and Nadia goes free. But how is Malik, a member of the lowest of low caste tribes, supposed to get near enough the princess to drive a dagger through her heart?
Being a master tailor is all Maia has ever wanted. But no matter how hard she works, she’ll never become one for the simple fact that she’s a girl. (The patriarchy is strong in A’landi, y’all.) So when her father’s summoned to be a candidate for the emperor’s master tailor, Maia poses as a boy to go in his stead—both because her father’s in no condition to travel, and also she’s not about to throw away her shot. Once Maia arrives at the palace, though, she finds herself embroiled in a cutthroat competition that’ll push her beyond her limits and take her places that she never would have dreamed of.
Title: There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1)
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Series: The Age of Darkness
It’s been more than a hundred years since the last of the Seven Prophets disappeared, leaving behind them a world that’s floundered in their absence. There’s one prophecy left to be completed, but whether it foretells the end of everything or a new beginning remains to be seen.
In a world where tensions between Jinn and Clay (humans) have dated back through millennia, Alizeh’s only chance at survival is to stay hidden. She’s the long lost queen of an ancient Jinn kingdom, and ever since humans inherited the earth and the Fire Accords were established, hatred for Jinn people runs rampant. Alizeh is prophesied to be the one who can save the Jinn civilization. But her glowing eyes, educated speech, and magical powers would give her away in an instant, so she lives her life as a servant girl, which allows her to wear a snoda to keep the top half of her face covered, and keeps a roof over her head. Every day is a lesson in survival as Alizeh tries to keep her employers happy and spends her free time sewing beautiful dresses for spare coin.
Kamran is the next in line for the throne of the Clay kingdom Ardunia. His grandfather, King Zaal, lives in constant fear of being overthrown by the rise of the Jinn people. When Kamran discovers Alizeh, he can’t seem to stay away from her, even though he knows that she could be the one to bring down his grandfather, his kingdom, and even all of humanity.
Celaena Sardothian used to be the greatest assassin her country had ever seen. But then she was betrayed, arrested, and sent to the salt mines of Endovier to serve a life sentence in penance for her crimes.
A year into her sentence—months and months more than the typical prisoner lasts—Celaena is offered a way out: fight to become the King of Ardarlan’s Champion and earn her eventual freedom.
Veralidaine Sarrasi—Daine to her friends, and we totally are—is a thirteen-year-old orphan from a remote mountain village north of Tortall. She survived a bandit raid on her farm that killed her ma and grandda, but now the only family she has left is her loyal but persnickety pony, Cloud. Daine’s innate talent for dealing with animals gets her hired on as a pony herder alongside Onua, the horse mistress for the Queen’s Riders (Queen Thayet’s band of rangers). The most Daine hopes to aspire to is working alongside Onua in the stables, since she’s always felt more comfortable with animals than people.
During their journey to the capital, Onua and Daine encounter unsettling creatures; things that shouldn’t exist with monstrous bodies and the heads of humans. There are troubling rumors of them popping up all over Tortall, causing havoc and killing villagers. Daine and Onua also encounter some notorious names from the kingdom, including mage Numair Salmalin. He senses a powerful magic in Daine unlike the typical Gift, but Daine refuses to believe she’s anything special. See, her mom was a small-time hedgewitch who desperately wanted her daughter to have the Gift, but Daine was never able to produce even so much as a candle flame. But despite her denials, with more and more rumors of unrest pouring in from around the countryside, it might be that Daine’s peculiar brand of magic is just what her new friends need.
Title: Witches Steeped in Gold (Witches Steeped in Gold #1)
Author: Ciannon Smart
Series: Witches Steeped in Gold
Jazmyne is the heir to the throne of Aiyca, and the daughter of the most powerful magic wielder in the country. Ira is the daughter of the former rulers of the country—rulers who were forced out of power a decade prior, thanks to Jazmyne’s mother—and another powerful magic user. They both want what’s best for their country, and their people, but their peoples have long been adversaries, and Jazmyne’s status as heir to the throne makes her part of Ira’s plan of vengeance.
The two must work together to reach their goals, but neither is sure of exactly what those goals mean for them in the end.
Ximena’s life was blown apart as a child when the oppressed Llacsans rose up and overthrew the Illustrian queen. She wandered the streets for months until she was chosen to become the decoy Condesa for the last remaining royal, Catalina, and trained in the art of fighting, diplomacy, and subterfuge. Years later, when the new king forcibly requests the Condesa’s hand in marriage, Ximena is ready to go in her place. Her goal: look for weaknesses and find the Estrella, the mystical jewel King Atoc controls that helped him defeat the Illustrians.
But the Estrella is nowhere to be found, King Atoc is a royal dick, and life in the palace is harder than Ximena could have imagined. When she stumbles upon El Lobo—a masked vigilante whose loyalties are unclear—things start to get a lot more complicated.
In the wake of a devastating blood fever, survivors who will forever bear its mark are malfettos: outcasts rejected and feared by society. Some malfettos, known as the Young Elites, possess strange and powerful gifts. Gifts that make them fugitives to the king’s Inquisition Axis that wants to destroy them, but also assets to the clandestine Dagger Society that wants to protect them.
For Adelina Amouteru and her newfound abilities, this allegiance to the Young Elites is not quite as clear. Friend and foe alike, anyone who dares to cross Adelina will surely regret it.
Are there any books you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments!