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9 Dark Fantasy Series To Read While Waiting for George R.R. Martin's "Winds of Winter"

Although we all hoped that George R.R. Martin would publish The Winds of Winter before the new season of Game of Thrones begins, this was not meant to be. Looking at his track record - with a six-year gap between A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, we can't know for sure when we will finally get to read The Winds of Winter. To help our readers out, we have decided to do a round-up of other epic fantasy series. All of these are complete - so you don't have to worry that you will be left hanging, waiting for yet another author to finish the next book. Enjoy!

1. Malazan Series

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Malazan Book of the Fallen is a ten-book epic fantasy series by Steven Erikson. Then there is also The Malazan Empire, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont that is set in the same universe. The two authors are anthropologists and archaeologists and came up with the Malazan world together in the early 80s. The world served as a backdrop for their GURPS roleplaying game that they would play when they weren't out and about in the field. According to the authors, two of their greatest influences when creating the world was The Black Company and A Song of Fire and Ice. This means you can expect them to be grim, dark, gritty but also with a healthy dose of humor. The two Malazan series can be read as separate series but they do complement one another. If you like mystery, fantasy and military influences, along with lots of drama, the Malazan series comes highly recommended.

2. Mistborn Trilogy

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The Mistborn Trilogy is great if you are looking for something fresh and different. Author Brandon Sanderson doesn't rely on all the old fantasy tropes and, among other things, created a very different, but interesting magic system. Expect the unexpected in these books. Mistborn mostly takes place in Scadrial, a world that is part of the Final Empire, a place that was created by the Lord Ruler in its current form. Society is deeply divided between the nobility and the skaa (peasants). It is a series filled with twists and when things suddenly makes a lot of sense, it is clear that the author planned each one right from the start. Filled with suspense, political intrigue and martial-arts, Mistborn offers a worthy alternative to Winds of Winter.

3. The First Law Series

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If you like dark, cynical and gritty fantasy with epic fight scenes, the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie the perfect choice. Although the world is very much what you would expect to get in most fantasy books, the way Abercrombie portrays the characters is refreshing. Instead of striving to gallantly save the world from an evil overlord, the characters in The First Law are very self-absorbed and are more caught up in their own plots to survive or get into power. If you are looking for perfect, self-sacrificing heroes with impeccable morals, you won't find them in these books. There is very little compassion and the whole story is an intriguing, twisted web.

4. Powder Mage Trilogy

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Magic, prophecies, war, murders and intrigue are all prominent elements of the Napoleonic fantasy world of American author Brian McClellan. It is the perfect series for readers who crave dark fantasy, but are tired of the usual sword and sorcery. In his world magic co-exists with technology and gunpowder, giving rise to interesting factions, such as the powder mages with their ability to influence bullets. If you enjoyed the political intrigue of A Song of Ice and Fire you'll appreciate this tale of Field Marshal Tamas and how his coup against his king sparked a bloody revolution. Tamas has to deal with enemies both internal and external, which makes for riveting reading.

5. Black Company Series

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A Song of Ice and Fire is known for the amount of double-crossing and backstabbing that occurs, but the Black Company Series by author Glen Cook ups the ante even further. The books follow the adventures of an elite mercenary unit called The Black Company as they deal with various enemies and adversaries. The books are dark and violent as they deal with mercenaries who fight and die because it is their job, not because they are heroes who want to save the world. If you are looking for characters who are “nice” you won't find them in this series as everyone is portrayed in more realistic shades of gray which makes for riveting reading and unpredictable plot twists.

6. The Broken Empire Trilogy

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The Broken Empire Trilogy from American author Mark Lawrence is a tale of magic, treachery and brotherhood starring the Prince of Thorns, Jorg Ancrath. The books document his journey from being a privileged royal child to the leader of a grim outlaw band committing raids and atrocities. Just like the Song of Ice and Fire books it is a series where chaos and violence can be found around every corner and characters often have to forge a path for themselves with all odds against them. Jorg is not only an immoral character, but also have the ability to master the living and dead, which makes him a fascinating and unpredictable protagonist.

7. The Kingdoms of Thorn And Bone

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Get caught up in the fates of several protagonists in this series by American author Gregory Keyes. Fantasy fans will enjoy the usual legends, myths and monsters found in the genre, but the books also leans heavily on character development to further its intriguing plot. With its fast paced plot it is a series that effortlessly draws readers in and will keep you on the edge of your seat as characters struggle for survival and control of power. The complexity of the characters, who often make decisions based on their beliefs instead of good or evil motives will keep you hooked to the last page.

8. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Series

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If you are looking for a dark fantasy series where the characters are complex and likeable, but not perfect then the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series from Tad Williams is a good choice. Set on the continent of Osten Ard, the series features genre favourite like immortal elves, trolls, humans and other races, all embroiled in a struggle between good and evil. The death of a beloved king, who united most of the nations, sets in motion a power struggle between two brothers and the events that play out is viewed from the perspective of multiple well developed characters.

9. Inheritance Trilogy

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Fans of the political intrigue in A Song of Fire and Ice will appreciate the perils faced by the Yeine Darr, one of the protagonists of the Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. Yeine's world is turned upside down when she is summoned to the court of the Arameri, rulers of the world, and told she is an heir to the throne. This places her in direct competition with her two cousins who are much better at traitorous court politics than her. There are also captive gods involved to further complicate matters. Unlike other trilogies the three books in this series tell different stories with different protagonists, but follow similar themes.

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