The release date for the 8th season of ‘Game of Thrones’ is foggy at best, with some saying as early as summer 2018 and others not until 2019. Regardless, we’re already going through withdrawal. Below are five books and five movies that are sure to draw you into their worlds and help you out of your GOT depression.
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
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Set in a feudal interstellar society, Dune follows Paul Atreides of House Atreides, stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet where giant sand worms are the only native life forms. Control of the planet is highly sought after. It’s the only source of the spice melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. Herbert’s epic “explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as Houses Atreides and Harkonnen struggle for control of Arrakis and its spice.”
The first novel of the Dune series is often referred to as the bestselling sci-fi novel of all time. The original series includes six novels penned by Herbert with an additional 16 prequels written by his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The most recent entry was published in 2016.
Plus, the movie’s great. Young Kyle MacLachlan stars as Paul Atreides. Sting plays the codpiece-wearing Feyd-Rautha, the heir to House Harkonnen. It’s one of my absolute favorite childhood movies, in fact, I recently spent too much money on a too-formal dress that makes me look like Princess Irulan and I don’t hate it.
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2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
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This 1972 classic isn’t just about rabbits. Give it a chance if you haven’t already – it’s more Aeneid than Peter or Velveteen. The rabbits of this novel have their own culture, language, and mythology.
The Carnegie Medal and Guardian Prize-winning novel follows the struggles of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, and Silver. As Masterplots II puts it, the book “mirrors the timeless struggles between tyranny and freedom, reason and blind emotion and the individual and the corporate state.”
According to the Economist, “if there is no place for Watership Down in children’s bookshops, then children’s literature is dead.”
Peter Prescott, a senior book reviewer at Newsweek, says, “Adams handles his suspenseful narrative more dexterously than most authors who claim to write adventure novels, but his true achievement lies in the consistent, comprehensible and altogether enchanting civilization that he has created.”
3. Hyperion Cantos (4 Book Series) by Dan Simmons
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The world of Hyperion is so in depth, I don’t even know where to start. So here’s the synopsis from the back cover of the 1995 paperback:
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope – and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.
And a review from Barnes and Noble:
The Hyperion Cantos would be a prize piece of science fiction for its world-building alone, but it’s Simmons’ ability to prop his world up with characters you come to care deeply about that keeps you hooked. Their emotional struggles are so integral to the plot, the two become inseparable. Mankind’s quest for survival is mirrored dozens of different ways in the drama, from our desire to protect our children, to the pursuit of love, adventure, and art, or the simple fight to stay alive. That there’s a time monster and space travel doesn’t make it any less real.
If you start, make sure you own The Fall of Hyperion before you finish Hyperion. It ends on a huge cliffhanger.
4. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
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Winner of the 1928 Nobel Prize in Literature, Kristin Lavrasdatter is a 1168-page historical epic and a surprisingly easy read (thanks to Tiina Nunnally’s 1997 translation capturing Undset’s “straightforward, almost plain style” in a way Charles Archer’s 1920 translation couldn’t). The novel follows 14th century Norwegian woman Kristin Lavrasdatter through life and death and doesn’t shy away from the harshness of a woman’s life. Notable and controversial for its explicit characterization of sex, specifically female sexuality, Kristin Lavrasdatter is lauded for its unwavering realism, especially when compared to romanticized tales of the Middle Ages.
Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period. With its captivating heroine and emotional potency, Kristin Lavransdatter is the masterwork of Norway’s most beloved author—one of the twentieth century’s most prodigious and engaged literary minds—and, in Nunnally’s exquisite translation, a story that continues to enthrall.
5.The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone) by Mervyn Peake
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There’s no magic, elves, orcs, or trolls, but Harold Bloom calls Gormenghast “the best fantasy series of the twentieth century” and “one of the greatest sequences in modern world literature”, and critics across multiple genres agree with him. Therese Littleton’s review is especially telling:
Mervyn Peake’s gothic masterpiece, the Gormenghast trilogy, begins with the superlative Titus Groan, a darkly humorous, stunningly complex tale of the first two years in the life of the heir to an ancient, rambling castle. The Gormenghast royal family, the castle’s decidedly eccentric staff, and the peasant artisans living around the dreary, crumbling structure make up the cast of characters in this engrossing story. Peake’s command of language and unique style set the tone and shape of an intricate, slow-moving world of ritual and stasis:
“The walls of the vast room which were streaming with calid moisture, were built with gray slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteen men known as the ‘Grey Scrubbers’…. On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o’clock, when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks, the Grey Scrubbers fulfilled their hereditary calling.”
Peake has been compared to Dickens, Tolkien, and Peacock, but Titus Groan is truly unique. Unforgettable characters with names like Steerpike and Prunesquallor make their way through an architecturally stifling world, with lots of dark corners around to dampen any whimsy that might arise. This true classic is a feast of words unlike anything else in the world of fantasy. Those who explore Gormenghast castle will be richly rewarded.
6. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy directed by Peter Jackson
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One of my favorite pranks is to “accidentally” pull an extended edition all-night movie marathon. What? It’s only 11 hours and 37 minutes! So far, 6 different people no longer accept my invitations to movie night.
7. Seven Samurai directed by Akira Kurosawa
The inspiration behind The Magnificent Seven, Seven Samurai consistently tops lists of greatest films and seen as one of the most remade, reworked, and referenced films in cinema.
8. The Hateful Eight, directed by Quentin Tarantino
Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen. Need I say more?
9. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly directed by Sergio Leone
A very young, very hot Clint Eastwood spends 3 hours kicking asses and taking names. It’s a Spaghetti Western. Get into it.
10. Dragonheart directed by Rob Cohen
CGI dragons have come a long way.
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