Five alternatives to Game of Thrones created by women
Hooked on Game of Thrones but sick of the fact most of the fantasy you consume is written by old white men? These women created works of fiction that have the best parts of Game of Thrones with way less internalised misogyny.
1) FOR REALISM = Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
The gritty realism of Game of Thrones is often championed, but you know what’s really hardcore? A fantasy novel acknowledging a woman’s period and then continually dealing with it approximately once a month. The series is aimed at a young-adult audience but can be enjoyed by anyone who likes badass heroines and doesn’t mind characters having purple eyes. It follows the story of Alanna, a young girl who pretends to be her twin brother in order to train as a knight. There’s magic, there’s mystery, and there’s periods people. I can’t get over it.
Alternatively, Robin Hobb’s Farseer series is often heralded for its gritty realism and grim world of political intrigue, following a bastard son training to be an assassin. George R.R. Martin even blurbed it (“Fantasy as it ought to be written”) the year before his own famed series was even published.
2) FOR A SUCCESSFUL BOOK SERIES AND A SUCCESSFUL TV SHOW?! = Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Game of Thrones is kicking butt in the ratings, but also on the Top 20 On-demand show list was Outlander, averaging over 1 million views per episode. Based on the fantasy/historical drama/romance time-travel books by Diana Gabaldon, the series follows Claire - a WWII nurse who accidentally travels through time while on her honeymoon and ends up in a historical war-torn Scotland. It also has just about as much nudity as Game of Thrones, so yeah, there’s that.
3) FOR COOL NEW VISUALS = Carmilla webseries
There is little doubt that Game of Thrones is smashing it visual-wise, which is to be expected of a show where each episode costs $6 million to make. Seeing a fantasy book come to life on screen is every fan's dream, and if you’re fans of both the 1870 vampire novel Carmilla and YouTube (and every news outlet assures me you millennials are) then have I got the webseries for you. Carmilla was originally a story warning against the dangers of female sexuality (wegongetcha!) but has been reimagined by a near all-female cast and writing team to instead feature empowered women, a number of queer leads, and an intriguing mystery. Think Buffy but in easily digestible 3 minute videos.
4) FOR SUCH INTRIGUE = The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Nominated for the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the World Fantasy Award, Jemison’s debut novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the story of a vicious power struggle for a throne (sound familiar?) and young outcast Yeine attempting to navigate the intricacies of court while trying to solve her mother's murder. Jamison takes great issue with the often sexist and racist undertones (or overtones) of fantasy fiction and her novels feature a diverse range of characters that aren’t limited to white men.
5) FOR JON SNOW, THO = Ms Marvel comic books co-created by Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson
Sometimes you love a series for its complex relationships, or its beautiful setting, or its detailed history. Other times, even if it has all that stuff, you just really love Jon Snow. Awesome characters who are unapologetically themselves in the face of societal pressure are the best, and you don’t get much more awesome than Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel). Not only is she the first ever Muslim character to headline a Marvel comic, she’s also quick-witted, kind, and deals with conflicts both of the supervillain and home-life variety. Ms Marvel is also an awesome accessible read for first-time comic readers too.
This is just a tiny snapshot of some of the amazing fantasy work wom*n are creating daily. Exams are coming up, do yourself a favour and make one of your shameful-guilt-fiction-binges something awesome.