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If you like A Game of Thrones then read...

Updated on June 21, 2012

More reading material for Game of Thrones fans

If you enjoyed reading George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones then try reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman.

On the surface it may seem that the two novels would appeal to very different audiences. One is a sprawling fantasy epic and the other is a meticulously researched historical novel. However, there are enough similarities to attract the same group of readers to the books.

Both novels are set in medieval worlds. A Game of Thrones is in an imaginary land, while Sunne in Splendour is an historical novel, set in 15th century England during the brutal Wars of the Roses. Both novels are lengthy and very well written with memorable characters.

Both books centre on the power plays and conflicts between the ruling Houses in the kingdoms.

Warning - plot spoilers ahead!

Both books follow the fortunes of ruling families in the kingdoms. A Game of Thrones centres on three families: the current royal family (Houses Baratheon and Lannister), the Starks, powerful landholders in the kingdom, and the two Targaryen siblings, the last survivors of the deposed and now exiled Targaryen royal family.

Sunne in Splendour also focuses on the fortunes of powerful families. The House of Lancaster - is the ruling royal family at the start of the novel. It is made up of Queen Marguriete D'Anjou, wife of King Henry VI and their son. Both books have references to "mad" kings. In Game of Thrones King Aerys is referred to as the mad king, while in Sunne in Splendour Henry VI is portrayed as incapable of ruling due to bouts of insanity. His wife Queen Marguerite is the decision maker in his stead. The House of York - made up of the Plantagenet family, become rivals for the throne.

In A Game of Thrones Ned Stark, valued adviser to King Robert, is executed, following the ascension to the throne of Robert's heir, Prince Joffrey. In consequence, Ned's young son and heir Robb, who turns 15 during the novel, is forced to lead his fathers armies, in order to protect his family home. He displays strong battle prowess and by the end of the book is proclaimed the "King of the North" by his followers.

In Sunne in Splendour, the 19 year old Edward Plantagenet of the House of York leads an army after his father and brother are killed in a battle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians. Edward proves himself to be charsmatic and a natural battle commander. He leads his men over difficult distances in short periods of time, enabling him to surprise and defeat his enemies. He wins the English crown. This covers just the first part of the book.

Like Robert Baratheon in A Game of Thrones, Edward IV, is a brilliant battle commander, who favoured womanising and drinking, to the business of ruling. Without giving away too much of the plot intricacies, both books portray deceit, betrayals and treachery between friends and relatives.

In both novels, dominant, unscrupulous queens act to protect their power bases. In A Game of Thrones, Queen Cersei, the beautiful consort to King Robert Baratheon, condones several ruthless acts. This includes pushing Bran Stark, Robb's seven year old brother, out a castle window. In Sunne in Splendour Queen Marguerite d'Anjou personally leads armies and orders the murder of Edmund Plantagenet, younger brother to Edward IV.

The books also have characters who live their lives according to their world's codes of honour. In A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark is portrayed as a man honour bound to do what is right. Likewise in A Sunne in Splendour there are very specific expectations of chilvaric behaviour, with characters feeling forced to act in certain ways because of their codes of honour.

Religion also plays a strong role in the worlds of both novels. In A Game of Thrones there is a clash between new and old religions. Certain characters have a strong awareness of nature, and different spiritualities. In Sunne in Splendour, the medieval world is regulated by strict adherance to christianity.

There are a lot of intricacies and plot twists to both novels, that could not possibly be covered here. Suffice to note, that both are great reads. Also, please note, that I am not in any way alleging that the two books contain material that is copied from each othere. Both novels are original works, and written by authors who are clearly very talented. I am just drawing out some of the similarities, in order to tempt readers to explore and appreciate both books.


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