People who know me know that I am a giant nerd. My friends know this. My colleagues here at Penguin know this. In fact, I think it would be safe to say, given my career path, that I’m a professional nerd. And nothing makes a professional nerd happier than a weekend when not one but two of her favorite fandoms collide. Thus it was with great joy that I greeted the return of both Doctor Who and Game of Thrones on television this past weekend. Yes, I know my joy will be short-lived; both of these shows have notoriously short seasons, and – in the case of Doctor Who – often go on a ridiculously long hiatus mid-season. (Seriously, BBC, what is up with that?) If you’re at all like me, you grok that even waiting a week between episodes can be torture. How, then, does a nerd kill time until the next episode of Doctor Who or Game of Thrones? If you’re lucky enough to work for one of the largest publishing companies on the planet – like I do! – you just might have a lot of nerdy editor pals offering book recommendations.

For all of you Doctor Who fans, we have a couple of books filled with wibbly wobbly timey wimey goodness:

shadaDoctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts is based on the screenplay of an un-aired episode of Doctor Who written by the late, great Douglas Adams. Shada was originally intended to wrap up Season 17 (that would be the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker’s incarnation, for those keeping score) but a strike at BBC kept the episode from being completed. The storyline is considered Doctor Who canon, however. And props to Roberts, who does a superb job of keeping the tone of Douglas Adams’ original screenplay. For the avid Doctor Who fan, Doctor Who: Shada is a must-read.


wheel_of_iceOur second recommendation, Doctor Who: Wheel of Ice, is an all-original story by award-winning science fiction writer Stephen Baxter, and features the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton’s incarnation) and fan-favorite companions Jamie and Zoe (what, you thought only the Eleventh Doctor traveled with couples?). Wheel of Ice takes place on a giant ring of ice and metal orbiting Saturn, where children mine resources for a greedy Earth. Like every good Doctor Who story, there’s more here than meets the eyes, and the Doctor uncovers a mystery that harkens back to the creation of the solar system itself. (Come on, you KNOW you want to read this!)


Game of Thrones more your style? Lots of swords and beheadings and grubby soldiers? The occasional woman disguised as a man, battling at the front? Exiled princes struggling to regain a throne? Lots of mead drinking and fisticuffs in taverns? The rise and fall of entire kingdoms? Yeah, we got the good stuff right here:

king_of_thornsMark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series – Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns and the forthcoming Emperor of Thorns – tells the tale of young Prince Honorious Jorg Ancrath. As a nine-year-old, Jorg is forced to watch a rival slaughter his family; by the time he is thirteen, he is the ruthless and amoral leader of a band of feared mercenaries. But his ultimate goal (like any good exiled royal!) is to retake his throne and wreak bloody vengeance on the men who destroyed his family. Lawrence offers up strong world building, memorable characters and an intense read; perfect for George R.R. Martin fans.



Want more epic with your fantasy? In Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms, the murder of a young winemaker inadvertently leads to a series of events that threaten to topple three kingdoms and destroy a peace that has lasted for centuries. Written for younger readers, Falling Kingdoms is nevertheless an enjoyable read for adult fantasy fans, particularly fans of GRRM and Brandon Sanderson.



Want less magic and more history? Canadian bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest book River of Stars offers readers a breathtaking epic set in a richly reimagined Song Dynasty China. (Check out this amazing review in the Washington Post!)




In case those weren’t enough, here are some forthcoming titles to watch out for, too!

the_city thousand_names grim_company

The City by Stella Gemmell:  Stella Gemmell proves that she’s a worthy successor to her late husband David Gemmell in this extraordinary debut novel. (I was totally blown away by this book. This is some seriously dark epic fantasy.) Pubs on June 4, 2013.

The Thousand Names: Book One of the Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler: Another fantastic debut novel, and one that has become an in-house favorite. (Don’t tell Rosanne that I stole a copy of this galley out of her office, okay?) Pubs on July 2, 2013.

The Grim Company by Luke Scull: Picture the Magnificent Seven set in an epic fantasy world. (Dude, just trust me on this.) Pubs on September 3, 2013.

Good reading, everyone!

- Colleen Lindsay






  1. Marjorie
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize Falling Kingdoms was geared to younger readers (I am 56) when I purchased it in December for my Nook. Despite that, your review has me intriqued and I am looking forward to reading it.

  2. Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi there! Yes, Falling Kingdoms was published by Razorbill, one of our Penguin Young readers imprints. They have great books geared to YA. But the truth is that young adult is a huge crossover market; I read YA books all the time, as do most of the adult genre fiction readers I know. That’s why I have no problem recommending it to adult readers. Think about how many adults read The Hunger Games, which was also published as a young adult book. For me at least, it’s the storytelling that matters.

    I hope you enjoy it! Cheers!

  3. Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Is Guy Gavriel Kay back on form then? Tigana is perhaps the best fantasy novel ever. Fionavar tapestry is outstanding also, but his following novels left me a little cold. Maybe I needs to get me a copy of River of Stars.

  4. Posted April 4, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Hi Jenny!

    River of Stars and his previous novel Under Heaven (a prequel of sorts) are very different than Tigana. They’re set in world very much influenced by Chinese history, and they read almost like historical fiction and less like pure epic fantasy. That being said, he is a remarkable writer, and I encourage you to give either Under Heaven or River of Stars a chance. Do click on the link above to the Washington Post review of River of Stars, which reads like a love letter to the novel.

    If you do read it,. check in here and let us know how you enjoyed it! Cheers!

  5. Posted April 4, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the suggestions. River of Stars sounds intriguing, a different kind of world building. I dip into YA too.

    As for GoT, I’m loving Season Three so far as the story is set up. Have to go to a friend’s to watch it on HBO. I’m tapping my fingers for the next book in the series. Got to hear Martin read two chapters from his manuscript last summer in Seattle.

  6. Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Janet! Yeah, I think HBO has done a fantastic job with bringing a very complicated storyline to television. And casting Peter Dinklage as Tyrion was just brilliant.

  7. Posted April 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff here! I will definitely have to check some of these out! I’ve been dying to find more fantasy that’s a bit more to my taste than the likes of R.A. Salvator and Terry Goodkind. I’ve never been a big fan of the Sword and Sorcery genre, but I love books like the Song of Ice and Fire series, the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell (or practically anything else by Bernard Cornwell for that matter), and even the highly under-rated Ranger’s Apprentice novels by John Flanagan (these are also YA fiction, and do start off rather juvenile, but after book 3 they really flesh out and become an excellent series for teens and adults alike). In short, I’m partial to fantasy that reads more like historical fiction (or in some cases just some good straight-up historical fiction, like the aforementioned Cornwell novels).
    Unfortunately, I find this sort of literature remarkably difficult to lay my hands on. The moment I read a line in a synopsis that goes something like, “The young K’Tyaaar D’k'naptrick must find the Great Power Source and restore Magick to Krantokthia before it’s too late,” etc. I find myself immediately losing interest.
    I’ll no doubt be sticking my nose into a few of these to see what they have to offer, and since it seems like you may have a similar taste in fantasy to my own, I would love to hear any other recommendations you may have!

  8. Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Michael – Have you read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss? Great stuff. And at the risk of ticking off my employers, I also highly recommend David Anthony Durham’s ACACIA series, which is published by Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House.

  9. Posted April 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Haha, no worries, and thanks for the suggestions! I haven’t checked those out, but I will certainly have to look into them! Thanks again! And may your employers not mount your head on a pike ;)

  10. Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Cheers, Michael! Let us know if you read and like any of the suggested books! We love hearing from readers! Have a great weekend!

  11. Melanie
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Just to echo Colleen’s remark, ‘Under Heaven’ is one of the best books I’ve EVER read. I’m so looking forward to ‘River of Stars’, but I’ll also have to try his older works,too…

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