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Political Fantasy Books

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Fantasy books with a heavy dose of politics and intrigue. Often, the entire focus of the story might take place in a royal court setting and feature politicking and maneuvering by the various parties. Other stories may incorporate politics and social struggles between various parties (it doesn't always have to be in a court setting).
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A Game Of Thrones

by George R.R. Martin

2.9 avg rating
BSFA
Nebula
World Fantasy

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The Blade Itself

by Joe Abercrombie

4 avg rating

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The Way Of Kings

by Brandon Sanderson

3.67 avg rating
Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga,  begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

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The Curse Of Chalion

by Lois McMaster Bujold

A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril returns to the noble household he once served as page and is named secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it must ultimately lead him to the place he most fears: the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies who once placed him in chains now occupy lofty positions.

But it is more than the traitorous intrigues of villains that threaten Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle here, for a sinister curse hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion. And only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge -- an act that will mark him as a tool of the miraculous . . . and trap him in a lethal maze of demonic paradox.

Hugo
BSFA
World Fantasy

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Daughter Of The Empire

by Pamela Hicks

5 avg rating
A magical memoir about a singular childhood in England and India by the daughter of Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten

Few families can boast of not one but two saints among their ancestors, a great-aunt who was the last tsarina of Russia, a father who was Grace Kelly’s pinup, and a grandmother who was not only a princess but could also argue the finer points of naval law. Pamela Mountbatten entered a remarkable family when she was born at the very end of the Roaring Twenties.

As the younger daughter of the glamorous heiress Edwina Ashley and Lord Louis Mountbatten, Pamela spent much of her early life with her sister, nannies, and servants—and a menagerie that included, at different times, a bear, two wallabies, a mongoose, and a lion. Her parents each had lovers who lived openly with the family. The house was always full of guests like Sir Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Douglas Fairbanks, and the Duchess of Windsor (who brought a cold cooked chicken as a hostess gift).

When World War II broke out, Lord Mountbatten was in command of HMS Kelly before being appointed chief of Combined Operations, and Pamela and her sister were sent to live on Fifth Avenue in New York City with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1947, her parents were appointed to be the last viceroy and vicereine of India and oversee the transfer of power to an independent Indian government. Amid the turmoil of political change, Pamela worked with student leaders, developed warm friendships with Gandhi and Nehru, and witnessed both the joy of Independence Day and its terrible aftermath. Soon afterwards, she was a bridesmaid in Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip, and was a ladyin- waiting at the young princess’s side when she learned her father had died and she was queen.

Vivid and engaging, well-paced and superbly detailed, this witty, intimate memoir is an enchanting lens through which to view the early part of the twentieth century.

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The Lies Of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch

“Remarkable . . . Scott Lynch’s first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, exports the suspense and wit of a cleverly constructed crime caper into an exotic realm of fantasy, and the result is engagingly entertaining.”—The Times (London)
 
An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.
 
Praise for The Lies of Locke Lamora
 
“Fresh, original, and engrossing . . . gorgeously realized.”—George R. R. Martin
 
“A unique fantasy milieu peopled by absorbing, colorful characters . . . Locke’s wit and audacity endear him to victims and bystanders alike.”The Seattle Times
 
“A true genre bender, at home on almost any kind of fiction shelf . . . Lynch immediately establishes himself as a gifted and fearless storyteller, unafraid of comparisons to Silverberg and Jordan, not to mention David Liss and even Dickens.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“High-octane fantasy . . . a great swashbuckling yarn of a novel.”—Richard Morgan


From the Hardcover edition.
British Fantasy Society
World Fantasy
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The Killing Moon

by

5 avg rating
The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh's great temple, Ehiru - the most famous of the city's Gatherers - must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess' name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh's alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill - or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
Nebula
BSFA
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Luck In Shadows

by Lynn Flewelling

"A new star is rising in the fantasy firmament...teems with magic and spine-chilling amounts of skullduggery."–Dave Duncan, author of The Great Game

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.
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Under Heaven

by Guy Gavriel Kay

4 avg rating
BSFA
World Fantasy

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Kushiel's Dart

by

4 avg rating
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A Shadow In Summer

by Daniel Abraham

1 avg rating
The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless's bonded poet-sorcerer, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan.
 
In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht, either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever.

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Iron Council

by China Mieville

BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
Hugo
World Fantasy
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The Guilded Chain

by Dave Duncan

As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty.And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protecting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet Destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight—for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treason and foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve. The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation—and few ever return unscathed. As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty. And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protcting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet Destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight—for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treasonand foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve. The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation—and few ever return unscathed.

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