George R.R. Martin is well known for writing the critically acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire, the source material for HBO's Game of Thrones. And with the final season of Game of Thrones underway, now's the perfect time to celebrate some of Martin's lesser-known works. While it’s undeniable that A Song of Ice and Fire contains some of Martin’s best writing, his other fantasy and sci-fi novels are also deserving of love.
Martin is known for his intriguing plots and complex characters, which create an enjoyable and thrilling experience for his readers. Many of the following titles contain these elements, and some have even snagged Martin Hugo and Nebula Award-wins. Take a look at these nine sci-fi and fantasy books by George R.R. Martin, and you'll see that there's a whole rich world outside of Westeros.
A Song for Lya
A Song for Lya snagged Martin his first of many Hugo Awards. The novella centers around two telepaths — Robb, who is able to read people’s feelings — and his lover Lyanna, who is able to read other’s thoughts. The duo explore the planet of Shkea, a highly-religious society that has converted several humans to their beliefs.
While the telepaths are intrigued by the Shkea’s faith, their curiosity turns into paranoia when the converted humans begin to disappear. When Robb and Lyanna uncover the Shkea religion, they discover that the mysterious entity the natives worship is not an unseen force, but rather a terrifying parasitic creature.
In the House of the Worm
A Song of Ice and Fire's world may be bleak, but the setting of In the House of the Worm definitely takes the cake. Set in an underground city on a decaying planet, this revenge story follows the life of the very privileged Annelyn. When Annelyn is humiliated by the Meatbringer, an accomplished hunter, Annelyn gathers his affluent friends help him get revenge.
Once the team of conspirators carries out their plot, everything goes completely wrong and they find themselves deep in their city’s dangerous ruins. What they discover in this long-forgotten area is the terrifying truth behind their ancestors’ religion, which centers around the legendary White Worm.
RELATED: 29 Must-Read Fantasy Book Series
Dying of the Light
Martin’s first ever novel wasn’t filled with the dark medieval-inspired elements prominent in A Song of Ice and Fire, but rather plenty of science fiction components. Dying of the Light takes place on the decaying planet of Worlon, which has been completely ravaged and is on the verge of meeting its end. Upon being summoned to this dying planet, Dirk t’Larien and his lover Gwen Delvano also face the death of their relationship.
After Gwen leaves him and marries into the Kavalar race, her betrothed is revealed to be a savage man who claims ownership over her. After learning this, Dirk realizes that he will do anything to keep Gwen safe from harm, even if it means causing a war on a planet already careening towards apocalypse.
The Ice Dragon
This children’s book filled with dragons is sure to delight adult A Song of Ice and Fire-lovers and younger readers alike. The story centers around Adara, a girl who lives in a frozen land in the north that faces fierce winters. While everyone in her home feared and fled the cold, Adara embraced the frigid air and became known for her love of winter.
One day, Adara stumbles upon a legendary ice dragon that intrigues her. After building a relationship with the creature, Adara starts to ride the beast, and fully develops a bond with the dragon. When a group of fire dragons stumble upon her home, it’s up to Adara and her ice dragon to save the day.
If you’re wondering what would happen if Daenerys’ dragons ran rampant throughout Westeros, look no further than this Hugo Award-winning novelette. While this sci-fi story lacks the fiery creatures, we instead have six-legged insects known as sandkings that grow to be a little out of hand.
The story follows Simon Kress, a wealthy businessman who has a fondness for exotic animals. After he returns from a long business trip, he comes back to a home full of dead pets. Seeking to replace the deceased animals, Simon stumbles upon a new store called Wo & Shade where one of the owners introduces him to multi-colored, insect-like creatures called sandkings.
The owner explains that the sandkings are highly-intelligent, able to build castles, stage wars, and worship their owner as if he were a god. Simon immediately takes these creatures back to his home, and uses them for his amusement as they fight each other over food. However, when the creatures are released from their terrarium, they become a little too big to handle and begin to play their game on a larger-scale.
This sci-fi horror novella follows nine scientists on a mission to find the “volcyrn,” a legendary intergalactic alien species. The only ship these adventurers can use is the Nightflyer, a high-tech space flyer which appears to be sentient. What these researchers don’t know is that by going into deep space, they are at the mercy of an unknown killer.
As violent accidents and events begin to stack up, the crew is faced with an unseen terror that can harm them at any second. Similar to A Song of Ice and Fire, Nightflyers also received a television adaptation in 2018. However, Syfy's adaptation was cancelled in 2019.
The White Walkers from A Song of Ice and Fire have nothing on the monsters in Martin's terrifying horror novel. Abner Marsh is a celebrated steamboat captain who is willing take on any challenge tossed his way. When a strange and disturbingly pale aristocrat named Joshua York approaches Abner about creating the perfect steamboat, the captain is intrigued.
However, Abner is wary about Joshua’s offer, and has a strange feeling that there is more to Joshua than meets the eye. After the duo finally settle on an agreement, Abner takes both of them down the Mississippi. While Abner is focused on the possibility of owning the world’s greatest steamboat, Joshua has other plans in mind for the sailor that involve uniting humanity with his own kind—vampires.
RELATED: 18 Bloody Good Vampire Books
The Armageddon Rag
Sandy Blair is a journalist who had his fair share of reckless rock n’ roll fun in his youth during the '60s. But when a prominent rock promoter is mysteriously murdered, Sandy goes out to investigate the crime. The promoter worked with a rock band called Nazgûl, who was resurrected by a new figure in the rock scene.
As Sandy continues to work out the case, he finds himself reliving his youth. But the nostalgia is short-lived when he learns that Narzgûl’s sound might be the catalyst for the apocalypse. While definitely a shift in genre compared to A Song of Ice and Fire, this novel’s interesting plot points and nostalgia fix is sure to grab readers’ attention.
This novel is made up of the several misadventures of Havliand Tuf, a cat-loving space trader. Tuf navigates the galaxy using Earth’s last 'seedship,' which comes equipped with state-of-the-art offensive components, and powerful ecological engineering tools.
As he travels the galaxy, Tuf comes across worlds he must save, environments that must be tampered with, and terrifying creatures that threaten everyone’s safety. As he stumbles upon these different planets, Tuf gains a reputation and learns that he’s capable of being more than just an honest trader.
RELATED: 10 Best Game of Thrones Quotes
Featured photo from Henry Söderlund via Wikimedia Commons