Interplanetary Love: Our Favorite Romances in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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Romance might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. Let’s face it, a lot of us come for intergalactic intrigue, swashbuckling heroes, badass heroines, and all the attendant fun. But in between bludgeoning orcs, outshooting stormtroopers, and outwitting the fae, our intrepid heroes have been known to find love in the midst of all that SFF action. Here’s a few of our favorite sci-fi and fantasy couplings.

The cover of the book OutlanderOutlander
DIANA GABALDON
Claire & Jamie

These time-displaced lovers sit firmly at the heart of the Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Claire Randall is determined to find her way back to 1945 after being mysteriously transported to 1743 Scotland. But after a chance encounter with the swashbuckling Jamie Fraser, Claire’s return to her own time becomes a tad less… pressing.

 

The cover of the book Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess LeiaStar Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia
DAVE WOLVERTON
Leia & Han

What more really needs to be said about Han Solo and Leia Organa? The roguish smuggler and the daring princess are arguably the most beloved coupling in sci-fi. While the beginnings of their love story made for a compelling part of the original film trilogy (and pop culture’s most infamous utterance of “I know”), their continued relationship through the Star Wars Legends timeline is really why they made this list.

 

The cover of the book FablesFables
BILL WILLINGHAM
Snow White and Bigby Wolf

Bill Willingham created one of the most compelling worlds in comics with Fables, which debuted in 2002, and the will-they-or-won’t-they, more-than-a-little-rocky courtship of Bigby Wolf and Snow White was definitely a major reason for that. While their relationship certainly didn’t begin under the best of circumstances (and those circumstances most definitely did not age well), Bigby and Snow nonetheless managed to find love in spite of Bigby’s gruff, hard-boiled exterior.

 

The cover of the book The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride
WILLIAM GOLDMAN
Westley and Buttercup

A quintessential – if off-kilter – fairy tale romance in what may be the greatest of all fairy tale send-ups. Despite his beginnings as a humble stable boy and a run-in with a particularly band of legendary pirates, Westley always manages to find his way back to his beloved. “As you wish,” indeed.

 

The cover of the book LegendLegend
MARIE LU
June & Day

These star-crossed lovers most definitely came from different sides of the dystopian track. He was born in the slums and became the most wanted criminal in the country. She was an elite prodigy at the military academy, sworn to bring him to justice. Of course, they’re going to fall in love and it’s going to get all complicated. How else could it go?

 

The cover of the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
J. K. ROWLING
Molly and Arthur Weasley

We never get to see the Weasleys in the heyday of their courtship, but they are a perfect illustration of the way great relationships evolve. Arthur and Molly are still very much in love, but it’s a love that’s been tempered by conflict and strengthened by family. It’s well-worn, well-loved, and comfortable. May we all be so lucky.

 

The cover of the book The Left Hand of DarknessThe Left Hand of Darkness
URSULA K. LE GUIN
Estraven & his sibling

The impact of the late Ursula K. Le Guin on fantasy and science fiction literature truly can’t be overstated. Her startlingly imaginative and daring fiction influenced an entire generation of writers. With The Left Hand of Darkness, she created not only one of science fiction’s most thought-provoking reads, but also one of the all-time great tragic and forbidden romances. The novel is set on a planet whose inhabitants are androgynous and is a brilliant examination – and upending – of conventional gender norms. Near its center is the love story between Therem Harth rem ir Estraven and his sibling, Arek Harth rem ir Estraven. The relationship underpins the entirety of Estraven’s story arc and Le Guin reveals the devastating, touching details of their relationship with a deft and empathetic hand.

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SFF BFFs: The Best Friendships in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Love between friends holds a lot of meanings, and devoted companions can be found in many of the stories and adventures readers hold closest to their hearts. Here are some of our favorite friendships from science fiction and fantasy – you can share some of your own favorite friends in the comments.

The cover of the book The Fellowship of the RingThe Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. TOLKIEN
Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took are two of Frodo’s cousins who join his quest to destroy the One Ring. Friendship is one of the reasons the hobbits join the Fellowship of the Ring in the first place, and Merry and Pippin’s friendship is especially close, both before the story begins as well as throughout the trilogy. They balance one another out, which comes in handy quite a bit over the course of their adventure, and the way they care about each other and the rest of their friends makes them one of the best BFF pairs in fantasy.

 

The cover of the book RadiantRadiant
KARINA SUMNER-SMITH
Magicless Xhea scrounges up a semblance of a living in the City, where magic abounds, by carrying the burden of others’ ghosts – for a price. And one of the ghosts she takes on is Shai, who generates so much magical power that she’s used as fuel. Together, the girls could stop a war or become a terrible weapon, but their loyalty to one another may be their greatest strength.

 

 

The cover of the book Swords and DeviltrySwords and Deviltry
FRITZ LEIBER
Gigantic Fafhrd and small Mouser make for an odd couple, but the protagonists of Fritz Leiber’s classic sword-and-sorcery stories are the closest of friends. Both also tend to have attitudes almost directly opposite of their own natures: Fafhrd talks like a romantic despite his pragmatism, and while Mouser talks like a cynic, he’s got his own streak of sentimentality. The two adventurers travel a long road together – they appear in dozens of Leiber’s stories – but one thing remains constant: their enduring friendship.

 

The cover of the book Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic)Sandry’s Book (Circle of Magic)
TAMORA PIERCE
An orphaned noble, the exiled daughter of a merchant family, a Trader cast out as cursed, and a talented pickpocket – Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar, the four protagonists of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic novels, couldn’t be more different when they walk into Discipline, the cottage where they’ll live as they learn to control their magic. But they soon become entwined, both in their friendships and their magic, and the relationship between them endures the tests of plague, war, and the slow dissolution of childhood bonds as they grow into adulthood.

 

The cover of the book FalloutFallout
GWENDA BOND
When Lois Lane first moves to Metropolis, she joins the student journalist program at the Daily Planet with a few other kids from her new school – including Maddy, a budding journalist who wears a different band tee every day and doesn’t shy away from any of the mishaps—er, adventures—Lois gets herself into. For an Army brat like Lois, it’s the first real friendship she’s ever had, and the loyalty between the two is one of the best parts of Gwenda Bond’s young adult adaptation.

 

The cover of the book The Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora
SCOTT LYNCH
In the criminal underworld of Camorr, the Gentleman Bastards are a group of elite con artists led by Locke Lamora, a clever and daring smooth-talker whose unlikely best friend is Jean Tannen, a soft-spoken man whose temper has a deadly reputation.

 

 

 

The cover of the book Sailor Moon 1Sailor Moon 1
NAOKO TAKEUCHI
Usagi Tsukino is extremely average – except for the whole thing where she becomes magical guardian Sailor Moon whenever evil threatens her city. Though at first she starts off fighting evil alone, she’s soon joined by four other Sailor Scouts – Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako – who become her closest friends. Or maybe “become” isn’t the best word: their friendship is so strong, it’s carried them together through reincarnation.

 

The cover of the book Fool's AssassinFool’s Assassin
ROBIN HOBB
An illegitimately-born assassin and a court jester who might be a prophet are either the strangest pair of friends or the perfect pair of friends. In Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings novels, assassin FitzChivalry Farseer and the jester known only as the Fool are the latter. While the Fool’s riddles can sometimes frustrate Fitz, he still thinks of the Fool as one of his closest friends, and the Fool admits his love for Fitz has no bounds. Fitz and the Fool are friends who’d risk it all to save one another – and they do many times throughout their lives.

 

The cover of the book UprootedUprooted
NAOMI NOVIK
Every ten years, a wizard called the Dragon takes a young woman from Agnieszka and Kasia’s village, and everyone knows Kasia will be the next to be taken. Beautiful, brave, talented Kasia, not clumsy Agnieszka who can’t walk ten feet without getting dirty. But the Dragon takes Agnieszka because of her latent magic, and Agnieszka is determined to use her power to save Kasia when her life is endangered.

5 Great Reads for Fans of SyFy’s ‘The Magicians’

“The Magicians”/SyFy ©

“The Magicians” returns in 2019 for season four! In celebration of this great series, here’s our list of great books that “The Magicians” fans of might enjoy.

The cover of the book The MagiciansThe Magicians

LEV GROSSMAN

Obviously, reading the novels that spawned the series should be your first step. If you love one, you’re bound to love the other, and this is definitely a situation in which the two are different enough that they can be enjoyed based on their own merits.

 

 

The cover of the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

SUSANNA CLARKE

Rivalries are a fact of life among the magicians of Brakebills, as they are in Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In Regency England, magic is has become the province of armchair sorcerers and academic theoreticians. No one actually practices the art. No one, that is, but Gilbert Norrell: a reclusive magician who believes the time has come to bring the art to the aid of his country. His apprentice, Jonathan Strange, shows great promise in the mystic sciences, but seems to have very different ideas about how they are best applied.

 

The cover of the book The Chronicles of NarniaThe Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. LEWIS

There’s no way around reading The Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis’ great work of allegorical fiction was a big influence on author Lev Grossman’s land of Fillory. Comparing and contrasting Fillory and Narnia should be a fun exercise for any fan of “The Magicians”.

 

The cover of the book Sorcerer to the CrownSorcerer to the Crown

ZEN CHO

In Lev Grossman’s novels, you’re not likely to know that magic exists unless you’re invited to Brakebills. So why is magic in such short supply in the mundane world? That’s the question that sorcerer Zacharias Waythe sets on to answer in Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown. The search for an answer leads him to Prunella Gentlewoman, a — gasp — woman with immense power.

 

The cover of the book The HikeThe Hike

DREW MAGARY

“The Magicians” is a great series, but would you really want to step into a world of magic? Say what you will about the mundane world, but at least there’s practically no chance you’ll be consumed by a giant or chopped into pieces by angry dog-men. These are serious possibilities for the hapless hero of Drew Magary’s novel The Hike, the story of a man who takes one wrong turn on what was supposed to be an ordinary walk through the woods.

Genre Friday: Sword and Planet Fiction

Is it fantasy or is it science-fiction?

Yes.

While it might be past it’s prime as a genre it remains a fascinating and fun mash-up of beloved genres, themes and tropes. Interested? Keep reading to get a quick intro from Unbound Worlds.

So You Want to Read Sword and Planet Fiction: Here’s Where to Start

Mash together fantasy’s sword-swinging heroes, and the far-out alien civilizations of early science-fiction, and you’ve got Sword and Planet fiction. Arguably the brainchild of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sword and Planet tales usually features human protagonists adventuring on a planet teeming with life, intelligent or otherwise. Science takes a backseat to romance and derring-do in Sword and Planet stories, with little if any consideration given to the actual conditions on Mars, Venus, or wherever else the story takes place.

It isn’t as popular of a genre as it once was. Honestly, like the fanciful canals that we once thought crisscrossed Mars, Sword and Planet is all but extinct as an idea. So little was known about our planetary neighbors in the days of Edgar Rice Burroughs, so It was easier for readers to imagine intelligent life on Mars, or Venus. Reading tastes have changed, too. Episodic, pulp-flavored fantasy has fallen in favor, replaced in the public imagination by epic fantasies that stretch across multiple volumes.

Where Sword and Planet can really be seen today is in the influence it has had on popular culture. The lightsabers, blasters, and planet-hopping heroics of “Star Wars” probably wouldn’t exist were it not for Sword and Planet. Neither would “Avatar” or “Stargate”. Regardless of its current status, the classics of Sword and Planet literature are still very much worth seeking out, and with this list we hope to provide you with a good starting point.

The cover of the book A Princess of MarsA Princess of Mars

EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

Before there was Tarzan, there was John Carter: a renegade Civil War veteran mysteriously transported to Mars: home to a dying civilization locked in eternal conflict with enemy barbarian tribes. There, among a people entirely unlike any he has ever met, Carter will find everything he ever wanted: adventure, riches, and love.

 

The cover of the book The Ginger StarThe Ginger Star

LEIGH BRACKETT

Leigh Brackett was one of the pulp era’s great women writers. She has never quite gotten her due, despite having not only written many great novels, but also first draft of a little film titled “Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”.  The Ginger Star is the first volume in her series, The Book of Skaith: a collection of tales starring outlaw spacer Eric John Stark. In this installment, Stark has to rescue his foster father from the Lords Protector: a group of despots guarded by vicious, telepathic dog creatures.

 

The cover of the book Planet of AdventurePlanet of Adventure

JACK VANCE

Jack Vance is, of course, famous for his Dying Earth stories — and deservedly so. However, he wrote a lot of other things, among them Planet of Adventure: a cycle of four novels chronicling the adventures of Adam Reith: a space traveler stranded on Tschai: a savage alien planet home to slavers, murderers, and monsters.

 

The cover of the book Transit to ScorpioTransit to Scorpio

KENNETH BULMER

The Dray Prescot series was one of Sword and Planet’s longest series, clocking in at 52 volumes in total. In Transit to Scorpio, the first book in the line, adventurer Dray Presott finds himself ensnared in a planetary chess game far larger than any he has ever encountered.

 

The cover of the book ParagaeaParagaea

CHRIS ROBERSON

Paragaea is the story of Leena Cirikov, a Soviet astronaut inexplicably transported to a strange world of mystery and adventure. Fortunately for Cirikov, she’s not the only Earthling trapped in this dimension. There’s also Lieutenant Heironymous Bonaventure of the Royal Navy: an officer who left home to fight Napoleon and never returned. Bonaventure, along with his jaguar man companion Balam, have agree to help Cirikov find a way home, but is their mission a futile one?

 

The cover of the book Old MarsOld Mars

EDITED BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN AND GARDNER DOZOIS

Editors George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois invite readers to explore the Mars of yesterday: an ancient planet of deserts, ruined cities, and canals twisting through the endless red sands. Featuring stories by Michael Moorcock, S. M. Stirling, Liz Williams, and many more, Old Mars will leave you longing to visit a world that has never been.

 

The cover of the book Old VenusOld Venus

EDITED BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN & GARDNER DOZOIS

In this follow-up to Old Mars, a collection of award-winning authors tell tales of the Venus of yesterday: a steamy, jungle planet teeming with dangerous alien life. Contributors include, Gwyneth Jones, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Haldeman, and others.

So You Want to Read Viking Fantasy Fiction: Here’s Where to Start

Pixabay (CC0)

The Viking Age may have officially ended in 1066 with the Battle of Stamford Bridge, but stories of the fierce Norse raiders and their deeds continue to enthrall. Even today, over 950 years later, an encounter with Viking warriors is only as far away as your television screen, local movie house, video game system, or bookshelf.

While it might be a stretch to call Viking Fantasy its own genre, the sheer preponderance of Scandinavian-flavored fantasy fiction would certainly seem enough to support the claim that it is a sub-genre. Axe-wielding bearded warriors, longboats, Odin and Thor, trolls, berserkers, valkyries, and icy seas: These are some of the things that make Viking Fantasy, and if you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve got you covered.

The cover of the book SE Last Light of the Sun (Canadian Ed)The Last Light of the Sun

GUY GAVRIEL KAY

Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Last Light of the Sun is a tale set in a fantasy world very much like western Europe during the height of the Viking era: a time when Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and of course, Norse cultures clashed for control of land, gold, shipping lanes, and other resources. Featuring a cast of nobles, outcast warriors, and even faeries, this is a great book for anyone looking for an engrossing new world in which to get lost.

 

The cover of the book Eaters of the DeadEaters of the Dead

MICHAEL CRICHTON

Michael Crichton took a break from techno-thrillers for this exciting tale of an Arab courtier who finds himself traveling with a band of Viking warriors. Unknown to him, his traveling companions are traveling northward to aid an ally in a fight against a bestial enemy that raids by night. Eaters of the Dead is a retelling of the ancient saga Beowulf, but one with some unexpectedly Crichtonesque flourishes. You’ll see when you read it.

 

The cover of the book Half a KingHalf a King

JOE ABERCROMBIE

Prince Yarvi was born with only one good hand in a warrior’s world: one where men rule by axe and shield. Rejected by his father as an unsuitable heir to the throne, Yarvi is left with no choice but to find his own way and reclaim a kingdom he wasn’t sure he wanted in the first place. Abercrombie’s Viking-inspired world hides its share of secrets. Prepare to be surprised.

 

The cover of the book Hrolf Kraki’s SagaHrolf Kraki’s Saga

POUL ANDERSON

Poul Anderson was proud of his Scandinavian heritage and often drew from it while writing his science fiction and fantasy fiction. Hrolf Kraki’s Saga is based on an authentic Norse saga about a legendary Viking hero and his band of twelve companions. Hrolf Kraki is a brave but flawed hero: a man consumed by his appetites and vengeful nature — traits that ultimately bring his kingdom down around him.

 

The cover of the book The Swords of Good MenThe Swords of Good Men

SNORRI KRISTJANSSON

Two years ago, Ulfar Thormodsson disgraced his father. His punishment? Escort his highborn cousin on a tour of the kingdom. Their journey was supposed to end at the gates of the town of Stenvik, but it seems that the two men have arrived just in time for a war between old ways and new.

 

The cover of the book A Companion to WolvesA Companion to Wolves

SARAH MONETTE AND ELIZABETH BEAR

The wolfcarls, warriors bonded to ferocious wolves, defended the people of their frozen realm against trolls, wyverns, and other terrors for many an age. Now it appears that their usefulness has come to an end. The monsters who once ravaged their lands seem to have disappeared, and with them the saga of the wolfcarls. But appearances can be deceiving, and it may not be time for the people to let down their guard yet.

 

The cover of the book The Hammer and the CrossThe Hammer and the Cross

HARRY HARRISON

The British Isles may be in the hands of feuding kings, but the Church is the true power behind the thrones. Everyone fears the threat of damnation — everyone, that is, but the Viking raiders that harry the shores of England. As the powers that be squabble, Shef, the son of a Norseman and a captive English lady, prepares for a future of war and the possibility of a kingdom of his own.

 

The cover of the book The Sea of TrollsThe Sea of Trolls

NANCY FARMER

Jack and his sister Lucy are kidnapped from their Saxon village and taken to the court of the Viking chieftain Ivar the Boneless and his half-troll wife. When Jack accidentally casts a spell on her, he is sent forth into the land of the trolls to search for a way to reverse the magic. He won’t be alone, though: accompanying him is the shield maiden and would-be berserker Thorgill, and a mysterious crow that answers to the name Bold Heart.

8 Completed Series for Fantasy Fans to Devour

by Hayley, January 29, 2018, first appearing on Goodreads Blog

Fantasy fans are patient—not by nature, but by necessity. Coming of age in libraries full of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ books left them hungry for more, greedy for magical adventure and emotionally satisfying conclusions. Many of them having been learning to live without the latter for a very long time.

Take George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The first book, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996. Over two decades and one HBO show later, the final two books in the series are severely overdue with no confirmed release date in sight. Meanwhile, fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ 2007 fantasy bestseller, The Name of the Wind, waited four years for the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, and have now been waiting seven years for the conclusion to the trilogy.

It’s rough. For those of you who want your epics without accompanying “sequel angst,” check out our roundup of highly rated, completed fantasy series. (It’s by no means an exhaustive list, so please recommend your favorites in the comments!)

 

The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Start the series with The Eye of the World

Total books: 14

 

Farseer Trilogy

Robin Hobb

Start the series with Assassin’s Apprentice

Total books: 3 (plus additional series set in the same world)

 

The First Law

Joe Abercrombie

Start the series with The Blade Itself

Total book: 3

 

Mistborn

Brandon Sanderson

Start the series with The Final Empire

Total books: 3 (plus 4 additional books set 300 years later)

 

The Broken Earth

N.K. Jemisin

Start the series with The Fifth Season

Total books: 3

 

The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Steven Erikson

Start the series with Gardens of the Moon

Total books: 10

 

The Riyria Revelations

Michael J. Sullivan

Start the series with Theft of Swords

Total books: 3 (originally published as 6 books)

 

Powder Mage

Brian McClellan

Start the series with Promise of Blood

Total books: 3

Beyond Baba Yaga: 8 Eastern European-Inspired Fantasies

Photo by Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

Eastern European mythology, literature, and history are a gold mine for fans of speculative fiction. From the rich depth of Slavic folklore to the drama of the region’s history, there’s a wealth of elements for unfamiliar readers to discover, especially as translations from countries such as Russia and Poland make their way across the pond.

Readers interested in exploring Eastern European speculative fiction can check out these works by authors currently or previously living in Eastern European countries, as well as titles by American authors that draw inspiration from the region.

 

The cover of the book UprootedUprooted

NAOMI NOVIK

Every ten years, a girl from Agniezka’s village is taken by the wizard known as the Dragon who protects them from harm, and none of them return, even after the Dragon sets them free. Agniezka believes her perfect best friend Kasia will be the one chosen – but the Dragon chooses Agniezka instead.

This award-winning standalone novel begins as a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast with decidedly Eastern European influences. Novik crafts a fantastic world in Uprooted, so much so that it’s worth a read just to see what she does with it. And if you’re really into it, Novik’s returning readers to the same universe with the upcoming Spinning Silver.

 

The cover of the book Blood of ElvesBlood of Elves

ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI

The first novel in Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher Saga was published in the U.S. in 2009, following the 2007 release of The Witcher video game. Blood of Elves follows the series’ eponymous witcher, Geralt of Rivia, an assassin working to protect a child being hunted for her extraordinary powers.

Possibly the most widely-known franchise on the list, the Witcher Saga comprises 5 novels (the final book, Season of Storms, will be released April 2018) as well as two short story collections, which are both available in English. You may want to pick this series up fast: it’s currently being adapted as a Netflix series.

 

The cover of the book DeathlessDeathless

CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE

Deathless marries the Slavic folklore figure Koschei the Deathless with the war-ravaged Russia of the early twentieth century. Its heroine, Marya Morevna, is whisked away from post-Russian Revolution Leningrad by Koschei, who intends to take her as his bride.

Valente explores an older Russian tale in the context of the wars taking place across Europe during the early twentieth century, from the Russian Revolution to the second world war and beyond.

 

The cover of the book There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's BabyThere Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby

LUDMILLA PETRUSHEVSKAYA

I have to admit that out of the Ludmilla Petrushevskaya books currently available in English, I picked this one because of the impressively long, impressively creepy title. And with the subtitle “Scary Fairy Tales,” there’s got to be something in this short story collection to enthrall you.

Petrushevskaya was born in 1938 Moscow, and her supernatural tales allude to the bleak realities of life under the Soviet Union. There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby is a must-read introduction to one of Russia’s most prolific writers.

 

The cover of the book Blood Rose RebellionBlood Rose Rebellion

ROSALYN EVES

Unable to control her mysterious ability to break spells – and causing a disaster at her sister’s debut – British-born Anna Arden is banished to live with distant relatives in 1847 Hungary, where she’s drawn into the conspiracies simmering and about to boil over in the country.

The first book in Eves’ young adult fantasy trilogy is wonderfully researched and immersive, capturing the political unrest pervasive during the era. There are even some characters based on real people of 1840s Hungary, including one most readers might recognize: a young boy named Franz Ferdinand. Blood Rose Rebellion is an enthralling fantasy read, and it’s also one that can lead readers down new paths to learn about history they may not have encountered before.

 

The cover of the book Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone

LEIGH BARDUGO

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a soldier – at least until she accidentally unleashes magic she had no idea she even possessed. Drafted into the Grisha, the elite magical branch of the Ravka military, Alina struggles to learn how to manage her gift as the threat against Ravka grows.

Bardugo’s young adult Shadow and Bone trilogy is an absolute adventure and incorporates not only inspiration from Russian culture and history, but others as well. The trilogy is complete with Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, for readers (like myself) who love binging the entire series at once.

 

The cover of the book The Bear and the NightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale

KATHERINE ARDEN

Set at the edge of Russian wilderness, The Bear and the Nightingale is another novel that draws on the wealth of Eastern European folklore to craft a fantastical tale. Vasilisa and her siblings have always honored the spirits in their household – until their father comes home with a new wife, whose religious beliefs are at odds with the traditions Vasya has long held.

The Bear and the Nightingale is an excellent next-read for those who already read Uprooted, and as a story set in the icy Russian wilderness, it’s also a great book to cozy up with when snowed out of work or school.

 

The cover of the book Night WatchNight Watch

SERGEI LUKYANENKO

In Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series, supernatural beings known as Others swear allegiance to one of two factions: the Light and the Dark. Anton Gorodetsky is a Light magician who works for the Night Watch, which has helped to maintain peace for hundreds of years – but a cursed Other without an alliance may shatter that peace once and for all.

Night Watch is more of a thriller than a fairy tale, and the urban fantasy setting makes it a refreshing contrast to many of the titles on the list. Two films based on the series were released in Russia, and the complete six-book Night Watch series has been translated and published in the U.S.