Genre Friday Returns! with Court Intrigue Fantasy

Whether it is set on Earth (past, present or future), in a parallel world or universe, or a mystic realm where the familiar laws of nature do not apply, Fantasy allows imagination to run wild. True to this idea, Fantasy’s many subgenres can vary from one another a great deal, encompassing just about anything one could imagine, which helps to explain the genre’s ever-growing breadth and depth.

The Court Intrigue subgenre of Fantasy generally focuses on and around royalty and the ruling elite. Settings can be anything from a well known historical backdrop (but with magic or something) to some unrecognizable alternate world but we are almost always going to be dealing with the upper crust of society and their despicable plotting and scheming. The plots of these stories are often complex and heavily entangled with politics, power grabs, espionage, assassinations (successful and attempted), court scandal and everything else that you would expect from a political thriller, but normally set in feudal, medieval-esque surroundings with sorcerers and dragons about.


A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Trying to decide what to check out next?

The New York Times Best Sellers List is a good place to start. Here is what currently tops the list for fiction:


  1. A DOG’S PURPOSE by W. Bruce Cameron – 8 weeks on the List

A canine narrator undergoes a series of reincarnations.

       2.  A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman – 36 weeks on the List

A curmudgeon’s gruff exterior masks a generosity of spirit. Originally published in Sweden in 2014.

  1. NEVER NEVER by James Patterson and Candice Fox – 2 weeks on the List

Harriet Blue, a Sydney sex crimes detective, is sent to the outback (the never never) to investigate the disappearance of a mine worker. The first in a new series.

  1. POWER GAME by Christine Feehan – NEW this week

A super-soldier with enhanced abilities teams up with a genetically engineered spy in this Ghostwalker novel.

  1. DARK HUMANITY by Gwynn White and various authors – NEW this week

A boxed set of science fiction and fantasy offerings.

  1. ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE by Jill Shalvis – NEW this week

A security expert starts to sabotage Elle’s love life.

  1. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins – 101 weeks on the List

A psychological thriller set in the environs of London is full of complications and betrayals.

  1. THE WHISTLER by John Grisham – 14 weeks on the List

A whistleblower alerts a Florida investigator to judicial corruption involving the Mob and Indian casinos.

  1. MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur – 7 weeks on the List

Poetic approaches to surviving adversity and loss.

  1. THE APARTMENT by Danielle Steel – 4 weeks on the List

Four young women share a Hell’s Kitchen loft.

Genre Friday!

Helping people find the book (or books) they wanted is great. Helping people find the books that they never knew they wanted is even better!

Introducing Genre Fridays, a quick, once-a-week look at a random genre, subgenre, theme, setting, etc. It may be a genre you love, it may be one you hate, or it may be one that you have never heard of – regardless, here you will get a brief description as well as a few examples of books in the genre. You might just find your next favorite book. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s meant to be horizon broadening so please enjoy.

Alternate History

Alternate history is usually lumped in with science fiction because many, but certainly not all, alternate history stories contain sci-fi elements, but this sometimes-sci-fi subgenre is often thought of as a genre in its own right. Regardless of the presence or influence of science fiction, the stories always revolve around a drastic change to historical events or circumstances. The primary distinction, if a distinction is made at all, between science fiction based alternate history and the larger genre of alternate history is what is causing the alteration to history and how those alterations have played out.

In science fiction-y alternate history the changes occur when a person or group of people (and often their equipment, vehicles and weapons – these types of stories usually deal with some war or military action of the past and often those that are sent back are soldiers themselves) are somehow propelled backwards through time. This can be accomplished through technology or some unknown phenomenon. Another possibility is that the change in history, whatever it was, has led to an anachronistically advanced society or world – these stories often show similarities to the steampunk subgenre of science fiction.

Pure alternate history depicts might-have-been scenarios. History is filled with near-miss situations that the author can easily tweak to say, “what if this crucial situation had been resolved differently?” Common themes once again revolve around military conflicts, most notably; ‘What if the South had won the Civil War?’, or ‘What if the Axis Powers had won World War II?’ Despite being complete speculation these stories are often meticulously researched and are based upon an author’s educated guess at what might have been, skipping all of the more fanciful or improbable elements found in science fiction based alternate history.


Alternative History1632 by Eric Flint

How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove

Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp

Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon