Most novels take place in a country, but readers hardly ever hear about the intricate dance that is international politics. In honor of an unusual political season, these are my five favorite fantasy novels that explore the political ramifications of the plot. These books combine the excitement of fantasy with the sense that our heroes’ choices matter in the larger world.
PRINCE OF THORNS
by Mark Lawrence
Prince Jorg Ancrath rebels against his father after his mother and younger brother are murdered. The series follows his quest for power and allies in a dark and magic scourged Europe.
PROMISE OF BLOOD
by Brian McClellan
Field Marshal Tamas stages a coup against his king and the revolution that follows provokes war with neighboring countries and with the deities wakened by the death of the monarchy.
by Jim Butcher
After years of war with the invading Canim, Tavi of Calderon, now Captain of the First Aleran Legion, uncovers information about an even greater threat, and must risk everything to forge a desperate alliance between the Aleran and Cane to take on their mutual enemy. This is the third book in the Codex Alera series, and easily my favorite. Though I would recommend reading the two books before this one (because the series is great), a new reader can still understand and enjoy CAPTAIN’S FURY on its own.
THROUGH WOLF’S EYES
by Jane Lindskold
The king declares that a girl raised by wolves and found in the wilderness is in truth his lost granddaughter. ‘Firekeeper’ (or lady Blyss as she is renamed by the humans) finds her return to civilization complicated by the machinations of court, the counter-intuitive nature of cutlery, and ancient magic as the nobility scrambles to take advantage of the new potential heir.
INTO THE STORM
by Taylor Anderson
Set in 1942, the crew of an outdated destroyer flees from the Japanese offensive in the Pacific into a storm that transports them into a primitive alternate world, populated by strange creatures. The crew finds new civilizations and makes allies and enemies as a different world war brews with entirely different stakes.
WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan - Being the Chosen One is a lot more difficult when you have to wrangle countries on your way to fighting the Dark One!
THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS by Jim Butcher - Airships, talking cats, and the possibility of war. Another book by Butcher, the semi-piratical protagonist accidentally gets drawn into the intrigue of an invasion plot.
ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson - Arriving in the kingdom of Arelon to enter a marriage of state, princess Sarene discovers that her intended has died and that she is considered his widow, leaving her a lone force against the imperial ambitions of a religious fanatic.