Peter Jackson knows how to tease. Case in point: the third of his production videos (below) showcases the initial stages of whipping the Dwarves into fighting shape (or looks-to-be-more-out-of-shape, as the case may be), and gives us a brutally brief glimpse of Martin Freeman as Bilbo interacting with Andy Serkis’ Gollum. And, please, don’t get me started on the too-quick snippets featuring Richard Armitage (who plays Thorin in the film). While I may not need these flirty videos to send my excitement sky-rocketing, I do enjoy watching them. The real problem is the wait: The Hobbit won’t be in theaters for a while yet. What to do in the meantime then? Perhaps a few solid fantasy reads are required.
These suggestions aren’t necessarily readalikes in terms of having similar themes, tropes, or scope. After all, others may have imitated Tolkien, but there’s no one quite like him. Right?
A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
“In a time long forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons off balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. As the cold returns, sinister forces are massing beyond the protective wall of the kingdom of Winterfell. To the south, the king’s powers are failing – his most trusted advisor mysteriously dead and enemies emerging from the throne’s shadow. At the center of the conflict, the Starks of Winterfell hold the key: a reluctant Lord Eddard is summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder both family and kingdom.”
Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling
“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.”
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
“Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him sectetly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.”
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
“Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all.”
Wonder what Gandalf might have listened to “on the long road to Lórien”? Check out the Literary Mixtape Flavorwire put together for him.