If you’re reading this then it’s already over. Season six of Game of Thrones, the most popular show HBO has ever aired, ended Sunday night. And knowing that the showrunners may only be producing 13 more episodes for the entire series, it’s time, like a high schooler at prom, to start scoping out the next best thing. George R.R. Martin invented the Starks and the Lannisters, but he didn’t invent the fantasy epic. Below, find the books, shows and video games that feature complex fantasy world-building and that Martin brand of diplomacy, politics, blood and magic.
The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert
The Classic: Following a boy named Paul Atreides on a desert planet named Arrakis, who eventually grows to become a mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, Frank Herbert created a world in his 1965 science fiction epic that laid the groundwork for five sequels — Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. It is considered one of the most influential science fiction works of all time and shared the Hugo Award with Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal, and won the very first Nebula Award.
The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Politics of a New Frontier: Beginning in 1993 and ending in 1996, Robinson wrote three novels: Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars. The trilogy makes up an award-winning series that focuses on the terraforming of Mars as Earth becomes too overpopulated and environmental disaster makes looking outward the only solution for mankind. Featuring world-building as detailed and robust as A Song of Ice and Fire, the series is set in the near future but handles intricate politics in a timeline spanning almost two centuries.
The Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton
A Recent Space Opera: The Commonwealth Saga consists of Pandora’s Star, released in 2004, and Judas Unchained, released in 2005, though Hamilton has written a handful of other books that take place in the same literary universe. The Commonwealth Saga is set in 2380 in the Intersolar Commonwealth, which contains more than 600 worlds connected by wormholes. At the edge of the Commonwealth, an astronomer named Dudley Bose observes a distant star vanishing without a trace. The story follows a spaceship named the Second Chance, which is dispatched to learn what happens. It’s epic — more universe-building than world-building — and the prose exceeds that of George R.R. Martin’s.
For the History: Rome will satisfy those who watch Game of Thrones for the power and politics of early civilization, but find the show wanders too much. Cancelled after two seasons due to its high cost — it was one of HBO‘s most expensive series to date — the show quickly follows the rise and demise Julius Caesar as Ancient Rome transitions from a Republic to an Empire.
The Same Source Material: Running on Showtime from 2007 to 2010, The Tudors is based on the reign of King Henry VIII of England. His grandfather is King Henry VI, who was king during the War of the Roses, the decades-long war which formed the basis for much of A Song of Ice and Fire, and a quick glance at the history shows striking similarity. Call Game of Thrones a spiritual prequel (they both cast Natalie Dormer as a queen).
For the Lawless Politics: Deadwood is one of the greatest of all time. Under-watched because of its intensely poetic and historic dialogue, it was ahead of its time in dark humor, gore and gratuitous sex. Sound familiar? Two bar saloon/brothel owners in a lawless mining town in the pioneer West battle for control of the town, even as the federal government reclaims the territory from the Sioux and brings it under their laws. Think of it as Game of Thrones on a smaller scale, that’s a lot harder to understand.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Another Grand Epic: Based on a book series of the same name, in this game players control Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a witcher, as he travels the Northern Kingdoms. The entire series is critically acclaimed, and involves magic, swords and dragons, just like Game of Thrones.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Grand-Scale Diplomacy: This game and the name it carries — Sid Meier — is so big your parents know about it. First premiered in 1991, each installment in the series is a turn-based strategy game in which players found cities and expand their empire all while combating enemy military forces, making deals with allies and developing culture, technology and religion in the world they hope to conquer.
Crusader Kings II
For the Real Thing: In this 2012 PC game, players command a Medieval dynasty from 1066 to 1453 — marrying into other families, going to war and building their kingdom — and have the freedom to pretty much do whatever they want. Just as the game released for OS X, a mod became available that transformed the entire game completely into the world George R. R. Martin created for A Song of Ice and Fire.