10 books like Prince of Fools

By Mark Lawrence,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Prince of Fools. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of The Blade Itself

Not many writers pick a crippled torturer for a protagonist, let alone a privileged, cowardly, and selfish minor noble. Abercrombie doesn’t just start with these two, he also adds a sometimes psychopathic barbarian and a misanthropic, racist woman as his characters. Don’t even get me started on the old wizard. He’s the worst of all. Not only do these characters seem unheroic, but they also act as if they might just kill each other rather than move the plot of the novel along. Never a burden, always delightful, The Blade Itself will mesmerize you as these murderers and narcissists try to do just one thing right. Whether they do or not, I won’t say, but they definitely tell a fantastic tale.

The Blade Itself

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Blade Itself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior…


House of Dragons

By Jessica Cluess,

Book cover of House of Dragons

Jessica Cluess surprises not just the readers, but also each of the characters in her novel with her choices for protagonists. Every new emperor in her world is chosen from a contest amongst the eldest heirs of each of the five major houses of the land. But this time, the eldest of each family is spurned and the younger, apparently weaker child is picked to compete. House of Dragons is a lot of fun, and the story has a clever construction, for this strange choice of hero is no accident. There is a powerful reason and lesson in House of Dragons. Read it and find out why we sometimes want the second pick for the team.

House of Dragons

By Jessica Cluess,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked House of Dragons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win? Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club with DRAGONS.

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the…


The Pariah

By Anthony Ryan,

Book cover of The Pariah

The old story of the child who was secretly the son or daughter of royalty is a solid fantasy trope. And for good reason—it resonates. Almost all children secretly imagine they are a prince or princess, that they are special. The Pariah has none of that. Young Alwyn’s mother was a prostitute, and he never knew his father. Be certain that his dad was no one special, for this is not one of those kinds of stories. Alwyn is a thief, grubbing out an existence in the forest with a band of robbers. As far as personal virtues go, Alwyn is a liar and murderer. Anthony Ryan redeems Alwyn, though, digging into the good that exists even in those that have acted so heinously. And I may have described Alwyn uncharitably—the thief is a product of tough times, neglect, and hard realities. When he somehow ends up in service to…

The Pariah

By Anthony Ryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pariah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A gritty, heart-pounding tale of betrayal and bloody vengeance' John Gwynne

When the task is a killing, be quick and make sure of it.

Torment is an indulgence.

Save it for only the most deserving.

Born in the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the comradeship of his fellow thieves. Yet an act of betrayal sets him on a new path of blood and vengeance, which leads him to a soldier's life in the king's army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine…


The Heroes

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of The Heroes

This novel hooked me from the start with its play on heroism as it told of a Gettysburg-type battle through the eyes of a group of decidedly unheroic fantasy characters. Abercrombie keeps the readers’ mind on concept as the massive military fight unfolds on a Stonehenge-like hill and its ancient ruins, known as ‘The Heroes.’ Each character has a flaw that is as obvious as the mud all those troops trudge through, but somehow the reader ends up rooting for each of them. The novel reads well—like movie popcorn, but the story is well constructed, and the character conflicts and resolution are hilarious. Abercrombie is more than he seems and amidst all this apparent cynicism, there are some real moments of perspectivity on the concept of heroism.

The Heroes

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heroes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

THE HEROES

For glory, for victory, for staying alive.


The Queen of Attolia

By Megan Whalen Turner,

Book cover of The Queen of Attolia

The second book in The Thief series, The Queen of Attolia is also, IMO, the most romantic.

It starts with a bang, Eugenides of Edis, the thief who can steal anything, is caught spying on the queen of Attolia, the sworn enemy of his own queen. Attolia’s brutal punishment of her rival’s cousin sends Eugenides into a downward spiral of regret and self-loathing.

Yet, when his cunning and skills are the only thing that stands between victory and defeat, Eugenides once more must rise to the call and try to steal the most precious prize of all, the queen’s heart.

An impressive world building, a lovable, if irritating, protagonist, and a most inventive and clever plot make for an unforgettable read.

The Queen of Attolia

By Megan Whalen Turner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Queen of Attolia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover and rediscover the world of the Queen's Thief, from the acclaimed novel The Thief to the thrilling, twenty-years-in-the-making conclusion, The Return of the Thief. The epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief can be read in any order.

New York Times-bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power,…


Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3)

By Amanda Bouchet,

Book cover of Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3)

This book was one of the first romantic fantasy books I picked up and it completely captivated me from the very first page. You are immediately thrown into an incredible world, right at the same time the two main characters meet. It’s fast-paced, steamy, and perfect for anyone who loves that enemies-to-lovers vibe (me, I’m anyone). Kat and Griffin are amazing together and it’s so much fun to watch them figure that out.

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3)

By Amanda Bouchet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH THE POWER OF THE GODS AT HER FINGERTIPS

Cat Fisa's destiny has finally caught up with her. But fully accepting her fate means taking a final, terrifying step―reuniting all three realms and embracing her place as Queen with warlord-turned-king Griffin at her side. But forging their kingdom can only mean going to war with Fisa and its violent Alpha―Cat's own mother, Andromeda.

Although Cat used to be Andromeda's sole weakness, that's no longer true. And while Andromeda seems to know every trick and spell, Cat's own magic refuses to work like it should. When tragedy strikes, Cat unleashes the…


Mary Queen of Scots

By Antonia Fraser,

Book cover of Mary Queen of Scots

I read this book many years ago, but I went back to it as my first port of call when I began to research my own book on Mary. It’s a fantastically readable, detailed, and sympathetic portrait of Mary. And the sympathetic bit was important to me. It’s almost impossible not to take sides when reading or writing about Mary, and she did make some disastrous decisions, but I keep coming back to how young she was, and that’s well illustrated here.

Mary Queen of Scots

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mary Queen of Scots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A book that will leave few readers unmoved.”–San Francisco Chronicle

She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.

Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion that would lead to abduction, rape and even murder. Betrayed by those she most trusted, she would be lured into a deadly game of power, only to lose to her envious and unforgiving…


Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary"

By Gretchen Maurer, Peter Malone (illustrator),

Book cover of Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary"

Back to pure history! At one point, I was the founder and publisher—the Head Goose—of Goosebottom Books. Of all the books we published, this title is my favorite. Gretchen Maurer, the author, did a great job of presenting a very complex and nuanced story in a way that makes it human and understandable to young readers, without side-stepping the facts. The book design and illustration are remarkable and evoke the rich Tudor aesthetic. But what I love most about this book is that it presents the antihero to my childhood hero, Elizabeth I of England, and raises the question: just how fair was history? One of these two sisters became known as Bloody Mary, the other as Good Queen Bess. Did they fully deserve those reputations?

Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary"

By Gretchen Maurer, Peter Malone (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary" as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first reigning Queen of England, Mary Tudor believed fervently that Catholicism should be the religion of the land, leading her to burn at the stake hundreds of Protestants. Was she just a ruler of her times, or did she deserve the name, Bloody Mary? Gorgeous illustrations and an intelligent, evocative story bring to life a real dastardly dame who, fueled by her faith, created a religious firestorm.


Catherine of Aragon

By Theresa Earenfight,

Book cover of Catherine of Aragon: Infanta of Spain, Queen of England

Theresa starts our journey into the past life of Catherine of Aragon, whom many regard very mistakenly as a victim, with a pair of shoes, a painting, a rosary, a fur-trimmed baby blanket. She shows us how each of these things took meaning from the ways Catherine experienced and perceived them. Upon these traces and fragments, her portrait of Catherine emerges, and we glimpse her life lived five centuries ago. Engagingly written by Theresa in her clear and elegant prose, her cultural and emotional biography of Catherine truly brings us closer to understanding her life from her own perspective.

Catherine of Aragon

By Theresa Earenfight,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Catherine of Aragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Catherine of Aragon is an elusive subject.

Despite her status as a Spanish infanta, Princess of Wales, and Queen of England, few of her personal letters have survived, and she is obscured in the contemporary royal histories. In this evocative biography, Theresa Earenfight presents an intimate and engaging portrait of Catherine told through the objects that she left behind.

A pair of shoes, a painting, a rosary, a fur-trimmed baby blanket-each of these things took meaning from the ways Catherine experienced and perceived them. Through an examination of the inventories listing the few possessions Catherine owned at her death, Earenfight…


Gertrude and Claudius

By John Updike,

Book cover of Gertrude and Claudius

Everyone may love a hero, but let’s face it: They’re far more enthralled by a really good villain. An antagonist can be far more conflicted and complex, and thus more interesting, than a steady, predictable protagonist. And when it comes to infamous couples gone bad, two of the most famous are Gertrude and Claudius from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. I was once part of a traveling Shakespeare company, years ago, and sometimes still act. So novels that feature characters from classic plays and either update or develop them more deeply fascinate me. Updike’s skilled, vivid take on Hamlet’s mother and scheming uncle-turned-stepfather does not disappoint. He makes them far more sympathetic and human than one would ever infer from the original play, and I was quickly immersed in the setting and era he so vividly recreates. But, fair warning: You may find yourself rooting for the opposition in this revisionist…

Gertrude and Claudius

By John Updike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gertrude and Claudius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using details of the ancient Scandinavian legends that were the inspiration for Hamlet, John Updike brings to life Gertrude's girlhood as the daughter of King Rorik, her arranged marriage to the man who becomes King Hamlet, and her middle-aged affair with her husband's younger brother. As only he could, Updike recasts a tale of medieval violence and presents the case for its central couple that Shakespeare only hinted at. Gertrude's warmth and lucidity, Claudius's soldierly yet peaceable powers of command are seen afresh against a background of fond intentions and familial dysfunction, on a stage darkened by the ominous shadow…


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