Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Beat the Algorithm: GAME OF THRONES Edition

Jeff O'Neal

CEO and co-founder

Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Book Riot’s “Beat the Algorithm,” pitting bloggers and booksellers against Amazon’s algorithm for recommendation supremacy.

This week’s recommendation request comes from Jill in Brooklyn, who is looking for her next read after loving Game of Thrones. Here’s what she said about it:

“The first time I tried the book, I read one page, got a whiff of ‘wildlings’ and ‘Others’ in ye olde English and put it down with disgust thinking Martin was trying to recreate Lord of the Rings.  But, after finding out it’s more in the line of kings, knights, honor and treachery, I had nothing else to read so gave it another go.  In the end, I loved the character development — I’m a sucker for watching a wide cast become three dimensional, and having the Republican debates in the background casts a new light on talk of power and dominion and the concerns of the smallfolk.  I also appreciate that Martin doesn’t have any sacred cows and isn’t afraid to take risks with beloved characters.”

Alright, so Amazon is up first, and the algorithm selects…..The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Here’s Amazon’s Review:
“Harry Potter fans craving a new mind-blowing series should look no further than The Name of the Wind—the first book in a trilogy about an orphan boy who becomes a legend. Full of music, magic, love, and loss, Patrick Rothfuss’s vivid and engaging debut fantasy knocked our socks off.”


Next up, Book Riot contributor and book blogger, Rachel. She recommends….The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Here’s Rachel’s explanation:

“It should be stated, right off the bat, there is no other author quite like George R.R. Martin. His blend of high fantasy with complex characters and intricate plot twists is unique. Too many fantasy writers depend on fantasy cliche to move their books forward, but Martin needs no such crutch. Because of his talent and admired place in the genre, recommendations are… difficult to say the least. So I suggest leaving fantasy all together. The points of Game of Thrones you enjoyed are not solely part of fantasy, and Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth takes many of the same risks with equally satisfying results. An epic unto itself, Follett’s tome chronicles, basically, the building of a cathedral. But it jumps points of view among a long cast of characters with intrigue and manipulation at the center of it all. The name of the game is self-promotion, and just as in Martin’s series, the characters are subject to the karma that they each deserve. Follett also has no “sacred cows,” and as the books spans several generations in the 12th century, the inherently difficult setting provides as much background for the fates of beloved characters as in Martin’s novels. Personally, my reactions to Martin and to Follett were similar – disdain for “copying” a genre, and then utter, slack-jawed amazement.”


So there you have it. Who do you think gave a better recommendation? Leave a comment and let us know. We’ll give you an update in a couple of days after Jill makes a pick…and crowns the winner of this first match.