Do you ever get the feeling you’ve heard that title before, seen that cover a million times, or get déjá vu when reading a synopsis? It seems like we see a different book trend every month lately, whether it’s a hot new sub-genre, a cover style or even a title trend.
I thought it would be fun to explore book trends in more detail, and for this first post on the subject I’m going to look at two words that have been continuously cropping up in book titles for what seems like forever, and they just keep on coming.
It’s impossible to know were it all really began, but for me these two trends began with George R.R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns. Since then it’s been pretty hard to look at any physical or virtual bookshelf in the fantasy section without being bombarded with both thrones and thorns.
Let’s take a look…
Overview: Tales of claims to the throne and everything that comes with it – war, murder, romance – have always been popular in both Historical Fiction and Fantasy. But A Game of Thrones definitely seems to have been the game changer here. The ever popular series and accompanying TV show seems to have set in motion a whole new wave of old-world-new-world fantasy.
- The Diamond Throne by David Eddings – 1989: Slightly ahead of its time, perhaps?
- A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin – 1996
- The Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughton – 1997: I had to include this one just for the hilarious title. It’s not quite on trend with the rest as this is an anthology of Horror shorts.
“Imagine earthy Tolkienesque characters in a setting full of cemeteries, graverobbers, necromancers, corpse-eaters–even a huge labyrinthine necropolis”.
- The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan – 2008: Now this is more like it. The synopsis sounds like a million other throne books that emerged between 2008 and now – but y’ know…still good.
- The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski – 2008: Slight reprieve here as we head more into The Da Vinci Code territory (by the sounds of it). There isn’t even mention of a throne in the synopsis. Band wagon much!
- The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan – 2011: Oooh Riordan has caught on.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass – 2012: And we have lift off. As much as I love this title and the series in general, I did always wonder why she called it that. The throne in question plays a very little part in the book which makes me wonder if the choice of title was marketing genius over anything else.
- Assassin’s Gambit (Hearts & Thrones #1) by Amy Raby – 2013: You could be forgiven for thinking this is the exact same plot of ToG from the synopsis. A beautiful assassin, a powerful emperor…that damned déjá vu again!
- The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler/ Jennifer A. Nielsen – 2014: Two in one year with the same title! This throne malarkey is big business!
Overview: I always associate the use of thorns in literature with the Grimm’s fairy tale Little Briar Rose, and many of these books appear to have been inspired by that too. These are stories of broken princes, powerful sorcerers and abandoned castles. We’ve seen a steady resurgence of fairy-tale retellings in the past twenty years, but only recently have so many focused on the thorns element.
- The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone) by Brian Keyes – 2002
- The Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead – 2008: Richelle Mead is always pretty ahead of her game. She brought us Vampire Academy before the whole Twilight thing went mental, and here she’s at it again.
- Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – 2011: This was when I first noticed the emerging trend of thorns and it seems to have paved the way for the anti-hero too.
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – 2011: This book seemed to kick off the thorn-love in YA land.
- Thorn by Intisar Khanani – 2012
- The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge – 2011: Not to be confused with the iron throne in Game of Thrones…are you getting confused yet?
- Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman – 2013: This is another one that has been popular in the YA world of fantasy.
- The Castle Behind the Thorns by Meril Haskel – 2014
- Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay – 2014: Woah. Double whammy or what. This book is actually described as:
‘Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.’
Why have one trend when you can have two? Mind blown. I also really want to read it now!
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – 2015: She’s at it again. This Maas chick knows exactly what she’s doing.
Final Thoughts: So there we have it. This is just a snap-shot of the books out there that seem to be following these trends. If this were a battle though, I’d say that the thrones trend may be coming to an end, and the thorns are taking over.
It’s also interesting how much fire, ice and bones are mentioned in both trends. The two themes seem pretty incestuous actually – nearly all of the thorn books also mention thrones, however the same can not be said the other way around. But whether you’re in to Iron Thrones or Iron Thorns, you’re not going to run out of reading material any time soon!
What do you think about these two trends…do you have a favourite??