10 Enthralling Fantasy Books With Political Intrigue

Fantasy books with political intrigue excite us with their mystery plots, suspense from unseen threats, personal battles and more.

If you’re on the look out for stories featuring court intrigue among aristocrats, kings and queens, look no further.

Here are 10 fantasy books with political intrigue to read:

Below, I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each book.

Every story on the list has a 3.75 average rating or above from Goodreads. For a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith


Over their father’s deathbed, young Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric promise to lead their people against the evil King. The impoverished count and countess discover that even when the cause is right, leading a war is much tougher than it appears.

When Meliara falls into the hands of the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, the enemy commander, she knows she has to either escape or die. After a desperate chase across country, she discovers that she and Bran are not alone—but the alliance is offered by the person she hates the most.

Once the king is gone, she faces a new type of battlefield: not muddy fields and sharpened steel, but marble palaces. The weapons now are fashion, manners, and the subtle and secret language of fans.

Finally, there is the toughest challenge of all, courtship. For how do you defend yourself when the one who draws your eye, and your heart, is your worst enemy?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.19

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

The first story in our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is Crown Duel.

This novel includes two sections, one of which features action and battles, while the second takes place in a royal court and is full of political machinations. Both captivated fans with their fast-paced plot, portrayal of Meliara’s growth, and the slow-burn romance.

Readers described Meliara as a likable, selfless and brave protagonist. While she was also brash and headstrong, she realized her mistakes and grew from them. Seeing her evolve, both personally and in her political skills, delighted them.

In terms of the romance, several readers also appreciated that the story doesn’t feature the common ‘bad boy’ love interest or a love triangle. Instead, they described the characters’ growing relationship as authentic and a slow-burn romance.

Negative Comments

What about critics? If readers didn’t enjoy the novel, they typically mentioned that they found it unrealistic how many times Meliara ended up unconscious during battle during the first section of the book.

Others said they found her quick temper and stubborn grudge, particularly against the male lead, unreasonable. As a result, they were frustrated with her.

The Demon King by Cinda Chima Williams


Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell — the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked — as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history — it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains — riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea — the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.18

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

Second on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is The Demon King by Cinda Chima Williams. This novel enthralled fans with its captivating characters and rich plot. 

Readers praised Raisa and Hans, the main characters, saying that they were interesting and multidimensional. With such different backgrounds, personalities and perspectives, the combination of the two together brought the story’s world to life. 

Fans also mentioned how the plot itself was full of twists and turns. Sub-plots intersected, overlapped and built on one another, making the court intrigue all that much more absorbing.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers tended to say that they didn’t connect with Raisa or Han. If not that, they weren’t drawn into the story. 

In terms of Han and Raisa, several critics described them as stereotypical Young Adult Fantasy characters. For example, Raisa reminded them of a standard rebellious princess, whose reasons for putting herself in danger struck them as either foolish or selfish. Because of this, these readers weren’t invested in what happened to her. 

On the other hand, some critics said that they found The Demon King slow-paced and without much action.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson


A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead. 

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature — and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception. 

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.35

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

Third on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Fans of this fantasy novel praised it for its intriguing plot, complex protagonist, and thoughtful themes.

Many remarked that this book had breakneck pacing, developing a rich world, magic system and its protagonist immediately. These readers described Shai as an intelligent anti-hero who felt real to them. This made her easy for them to get invested in.

Likewise, others said that the more noble Gaotona won their admiration for his selflessness.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers tended to say that the story struck them as slow-paced or that they didn’t enjoy the characters.

For the latter, some critics said this was because they disliked Shai for her arrogance, while others said the characters in general didn’t develop much.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes and Michelle Rowen


In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed…and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…

Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past — and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.80

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments 

Next on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is Falling Kingdoms. This story grabbed fans through its likable characters as well as its action and adventure story-line.

Many praised the book for having a character cast with a mixture of virtues and vices. They struck readers as realistic in the way they might self-justify their actions, for example, or fight the ghosts of their pasts. Because of this, readers tended to say they were intriguing and convincing.

In addition, several readers praised the story for its exciting plot. Filled with assassinations, betrayals, secret alliances and more, Falling Kingdoms kept them glued to its pages. All-in-all, fans lauded this book as reminding them of Game of Thrones

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Overall, these readers focused on Falling Kingdom‘s characters.

Some of them felt the characters were unlikable and, as such, couldn’t get invested in what happened to them. Others thought that they were painted in broad strokes and didn’t have much complexity.  

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen


In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince.

Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is The False Prince. This novel brings us Sage, a character with sharp wit, powerful observation skills, but also sympathetic flaws. 

Fans found immersing themselves in his point of view a treat, enthusing over how much fun it was to anticipate how he would react, what he’d pick up and to laugh at his snarky humor. These readers rooted for him the entire time, saying that even as they enjoyed his brilliance, it was his humanity and vulnerabilities that endeared him to them. 

Overall, fans described this book as filled with intrigue and adventure, with wit as well as heart.

Negative Comments

For the most part, critics had two reasons why they didn’t enjoy The False Prince.

The first was the plot twist. Critics typically saw it coming early on in the story and, because of this, felt that the book was predictable.

Related to thist, some critics added that in order to hide the plot twist, the book had to conceal crucial information about Sage. However, because the story was told in first person, the concealment came across as artificial: thoughts and emotions they expected him to have weren’t there. As such, these readers felt disconnected from him.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison


The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it.

But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.

Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.

All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is The Goblin Emperor. Rather than an action-packed tale about battles and wars, this story captivated readers with court intrigue and a coming of age story.

Readers praised the book for giving them Maia, the kindhearted main character. Especially given the current slew of grim dark fantasy novels around, he stood out to them as a refreshing change.

He’s a noble and heroic character that they immediately bonded with and wanted to see succeed. In particular, his efforts to improve his new kingdom him and serve his people endeared him to them.

Other readers mentioned the world-building. Some mentioned the nuanced way characters spoke to each other, which took into account the social standing of the person they conversed with. Others mentioned the description of court life. But in either case, readers thought the world was fascinating and vividly realized.

Negative Comments

Why didn’t critics like The Goblin Emperor? Overall, readers tended to cite either the plot or the way the author used language to portray court life.

In terms of the plot, critics said that it meandered: there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread between the events or an ultimate point the plot drove toward.

Others, though, were frustrated by the terminology the story used in its dialogue. For instance, Maia would use the royal ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ to refer to himself when he acted in the capacity of a monarch. While this was and is standard protocol for kings and queens, it nevertheless was too off-putting for critics.

Similarly, some were either confused or bothered by how the story used both ‘you’ (formal second person) and ‘thou’ (informal second person). While there’s a historical basis for using the terms, these readers found it grating.

Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold


Born human, raised by wolves, Firekeeper seems the last person anyone would choose to back as a candidate for heir apparent to a royal throne.

Nonetheless, when Firekeeper and her wolf “brother,” Blind Seer, travel with Earl Kestrel’s expedition into the kingdom of Hawk Haven, the earl thrusts the wolf-woman into the midst of the heated intrigue surrounding who will be chosen as the heir of elderly King Tedric. 

Soon, the only thing the competing factions seem able to agree upon is that Firekeeper is an enemy. Firekeeper may not be able to read or write. She may struggle to speak a coherent sentence. However, if there is one thing the wolf-woman has learned from her life among wolves, it is that a strong pack needs an even stronger leader. 

Will Firekeeper win the fight for the throne? Whatever happens, the wolf-woman’s part in the contest will forever change it, even for those who do not see through wolf’s eyes. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is Through Wolf’s Eyes. Fans of this novel enthused over its incredible characters, all of whom felt flesh-and-blood. 

Readers described these characters, whether main characters or supporting ones, as capturing their hearts and stirring their emotions. Their interactions with each other, their history and growth were touching and organic. 

In addition to that, other readers praised the book for its political intrigue. Richly detailed and nuanced, fans were delighted and eager to find out how each new twist and turn would impact the characters. 

Negative Comments

What did critics say about Through Wolf’s Eyes? Well, several of them said that the book included too many world-building or character details. However, most of them were generally readers who didn’t enjoy political fantasy.

These readers found the scheming uninteresting and, given that the majority of the book revolves around politics, disengaged with the story.

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold


A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril has returned to the noble household he once served as page. To his great surprise, he’s named as the secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule.

It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it will ultimately lead him to the place he fears most, the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies, who once placed him in chains, now occupy lofty positions.

In addition to the traitorous intrigues of villains, Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle are faced with a sinister curse that hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion and all who stand in their circle.

Only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics, can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge — an act that will mark the loyal, damaged servant as a tool of the miraculous, and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation and death.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.17

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is The Curse of Chalion. Fans remarked that the story had an enjoyable political intrigue plot and a fleshed-out religious system. 

In addition, readers praised the novel for how thoughtful it was in its themes, as well as how it captured the nuances of Cazaril’s internal journey.

Cazaril isn’t a typical fantasy main character – he’s neither a valiant warrior nor mighty mage – but this is what made him more relatable to fans. Many of them mentioned how much they came to care about what happened to him.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? Generally, these readers found the novel’s strengths to be its weaknesses.

Most of these readers found the lack of action in the story disappointing. The Curse of Chalion centers around relationship development, character growth and court intrigue. Without more action, these reviewers said the story was slow-paced.

Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon


Marla Wolfblade of Hythria is determined to restore her family’s great name, but conspirators surround her: the Sorcerers’ Collective, the Patriots — even members of her own family. She must make sure her son Damin lives to be old enough to restore the Wolfblade name to its former glory.

Elezaar the Dwarf is a small man with big secrets – but that doesn’t matter to Marla Wolfblade. Her brother is the High Prince of Hythria, and, in this fiercely patriarchal society, her fate will be decided on his whim. She needs someone politically astute to guide her through the maze of court politics – and Elezaar the Dwarf knows more than he lets on.

As Elezaar teaches Marla the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power, Marla starts on the road to becoming a tactician and a wily diplomat – but will that be enough to keep her son alive?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is Wolfblade. 

This novel delighted fans with its exciting political thriller plot and its characters. Packed with political machinations, twists and turns, this book kept readers rushing through its pages.

Moreover, it riveted them to see the protagonist grow – gradually and realistically – from naive and helpless to shrewd and powerful. The characters overall, though, struck fans as well-fleshed out, all with unique personalities and motives.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? For some readers, Wolfblade wasn’t for them because it was a political fantasy, and they were looking for an action-oriented story. However, most critics cited the characters. 

These readers typically said that they didn’t connect to them, though their reasons varied. Several mentioned that characters were introduced and killed before they could get to know them enough to care about their fates.

For others, the character cast in general was unsympathetic. As such, it was difficult for critics to find enough to like about the characters to root for them to succeed or empathize with them when they failed.

To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts


When Princess Anja fails to appear at her betrothal banquet, the tiny, peaceful kingdom of Sessalie is plunged into intrigue. Two warriors are charged with recovering the distraught king’s beloved daughter.

Taskin, Commander of the Royal Guard, whose icy competence and impressive life-term as the Crown’s right-hand man command the kingdom’s deep-seated respect; and Mykkael, the rough-hewn newcomer who has won the post of Captain of the Garrison – a scarred veteran with a deadly record of field warfare, whose ‘interesting’ background and foreign breeding are held in contempt by court society.

As the princess’s trail vanishes outside the citadel’s gates, anxiety and tension escalate. Mykkael’s investigations lead him to a radical explanation for the mystery, but he finds himself under suspicion from the court factions.

Will Commander Taskin’s famous fair-mindedness be enough to unravel the truth behind the garrison captain’s dramatic theory: that the resourceful, high-spirited princess was not taken by force, but fled the palace to escape a demonic evil? 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.82

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The last story on our list of fantasy books with political intrigue is To Ride Hell’s Chasm. This novel enchanted fans with its characters, writing style and fascinating culture clashes. 

In terms of the characters, these readers praised the book for how incredibly human and heroic the leads seemed. While they said many had depth, a character they frequently mentioned was Mykkael. As a foreigner, he was loathed by many, yet steadfastly held onto his ethics and honor. Fans said they grew to care about him more and more as he went through trials as well as victories.

Others, though, said that To Ride Hell’s Chasm had an enjoyable and unique writing style. To them, this gave the story added nuance and impact, bringing it even more to life.

Negative Comments

No book is without it’s critics, so why did readers dislike To Ride Hell’s Chasm? Overall, they said it either had slow beginning or that they didn’t enjoy the writing style.

It turns out that while fans may have liked the book’s prose, critics found it overly formal and stilted. Because of this, they often found it difficult to get absorbed into the story. 

10 Enthralling Fantasy Books With Political Intrigue

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10 Enthralling Fantasy Books With Political Intrigue


N.S. Mirage

I'm Natalie, an avid fantasy reader here to help readers find exciting, otherworldly books.

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