I recently decided that needed to read a good fantasy novel or two. So I picked up Dawnthief by James Barclay, since it sounded decent, and maybe like Glen Cook. Unfortunately, it was very very bad. You could tell that it was based off the guy's D&D campaign. Which might not necesarily be bad... but it was.
So I read some stuff online, and a recommendation for Gregory Keyes or Stephen Erickson for people looking for something like George RR Martin.
So I picked up The Briar King. And even though it had:
a) a very very cheesy cover
b) a horrible map that was almost impossible to read
c) a review by Terry Brooks on the cover
d) multiple characters, yet the lack of a character glossary
I still really enjoyed it. It's similar to Martin in that there's multiple viewpoints and squabling royals, yet there are enough differences to make it interesting.
The cast of character is smaller than in Martin, as is the initial scope of the conflict. This worked fine for me though, because it allows you to follow the conflict easily, and you're never too far from the most interesting charcater.
Unlike Martin, there's a more supernatural bent to Keyes' novels. They start off with the vanquishing of the Skaloi, the demon-like race that has enslaved humanity. Queue 2,000 years later, and a group of people may be trying to bring back an ancient evil. Or not. Or perhaps they think they're working together, but are actually working against each other.
I really like the plotting and character development in here. Lots of cliffhangers, surprises, changes, all that good stuff.
So, if you can't wait for Martin, check out Keyes.
Oh yeah... there are currently 3 novels out in this series. I thought that they were done, but it turns out that it's planned to be 4. THe 4th book comes out the end of this year, start of next year. And I've read the second and 3rd books, and they continue the good.