Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the Limelight - Why You Should Cut George R.R. Martin Some Slack

Go over at Aidan's blog A Dribble of Ink (link) and read the article on the matter of George R.R. Martin and the constant barrage of grief he is getting about his writing habits and even his life style. You can find my (quickly drafted and not entirely unbiased) opinion on the matter in the comments below the article. I know that it won't change the minds of the already convinced, but still, a small leson of humility for some of us...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The ULTIMATE (and somewhat bloated) Best Of 2008 List [part 5]


You can find the previous four articles in the "The Best of 2008..." on the following links: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Now, let's continue from where we left of.

Top 5 reads of 2008 for James (Speculative Horizons) were "The Terror" (Dan Simmons), "The Scar" (China Mieville), "Gardens of the Moon" (Steven Erikson), "Midnight Falcon" (David Gemmell) and "Altered Carbon" (Richard Morgan). Honorable mention goes to: "Empire in Black and Gold" (Adrian Tchaikovsky), "The Steel Remains" (Richard Morgan), "The Ten Thousand" (Paul Kearney) and "Last Argument of Kings" (Joe Abercrombie). You can find more on his site...

For those mostly interested for urban fantasy visit SciFiGuy's blog and his list here, and we are on to Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' Blog's favourite books of 2008: "Old Man's War" (John Scalzi), "The Lies of Locke Lamora" (Scott Lynch), "Clockwork Heart" (Dru Pagliassotti) and "Watchmen" (Alan Moore)...more. Mariel from Where troubles melt like lemon drops (you gotta love this blog's name) has her own review of 2008 here.

The review team at Strange Horizons put forward the following works of fiction as "best of 2008" (not essentially published in the same year): "The Knife of Never Letting Go" (Patrick Ness), "Anathem" (Neil Stephenson), "Spook Country" (William Gibson), "Pump Six and Other Stories" (Paolo Bacigalupi, short-story collection), "The Gone-Away World" (Nick Harkaway), "Neuropath" (Scott Bakker), "Liberation" (Brian Francis Slattery), "Flood" (Stephen Baxter), "The Quiet War" (Paul McAuley), "Lavinia" (Ursula K. Le Guin), "The Engine's Child" (Holly Phillips), "The Bell at Sealy Head" (Patricia A.McKillip), "The Execution Channel" (Ken MacLeod), "Black Man" (Richard Morgan), "The Carhullan Army" (Sarah Hall), "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" (Michael Chabon), "Spirit: or the Princess of Bois Dormant" (Gwyneth Jones), "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow), "The Angel Maker" (Stefan Brijs), "The Love We Share Without Knowing" (Christopher Barzak), "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein" (Peter Ackroyd), "Dangerous Laughter" (Stephen Millhauser, short-story collection), "God is Dead" (Ron Currie), "Dust" and "Undertow" and "All the Windwracked Stars" (Elizabeth Bear), "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" (Mary E. Pearson), "Life As We Knew It" (Susan Beth Pfeffer), "The Hunger Games" (Suzanne Collins), "The Handmaid's Tale" (Margaret Atwood), "Larklight" series (Philip Reeve), "Swiftly" (Adam Roberts), "The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Volume 2" (ed.Geoge Man, short-story collection), "Eclipse 2" (ed.Jonathan Strahan, short-story collection), "The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy" (ed.Ellen Datlow, short-story collection), "Fast Forward 2" (ed.Lou Anders, short-story collection), "The Drowned life" (Jeffrey Ford, short-story collection)...and other.

I've already covered the enormous effort that the guys at Fantasy Book Critic are putting up with interviewing various genre authors and other genre related individuals about their thoughts on 2008 and the things they are looking forward in 2009 (they've interviewed exactly 51 by this moment!). You should really check out what some of your favorite authors enjoyed in 2008, what they look forward to and what are their plans for 2009 here. The genre works I've accounted for in the previous article are alredy obsolete, so what I'd like to do here is recount the choices of the blog's staff which were posted well after my first article. Some of their picks are: "The Kingdom Beyond the Waves" (Stephen Hunt), "Return of the Crimson Guard" (Ian C.Esslemont), "Iron Angel" (Alan Campbell), "The Magicians and Mrs.Quent" (Galen Beckett), "The Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf" (Greg Keyes), "Kushiel's Mercy" (Jacqueline Carrey), "Empire In Black & Gold" (Adrian Tchaikovsky), "The Born Queen" (Greg Keyes), "Shadow Gate" (Kate Elliott), "Lord Tophet" (Gregory Frost), "Midnight Never Come" (Marie Brennan), "An Autumn War" (Daniel Abraham), "Havemercy" (Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett), "The Steel Remains" (Richard Morgan), "The Red Wolf Conspiracy" (Robert V.S. Redick), "Blood Ties" (Pamela Freeman), "The Host" (Stephanie Meyer), "Escapement" (Jay Lake), "Singularity's Ring" (Paul Melko), "Debatable Space" (Philip Palmer), "Hunter's Run" (GRRM, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham), "Death’s Head: Maximum Offense" (David Gunn), "The Mirrored Heavens" (David J. Williams), "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow), "Tigerheart" (Peter David), "The Resurrectionist" (Jack O’Connell), "Severance Package" (Duane Swierczynski), "The Monsters of Templeton" (Lauren Groff), "Stalking the Unicorn" (Mike Resnick), "Sharp Teeth" (Toby Barlow), "The Alchemy of Stone" (Ekaterina Sedia), "Through a Glass, Darkly" (Bill Hussey), "Neuropath" (Scott Bakker), "Anathem" (Neal Stephenson), "Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant" (Gwyneth Jones), "By Schism Rent Asunder" (David Weber), "The Quiet War" (Paul McAuley), "The Temporal Void" (Peter F.Hamilton), "The Martian General's Daughter" (Theodore Judson), "Swiftly" (Adam Roberts), "MultiReal" (David Luis Edelman), "Chaos Space" (Marriane de Pierres), "Caine Black Knife" (Matthew Stover), Night Angel trilogy (Brent Weeks), "The Engine's Child" (Holly Phillips), "Thunderer" (Felix Gilman), "The Kingdom Beyond the Waves" (Stephen Hunt), "Last Argument of Kings" (Joe Abercrombie), "The Ten Thousand" (Paul Kearney), "The Painted Man" (Peter V.Brett), "Deep Water" (Pamela Freeman), "The Immortal Prince" (Jennifer Fallon), "Black Ships" (Jo Graham), "Shadow of the Wind" (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), "The Ninth Circle" (Alex Bell), "Perdido Street Station" (China Mieville), "Accelerando" (Charles Stross), "The New Weird" and "Steampunk" (ed.Jeff and Ann VanderMeer,anthology)... This is not an exhaustive list, for all the picks and the elaboration on the choices follow the above link.

Now, finally*, Larry from OF Blog of the Fallen...if you wanna know how many books he read in 2008 go here (hint: 366), his favorite DEBUT NOVELS are listed here, ANTHOLOGIES here, TRANSLATED FICTION here, SPANISH LANGUAGE FICTION here, SF&F NON-FICTION here, GRAPHIC NOVELS here, YA FICTION here and his FAVORITE FICTION BOOKS IN OVERALL here. Let me reiterate the first ten (out of twenty) books of this final list: (1) "Yalo" (Elias Khoury), (2) "The Situation" (Jeff Vandermeer), (3) "El Juego del Angel" (Carlos Ruiz Zafön), (4) "Lavinia" (Ursula Le Guin), (5) "Last Dragon" (J.M.McDermott), (6) "Liberation" (Brian Francis Slattery), (7) "Tender Morsels" (Margo Lanagan), (8) "Thunderer" (Felix Gilman), (9) "Black Ships" (Jo Graham) and (10) "The Alchemy of Stone" (Ekatarina Sedia).

* Some of the "best of" lists aren't compiled, completed or the votes aren't in/accounted for yet (e.g., etc.). These lists will be gathered in the final "The ULTIMATE Best Of..." article accordingly.
- Thrinidir -

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alison Goodman - The Two Pearls of Wisdom (Book Review)

"Two Pearls of Wisdom" (Amazon: US, UK)
by Alison Goodman
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 2008)

Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become Dragonseye – a powerful lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But Eon also harbors a desperate secret – he is, in fact, a young woman living a dangerous masquerade that, if discovered, will mean a certain death. Brought to the attention of the Emperor himself and summoned to the opulent court, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon comes face-to-face with a vicious enemy who discovers the young Dragonseye’s astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own.


I've noticed lately that there are more and more girls reading fantasy. While SF is still generally regarded as being 'too technical' and not interesting enough for girls to read (and by 'girls', I mean a typical girl-reader, possibly one that adores romantic and detective novels), fantasy fiction began gaining popularity amongst (younger) female readers. Subgenres like urban fantasy and paranormal romance (e.g. "Twilight") produced many international bestsellers and now, more and more of those ‘typical girl-readers’ are interested in fantasy and demand something more feminine than the classical epic fantasy. Muscular and strong male figures are being replaced by subtle and strong-willed female protagonists, most of them defying rigid, patriarchal societies surrounding them; books are not necessarily less action-packed but certainly different – instead of focusing on a masculine hero, who is saving the world one way or another (I'm exaggerating to prove my point, not to offend those who enjoy that kind of books - I myself am a fan of epic fantasy), they follow a female protagonist who is mostly just trying to survive in a harsh male world.

One of this feminine, graceful books is definitely "The Two Pearls of Wisdom". The main protagonist of this novel is a young, willful woman, who becomes involved in a world of politics, conspiracies and war. While at first she appears unsure of herself, scared and almost shy, she soon grows accustomed to the role she has to play, starts to change and re-shape the masculine world she just entered. In this, "The Two Pearls of Wisdom" reminded me much of Pamela Freeman's "Blood Ties" (review) – her character Bramble is just as determined and sometimes stubborn as Eon(a), the main difference between the two being the world they live in; while Bramble's adventures take place in a medieval setting, Eona, on the other hand, is born and raised in a world with a strong Oriental touch to it, like an imaginary version of China.
A dazzling adventure in the tradition of Lian Hearn’s Across The Nightingale Floor
That Oriental setting is very alike to that of another book – “Across the Nightingale Floor”, and judging by the above quote (originally found on the front cover of the book), I was not the only one to notice the similarities. In this case, the above quote is completely true; even more, I found “The Two Pearls of Wisdom” much more enjoyable than “Across the Nightingale Floor” (review). While the latter lacks discernible plot twists and innovation but abounds in clichés, the former successfully manages to merge the essence of the Orient and a classical tale of a commoners (who is, in this case, also disadvantaged by being a cripple and a woman in a patriarchal society) rise to power and fame, all wrapped into a delifgthful story of intrigue, warfare and discovering one’s past. All in all, “The Two Pearls of Wisdom” is a very enjoyable read, which flows smoothly and never fails to hold your attention, but brings nothing new to the - full laden fantasy - table.
- Trin -

Monday, January 19, 2009

Robert Silverberg - Son of Man (Book Review)

"Son of Man" (Amazon: US, UK)
Format: Paperback, 225 pages
Publisher: Pyr (June/July, 2008)
First off, I'd like to warn all those who read this – this is not one of my ordinary reviews, and it doesn't come with a rating at the end. I did read the book – very slowly and carefully so – but despite everything, I just couldn't manage to fully understand it. I tried real hard to probe the deeper layers of meaning of all the events and happenings in "Son of Man", but they kept eluding me and finally, I had to give up. It’s why this so-called review is more about my experience with the book and plain facts than about any real analysis (if it can be called that) of "Son of Man".


When I heard that Silverberg’s classic, "Son of Man", is going to be re-published, I was pretty excited. I’d read his Book of Skulls and enjoyed it much, so I expected something similar with Son of Man. Well, I couldn’t have been further away from the truth. I got the book in the summer and took it with me to the seaside, but when I tried to read it, I had to give up after the first few pages. I didn’t get more than a glimpse of the content, but the beginning struck me like a fist in the face. Voodoo space-travel and hermaphrodite beings who seemed to be some distant cousins of those in Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness (I know it’s probably the other way around, regarding the fact that “Son of Man” was written in 1971, it’s just that I read “The Left Hand of Darkness” first) were a bit too much for my lazy, sun & sea & beach-oriented brain (though I had a laugh about what John called ‘a quick inspection of Clay’s genitalia’). I realised that this is probably a very good book, at least where the style of writing is concerned, but it was impossible for me to read it right then, in the middle of my vacation. Therefore, I put it down for the time being.

From that day on, I was sort of caught into a weird cycle of reading “Son of Man”, putting it down and a few days/weeks later, picking it up again. It’s been four months from that first time I took “Son of Man” in my hands to when I finally finished it, which is extraordinary enough – I usually read a lengthy novel in a day or two, if it intrigues me enough. I’ve never yet read a book for such an extended period of time – I usually either read my books fast or put them down immediately (and that does not happen very often).

The story revolves around a man named Clay, who wakes up in a strange new world. After a few moments of confusion, he figures out that he was caught in a time-flux (I’m still not sure how he got to that conclusion) and thrown onto a distant-future Earth, which is barely similar to the planet he knew. Befriended by the previously mentioned hermaphrodites, who call themselves Skimmers, he journeys around this future Earth and its five zones of unease, participates in the Five Rites of the Skimmers and gets to know the other beings that descended from the race of men.

Plot-wise, this is just as far as “Son of Man” goes: exploration of the future Earth mixed with the sensual Five Rites. There is a lot of sexuality throughout the book, as (or so I guess) it’s presented as one of the main human attributes – it’s explicit, but I didn’t find it exactly vulgar. “Son of Man” also felt strangely devoid of all emotions; despite the five zones of unease, despite the Skimmers constantly repeating they are love and despite Clay’s constant mood swings, I felt unable to feel any of these emotions myself. Except maybe confusion, at first, and resignation, but these are not the feelings a reader usually seeks in a book – or are they?

The problem with “Son of Man” is that it isn’t a bad book – it just awful hard to read. I’ve had similar problems when reading Phillip K. Dick’s novels, but “Son of Man” is even more difficult than those. It’s full of subtle meanings, philosophical musings and hallucination-like scenes, and overall the kind of book that you read because it’s a classic, not because it’s a joy to read. The style of writing is brilliant, but at the same time, a major pain for the reader. If you wish to read about a weird, sexually explicit, philosophical and voodoo-like wandering, then feel free to read “Son of Man”. If you want an easy, possibly amusing and touching (or at all emotional) read, skip it.
Rating: N/A
- Trin -

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kay Kenyon - Bright of the Sky (Book Review)

"Bright of the Sky" (Amazon: US, UK)
Format: Paperback, 453 pages
Publisher: Pyr (April, 2007)

I'm getting a bit rusty, I read little and review less... This is one of the books I've read quite a few favorable reviews about in the past two years and the whole thing made me more than a bit curious, but when I finally got the book (a courtesy of Pyr Publishing) it lay gathering dust on my bookshelf for quite a while - it could be said the same for a helluva lot more books sitting on the exact same bookshelf, but let's talk about one thing at a time, shall we - and when I picked it up it was more on a whim (a personal quirk) and because of a certain feeling of obligation (to the publisher) rather than any real desire to read this title at that exact moment, and I believe I should warn you beforehand that this fact probably reflects (and somewhat mars I'm afraid) the impression that "Bright of the Sky" (BotS) left me with after the last page was turned.

BotS is the first book in KAY KENYON's light science fiction trilogy "The Entire and the Rose", that is followed up by "World Too Near" (2008) and finally "City Without End" which is scheduled for release on February 24 this year. In BotS we follow the story of once exceptional star pilot Titus Quinn, who disappeared in a space accident and was missing for more than a decade before he miraculously showed up on a distant colony world. He now claims that he, along his wife and daughter, sojurned in a parallel universe known as the Entire. The story is so unbelievable that he falls from grace from his former employers (Minerva company). Consequently, he isolates himself from the world and lives for his memories, until first scientific evidence of this possible parallel universe presents itself to the Minerva execs and Quinn turns out to be less of a raving lunatic than they first believed him to be. Minerva coerces Quinn into crossing over to do their biding, since he is the only one with any knowledge and expirience of this alien place. Quinn has no real choice but to accept, though he's priority is of a more personal nature -he's driven by a burning determination to find his daughter and his wife that were left behind in the Entire when he returned to our world with only vague recollections of what transpired there...

The author tries to picture Titus Quinn - the main protagonist and one of two POV's (the other being Sydney, his daughter) - as an extremely remarkable person bestowed with great intelligence and integrity, a true hero on whom the destiny of both world stands. His friends and allies adore or even worship him and his enemies loathe him without exception; no one remains indifferent to his presence as I saw it. I'm not saying that I disliked Quinn as it is (he is definitely not an anti-hero figure), but I did find him stalwart (not always in the positive meaning of the word) and, quite frankly, unremarkable. But my observations are in stark contrast to the way in which other characters respond to him in the book. He is a good guy by all means, but I'd as soon smack him as I would sympathize with him; the biggest discrepancy between my apprehension of Titus Quinn and KAY KENYON's portrayal of the man lies somewhere else though: Quinn is supposed to be a savant, a true genius, but I sadly didn't see him as one. He is way too naive, takes things more or less at a face value and solves problems in what I'd call too conventional ways to be a savant. I mean no disrespect to Ms.Kenyon, but it's really hard to create a believable savant character (it's that much harder if the character in question is the protagonist of the story) and this really grates on the plausibility of the characters she created.

The supporting cast is often more intriguing, likable and even complex than the main protagonist. The one who piqued my interest the most was Stefan Polich, the president of Minerva company: there is a short chapter around the middle of the book that that showcases KENYON's brilliant grasp of human character (but this is sadly the only example of it in this book) and I'd ironically - since this is a sidestep from the main storyline - call it the highlight of BoTS.

Sydney, Quinn's daughter that the Entire claimed for its own and sent to live among Inyx, a horselike sentient beings that live in the steppe, as an outcast, where she dreams of 'free bonds' with their captors and of overthrowing the evil Tarig rule. While I commend KENYON's imagination at creating a vivid alien world full of exotic places and beings that populate them, I can't go pass the naivete of the Entire's internal, and external for that matter, politics. Nothing really subtle here, everything progresses by the way of grudges, hate, coercion, stubbornness, longing, love, idealistic dreams etc. You get the picture. Another central figure, besides Qiunn and Sydney, is Anzi - a native of Entire who acts both as a dampener and a sidekick to Quinn. She admires Quinn and follows his cause almost blindly; she is a sort of a standard for how the rest of the people perceive Quinn. His alleged charisma and strength of personality are taken for granted at first sight and that bothered me some, because I don't think he deserves such 'royal treatment'.

The world that Key created is, as I already noted, lush and full of interesting ideas, but if you strip away all the layers and reveal the core, it lacks some indiscernible quality, substance and/or flavor that, let's say, the City of Camorr from Scott Lynch's "Lies of Locke Lamora" (review) undeniably possesses. The world of the Entire is somewhat fluctuating and not as defined by physical boundaries as our own. The only means of long-distance travel for the common people provides the river Nigh that connects all the distant lands in some astral manner. The Tarig, cruel overlords of the Entire, seem to withhold crucial technological knowledge from their subjects and herein lies their power. The human race of the Entire, the Chalin, are an approximate copy of the (ancient) Chinese people, but there is a well-justified reason behind this so this fact doesn't grate on the skeptic reader. There is also the Ascendancy - Entire's capital city - where the Tarig lords reside; I'd like to see more of it to be honest. We witness its preoccupation with bureaucracy and rules, but the more mundane aspects of the city, its underbelly and the life of the common people that give the city its life, is left unexplored, which is a shame really since the potential is there. Hopefully KAY KENYON returns to the Ascendancy in the following installments and breathes more life into it.

KAY KENYON is an apt storyteller and keeps the flow of the story smooth at all times. The prose is never clunky, extraneously verbose or bogged down with disposition; the writing is neither grand nor pedestrian and the fact that everything comes at seemingly the righ moment (i.e. perfect pace) makes for a smooth and enjoyable read.

Some of the themes pursued in this book are: (torn) loyalties, friendship, oppression, coercion, dreams of freedom (and democracy) and family love (the author makes it obvious that she highly values the institution of family and close relationship between relatives). There are no new grounds broken here and events flow by in middle-of-the-road fashion, so I'd day that this book is a safe bet for everyone that is not explicitly looking for a more morally ambiguous read. I'm not opposed to books and authors that think outside the box, but the 'clean' style suits BotS just fine.

While "Bright of the Sky" lacks exceptional qualities to be marked an unforgettable read, it is nevertheless an enjoyable enough and competently executed adventure to be given 'a thumbs-up'. It definitely sets good foundations for the sequels to build upon, so when I'll feel like reading a not too demanding sf adventure I'll definitely consider continuing with this series.

~ Thrinidir ~

Monday, January 12, 2009

The ULTIMATE (and somewhat bloated) Best Of 2008 List [part 4]


Part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this ongoing article...and we are already at part 4.

I've picked out the following titles among the vast and varied selection of Bookspot Central's favorite reads of 2008 (I'm making an unjust selection again, but necessary due to this sites genre preferences): "A Shadow in Summer" (Daniel Abraham, fantasy), "The Well of Ascension" (Brandon Sanderson, fantasy), "All the Windwracked Stars" (Elizabeth Bear, sf), "Pride of Carthage" (David Anthony Durham, historical fiction), "Pump Six and Other Stories" (Paolo Bacigalupi, short story collection), "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories" (Nancy Kress, short story collection), "The Way of the Shadow" (Brent Weeks, fantasy), "Jhegaala" (Steven Brust, fantasy), "Anathem" (Neal Stephenson), "Caine Black Knife" (Matthew Stover, fantasy), "Toll the Hounds" (Steven Erikson, fantasy), "The Drowned Life" (Jeffrey Ford, short story collection), "The Enchantress of Florence" (Salman Rushdie), "The Ghost in Love" (Jonathan Carroll), "Thunderer" (Felix Gilman, fantasy), "Template" (Matthew Hughes), "Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse" (ed.John Joseph Adams, sf short story collection), "Under My Roof" (Nick Mamatas), "One for Sorrow" (Christopher Barzak), "The Forever War" (Joe Haldeman, progenitor of military sf), "Blindness" (Jose Saramago), "The Orphan’s Tales Vol. II: In the Cities of Coin and Spice" (Catherynne M. Valente, 'fantasy' in the vein of 1001 Nights), "A Clash of Kings" (GRRM, fantasy), "Last Light of the Sun" (Guy Gavriel Kay, fantasy), "Ash: A Secret History" (Mary Gentle, fantasy) and MANY MANY more. Again, I'm making a huge injustice to the authors of the posts I'm copying from, so do yourself a favor and follow the link to get more information.

Adam from The Wertzone awarded the following sf&f titles: (1) "The Ten Thousand" (Paul Kearney), (2) "The Last Argument of Kings" (Joe Abercrombie), (3) "The Temporal Void" (Peter F. Hamilton), (4) "Nation" (Terry Prattchet), (5) "The Steel Remains" (Richard Morgan), (6) "The Painted Man" (Peter V. Brett), (7) "Swiftly" (Adam Roberts), (8) "Return of the Crimson Guard" (Ian C.Esslemont), (9) "Shadow Gate" (Kate Elliott), (10) "Toll the Hounds" (Steven Erikson), (11) "The Edge od Reason" (Melinda Snodgrass), (12) "Flood" (Stephen Baxter), (13) "The Red Wolf Conspiracy" (Robert VS Reddick) and finally (14) "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow.

Neth's (Neth's Space) best are (clear and simple): "Neuropath" (Scott Bakker), "Already Dead" (Charlie Huston), "The Lees of Laughter’s End" (Steven Erikson), "Lord Tophet" (Gregory Frost), "Zoë’s Tale" (John Scalzi); one step above them - 'best of the best' books he read in 2008 - are "The Final Empire" and "The Well of Ascension" (Brandon Sanderson), "Toll the Hounds" (Steven Erikson), "Heroes Die" (Matthew Stover), "The Dragons of Babel" (Michael Swanwick) and "The Judging Eye" (R. Scott Bakker).

Rob - to some better known as RobB from forums (saying it again: beside Ran's ASoIaF forum, this is the place to be for sf/f/h enthusiasts) - mentioned 'the best 2008 books' he read in the annual Review (Fantasy and SF&Media), but on his blog (Rob's Blog o'Stuff) he didn't limit himself to just 2008 books (his own words). The books that left the biggest impression on him in 2008 were: "Dresden Files" series (Jim Butcher, 'urban fantasy'), [BEST SCIENCE FICTION] "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow, sf), "Starship Troopers" (R.A.Heinlein, sf classic), [BEST FANTASY] "Heroes Die" (Matthew Stover, sf), "The Graveyard Book" (Neil Gaiman), "Shadow of the Wind" (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), "The Hero of Ages" (Brandon Sanderson), "The Born Queen" (Greg Keyes), [FAVORITE DEBUTS] "Night Angel Trilogy" (Brent Weeks, Rob's favorite), "Destroyermen I: Into the Storm" and "Destroyermen II: Crusade" (Taylor Anderson), [FAVORITE UNDISCOVERED GEM] "Throne of Amenkor" trilogy (Joshua Palmatier), [FAVORITE SHORT STORY/ANTHOLOGY COLLECTION] "Wastelands" (ed.John Joseph Adams), "The Living Dead" (-II-), "Fragile Things" (Neil Gaiman) and "Worlds of Weber" (David Weber, retrospective). Rob's most disappointing reads of 2008 were: "Thunderer" (Felix Gilman), "Empress" (Karen Miller) and "Juggler of Worlds" (Lary Niven & Edward M.Lerner). Rob's 'favorite author whose work he revisited' in 2008 is Jack McDevit and his 'favorite publisher' of past year is Orbit Books with Pyr being a close second.

Aaron Wilson's (The Souless Machine Review) best reads of 2008 are: (1) "The Swarm" (Frank Schatzing), (2) "The Suicide Collectors" (David Oppegaard) and (3) "Unholy Domain" (our review) by Dan Ronco. Check out his site for the list of best short fiction.
To be continued...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

P.C. & Kristen Cast - Marked (Book Review)

Note: Dannie has answered our Smugglivus post in which we offered to take another reviewer, and she is now acting as our apprentice of some sort. :) Judging by her taste in books, she'll contribute urban fantasy and horror reviews mostly, and will jump in whenever the original team is too busy with other things.

"Marked" (Amazon: US, UK)
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: St.Martin's Griffin (May 1, 2007)
In 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres not only exist but are also tolerated by humans. Those whom the creatures "mark" as special enter the House of Night school where they will either become vampyres themselves, or, if their body rejects the change, die. To Zoey, being marked is truly a blessing, though she's scared at first. She has never fit into the human world and has always felt she is destined for something else. Her grandmother, a descendant of the Cherokee tribe, has always supported her emotionally, and it is she who takes the girl to her new school. But even there the teen stands apart from the others. Her mark from the Goddess Nyx is a special one, showing that her powers are very strong for one so young. At the House of Night, Zoey finds true friendship, loyalty, and romance as well as mistrust and deception. She realizes that all is not right in the vampyre world and that the problems she thought she left behind exist there as well. (Yeah, I admit - Amazon helped me a bit with this summary.)


While I do admit to the premise being interesting, despite the basic Harry Potter spin (Kid despises family, whisked away to magical school), this book is by far the worst vampyre (or, as the authors prefer, vampyre) novel I have ever, in my entire life, had the misfortune of reading. I would describe it as one of the more unfortunate instalments of Gossip Girl, except all the dialogue is unrealistic and all the characters are vampyres. But wait! They don't drink blood to create new vampyres. Instead, they appear at random places and moments of time and create these 'fledglings' by saying a corny incantation which makes a blank crescent moon appears on some kids forehead. Yeah, these are the joys of a vampyre's life.

Let's look at the horrible inner and outer dialogue:
  1. Overuse of the whole "out-of-quotation" exclamation mark ("Quote", imagine how silly that would be!) - I don't know why, but it bugs me. A lot.
  2. Use of the words 'yummy' and 'hateful'. Again, these are teenagers, like, 17 year olds. I have not said 'yummy' since I was seven, and I don't know anyone who uses 'hateful' in everyday conversation.
  3. Painfully corny, down to the facial expressions.
  4. It's a mother-daughter writing team. Need I say more?
  5. It could basically pass as a long children's book, if it weren't for the clumsy addition of stereotypical gay placement and unrealistic whoring around.
In addition, the character development is like a bad piece of fan fiction. The main protagonist's shaky narrative is only stood-off by the misplaced addition of extremely detailed description of her Cherokee facial features and annoyingly cheesy vampyric rituals. She seems to be unable to describe the world around her unless she's staring into a mirror or discussing all the guys she could screw, which might just be the ultimate example of ego brushing, if I've ever seen one.

Another thing you might notice is that people are mentioned that you'd think would be important, such as Zoey's biological brother and sister. They are referred to once in the first novel as a junior and senior, one's a slut and one's a meat-headed jock, and that's the end of it. Not even on the oh-so irksome 'Parent Day' are they mentioned. You'd think something like this would be explored upon, but maybe the two authors just sort of hoped their readers would forget about it.

And, if none of this were enough, apparently every celebrity you love (or hate) are---wait for it---VAMPYRES as well. Very publicly so. Every genius in history, every country singer, every socialite. All. Vampyres. Again, the writing duo seems to think that misplaced, awkward pop-culture references will make up for their lack of personal and social skills.

Overall, it could have been written by a sexually depraved, teen drama obsessed sixteen year old. It might have been something far more enjoyable, but alas, in "Marked", P.C. and Kristen disappoint (and in the following three novels as well, might I add). It's a nice idea, but not nice enough to actually waste time on.

- Danielle -

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In the Limelight - Nebula Award Nominees 2009 (Long List)

A little break from the time consuming job of compiling a big overview of 'best of 2008' lists is in order and the SFWA's announcement of the preliminary ballot for the 2009 Nebula Awards provided just the opportunity to give us something other to chew on. Keep in mind that "The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA...awards presentation weekend will be announced and presented at The Nebula Awards Weekend on April 24-26". And now the list of all nominees for each of the categories...
  • Abraham, Daniel: "A Betrayal in Winter" (Tor, Jul07)
  • Barzak, Chris: "One for Sorrow" (Bantam, Sep07)
  • Bull, Emma: "Territory" (Tor, Jul07)
  • Doctorow, Cory: "Little Brother" (Tor, Apr08)
  • Goonan, Kathleen Ann: "In War Times" (Tor, May07)
  • Le Guin, Ursula K.: "Powers" (Harcourt, Sep07)
  • McDevitt, Jack: "Cauldron" (Ace, Nov07)
  • McDonald, Ian: "Brasyl" (Pyr, May07) *review*
  • Pratchett, Terry: "Making Money" (Harper, Sep07)
  • Rothfuss, Patrick: "The Name of the Wind" (DAW, Apr07)
  • Asaro, Catherine: "The Spacetime Pool" (Analog, Mar08)
  • Benford, Gregory: "Dark Heaven" (Alien Crimes, SFBC, Jan07?)
  • Eskridge, Kelley: "Dangerous Space" (Dangerous Space, Aqueduct Press, Jun07)
  • Finlay, Charles Coleman: "The Political Prisoner" (F&SF, Aug08)
  • Bowes, Richard: "If Angels Fight" (F&SF, Feb08)
  • Flynn, Michael F. : "Quaestiones Super Caelo et Mundo" (Analog, Aug07 (Jul/Aug07 issue))
  • Gardner, James Alan: The Ray-Gun: "A Love Story" (Asimov's, Feb08)
  • Goldstein, Lisa: "Dark Rooms" (Asimov's, Nov07 (Oct/Nov 07 issue))
  • Kessel, John: "Pride and Prometheus" (F&SF, Jan08)
  • Kosmatka, Ted: "The Prophet of Flores" (Asimov's, Sep07)
  • Moles, David: "Finisterra" (F&SF, Dec07)
  • Sinisalo, Johanna: "Baby Doll" (The SFWA European Hall of Fame, Tor, Jun07 (trans. from the Finnish by David Hackston))
  • Wentworth, K.D.: "Kaleidoscope" (F&SF, May07)
Short Stories
  • Allen, Mike: "The Button Bin" (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, Oct07 (Reprinted in Transcriptase))
  • Cassutt, Michael: "Skull Valley" (Asimov's, Nov07 (Oct/Nov 07 issue))
  • Finch, Sheila: "Stranger Than Imagination Can" (The Guild of Xenolinguists, Golden Gryphon Press, Sep07)
  • Ford, Jeffrey: "The Dreaming Wind" (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Viking Juvenile, Jul07)
  • Henderson, Samantha: "Bottles" (Realms of Fantasy, Apr07)
  • Hobson, M. K.: "The Hotel Astarte" (Realms of Fantasy, Jun07)
  • Johnson, Kij: "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" (Asimov's, Jul08)
  • Jones, Gwyneth: "The Tomb Wife" (F&SF, Aug07)
  • Kelly, James Patrick: "Don't Stop" (Asimov's, Jun07)
  • Nestvold, Ruth: Mars: "A Traveler's Guide" (F&SF, Jan08)
  • Plante, Brian: "The Astronaut" (Analog, May07)
  • Rickert, Mary: "Holiday" (Subterranean #7, Sep07)
  • Scholes, Ken: "Summer in Paris, Light From the Sky" (Clarkesworld Magazine, Nov07)
  • Van Pelt, James: "How Music Begins" (Asimov's, Sep07)
  • Stanton, Andrew: "WALL-E" (Pixar, Jun08)
No works made the preliminary ballot for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Who wants to place bets? ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The ULTIMATE (and somewhat bloated) Best Of 2008 List [part 3]

This is the third article in the series of "The Ultimate Best of 2008 List" articles; you can find the disclaimer and part 1 here, and part 2 here.

You can find Kristen's Fantasy Cafe's 2008 favorites announced and explained here. "Ink and Steel" and "Hell and Earth" were Kristen's favorite books published in 2008 (among runner-ups are "Shades of Dark" by Linnea Sinclair, "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, "Wanderlust" (Ann Aguirre) and "The Alchemy of Stone" by Ekaterina Sedia). Most ambitious book she read in 2008 was the original "Dune" by Frank Herbert. Her favorite new author is Sarah Monette with Elizabeth Bear running a close second. "Use of Weapons" (Iain M. Banks) had the best ending in her opinion, "Ink and Steel" and "Hell and Earth" are lavished with 'the best prose', "The Graveyard Book" was the most creative book she read and Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" series had the most unique magic system Kristen encountered in 2008. For the rest of the list follow the link to her site.

John Ottinger III and his noteworthy blog Grasping for the Wind has it's own top ten list to 'boast' with: (1) "The Prodigal Troll" (Charles Coleman Finlay), (2) "Goblin Hero" (Jim C. Hines), (3) "Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse" (ed.John Joseph Adams, short story collection), (4) "Infoquake" (David Louis Edelman), (5) "The Name of the Wind" (Patrick Rothfuss), (6) "The Court of the Air" (Stephen Hunt), (7) "Heaven's Net Is Wide" (Lian Hearn), (8) "Old Man's War" (John Scalzi), (9) "Acacia:War With the Mein" (David Anthony Durham) and (10) "Destroyermen: Into the Storm" (Taylor Anderson). "A Darkness Forged In Fire" (Chris Evans) was the most surprising read of 2008 for John (follow the link to find out why), "The Excalibur Murders" by J.M.C Blair was the worst book he read, "Bloodheir" (Brian Ruckley) was the best fantasy book he read and "Hunter's Run" (George R.R.Martin,Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham) was the best sf novel he read, "Shadowrealm" (Paul S.Kemp) was the best tie-in (Forgotten Realms) novel he read, "Goblin Hero" by Jim C.Hines was his funniest read of 2008, "Fast Ships, Black Sails" (ed.Ann and Jeff Vandermeer) was his most disappointing read among the books that were the most hyped in 2008, "Empress" (Karen Miller) is the most underrated novel of 2008, Orbit is John's favorite publisher of the previous year, Tobias Buckell is (again!) the most improved author as John sees it, and Pamela Freeman ("Blood Ties" and "Deep Water") is the best new author he read last year...more.

Aidan's 'novels of the year' are (link)... His favorite overall novel is "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (runner-up: "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman) and his favorite novel published in 2008 is "Last Argument of Kings" by Joe Abercrombie (runner-up: "The Born Queen" by Greg Keyes). Follow this link for his favorite videogames of 2008 (he omitted WoW: Wrath of the Lich King, what kind of list is this anway! *pfffft*). A few days after his 'best of 2008' list Aidan posted his reflections on 2008 which are also well worth reading, go to his page - A Dribble of Ink - and find out what transpired for him the last year.

Vote for your best fantasy book (you don't have to sign up) over at The David Gemmel's Award for Fantasy site... (I'll link up the winners when they are made known)

Guys at Fantasy Book Critic invited a lot of guest pens to write their 'best of' can find the link to all the posts of the guest authors here. The names - as of this moment - are as following: Lou Anders, Tom Lloyd, Kevin J. Anderson, Peter V. Brett, Kristen Britain, Eric Brown, Mark Chadbourn, Michael Cobley, Jack McDevitt, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Patrick Ness, David Farland, Tim Pratt, Mike Resnick, Ekaterina Sedia, Darren Shan, Conrad Williams, David Anthony Durham, Stephen Deas, Jonathan Barnes and many others (there are more names being added every day). Some of the books mentioned are (I'm editing the list although It's not the wisest thing to do): "The Quiet War" (Paul McAuley), "Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz" (Garth Nix, short stories collection), “The Terror” (Dan Simmons), “Absolution Gap” (Alastair Reynolds), “Wolf Star” (R.M. Meluch), “Child 44” (Tom Rob Smith), “Duma Key” (Stephen King), “The Graveyard Book” (Neil Gaiman), “Victory of Eagles” (Naomi Novik), “The Name of the Wind” (Patrick Rothfuss), “Soon I Will Be Invincible” (Austin Grossman), Tad Williams' "Otherland" series, “Hello Summer Goodbye” (Michael G. Coney, first released in '75), “The Turing Test” (Chris Beckett, short story collection), “Stealing Light” (Gary Gibson, space opera), “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” (Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill), “Firestarter” (Stephen King), “Brasyl” (Ian McDonald), "First Law" trilogy (Joe Abercrombie), “Other Times Than Peace” (David Drake, short story collection), “Marseguro” (Edward Willet), “Galactic North” (Alastair Reynolds, short story collection), "The Mistborn Series" (Brandon Sanderson), “Ender’s Shadow” (Orson Scott Card), “Therefore, Repent!” (Jim Munroe), “Fables: The Good Prince” (Bill Willingham), "Ink and Steel" and "Hell and Earth" (Elizabeth Bear), “The Born Queen” (Greg Keyes), “A Betrayal in Winter” (Daniel Abraham), “Pandemonium” (Daryl Gregory), “Superpowers” (David J. Schwartz), “A World Too Near” (Kay Kenyon), “Cauldron” (Jack McDevitt), “Aristocracy’s Outlaw” (Sylvia Lynch), “John the Balladeer” (Manly Wade Wellman), “Society’s Child” (Janis Ian), “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned” (Walter Mosley), “The Traitor” (Michael Cisco, horror), "Anathem" (Neal Stephenson), "Halting State" (Charles Stross), “The Mount” (Carol Emshwiller), "The Dreaming Void" (Peter F. Hamilton), “In the Cities of Coin and Spice” (Catherynne M. Valente), "In The Court of Crimson Kings" (S.M.Stirling), “The Explosionist” (Jenny Davidson, YA alternative history), “The Graveyard Book” (Neil Gaiman), “Bloodtide” (Melvin Burgess) and a few of Cormac McCarthy's novels: “No Country For Old Men”, “Child of God” and “Blood Meridian”. For more comprehensive list please follow the link I've posted above, not only is the list more complete, but every choice is explained upon and contextualized.

Ana & Thea's (The Book Smugglers; their fancy new domain can be found here) 'most excellent books of 2008' [Thea's list] "The Graveyard Book" (Neil Gaiman), "The Outlaw Demon Wails" (Kim Harrison), "Heir to Sevenwaters" (Juliet Marillier), "the dead & the gone" (Susan Beth Pfeffer), "Clockwork Heart" (Dru Pagliassotti), "Fables volume 10: The Good Prince" (Bill Willingham), "Iron Kissed" (Patricia Briggs), "Joker" (Brian Azzarello), "The Living Dead Anthology" (ed.John Joseph Adams); [and Ana's list] "King of Sword and Sky" (C.L. Wilson), "Demon Bound" (Meljean Brook), "The Duke of Shadows" (Meredith Duran), "The Two Dukes of Wyndham" (Julia Quinn), "Your Scandalous Ways" (Loretta Chase), "Ink Exchange" (Melissa Marr), "Hostage to Pleasure" (Nalini Singh), "The Graveyard Book" (Neil Gaiman) etc. For the extensive list and thoughts that acompany the choices please visit their site.
To be contiuned...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The ULTIMATE (and somewhat bloated) Best Of 2008 List [part 2]

Link to the disclaimer and part 1.

Tia (Fantasy Debut) composed a list of best fantasy debuts that she read in 2008 (the books weren't necessarily published that year). Among others she mentions "The Outback Stars" (Sandra McDonald, best romance), "The Sellsword" (Cam Banks, best surprise romance), "The Name of the Wind" (Patrick Rothfuss, best character development story), "Elom" (William H. Drinkard, best sf epic), "Black Ships" (Jo Graham, best historical fantasy) and "The Sword-Edged Blonde" by Alex Bledsoe as her overall favorite debut. You are now well versed, I hope, in what to do if you are interested in the rest of her 'best of' list (=follow the link).

Joe Sherry from Adventures in Reading - he is the only person I feel almost obliged to reffer to with name and last name (don't ask me why, because I don't know either) - was a busy-little-bee and compiled three different lists; the first one is about his top nine books that were published in 2008, the second one lists his nine best reads of 2008 and the final one elaborates on top nine authors he discovered in 2008. The best nine books he read are as follows: (1) "Shadow Unit: Season One" (Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, and Amanda Downum; an ongoing story that is available online), (2) "The Stratford Man" (Elizabeth Bear), (3) "Blade of Tyshalle" & "Caine Black Knife" (Matthew Stover, the second and the third book of "Acts of Caine" saga), (4) "War of the Oaks" (Emma Bull), (5) "Not Flesh Nor Feathers" (Cherie Priest), (6) "The Armageddon Rag" (GRRM), (7) "The Uglies Series" (Scott Westerfeld, YA), (8) "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow, YA sf) and (9) "Wastelands" (ed.John Joseph Adams, SF anthology). Top nine books published in 2008 as seen by Joe Sherry are: (1) "The Stratford Man" (Elizabeth Bear), (2) "Caine Black Knife" (Matthew Stover), (3) "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow), (4) "Wastelands" (ed.John Joseph Adams), (5) "Zoe's Tale" (Joe Scalzi), (6) "Fast Ships, Black Sails" (ed.Ann and Jeff Vandermeer), (7) "The Best of Lucius Shepard" (Lucius Shepard, Shepard's retrospective of short stories), (8) "Before They Are Hanged" (Joe Abercrombie) and (9) "Order 66" (Karen Traviss, Star Wars tie-in). Top nine authors Joe Sherry discovered in 2008 are Emma Bull, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Westerfeld, Ellen Klages, Nancy Kress, L.Timmel Duchamp, Nick Mamantas, Liz Williams and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. Check the links for the commentiaries on his choices and all that.

SFSignal (if you are a fan of speculative fiction you should follow this site, period) and it's MIND MELD articles are one of the best things out there, so make sure you don't miss "MIND MELD: The Best Genre-Related Books/Films/Shows Consumed in 2008 (Part I, Part II and Part III)". In these articles there are some recognisable names extrapolating on the topic of the article. Some of the many books mentioned are: "Thunderer" (Felix Gilman), "Spin" (R.C.Wilson), "Zoe's Tale" (John Scalzi), "The Alchemy of Stone" (Ekaterina Sedia), "Staked" (Jeremy Lewis), "Mainspring" (Jay Lake), "Halo" (Tobias S.Buckell), "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" (David Wrobliewski), "Fast Forward 2" (ed.Lou Anders, short story collection), "Muse of Fire" (Dan Simmons, novella), "The Well-Built City Trilogy" (Jeffrey Ford), "Ink and Steel" and "Hell and Earth" (Elizabeth Bear), "The Steel Remains" (Richard Morgan), "River of Gods" (Ian McDonald), "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow), "Debatable Space" (Philip Palmer), "The Domino Men" (Jonathan Barnes), "The Blue War" (Jeffrey Thomas), "The House of Suns" (Alastair Reynolds), "Binding Energy" (Daniel Marcus, short story collection), "Pump Six and Other Stories" (Paolo Bacigalupi, short story collection), "The Graveyard Book" (Neil Gaiman), "Singularity Ring" (Paul Melko), "Spin" (Robert Charles Wilson), "Song of Kali" (Dan Simmons), "Very Hard Choices" (Spider Robinson), "The Android's Dream" (John Scalzi), "Sly Mongoose" (Tobias S.Buckell), "The Golden Chord" (Paul Genesee), "The Thirteenth Reality" (James Dashner), "Ten Stigmas" (Paul Melko, short story collection), "The Innocent Mage" and "The Awakened Mage" (Karen Miller), "Implied Spaces" (Walter Jon Williams), "Tooth and Claw" (Jo Walton), "In the Courts of the Crimson Kings" (S.M. Stirling), "Old Man's War" (John Scalzi), "The Lies of Locke Lamora" (Scott Lynch), "Elantris" (Brandon Sanderson), "The New Weird" and "Steampunk" (ed.Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, short story collections), "The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy" (ed.Ellen Datlow, short story collection), "The Drowned Life" (Jeffrey Ford, short story collection), "Shadowbridge" and "Lord Tophet" (Gregory Frost) etc. (Note that not all books were actually released, only read, in 2008). Last but not least, John's (the guy who runs the site) 'best of': "Rollback" (Robert J. Sawyer), "Laika" (Nick Abadzis), "Spectrum 14" (ed.Cathy and Arnie Fenner), "The Lathe of Heaven" (Ursula K. LeGuin), "Little Brother" (Cory Doctorow), "The Affinity Bridge" (George Mann), "Necroscope" (Brian Lumley), "Planet of the Apes" (Pierre Boulle) and "The Watchmen" (Alan Moore)...more.

If Pat has his 'Hotties' than Blood of the Muse has its 'Bloodies' (no wonder then, that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist recieved the Bloodie for 'best speculative fiction blog'; 'best reviews', accordingly to the Blood of the Muse, are written by the guys at Fantasy Book Critic - congrats). Bloodies cover many categories so I'll just stick to the major ones: Charlie Huston ("Every Last Drop") is 'the most underappreciated author', Tobias Buckell ("Sly Mongoose") is 'the most improved author', Brent Weeks ("The Way of Shadows") is 'the best new author', Scott Bakker ("Neuropath" and "The Prince of Nothing" series) is 'the best writer in overall', "The Steel Remains" (Richard Morgan) was 'the most disappointing novel' for Paul, "The Ten Thousand" (Paul Kearny) was 'the most surprising novel' in 2008, 'best debut' was "The Way of Shadows" (Brent Weeks), award for 'the best urban fantasy' novel goes to "Every Last Drop" by Charlie Huston, 'best sf novel' of 2008 is "Sly Mongoose" (Tobias Buckell), 'Bloodie' for ' the best fantasy novel' goes to "Last Argument of Kings" (Joe Abercrombie) and 'the best novel of them all' is "Neuropath" by Scott Bakker (Bloodies stay true to Hotties here). Blood of the Muse's top reads of 2008 are as follows: (1) "Neuropath" (Scott Bakker), (2) "Last Argument of Kings" (Joe Abercrombie), (3) "The Given Day" (Dennis Lehane), (4) "Every Last Drop" (Charlie Huston), (5) "The Ten Thousand" (Paul Kearney), (6) "Sly Mongoose" (Tobias Buckell), (7) "The Way of Shadows", "Shadow’s Edge" and "Beyond the Shadows" (Brent Weeks), (8) "Busted Flush" (ed.George R.R.Martin), (9) "The January Dancer" (Michael Flynn) and finally (10) "The Company" (K.J. Parker). For more, visit Blood of the Muse.

Dark Wolf's 'Top 10' 2008 reads are: (1) "The Shadow of the Wind" (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), (2) "Through a Glass, Darkly" (Bill Hussey), (3) "The Darkness That Comes Before" (Scott Bakker), (4) "The Name of the Wind" (Patrick Rothfuss), (5) "Winterbirth" and "Bloodheir" (Brian Ruckley), (6) "The Inferior" (Peadar Ó Guillin), (7) "The Warded Man" (Petter V.Brett, alt.title "The Painted Man"), (8) "The Secret History of Moscow" (Ekatarina Sedia), (9) "The Last Wish" (Andrzej Sapkowski) and at number (10) there is "Night of Knives" by Ian C.Esslemont.
To be contiuned...


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