Friday, December 31, 2004

2004: Rob's favorite novels

Holidays have kept life busy for the most part. OK, the new Playstation 2 games (EA NHL2005 & LOTR: The Third Age) have kept things a bit busy, too. Christmas was pretty good over here I have to say, got some really good books (hopefully), DVDs (LOTR: ROTK EE) and some much needed clothes.

Finished up The Shadow Roads, the excellent conclusion to Sean Russell’s Swan’s War Trilogy and moved onto another Sean, Galveston by Sean Stewart. Also read the 10th anniversary hardcover of Marvels by Busiek and Ross. This is extraordinary visual storytelling, though having read Kingdom Come before Marvels, I can see the improvement in Ross’s style in KC.

Since this is the last day of 2004, I should probably tally off the books I enjoyed the most this year, in no particular order…of course over the next couple of days I may remember one or two.

Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David. I’ve long enjoyed David’s comic book work, but this was my first exposure to his prose writing and it may have been the most fun I had reading any book this year. This is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the Fantasy Quest/Heroic Fantasy novel, the laughs seem to come in the right spots and David told a very enjoyable story that both mocked the genre and its idiosyncrasies and fit within the mold very nicely.

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams. Anytime a new Tad Williams book is released, I am happy. Its hard to tell if this is quite up to par with his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, but so far, all the notes are sounding right and the story is wonderful.

Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb. Sad that Fitz’s tale concluded but in the end, Mrs. Hobb did right by the witted bastard. She brought all three of the trilogies she has written together in this final volume of the Tawny Man trilogy.

The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes. I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve read by Mr. Keyes and his skill continue to improve greatly with each book he writes. This is perhaps the best unfinished series in the genre.

Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew W. Fox. Mr. Fox’s debut novel of an overweight vampire living the undead life in New Orleans. Like David’s Apropos novel, the tongue is planted in cheek and Fox plays with Vampire genre clichés.

Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey. A stunning fantasy novel of impending war and the quest to destroy the dark lord. Sound familiar? Of course it does, but Carey takes the framework of the Lord of the Rings and spins an elegant tale from the “dark side” of the conflict. A nearly perfect read. From my review: Ultimately, a fantasy novel, with its mythical creatures and magical elements must succeed on the characters the writer brings to life. Consequently, these interesting characters and interesting story only account for a portion of a good book. To bring everything together, the writing and prose need to be readable, and in this, again, Ms. Carey has more than succeeded on all of these fronts.

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower by Stephen King. The end of Roland’s quest, and in some ways, one of King’s most terrifying works of fiction. It was kind of sad to see this saga conclude, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life following Roland’s quest. I’ve seen King criticized for his endings in the past, but here, where the ending counted the most, I personally think he absolutely nailed it.

The Etched City by K.J. Bishop. In The Etched City, K.J. Bishop brings to light many themes - love, death, theology, and art. These are some of the Big themes of life and in the pages of her enchanting first novel, she manages to cull them together as consistent and stimulating threads part of the larger conversation. The Etched City is a fairly packed novel, considering its page-count is just over 375 pages, and it does require more than mere skimming….but on the whole, The Etched City is an extremely impressive debut by an author who, based upon this novel and the deserved acclaim it has received, looks to forge a very unique storytelling career.

City of Pearl by Karen Traviss From my SFFWorld Review: Reading an author’s first novel is always an interesting experience, "listening" to a fresh voice with perhaps something new to say. The writer’s reputation rests on her ability to convey an entertaining and thought provoking story, enough so readers will want to read more of the words the writer puts to paper. Karen Traviss has succeeded in doing all these things right in her debut novel, City of Pearl. This is a satisfying, stimulating novel of colonization, alien contact, and choices. While there is inherent inclusion of possible future technology, the strength of this novel, and its place as a great work of Science Fiction, is the implication of where humanity is going, as a society, and as a race.

No comments: