When it comes to reading and reviewing, I’m gratified to say that this is the best year of reading I’ve had in my entire life. Getting to know some authors—some even gave me dedicated signed books as thanks for my review!—and bloggers, getting to experience all these creations birthed from different individuals, but most of all, forming friendships with people all around the world who love books as much as I do, have all been amazing bonuses that have further improved my reading experiences. It’s finally the end of the year and it’s only fair for me to close it with some of the best books I’ve read this year.
I need to say a few things first regarding this list. This is my first full year of reading and reviewing novels. This year alone I've read and reviewed 122 books. To me, this is not a small amount. I’ve sacrificed a lot of socializing time in order to achieve this quantity, not to mention that almost all my reviews comprised of 1000-2000 words which required at least one or two hours to write. Suffice to say I don't think I can achieve this amount of reading in a single year again as my life will only get busier with the passage of time. Considering the number of books I've read and reviewed this year, there will be three rules I set in this list in order for me to give appreciation to more authors rather than having only a few authors hoarding this list. The rules are:
- Rereads don’t count
- One book per author
- The book listed here are not exclusively published this year.
All the books listed received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here we go! (All full reviews of these books can be found on Booknest or on my Goodreads page.)
20. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
19. The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley
18. The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan
17. The Core by Peter V. Brett
16. The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler
15. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
14. Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell
13. The Armored Saint by Myke Cole
12. Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell
11. Heir of Novron by Michael J Sullivan
10. The Mirror's Truth by Michael R. Fletcher
9. The Stone Sky by N.K Jemisin
8. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
7. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
6. Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
5. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
2. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
1. Wrath by John Gwynne
I wish I could include more books because there are still plenty more great books I’ve read this year. But it was extremely hard for me to narrow down 122 books to 20 books already. Once again, thank you, everyone, for the experience. I look forward to reading and reviewing more books next year! :)
It took us a while, but we are finally over with the first round of this year's SPFBO. Four of our members (Petrik, Mary, TS, Charles), an ex-member (David) and a guest (Rita) split the thirty books allocated to BookNest between them, and each one of them selected a semi-finalist among their batch. Then I read all six semis and chose our finalist, which will proceed to the second round of the contest. But before announcing our finalist, let me tell you a story.
Five of our judges finished their books early, so I was able to read their semis. The best one among them was A Star Reckoner's Lot by Darell Drake. Rita read four out of her five books, but due to some personal issues she had to take a break. The best book among those four was The White Tower by Michael Wiseheart for which Rita had some great things to say, so I took a risk and read it as her semi. It was marginally better than A Star Reckoner's Lot, and so it was decided that The White Tower would be our finalist. At this point though, another judge (Ventureadlaxre) chose her finalist, and in the process she eliminated Faithless by Graham Austin-King, which I happen to read four months ago and thought it was truly amazing. So, I contacted Mark Lawrence and asked if I could use the Senlin Safety Net, and choose Faithless as our finalist, since it was (in my opinion) far better than The White Tower. Unfortunately, I couldn't. Mark even wrote an article about it, which you can read here. So, once again, The White Tower was to be our finalist, always considering that my risk would pay out. Alas:
Rita read the final book among her batch (Pilgrimage to Skara by Jonathan S. Pembroke) and selected it as her semi instead. And here is where things got complicated. For starters, I would obviously have to read Pilgrimage to Skara myself. Now, if I agreed with Rita's opinion and found it better than The White Tower (and therefore the rest of the semis) then I would choose it as our finalist, and everything would be alright. But if I disagreed with Rita, what would I do? Would I still select it as our finalist, ignoring The White Tower which would be better, or would I pick The White Tower, ignoring Rita and her semi?
Fortunately, the first out of the two possible outcomes occurred. I found Pilgrimage to Skara to be (again, marginally) better than The White Tower & A Star Reckoner's Lot, and therefore I chose to send it to the second round of the SPFBO as BookNest's finalist, with a 7/10 score. So, congratulations to Jonathan, and best of luck to all ten finalists!
October is over, and so are this year's BookNest Fantasy Awards. I would like to thank once more all those who nominated books in the first stage (Gollancz, Harper Voyager, Tor.com, Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Book Review, Fantasy Book Critic, Parmenion, Grim Tidings & Kitty G) and the public who voted in the second and third stage. The prizes (dagger, kopis & broadsword) will be engraved and send to the winners within November.
And now, to the winners....
THE VOTING IS NOW OVER!
YOU CAN SEE THE WINNERS HERE!
In the first stage of our Awards, three big fantasy imprints (Gollancz, Harper Voyager & Tor.com) alongside six popular & respected blogs (Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Book Review, Fantasy Book Critic, Parmenion, Grim Tidings & Kitty G) created the base for the longlist. In the second stage, the public helped us expand the said longlist, and in the third stage they voted for the ten best books in each category, creating the shortlist, which you can see below.
Now, in the fourth and final stage which opens on Sunday 15th October 2017 and closes on Tuesday 31st October 2017, you are called to vote for the winners.
And now, to the shortlist:
BEST TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED NOVEL
BEST SELF PUBLISHED NOVEL
BEST DEBUT NOVEL
If this is the first time you're voting and yet you get a message saying that you've already voted, then just ignore it. Your vote has been registered without an issue.
An interview with M.L. Spencer about her wonderful dark fantasy series The Rhenwars Saga. Its novels follow a centuries long saga struggle between mages and demon worshipers were the good and evil aren't quite as clear cut as you might think.
1. So, can you describe The Rhenwars Saga for new readers?
I just won a “Shortest Pitch” award for this...what was it? Oh, yes: “Two opposing orders of mages and a gateway to hell.”
2. What is the premise of Darklands?
In Darklands, Darien, the protagonist from the last novel who gave his life to seal the Well of Tears and rescue his lover from the Netherworld is back, only on this time he has sworn his soul to the God of Chaos. He is tasked with delivering the people he has only ever known as the Enemy from the curse of darkness that has plagued them for a thousand years: a mission which puts him at odds with his former allies.
3. Who are the protagonists of the book?
The main protagonist is Darien Lauchlin, former Sentinel of the Rhen, now a Servant of Xerys. There is also Quin, another servant of the who pledged his soul to Chaos, and Meiran, Darien’s former lover, who is now the leader of the Rhen’s decimated mages.
4. What separates The Rhenwars Saga from other fantasy novels?
The Rhenwars Saga takes all the familiar tropes you would normally expect to find in a typical fantasy series, blends it all up at high speed, and then sprays the resulting concoction all over the kitchen.
5. Darklands is a story which reverses a lot of the good vs. evil we expected from previous books. Was this planned from the beginning? Why go this direction?
This was definitely planned from the beginning. The Rhenwars Saga is about setting up assumptions and then challenging those assumptions by switching perspectives. So this sudden “redirect” in plot direction gave me the chance to shift the camera and see the world through the eyes of the Enemy. In fact, that is exactly why they are called the “Enemy” in the first place: the name typifies the kind of lack of understanding and disregard the people of the Rhen had for their neighbors to the north.
6. The romance elements of your books are always tragic. Is that your style or a deliberate choice to contrast your book against other books?
I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for tragedy. But that’s not the real reason why so many of the romances in my books end tragically. The Quin-Amani-Braden romance tragedy has echoing consequences that shook an entire world for a thousand years. The Darien-Meiran romance isn’t necessarily over, so I’m not going to say how it’s going to ultimately end. But I will say this: it will be logical and realistic outcome that could end no other way considering the personalities of the characters involved and the situations they face.
So...I think the overarching theme here is I enjoy realistic outcomes that might defy the typical – but utterly unrealistic--fantasy romance.
7. What were the influences on the cultures in the setting?
The cultures I drew most heavily on were pre-Islamic Bedouin culture and Ottoman-era Turk.
8. Do you have a favorite character among your leads?
I’m torn between Quin and Darien. If you make me pick, I’ll have to say Darien, because he literally has been in my head for over 20 years. Quin is a relatively recent addition to my cast.
9. What books would you recommend as being like yours?
Definitely "Wraith Knight” by C.T. Phipps! It’s the only book I’ve yet read that really turns the tropes around like Rhenwars does. I get compared to Jordan and GRRM a lot, but I don’t see it. OK -- I kind of see it with Jordan, but it would be a really MESSED UP Jordan. Kind of like if Rand had joined the Dark One and started fighting against Egwene et al. I guess another one I could see a parallel would be Stoker’s Dracula.
10. Did you have any authors that influenced your world?
Plenty! Jordan, of course. Raymond E. Feist, Stephen King, and C.S. Friedman are probably the big ones.
11. What can we expect from the next novel in the series?
The proverbial excrement is going to hit the wind-generating device. War is coming to the Rhen, and it will not be pretty as former friends are realigned as foes. I can promise tons of trickery, treachery, and tragedy! Plenty of hearts will rupture and bleed.
THIS STAGE IS NOW OVER
ANY FURTHER VOTES WON'T COUNT
The public helped us expand the longlist that three big fantasy imprints (Gollancz, Harper Voyager & Tor.com) alongside six popular & respected blogs (Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Book Review, Fantasy Book Critic, Parmenion, Grim Tidings & Kitty G) first created, and now we finally reached the voting stage! Out of fifty (50) traditionally published novels, twenty-five (25) self published novels, and twenty (20) debut novels, only ten (10) from each category will make it to the short-list, with your help!
This voting stage will last until Saturday 14th October 2017 GMT +00:00. We will announce the short-list in the same day, and open the next voting stage a day later.
You can read all about the awards HERE. And now to the voting:
BEST TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED NOVEL
BEST SELF PUBLISHED NOVEL
BEST DEBUT NOVEL