Best Books of 2014
So it has finally come down to the list of lists. The Best Books of 2014. I read many different kind of books this year, all my friends and family said I read way to much... and I always reply with: there is always more to read! It was really hard to make this final list, in many different subgenre I read some ace books. After a lot of contemplation I have made this final list.
Just as last year where Emperor of Thorns made the list as well, Mark Lawrence once again made it on my yearly favorites list. Prince of Fools, the first book in The Red Queen's War was released this summer and with this book Mark Lawrence proofs that he is far from a one time success with his The Broken Empire series. Prince of Fools takes place within the same universe of his first series but focuses on a completely different protagonist Jalan. The Broken Empire gave the gritty grimdark setting and a dark protagonist, in Prince of Fools, Mark Lawrence shows the story is a bit more funnier and humurous way making Jalan more of a joker. This doesn't take away that the setting of the story is pretty dark at times. The narration of the story is just as what you have come to expect of Mark, you are directly taken up in the story and not let go off. With this first book he is once again off to an amazing start.
Lock in is the second book that I have read from John Scalzi. I know he is a well known sci-fi author and only read his Old Man's War book prior to Lock in. The thing that drew me the most to Lock in was the combination of both the synopsis and what I read in the short story published on tor.com, Unlocked, the prequel/introduction to Lock in. Science Fiction is a genre that is very diverse, anything can happen, what I like a lot about Science Fiction is when author write on the border of our capabilities. This is what I found in Lock in. John Scalzi broaches the fact of a modified virus that locks people into their own bodies. With all the attention that the bird flu and swine flue had received and virus jumping species this comes really close. Added to this John Scalzi explores the societal aspect that comes along with it. This books will make you thinks twice on how to act.
Just as with Mark Lawrence, Max Gladstone also made my list last year. His Craft Sequence is just utterly cool and something unseen heretofore in Urban Fantasy. Full Fathom Five is the third book in the Craft Sequence following up on Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. With each book Max Gladstone manages to surprise amaze and awe me. The idea behind his series, gods, lawyers, gargoyles and penitents all thrown in a weird mix paid off from the first book and continues to pay off. The books in this series aren't written in a chronological order but there are bits and pieces that fall in to place and you start to connect. As you delve deeper into this series it only gets better and better. Last First Snow, the fourth book is due to be released next year!
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Well do you have an hour for me to say just how awesome this book is? I never heard of Claire North and did a lot of google searches to find out who Claire North was... none gave any extra information. Then I got a press release saying that Claire North was the pseudonym of Catherine Webb who also writes under Kate Griffin her urban fantasy series of Matthew Swift and Magicals Anonymous which both rock. well that aside. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was one of Orbit's biggest Science Fiction releases this year. In essence this story is about immortality. thinks of when you die, you wake up at the same time and date of when you were originally born BUT with all the memories that you made in the life previous. EVERYTIME. You could amass amazing wealth as you know just what will happen in the stock markets. Though on first this sounds cool, there are also limitations as you could have a very high impact on changing history. So as a wise man has said. With great power comes great responsibility. And this is something that is highlighted in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry Augustus. This is a time travel story but Claire North explores a lot of boundaries of human life; actions, morale, virtues and vices.
This year I read Brian Staveley's debut and when I finished it I sat for a while recounting everything that happened. In Epic Fantasy it is hard to come up with new things, new elements to show and idea's to bring to the reader. The Emperor's Blade has all this and much more. It uses a few classical elements to build it story but the surroundings all make this story very unique. Military system with the amazing Ketteral birds, magic users that are to be feared and held in awe. The story is divided into three different points of view, the three children of the Emperor each has their own vices and virtues and expertise. In these three characters Valyn, Kaden and Adare, Brian Staveley has created very humane, emotional and relatable characters. The sequel is out this coming January, if it is just as a success as The Emperor's Blades, Brian Staveley is the next big thing. Trust me.
- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, Ace/Roc, HarperVoyager
So the bottom line. Prince of Fools is one AWEsome read, what else if there to say? Mark Lawrence had already established himself as one of the genre writers on the rise and he done so again with his new series: The Red Queen's War and the first entry Prince of Fools. He further proves that his writing wasn't a one time deal, Prince of Fools is just as solid in writing and has just as an interesting storyline and concept as his earlier stories, what adds even more to Mark Lawrence's skill is that he has written a completely different story than that of Jorg, nicely diversifying his repertoire and adding a few extra layers to his Broken Empire universe. Jalan and Snorri are both great protagonists that despite the flaws in their characters make up for a great time and readily pull the story forwards. Being set in the same time frame as that of Jorg's story I can imagine that it must have been hard writing a story that takes place in the same time with a bit of an common enemy and character that appear of both story but Mark Lawrence pulls this off as it should. Top notch. Where magic was mostly in the background of Jorg's series, in Jalan's part it takes on a more prominent role. Just as when I finished each book of the Broken Empire series, I need the sequel NOW! period. Prince of Fools is set out to be released 5th of June. Make this your summerread guys and girls, it really is that good. There isn't any info yet about the sequel, I have my fingers crossed for next year hopefully.
Read the full review here
- Lock in by John Scalzi, Tor, Gollancz
I think you can make up from the glowing review I am writing here that John Scalzi's Lock In is just brilliant stuff that you don't want to miss out on. From the first sentence I read of Unlocked I was hooked line and sinker to the idea behind Lock In. John Scalzi presents his idea in full colors and has created a very dangerous and dire setting, it's not only a story that focuses on the virus alone or it's consequences alone or how society is dealing with it, it is much more than those parts alone. It's a detective kind of story that combines all of the above mentioned aspects in a brilliant story. Besides the world, the two lead investigators, Shane and Vann are just as unique to read about, they offer some interesting perspectives that help bring this story to another level. You can see that I write brilliant a lot and it is justified, this book only get better the more you think about it. Now I had a quick peek on Goodreads and it says Lock In #1, will this be a series?? Fingers crossed! But in the mean I suggest you start reading this book. Right about. now.
Read the full review here
- Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor
Just one last thing that I do have to mention is the world building. Max Gladstone keeps on intriguing and provoking me to think about his world. Can you say that it is a mash-up of Epic Fantasy and Science Fiction or is it pure Urban Fantasy? It has influences of all three of them. There is the Craft, the magic system in series, the huge cities that are ruled by either Gods or Kings, the technology used in the series gives the Science Fiction vibe a nice swing. But you also have the laywer business and necromantic firms that gives more of an Urban Fantasy feeling to the story. Added to this come a lot of other things like the Gargoyles, Penitents and many many others. In building his world Max Gladstone doesn't let one detail to be overlooked and his writing style readily paints those very vivid images of the scenes that take place in the book, but more over he steps over several worldy boundaries that have been set in fantasy.
Full Fathom Five is another winner for me and I just cannot get enough of the Craft Sequence. As I said with Two Serpents Rise these book are just over to soon. From the beginning of the Full Fathom Five I was glued to the pages and just couldn't let go. The characters really grown on you and they, as I have come to learn from the other protagonists in the series, far from your standard cardboard cut outs, Max Gladstone invests a lot of time in creating the right set of characters and showing that they grow as the story progresses.
In a recent guest post that Max Gladstone wrote for the blog you can find out more about how he took nonfiction as an influence to building his world
By the by, you can read a pretty cool announcement here
Read the full review here
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Orbit
With The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the anonymous author Claire North (pseudonym of a well known author), creates a stunning and genre-defying entry in science fiction. I don't know if this is her first science fiction book but is good. It's solid. In short it's brilliant. From start to finish I was absorbed in the story. Claire North carefully plans her story from the initial setup with the trigger of "Let us begin at the beginning" wherein she explained all the previous events of Harry's lives and eventually the young girl that appears on his deathbed, which leaves only Harry to save the world from imminent doom, was plotted into the finest detail. Through all the experiences of Harry, you as a reader learn a lot of the rules that apply and again these are brought very casually and not as an information dump. Here the narration really helps as gradually you learn more and more, creating a very engaging storyline. Though the focus is really on Harry himself there are plenty of secondary characters, most of them kalachakra, that each stand out, the interplay between Harry and Victor was shown in a great way and even though Victor was the bad guy in this part, I did feel for him. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is much more than a simple time travel story. Claire North explores a lot of boundaries of human life; actions, morale, virtues and vices. I can safely say that this is another book that will make it on my best off 2014 list in December! What are you waiting for go. read. this. book.
Read the full review here
- The Emperor's Blade by Brian Stavely, Tor
Brian Staveley writes up a very strong opening in a new and exciting series and the fact that this is his debut makes him even more of an author to watch out for! The Emperor's Blades is an awesome book that is already a heavy contender for a best of 2014 list come this December. it has everything that you seek when you read and Epic Fantasy story, from great, relatable characters all throughout the solid storyline, interesting environments and a lot of pretty darn cool action! It has in some parts relation to young adult storyline but i think it is more suited for an older audience. I was hooked from the first page and I hope to see the release of the sequel soon, this is one of those books that leaves you needing more.
Read the full review here