Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Favorite Books of 2011

While I don't feel I read a whole lot of books in 2011, according to my Goodreads log I finished 32, including a few graphic novels. In the spirit of summarizing 2011, I present here my favorite five among those books I read. I should note that these are books I read for the first time in 2011 regardless of whether or not they were published that year. I've tried to sort them in order of increasing awesomeness, but I must say I rank all of these quite highly.

5. The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham
My first introduction to the work of Daniel Abraham. This is your classic epic fantasy, but somehow it just grabs at you. One particularly interesting thing for me was to see new types of characters that normally don't make it into fantasy, namely the budding, bureaucratic banker. You'd think that would never work, but it does, actually. Combine that with an engaging story and decent setting and you've got a great book. This is the first of the Dagger and Coin series and I eagerly await the upcoming books. In addition, I've added Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet to my list of books to read.

4. The Scar by China Mieville
After I discovered China Mieville's work a year or two ago, he has quickly risen to my list of favorite authors, so much so that he appears twice in this list. The Scar is the second book set in the Bas Lag universe, of which Perdido Street Station is the first. While I enjoyed Perdido, I found The Scar to be so much better. The characters, setting, and plot are just outstanding. I particularly enjoyed the character Uther Doul, he is a brilliant swordsman with a potential sword. I want to see him included in one of Suvudu's cage matches, but I guess no luck on 2012.

3. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The long awaited sequel to The Name of the Wind. We continue to learn the story behind Kvothe's legend. The anticipation, like for A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, probably skewed my views, but that's alright: I feel I enjoyed the book for what it's worth (more so than the equivalent Dance). There are moments of beautiful writing in this book. For example, if you read parts out loud,  the characters sometimes talk in verse! I thought that was clever; it's not an easy thing to do. There's so much left to do, though (at least, in my opinion) that I worry about it being all wrapped up in the next book.

2. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
This is the first book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen and my only regret is not starting this series sooner. This is epic fantasy at it's greatest and is a worthy addition to such classics as The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc, etc. Great characters, intriguing plot, amazing world. It's still too early for me to grasp everything that's going on, but this is one series I aim to finish. And the good thing: the 10-book story is already complete!

1. Embassytown by China Mieville
When I first heard about this book, I knew it would be good. This is Mieville's first foray into pure science fiction, and he makes it work. Mieville is a master of language and he really shines in this book. It's arguably my favorite Mieville book thus far. The story has 3 arcs: first is the distant past, when the character is young and you learn about the immer, Language, and a bit about the Hosts; following that is an entertaining part where you flip back and forth between the present and the near past; after that is the fast paced section where everything ties together and you get to see the consequences of all actions past. I will be very surprised if I don't see Embassytown getting a Hugo nomination this year.

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