Tis the season for lists! Now I don’t want to do a ‘best of’ list quite yet, the year isn’t quite over. Plus we have the world famous, completely irrelevant Barney awards coming up at years end, and I would sure hate to spoil them.
So as the title says, I am going through my backlog and making a list of books I don’t think you have read yet. Am I wrong? For the most part I am guessing not. (If you have read one or more of these send me a line, Ill link up your review). The purpose? I hope to help people find a book they didn’t know they were missing out on, a few favorites from the year that may have been lost in the trees.
I am not a deep digger here. There are more obscure works out there, I have seen them. All of the books on this list should be fairly easy to find; no out of print or hard to find translations. But I would still be willing to bet not many of this blogs regular readers have taken a shot at ’em. =)
Plot synopsis from Goodreads, my thoughts underneath.
The Dread Hammer by Linda Nagata –Ketty is a pretty shepherdess with a contrary nature, who runs away from home to escape an unwanted marriage. As she flees along the forest road, she prays to the Dread Hammer for help-and to her astonishment help comes in the form of a charming and well-armed young murderer named Smoke. As Ketty soon discovers, Smoke is not entirely human. Smoke, too, is taken by surprise at their encounter. He had lurked beside the forest road intending to pierce hearts and slit throats, not to fall in love. But love it is-or it would be-if only he can convince Ketty that marriage is better than death.But just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Smoke’s past returns to claim him. A deserter from the Kor yos army, his supernatural skill at killing is still very much in demand. Now the army wants him back.The Dread Hammer is an enthralling, darkly comic fairytale of love, war, murder, marriage, and fate.
One of the books I think I underrated, I gave this four stars and have regretted it ever since. The first of a duo, this is a short but gritty fantasy. A love story, but not a romance, it is impossible to describe so just read my review. Or better yet, the book.
All the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle – “Walk warily, walk swiftly, walk away.”
The king’s orders were clear enough. “Move the tower’s shadow,” he bellowed. “I refuse to deliver my commencement speech from the dark.”
As the newly appointed mage to the Crown of Tirlin, Meralda Ovis has no choice but to undertake King Yvin’s ill-conceived task. Tirlin’s first female mage, and the youngest person to ever don the robes of office, Meralda is determined to prove once and for all that she deserves the title. The Tower, though, holds ancient secrets all its own. Secrets that will soon spell destruction for all of Tirlin—unless Meralda can unravel a monstrous curse laid by a legendary villain seven centuries before she was born.
An ancient curse. A haunted tower. A clamorous gathering of nobles, mages, and kings from the Five Realms come together in Tirlin for the fifth-year Accords. Meralda finds herself facing far darker foes than any mere shadow of the tower.
This may be the fantasy book with the least amount of action I have ever read but don’t let that detract you, it is a hell of a lot of fun. Meralda is smart and capable heroine that is impossible not to work for. Plus, this may have been the most fun I ever had writing a review and our blog was still a baby when I wrote it, so would you please read it now?
The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko – Reaching far beyond sword and sorcery, The Scar is a story of two people torn by disaster, their descent into despair, and their reemergence through love and courage. Sergey and Marina Dyachenko mix dramatic scenes with romance, action and wit, in a style both direct and lyrical. Written with a sure artistic hand, The Scar is the story of a man driven by his own feverish demons to find redemption and the woman who just might save him.
Egert is a brash, confident member of the elite guards and an egotistical philanderer. But after he kills an innocent student in a duel, a mysterious man known as “The Wanderer” challenges Egert and slashes his face with his sword, leaving Egert with a scar that comes to symbolize his cowardice. Unable to end his suffering by his own hand, Egert embarks on an odyssey to undo the curse and the horrible damage he has caused, which can only be repaired by a painful journey down a long and harrowing path.
Ahh, you saw the title and thought “of course I have read The Scar, who has read the second of Bas Lag.. oh, it’s a different book?” Ya, and if I ever write a book I am naming it The Scar no matter what it is about, because it seem to guarantee what’s between the covers is going to be awesome. A haunting story, no book has stuck with me more than any other this year. I know I said this would be a best of type of list, but if you want a hint and my possible read of the year, look no further.
Faith by John Love – Moby Dick meets Duel in John Love”s debut novel of Space Opera and Military Science Fiction! Faith is the name humanity has given to the unknown, seemingly invincible alien ship that has begun to harass the newly emergent Commonwealth. 300 years earlier, the same ship destroyed the Sakhran Empire, allowing the Commonwealth to expand its sphere of influence. But now Faith has returned! The ship is as devastating as before, and its attacks leave some Commonwealth solar systems in chaos. Eventually it reaches Sakhra, now an important Commonwealth possession, and it seems like history is about to repeat itself. But this time, something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth”s ultimate warships. Slender silver ships, full of functionality and crewed by people of unusual abilities, often sociopaths or psychopaths, Outsiders were conceived in back alleys, built and launched in secret, and commissioned without ceremony. One system away from earth, the Outsider ship Charles Manson makes a stand. Commander Foord waits with his crew of miscreants and sociopath, hoping to accomplish what no other human has been able to do – to destroy Faith!
Ok, at least a couple people have read this one because I found it ease dropping on a twitter conversation between Justin and Little Red. But outside of those two and one other person on my Goodreads friends list I don’t think anyone has read it. This one seems to have been lost in the shuffle even before Nightshade books went down. Not my favorite book by any means, but almost certainly my favorite space battle of all time.
Death Ain’t but a Word by Zander Marks – Just because Wilkin’s a crackhead doesn’t mean the shadows aren’t real.
They’re real. And they’ve been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his childhood friend shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can’t ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend’s killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can’t ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend’s skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child’s skull. A ghost-talking trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal with justice on his mind. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It’s enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin’s worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN’T BUT A WORD
Taking a risk and going a much different direction than I have seen before in Urban Fantasy, if I had to come up with some way to describe it I would say The Sixth Sense vibe in a much grittier setting. A fast and entertaining read.
Well, those are the books I would recommend. Troweling through my list I found a couple more that I am guessing you haven’t read, so I thought I would list them even though they didn’t do much for me.
Guardians of Evion: Destiny by Evelinn Enoksen – Not my best review, never have been happy with it. But the basics haven’t changed, this book tried to jam the entire Pern series into one book; at least that is what it felt like to me. Still, if you want to read a dragon book….
Exile: The First Book of the Seven Eyes by Betsy Dornbusch – Another late Nightshade release, this one was a victim of bad editing and a protagonist that had everything handed to him on a plate. Just didn’t work at all for me.
That’s it! As always, hope you enjoyed my list. Have you actually read one of these? Let me know what you thought. Got your own read that you think no one else has even heard of? Share it!