So my last list was full of books I read in 2013 that have flown completely under the radar, been lost to the masses, and were read by almost no one. But not every book I read was a brand new discovery, I did my share of reading stuff that came highly recommended as well. And as these things go, some of them were amazing and some of them bombed completely. I would like to point out a few I read, old and new, that completely lived up to all the hype that caused me to want to read them in the first place.
So while last time I dared anyone to tell me how many from the list they had read, this time I will assume I was about the last person in the world to read some of these titles.
All Plot Synopsis from Goodreads.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.
Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
I have put off reading these for years, and I have no idea why. I am a history major, I love dragons. How could I not have read this before? Well, finally got to it (and the next two books in the series) and of course I loved it. As much as I loved Pern as a kid, I always wanted a real dragon battle. Well, here it is. So, damn, good. I just HAD to gush like a teenager.
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett –The first book in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Game of Kings takes place in 1547. Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason: Francis Crawford of Lymond.
The only non-SFF book I read this year, which is kinda crazy but that is the nature of becoming a blogger I guess. But well worth the read for fans of historical fiction AND fantasy. I was first pointed to the series on a forum as something fans of Varys and Little finger of Song and Ice and Fire fame may like; political maneuvering and the like. The book almost kicked my ass, talk about a tough read! But it was very worth it, Lymond may have been my favorite character to read about all year.
The White Fire Crossing by Courtney Schafer – Dev is a smuggler with the perfect cover. He’s in high demand as a guide for the caravans that carry legitimate goods from the city of Ninavel into the country of Alathia. The route through the Whitefire Mountains is treacherous, and Dev is one of the few climbers who knows how to cross them safely. With his skill and connections, it’s easy enough to slip contraband charms from Ninavel – where any magic is fair game, no matter how dark – into Alathia, where most magic is outlawed.
But smuggling a few charms is one thing; smuggling a person through the warded Alathian border is near suicidal. Having made a promise to a dying friend, Dev is forced to take on a singularly dangerous cargo: Kiran. A young apprentice on the run from one of the most powerful mages in Ninavel, Kiran is desperate enough to pay a fortune to sneak into a country where discovery means certain execution – and he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent Dev from finding out the terrible truth behind his getaway.
Yet Kiran isn’t the only one harboring a deadly secret. Caught up in a web of subterfuge and dark magic, Dev and Kiran must find a way to trust each other – or face not only their own destruction, but that of the entire city of Ninavel.
Maybe not a series that is well known all over, but among the people who know, this was a series that I saw glowing recommendations for all around. In fact when the Nightshade thing went down it was THIS series that people in my corner of the internet was the most concerned about. And it was FUN. And it was DARK. And of course I read the second book and join the legion of bloggers desperate for that third book.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
I read a lot of YA this year, and anyone who has read the blog knows it has not treated me well. I keep searching for the next series that will hook me like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan or even the first Hunger Games book (I will just forget about the second two if that is ok). But Bardugo’s series stood well above the rest this year, and hooked me just as much as Leviathan did a few years back. The Russian vibe made it stand out, it had a great protagonist, and a whole lot less potholes than every other YA book I read. If a person is iffy on YA, this is the one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.
From debut author Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.
Um. Ya, what else need to be said. The book is still new, but it was early reviews that absolutely GLOWED that made me pick it up. And while later reviews came that were a little less complementary I gladly join those who absolutely loved it. What did I call this? Oh ya. One. Glorious. Mindfuck.
Aha, another list down. Wow do I love the end of the year! And remember; come back in a few days for our actual awards countdown type thing. The Barneys start Dec 25.