Okay, it’s my first time doing one of these things, so let’s see if I can get it right or not. After all, there’s always next year. Hopefully you’ll get used to my format as we go along. Regardless, let the Best of 2011 awards commence! *cue fanfare* Enjoy.
FANTASY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2011
You should be able to tell what’s nominated for this category from the title, and by Fantasy, I cover everything from Urban Fantasy to High Fantasy here.
The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)
Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.
Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead — and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.
Cithrin has a job to do — move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank’s wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she’s just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?
Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man
.Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiralling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon’s Path — the path of war.
My Review “A jaw-dropping, epic fantasy novel. Abraham is probably one of the best writers in today’s genre. Not to be missed.”
These novels are 5 that were so close to making top spot, and were the strongest contenders for this year’s Number One. I’m cheating here by including Blood of Aenarion, which I haven’t reviewed yet, but I believe it’s too awesome to be left out.
Vegas Knights by Matt Forbeck. “Vegas, Magic, Zombies, what more could you want? A Hollywood Blockbuster waiting to happen.”
Sons of Ellyrion by Graham McNeill. “Epic in every sense of the word. McNeill knows what he’s doing.”
Plague by Michael Grant. “…Michael Grant steps up and smashes the ball out of the park with another fantastic instalment in the Gone series, proving to us that he’s not yet lost his touch. Plague will truly be a book to remember.”
Blood of Aenarion by William King. “A fantastic opener to what looks set to be a brilliant trilogy. King is back, and better than ever.”
Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis. “A Pure class combination of two popular genres. You must buy this book!”
SCIENCE FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2011
This category is again, quite obvious. Science Fiction includes everything from Military Sci-Fi to Space Opera here.
Embedded by Dan Abnett (Angry Robot)
The stunning military science fiction novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Prospero Burns.
The colony planet of Eighty-Six looks as dull as all its fellow new worlds to veteran journalist Lex Falk, but when a local squabble starts to turn violent, and the media start getting the run around from the military high command, his interest is seriously piqued.
Forbidden from approaching the battlezone, he gets himself chipped inside the head of a combat veteran – and uncovers the story of a lifetime. When the soldier is killed, however, Falk must use all his resourcefulness to get back home again… and blow the lid off the whole damn thing.
My Review. “Abnett’s ability to create amazing adventures in any setting makes him a king among Science-Fiction authors… Embedded blazes along with fast-paced action, engaging story, charismatic characters and twists that will leave you stunned! Buy it!”
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett. “Brilliant world-building, a highly original setting for an entertaining story. Fixing the world, is indeed a bloody business.”
Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey. “Proper Space Opera at its best. James S.A. Corey’s first novel in the far future is a memorable one, that is not to be missed.”
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. “An awesome, page-turning, edge-of-your-seat apocalyptic novel. Fantastic stuff, one of the best novels that I’ve read this year.”
Blood Reaver by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. “The Night Lords return in another fantastic novel.”
Battle of the Fang by Chris Wraight. “An epic encounter between old rivals written spectacularly by Chris Wraight, one of the best Space Marine Battles novels yet.”
SCI-FI / FANTASY DEBUT BOOK OF THE YEAR 2011
Which Author’s first novel impressed me the most this year? This includes both Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so it would be extra tough to get on this chart.
Germline by TC McCarthy (Orbit)
Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).
War is Oscar Wendell’s ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.
But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armoured soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface. The genetics-the Germline soldiers-are the key to winning this war, but some inventions can’t be un-done. Some technologies can’t be put back in the box.
Kaz will change everything, not least Oscar himself. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and drugs, Oscar doesn’t find the war, the war finds him.
My Review: “This is going to be big.”
The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell. “A well crafted début that is clearly one of the better novels in the Space Marine Battles series.”
Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick. “Watch out, fantasy authors – there’s a new star in the genre.”
The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams. “A fascinating, original and enthralling début that will leave the reader eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the Tower and the Knife Trilogy. Recommended.”
Low Town: Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky. “An impossible to put down read, showing how dark fantasy can truly be.”
Reality 36 by Guy Hayley. “Ever wondered what would Sherlock Holmes be like if it was set in the future? Well, look no further than Reality 36.”
MOST SUPRISING BOOK OF THE YEAR 2011
This category includes novels that surprised me the most this year, ones that I went into not knowing what to expect and was blown away by them. Again, this includes Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
(Note, novels from this category can be nominated for other awards.)
Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (Tor)
Drothe has been a member of the Kin for years, rubbing elbows with thieves and murderers in the employ of a crime lord while smuggling relics on the side. But when an ancient book falls into his hands, Drothe finds himself in possession of a relic capable of bringing down emperors-a relic everyone in the underworld would kill to obtain.
My Review: “Watch Out Fantasy authors, there’s a new star in the genre.”
Redlaw by James Lovegrove. “Moves along at a fantastic pace. Are you watching, Hollywood?”
Debris by Jo Anderton. “Jo Anderton takes centre stage with style. An original, unmissable, unputdownable novel with fantastic cover art.”
The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes. “A very surprising read.”
Imperial Glory by Richard Williams. “The Brimlock Eleventh fight to claim the planet Voor for themselves. There’s just one problem… A big, fat and green problem, standing in their way.”
Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff (I know, I know, I haven’t done a review for Shadow Games yet, but I’ve just finished reading the book. Bear with me, the review will be coming shortly.
BEST GAME OF 2011
I played a lot of video games this year, so why not? This isn’t just limited to Fantasy and Sci-Fi, by the way – check out the nominations below as well as the game that won top spot.
The Eldar Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)
The Elder Scrolls told of their return. The Empire of Tamriel is on the edge. The High King of Skyrim has been murdered.
Alliances form as claims to the throne are made. In the midst of this conflict, a far more dangerous, ancient evil is awakened. Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel.
The future of Skyrim, even the Empire itself, hangs in the balance as they wait for the prophesized Dragonborn to come; a hero born with the power of The Voice, and the only one who can stand amongst the dragons.
- Epic Fantasy Reborn. Skyrim reimagines the open-world fantasy epic, pushing the gameplay and technology of a virtual world to new heights.
- Live another life, in another world. Play any type of character you can imagine, and do whatever you want; the legendary freedom of choice, storytelling, and adventure of The Elder Scrolls is realized like never before.
- All new graphics and gameplay engine. Skyrim’s new game engine brings to life a complete virtual world with rolling clouds, rugged mountains, bustling cities, lush fields, and ancient dungeons.
- You are what you play. Choose from hundreds of weapons, spells, and abilities. The new character system allows you to play any way you want and define yourself through your actions.
- Dragons return. Battle ancient dragons like you’ve never seen. As Dragonborn, learn their secrets and harness their power for yourself.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Warhammer 40:000, Space Marine
Right, so that’s it for this year then. What a year, I must say – and I look forward to what 2012 will bring. Hopefully not the end of the world, because there’s the Hobbit movie to look forward to. Anyway, what were your favourite novels/games of the year? Discuss below.
Bane of Kings is one our most senior book reviewers here at The Founding Fields, based in England. He’s a prolific reviewer that has contributed to many things here and around the internet.
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