Friday, December 30, 2011
The Best In Fantasy Year in Review
This year, in July I began my quest to try to read and discuss one really good fantasy read a week. At the time that I began this quest, I had no idea just how difficult and time consuming a task that would become! I quickly discovered that for every one book that I loved, I had to read four or five that I quite frankly didn't love. Many books that have received high critical praise didn't ring my chimes at all.
For this post, I had to decide which book-cover was my favorite book cover, and that was incredibly difficult! The art and graphics on most of these books is so great that I would be proud to have it on my walls. Still, Stephen King's incredible cover for 'The Dark Tower' looms as the best cover that I have seen this year. The joke there is that I never reviewed that book, although my friend Jesse Schlecter reviewed the series as a guest post! Still, I am using it as the cover of choice for this post. A very close runner-up for cover of the year is Valerie Douglas' 'Servant Of The Gods', which was my final review of the year.
Since my reason for writing the Best in Fantasy was to discuss the books that I loved, you have never heard of the ones that I like moderately, or even not at all, and you will never hear about them unless we are chatting in person! I don't have the deeply rooted belief that I am the final word on whether a book is bad or great that a true critic needs to have. You have come to realize, I am sure, that I have a rather quirky sense of what I consider to be a great read. My choices of books tend to be quite divergent and often obscure. Reading pleasure is so subjective and individual, that I simply try to promote what I personally consider to be little gems.
Several little gems really stood out in my mind this year, and they may or may not surprise you. The first book that leaps to my mind when I think of the book that I enjoyed the most this year is L. T. Suzuki's 'Imago - A Warrior's Tale'. I was blown away by that first book in the series. I dropped everything and immediately began reading everything in the whole series. The more I read, the more I was addicted!
Another little gem that rocked the Casbah for me was 'Black Numbers' by Dean Frank Lappi. That is the scariest, most compelling book I have read in a very long time. I am now waiting on pins and needles for the sequel!
I also dipped deep into the realm of Young Adult Fantasy, and along with J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' (which was my inaugural post) I read Alison DeLuca's 'Night Watchman Express', Rick Riordan's 'The Lost Hero' and Gary Hoover's 'Land of Nod - The Artifact'. Although all of these books are written from a teen's point of view (an age which I left behind along with the dinosaur), each and every one of them captured my attention and drew me completely into their world.
I also review many books by authors who have passed on, but whose works live on and still pull the reader in, even after all the years since their passing. Fritz Lieber's classic ' 'Swords and Deviltry', Robert Jordan's 'New Spring', and Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon' were just a few of the classics that I re-read this year for this blog. I was so happy to re-read their work, and discovered many things in them that I hadn't noticed the first time around.
We also lost several great writers this year. The prolific, amazing Anne McCaffrey passed on in November, and Diana Wynne Jones in March.
Despite the losses, and despite the amazing number of books that I have had to read just to find one gem a week, this has been a truly great adventure. Each and every book that I have reviewed in this forum is a book that I absolutely loved reading, and I would gladly read again. Thank you all for being a part of my first year at this! I hope to be able share many more little beauties with you in the years to come!