5 absolutely wonderful books from 2016

Happy 2017 and goodbye 2016. I have no complaints about the year. It was the year I got my ass back in gear with working out. The year I watched a lot of good sci-fi movies. The year I received a PlayStation 4. The year I played the best videogame every made (Uncharted 4). 2016 was a great year for reading too. I averaged 2 books a month. I wanted 24 books read by the end of the year. I got 24 books read.Yay me!

There were definitely some duds in that jumble of books and genres. There is a sci-fi one that still has me scratching my head as to why people heap praise on it. Sometimes I can figure out why certain books are so widely praised. But this one makes no sense, to me at least, as to why and how people enjoyed it all the way through the end.

I read another that rivals Dark Intelligence as the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

But, if I were forced to whittle the list down to 5 great reads of 2016, here would be that list:

9780330512565the-line-of-polity-small

This story had it all for me. The scope of it, puts Neal Asher at the top of the list in respect to science fiction authors. For my money, no one writes better sci-fi, and The Line of Polity is some of his best work.



emperorsbladespsd-small

To say this is a good book would be an insult to Brian Staveley. The Emperor’s Blades is ridiculous in how great of a story it is. If you enjoy great storytelling, you owe it to yourself to start this amazing trilogy.



abercrombie_bladeitself-tp-300x463-small

Simply put: This is the best fantasy novel ever written



time-salvager-small

This was fun from beginning to end. I normally HATE time traveler novels. I’m talking, so much so, that I want to rip apart the book some 50 pages in. Not so with Time Salvager. I had a grand ol’ time reading this. Wesley Chu is one talented sonofabitch.



houndedhearne-small

This series has turned into my guilty pleasure series. I finished Hounded last year after having it languishing unread for well over a full year. It took me all of 6 hours to finish it. Riot of a good time. This is now my go-to series when I want something light and easy to read, but will entertain me from page 1 to END.







Now these are just five picked from a great year of reading. I’m hoping 2017 turns into another bumper year of great books read. If it’s as wonderful as 2016 then I may have to add a few more books to the list I post next January.

 

Advertisements

Finally. A fantasy book worth reading. – THE EMPEROR’S BLADES

emperorsbladespsd

I actually stopped reading fantasy a while back, maybe a year and half ago. It could be longer.  I got sick of the same old tired tropes that didn’t try anything new. Oh look. There’s a young child walking on a goat trail. Oh look. There’s a teenager tending to a flock of sheep. Hey. A wizened old mage and some dwarfs and an elf.

The Wheel of Time, Dragonlance Chronicles, and Drizzt paved a path so large that for decades just about every fantasy author followed upon the smooth path. Even Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ follows in their footsteps to a degree. It wasn’t until recently, about the last five years, that fantasy authors and editors looked at the carefully planted and manicured garden of books that had been growing for decades. They looked and saw how boring it all was.

I don’t know what author/editor combo it was, but there’s a duo out there who looked into that fantasy garden and decided to throw a barrel of dynamite into it. What was left after the smoke cleared was a rubble strewn crater-like path full of fissures, jagged rocks, and smoldering terrain that you learn how to traverse by jumping in feet first.

Which brings me to the greatness that is The Emperor’s Blades.

There’s no 800 pages of a little boy/girl who gets chosen by a wise old one. No raising the boy/girl in a lean-to in the woods that has a kitchen and a bathroom. No ridiculous apprenticeship. There are no chapters that are good for nothing but being an elaborate infodump to teach us what this new religion/government/culture is like all without furthering the story.

The Emperor’s Blades eschews those tired tropes that Jordan popularized and Martin has beaten to death. Instead, Brian Staveley deftly turns those tropes on their ears and spins a yarn as good as any I have read. The start of a tale that makes me want to run to the nearest bookstore (not library, because I need to see this on my bookshelf) and buy the next chapter in the saga.

I want to run (maybe drive really fast) to the bookstore, because–and I might be close to killing this poor horse–the Emperor’s Blades is not your run of the mill fantasy book. Let’s put it another way.

You think just because The Emperor’s Blades is the start of another fantasy epic that it places floaties on your arms, a lifesaver ring around your waist, a lifesaver around your chest, and then holds you under the armpits while you’re lowered inch by inch into the water?

Think again.

Stavely throws you off a bridge into chum infested, heavy shark traffic waters, then tells you to swim to shore while regaling you of stories about shark attacks.

The Emperor’s Blades harkens back to Glen Cook’s: The Black Company. Shit hits the fan from the opening chapter and just gets thicker in the air as the story progresses. The first book ends masterfully, though not without some quirks.

The quirks in the last few chapters don’t tarnish the great story though, and most will not even notice them. I may have picked up on it simply because I am an author and have done the same thing. What I’m saying is that there are times in a story that you just have to say, “hell with the buildup,” and let the tinderbox explode. Make the transition abrupt enough, say in the middle of an action/fight sequence, and the reader will likely not even know it happened. I think that’s one of the reasons why I like the story and Staveley’s writing style. I noticed the transition and appreciate the abrupt subtlety (yes, that’s a thing) of it.

Should you go out and buy/checkout from the library The Emperor’s Blades? If I didn’t make that clear enough, I’ll spell it out: YES. This is a wonderful story, and I am so happy I threw caution to the wind and bought it on Google Play Books. Now go. Buy or checkout The Emperor’s Blades. You’ll thank me.