Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2009

Okay, so I want to make sure we’re clear before diving in: this is not a list of the best fantasy books released in 2009, but rather the top books read and reviewed here at Fantasy Book News in 2009. That said, there are some newer books, and some classics, but overall this is an elite list of fantasy novels that any avid reader should check out. And away we go.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

While this series is going on fifteen years, I gave a re-read to the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series in 2009, in audio book format. The book still has the same enchanting effect as the first time I read it, and is still the standard to which I compare most other fantasy books, and absolutely any epic fantasy books. Check out the full review of A Game of Thrones.

a-game-of-thrones

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

The second book in Lynch’s seven book Gentlemen Bastards series delivered what many creative people struggle to accomplish time and time again: give the audience a better experience than the original. Red Seas Under Red Skies upped the stakes from The Lies of Locke Lamora, and hit ended up hitting a grand slam. Read the full review of Red Seas Under Red Skies.

red-seas-under-red-skies

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This whopping freshman fantasy novel by Rothfuss completely transports you to another world, which is one of the goals that every fantasy novel aspires to. Believe me, I read most of it while lounging poolside in Araxa, Brazil, and I can’t tell you how many times I forgot my beautiful surroundings for the world that Rothfuss creates. Check out the full review of The Name of the Wind.

name-of-the-wind

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The quintessential fairy tale, The Last Unicorn is simply a beautiful story. Get lost in a world of fantasy and magic, complimented with a fantastically original plot and a genuine sense of humor. Read the full review of The Last Unicorn.

the-last-unicorn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn is an absolutely beautiful novel. Its got everything that a fantasy reader looks for: insanely original devices, characters you can identify with, tons of action, and wholesome undercurrents. We have a full review of Mistborn over here.

mistborn

Categories: Top 10 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Book review of Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint

swordspoint

Reaching back into my “books recommended by GRRM to enjoy while he finishes writing book 5 of ASOIAF” grab-bag, this time I pulled out Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Its a novel originally published in paperback in 1989, and the paperback version I found in my hands has a quote from the Wonder of Winterfell himself, which is placed higher on the cover and is actually larger than the book title. I can tell you that I’m glad that when Swordspoint was republished in 2003, it was done so with a recommendation from the then and still reigning king of fantasy epics, which resulted in Martin suggesting it on his personal blog. Also making me smile was the discovery that Kushner penned many of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read as a child, so I had a feeling I was in for a real treat.

Martin is absolutely correct when he says “Swordspoint has an unforgettable opening…and just gets better from there”. The novel is a prime example of dialog for aspiring writers, as I cover in my guest post over at Drying Ink. Kushner has a natural talent for dialog, and here she turns the dialog dial to full tilt. The conversation is masterful, branding Swordspoint as an instant fantasy classic. While the paperback edition comes in at 286 pages, which is rather light these days, you can be guaranteed that it is no less of a novel than some 7- and 800 pagers. Suffice to say that Kushner has a knack of not rambling, and the written word in Swordspoint is as succinct as the dance of the swordsmen themselves.

A delicate dance it is indeed. Richard St Vier is a swordsman for hire, doing jobs for the wealthy in the unnamed city where the novel takes place. The nobles of the city settle their disputes with arms for hire, and Richard is one of the premier swordsman in the city, if not the best. While Richard does not have a flair for the aristocratic lifestyle, his companion Alec does. This creates a wonderful balance as they find themselves in many a precarious situation.

Some of the action scenes in this novel are unforgettable, but it really is the world that stays with you. The combination of Kushner’s flawless ability with dialog and the story of living by the sword just to get by in an urban landscape is what quickly picks you up and places you firmly in your place, right alongside Richard and Alec as they make their way through every day life.

I should mention that this novel does contain some fairly graphic sex scenes, which may not be of taste for some readers, so parents, you’ve been warned. The version I’ve got contains three additional short stories involving both Richard and Alec, written before and after Swordspoint.

This is a fantasy classic, and a world I’m sure to continue exploring with the subsequent novels in the series. You can pick up the highly recommended Swordspoint over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 8 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Ellen Kushner, Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy Blogosphere: December 27, 2009

Reviews of Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson’s latest continue to pop up across the blogosphere, and we feature a few additional reviews this holiday weekend, covering the latest by R.A. Salvatore and Scott Westerfield. Ursula K. Le Guin makes some headlines by denouncing Google’s quest to digitize everything in print, and a couple of promising big budget fantasy films are in store for us in 2010. I get excited for anything from Tim Burton, and his adaptation of Alice in Wonderland looks very promising.

Categories: Fantasy Blogosphere, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, December 26, 2009

The Gathering Storm drops out of the top five for the holiday season, and is replaced by The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Kindle edition. Really cool that readers are still out purchasing this classic, but now in a new digital format. Also, the number one spot gets taken over by another vampire book, with a, shall we say, less than original title.

  1. Once Bitten by Kalayna Price
  2. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  3. Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
  4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Categories: Bestsellers, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, December 19, 2009

Everything holds strong from last week, giving Breaking Dawn six weeks straight in the top five, two of those spent in the number one slot. This marks the book’s return to the top 5, due to the popularity of New Moon, the new Twilight movie being released about six weeks ago.

  1. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  2. Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
  3. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  5. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Categories: Bestsellers, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fantasy Blogosphere: December 13, 2009

Everyone is gearing up for the holidays, and this means two things: people are talking about the best books from 2009 (gift ideas!), and people are talking about the most anticipated books form 2010.

We start off with a healthy assortment of reviews, get into a pair of fantastic interviews (check out Rothfuss & Abercrombie – they’re downright hilarious), and top it off with some industry news, recaps of 2009 and outlooks for 2010. I should note that Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist seems to be doing everything right this holiday season, hence the need to link to him four times. Great stuff.

Categories: Fantasy Blogosphere, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, December 12, 2009

Breaking Dawn stays strong and moves into the number one slot this week, knocking Wit’ch Fire into the second spot. The Gathering Storm powers its way into 10 weeks straight in the top five. The Time Traveler’s Wife remains strong, and An Echo in the Bone makes a return to the top 5; its first appearance since early October.

  1. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  2. Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
  3. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  5. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Categories: Bestsellers, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fantasy Blogosphere: December 6, 2009

We’ve got a great mix of reviews this week, from George R.R. Martin’s work on Suicide Kings, to books by David Anthony Durham, Lev Grossman, and another review of The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Top it all off with the season finale of The Guild. Tis’ the season for MMORPG sitcom finales.

The Guild, Season 3, Episode 12: Hero! (Season Finale)

Categories: Fantasy Blogosphere, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, December 5, 2009

Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens debuts at the number one spot, while Breaking Dawn reaches five weeks in the top five surrounding the release of the new Twilight movie, New Moon. The Gathering Storm enjoys its ninth week straight in the top five, while The Time Traveler’s Wife and Dead and Gone round out the top five.

  1. Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens
  2. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  3. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  5. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
Categories: Bestsellers, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.