So December has rolled around and lots of people are doing their favourite books of 2016 blogs. And I don’t like being left out. So here are my favourite reads of 2016. Please note not all of these books were released in 2016. My TBR pile extends back into the 1980s!
5. Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
This one was actually the first book I read in the new year after receiving it as a Christmas present. It’s a fun tale about Ceda, a master pit fighter and part time shady package runner. While investigating her mother’s death and planning vengeance on those she deems responsible, Ceda finds herself embroiled in a plot far greater than herself.
I really liked Twelve Kings… just not as much as I wanted to like it. I have a thing about fantasy stories set in deserts (I blame Aladdin) so this one caught my eye early on. I had a couple of issues with pacing and chapter structure and it detracted from an otherwise excellent story. That being said a high point for me was the relationship between Ceda and Emre. One of the most believable best friend relationships I’ve ever read.
I gave Twelve Kings in Sharakhai 3.5 and rounded up to 4 and would happily recommend it to people who love epic fantasy tales with strong female protagonists… and deserts.
4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Another Christmas present book here though from a couple of years ago. It had been sat on my shelf for a long time and people kept saying it was amazing. I was skeptical. It’s not really my preferred genre. I gave it a go all the same. People were right. It’s a story about a kid who will go to any length to win the keys to the biggest MMO ever created.
The story is very clever and full of wit but the real stars are the characters who are oddly endearing in their oddities. The twists are thick and fast and there’s so many homages I think I probably missed a few. I had a few issues with it (because I’m me and I have issues with everything) such as the main character suddenly turning into Danny Ocean and the constant referencing of 80s pop culture as though Ernest Cline was taking moments out from writing to wink at his future readers. But overall it’s a great book and I look forward to the film… which is apparently coming.
I gave Ready Player One 4.5 stars and rounded up to 5. But in reality I was still sorting out my rating system so early in the year and would probably have given it a 4 overall. Still, great book. Read it.
3. Ibenus by Seth Skorkowsky
A book by my Ragnarok Publication brother, Seth Skorkowsky. I’ve been a fan of the Valducan series since giving Damoren a go. This one is kinda like Hellsing meets Aliens. So the gist is: Demons are real and they are bastards. Angels are sort of real but they possess weapons which then bond to people who then go out and kill the demons. Big fights ensue.
This one is an 80s action film in a book. The plot zips along at break neck pace, the characters are witty and badass, and the stakes just keep on rising. Seth has come out and said he likes to change genres a little with each book and this one is definitely action horror. It’s fun and clever with good twists and SO. MUCH. SUSPENSE. The only issues I really had were gripes not really worth mentioning here.
I gave Ibenus 4 stars and want to see the entire series turned into an anime.
2. The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett
Oh how I looked forward to this one even after the Daylight War’s SO SLOW PACING. The Skull Throne is the continuation of Brett’s Demon Cycle series set in a world where demons rise up from the core of the planet at night to be dicks. Slightly more importantly at this point is how humanity is NOT coming together to fight against the demons. There’s a whole thing. It’s brilliant.
I was a little torn with this one because it is again really slowly paced in places and so much of it seems to be filler… But Brett is a master at making me care about the damned filler… which I think I both love and hate him for. The biggest draw and the thing that puts this one at the number 2 spot is that I found myself caring about both sides of the ultimate conflict and really couldn’t pick who I wanted to win. And while I was still trying to decide if the outcome was the one I wanted, Brett kicked me in the balls and skipped away laughing. Confused? Read the series and you’ll understand. Also, read the series because it’s excellent!
I gave The Skull Throne 4 stars and it’s so high up on the list because Brett does something better than any other fantasy author around at the moment.
1. King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
I could probably have filled this list with all three books in the Broken Empire series but I won’t because where’s the fun in that? The series follows little Jorgy Ancrath as he murderers his way through the kingdom, overcomes impossible odds, and is generally a dick to everyone. I’m putting King of Thorns at the top of the series because it was hands down the best in my opinion.
I loved the entire series but King of Thorns did such a good job of subverting popular fantasy tropes that I couldn’t put the book down. The long and short of it is Jorg is the villain, not the hero of prophecy. But villains sometimes win.
I gave King of Thorns 4.5 and rounded up to 5. Pretty much anyone who likes fantasy should at least give Broken Empire a try… though I can see how Jorg isn’t the hero some people will want to read about.
So there we have it. My favourite reads of 2016. I already have quite a list of books to read in 2017 from authors including Mark Lawrence (again), John Gwynne, Charles Phipps, Marc Turner, and many many more.