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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Twelve 2010 Novels that Stand Out So Far

While we are in mid-April I managed to read so far about 66 2010 releases - some read in 2009 as arcs - and out of them there are 42 from the list of my roughly 100 anticipated books including five from the top ten, while I am currently reading two more from the top 10 and several more from the extended list. Since this year there have been many books that I enjoyed a lot, I thought of doing a quick update with twelve books that stood out for me so far, nine of which are already out and have been reviewed by me - including three dual reviews - and three more to be reviewed in April and May.

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So far and not unexpectedly The Folding Knife by KJ Parker is my top read of the year both as sff and mainstream novels go; right now since the new IM Banks Culture novel seems to be 2011, the one novel I see as real competition is the David Mitchell May release which I have on preorder; the Booker long list will probably provide some mainstream books of interest and of course the Void 3 novel by Peter Hamilton is a contender, while the new upcoming books by John Meaney, Felix Gilman, Tim Akers, Gary Gibson and Robert Redick are outside possibilities too.

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Somewhat unexpectedly Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis is so far my top debut of the year and one of my top novels overall, though this one is closer to mainstream than pure genre. The writing and the characters are just top of the line and the novel manages to surprise quite a lot too. From the announced debuts I do not have so far, the ones that may be contenders with this one for my top 2010 debut are Passion Play by Beth Bernobich and The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, with several more outside possibilities mentioned in my original post.

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Contending with the Tregillis novel in the mainstream category, Black Hills by Dan Simmons enchanted me with its main character Paha Sapa of the Sioux Nation and his tale that indirectly spans millenniums due to his special powers.

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Salute the Dark by Adrian Tchaikovsky closes the first part of his superb Kinden series and elevates it to be my favorite ongoing fantasy series and third overall current series.

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City of Ruin by Mark Newton (to be reviewed May) continues the tale of the heroes from Nights of Villjamur and starts going into stranger territory. This is another one that is moving into my top ongoing fantasy series.

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The Emerald Storm by Michael Sullivan fulfills the promise started in The Crown Conspiracy and elevates the Ryria Revelations series to the top level of epic fantasy for me.

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Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt is a return to form for the author and the top sf novel so far of 2010 with a loose definition of sf.

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The Noise Within by Ian Whates (review HERE) is one of the two novels here I did not know about until recently. While technically the debut of the author is the wonderful City of Dreams and Nightmare published a month or so before this one, The Noise Within is the start of a space opera series that has echoes of the modern masters of the genre (IM Banks, PF Hamilton and N.Asher) and which I liked so much that I had to reread it twice before I could leave the wonderful universe and characters created there.

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Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk (to be reviewed May) While pretty conventional as subject, this debut is superb as writing quality and it just grabs you from the first page and never lets go.

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Secrets of the Sands by Leona Wisoker A small press debut I have found out by chance and which impressed me with great writing quality and characters, while having enough twists and turns to go with the seemingly conventional subject.

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The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman Gonzo, controversial, "love or hate" with all the stuff thrown in that may not work for everyone, but for me it worked superbly and with its very high reread value, it will rank in the top on my end of the year lists though I will give it another reread (would be fourth full read) later this year to see how well it wears in time and after reading all the negative reviews around.

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A Mighty Fortress by David Weber Another novel which is of the "I really love" category, and has the highest reread value for me as well as being the one major bestseller on the list above and the fourth book in the Safehold series that has just become my co-#1 ongoing series of all kinds (sf, f, historical) with this installment. Also A Mighty Fortress is the grandest scale epic from this list with tons of characters and threads though at its core it lies a relatively straightforward story about human freedom and true faith in God contending with corruption, lies, terror and fanaticism.

3 comments:

Patrick said...

Great idea for a post and sadly plenty I haven't yet read.

You mentioned the Shadows of the Apt series is your favorite ongoing fantasy and third favorite ongoing series. What are the other two if you don't mind me asking?

Liviu said...

Thank you for your kind words - as for series, my favorite ongoing series has been Honor Harrington for some 16-7 years now since I discovered it, while Safehold has become co-#1 with the 4th novel.

Of finished series the Legacy of Kushiel in fantasy and Night's Dawn in sf are my top (the new Naamah novels are set in the same universe as Kushiel but 100 years later and with different characters...)

Okie said...

Thanks for a great post with a great looking list of books. I'll have to add some/many (all?) of these to my "to read" list.

Thanks again. :)

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