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Friday, December 8, 2017

The SPFBO Finalist Announcement (by Mihir Wanchoo)


The 2017 SPFBO has been an absolute thrill ride for me personally. This year I’ve read so many great books in my lot that I wasn’t sure how many semifinalists I would be selecting. After reading through all of the FBC lot along with Cindy, we were able to narrow it down to seven semifinalists. Here are all of them:

- Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

- Nefertiti’s Heart by A. W. Exley

- The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

- The Woven Ring by M.D. Presley

- Where The Waters Turn Black by Benedict Patrick

- Night Of The Chalk by Samuel Gately

- The General’s Legacy: Inheritance by Adrian G. Hilder

Previously I had mentioned that we at Fantasy Book Critic were the group of death and here’s the some fun stats by M. D. Presley. Looking at books with more than 10 goodreads reviews and an average score of 4 or higher, the average number of books that met that criteria for each of the other nine blogs was six. FBC’s score was 12! The next closest one was Fantasy Faction with 8. Not that it means that the other blogs had it easy but this time around we truly had some wonderful competition.

Selecting a finalist from these accomplished titles is again a harder task as I enjoyed all of them and the main characteristics that I was looking for in selecting a finalist were:

- Plot

- Characters

- World building

- Personal enjoyment

Trying to quantify all of these points in all of these seven books was weird but I had to do it for selecting among these seven. So after looking through them, I tried to create a top three and even then I cheated a bit:

1] The Crimson Queen & The Woven Ring

2] The Songweaver’s Vow & Where The Waters Turn Black

3] Night Of the Chalk

As you can see, even while selecting three, I went ahead and selected five books as such was the caliber of all these titles. Coming to my main two titles, I have to interject how good The Crimson Queen & The Woven Ring are. Both books focus on different genres of fantasy but are written so well that if not for the presence of the other, the specific title would be my straightforward finalist.

With The Crimson Queen, it was a wonderful epic fantasy that had superb characterization, a blistering pace and a world that merges Asian & certain European influences which made for an enthralling read. The Woven Ring is absolute world-building gem that mixes two timelines while focusing on the same character and gives the reader an utterly absorbing read.

What was even more surprising that both of these books are debuts and to be this astoundingly good is nothing short of extraordinary.

This is the part wherein I dread being the judge because I’m forced to choose between two titles which I’ve loved. I look forward to both of their sequels and so you all can understand why it’s extremely, extremely hard for me to have to choose between these two.

I reread both titles again just to see if they hold up on the re-read and if I noticed any new drawbacks. No such luck as I enjoyed them as much as I did the first time around if not more. So again I want to reiterate how good both these titles are.

At this point, I had to start to nitpick between the two to be able to choose my finalist and it’s only by a hair's breadth that this title overcame the other. So without any further ado our 2017 SPFBO finalist is *drumroll*:

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THE CRIMSON QUEEN by ALEC HUTSON



My commiserations to M. D. Presley as his book was really that much amazing and it was only by a hair's difference that Alec Hutson’s debut superseded The Woven Ring for the final spot. I feel that like last year’s Senlin Ascends, The Woven Ring will be a book that will leave a mark on the readers that give it a chance. It’s a mind mindbogglingly great debut and I hope more of you give M.D. Presley a shot as I will be reviewing the sequel soon which is out as well.

My congratulations to Alec Hutson and I look forward to see how The Crimson Queen fares with the other judges and among the other finalists.

1 comments:

Leona Henry said...

The Crimson Queen sounds right up my alley and I will read it as soon as I can!
Great semifinalist list btw, I will be picking up some of those for sure.

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