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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mihir's Top Reads of 2017

As has been the pattern with these lists of mine, January seems to be the best time for posting these. I hope our readers will forgive this idiosyncrasy of mine as I feel the start of the new year is a good time to reflect on the past one. The main reasoning for choosing these titles is the varied milieu of the plots, excellence in prose, characterization and the overall enjoyment they provided. This year was the year of debuts & there were so many terrific ones. And so without further ado, here are my 2017 top reads ...

Top 10 Books of 2017:

1] The Fifth Empire Of Man by Rob J. Hayes & All Systems Red by Martha Wells - Both these titles just were fantastic reads and I couldn’t really find anything to nitpick about them. With All Systems Red, Martha Wells managed to give us a character who transcended humanity but not its quirks and within this novella we read about an AI who is deadpan and deadly at the same time. Cant’ wait to read the sequels featuring Murderbot.

With TFEOM, Rob J. Hayes was able to cap of his pirate duology in the most bloody, exhilarating & twisted way. He also set up the First Earth saga and I can’t wait to read the standalone CITY OF KINGS that will be released in 2018.

2] Red Sister by Mark Lawrence - Mark Lawrence has consistently graced my top 10 list since he made his debut. This book is his best yet as it seamlessly combines SF and fantasy with a protagonist who left readers wanting more of her. For me Grey Sister can’t come soon enough.

3] Skullsworn by Brian Staveley - Brian Staveley’s debut trilogy was one which had its fans and detractors but the ending was certainly epic to say the least. With Skullsworn, he managed to combine the epic ness of his debut and focussed on a character who’s clearly an anti-hero(ine). This book gave us a diabolical plot with a love story and it was a brilliant effort by the author.

4] Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell - Sebastien Castell’s books are a lot of fun and they have been a great example of great S&S. With this volume, he caps off a wonderful series that manages to combine humor, great characters and swashbuckling action in to a heady mix that will leave you with a smile. Series finales don’t get much better than that.

5] The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld - Rene Denfeld wowed us with her debut and now she returns with another story that is suitably dark but yet poignant. The Child Finder is another mix of darkness and superb characters that seem to the author’s strengths. This one didn’t make me teary eyed like her the debut but it’s no less strikingly dark & spectacular.

6] Double Or Nothing by Craig Schaefer - Craig Schaefer’s books are becoming a staple diet for me and with Double Or Nothing, he proves that he’s now the true master of the urban fantasy/crime noir genre. Double On Nothing was a stunner with its plot set up and the twists that it provided. Revealing a lot more about the main backstory while keeping readers enthralled, this book was certainly a revelation.

7] The Legion Of Flame by Anthony Ryan - The Legion Of Flame is a sequel that is better in every department than its predecessor. More action, extensive world-building and characters who shine brighter. This volume ups the ante after the revelations of the climax of The Waking Fire and sets up a story that will conclude emphatically in The Empire Of Ashes in summer 2018.

8] The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - This historical thriller featured female spies based on a real-life true spy network. Combining timelines from WWI & WWII, this wonderful thriller gave us heroic characters to root for and a story that will leave you hooked. This is a book that SHOULD be made into a movie or TV series.

9] A Dragon Of A Different Color by Rachel Aaron - What can I say about this series that I haven’t spoken about before. This penultimate volume reveals further secrets, has one of the most emotionally captivating scenes featuring dragons (that I’ve ever read) and ends on a note that makes the final volume a must read. All in all, a typical Rachel Aaron book that also consistently has been featured in my lists since I started compiling them.

10] The Seven by Peter Newman - I’ve been enamored by Peter Newman’s debut book which featured a crazy mix of demons, fantasy, and SF. The sequel was a solid sophomore effort and this volume is basically the best book of all three. It answers all questions, brings in all characters introduced so far and brings all the plot threads to a completely satisfying conclusion that other debut authors should be envious of.

There were a few other titles which should have been on the list but because I had to limit it to eleven, narrowly missed the cut. The three titles mentioned below were also magnificent in their own genres and deserve a shout out to say the least:

Artemis by Andy Weir

The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker

City of Miracles by Robert J. Bennett

Top 10 debuts of 2017:

1] The Nine by Tracy Townsend & The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden - This might be a shocker but i believe both these titles have something in common. They both take the time to develop the world so the reader can experience a fully immersive experience. The characterization is rich and while Katherine Arden needs no accolades from the likes of me, I believe she’s going to be a powerhouse to watch out for.

Tracy Townsend's debut was a unique one which amalgamated urban fantasy, SF, weird fantasy & epic fantasy in a intriguing manner. Tracy's writing style makes this book such a standout one & if she continues the remaining volumes in the same way, this series will be one of my alltime favorite ones.

2] Kings Of The Wyld by Nicholas Eames & The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson - Both these books featured epic fantasy but with the author’s own twists on the genre. Both debuts were immensely enjoyable and just had the right amount of action, humor and wonderful characters to make them standout perfectly.

3] Blackwing by Ed McDonald & The Woven Ring by M.D. Presley - Blackwing is an interesting debut that mixes epic and post- apocalyptic grimdark fantasy. Ed McDonald’s writing is certainly strong enough to stand on its own but with the world-building just made this debut achieve a higher pedestal.

Another wonderful effort whose sequel remains high on my to-read list for 2018. MD Presley is an equally talented author who deserves many accolades and hid debut featured a world that's seared onto my mind. The world building & the dark characterization especially cemented it for me & I can't wait to see where the author takes the saga.

4] Age Of Assassins by R. J. Barker - Orbit had some aces this year and RJ Barker’s debut just gave us readers a wonderful mix of a fantasy and thriller genres. With a protagonist who’s endearing and tough as they come, RJ’s debut showcased its uniqueness amongst the assassin sub-genre of fantasy. Plus the dark humor of the book made me a fan through and through.

5] An Alchemy of Masques And Mirrors by Curtis Craddock - AAOMAM was an underrated debut which would have slipped by my radar, had it not been for Mogsy's wonderful review spotlighting it. This clever book manages to combine genres and also give us brilliant characters. I loved this title & were it not the amazing titles above this book would be in the top 2. Curtis Craddock is a special writer & I can wait to see how his sophomore effort turns out to be.

6] IQ by Joe Ide - This was a dark but deceptively charming mystery thriller about a loner with a Sherlockian IQ and his drive for justice. Joe Ide has created a protagonist who will most definitely be compared to Arthur Conan Doyle's best literary product but will be his own man (exactly as he wants to be).

7] Godblind by Anna Stephens - Godblind is a title that were it not for a certain sequence, would be a simple epic fantasy title. Anna Stephens highlights her brilliant imagination with this book & specifically that sequence. Macabre & twisted Godblind is certainly a book that's good & different all the same.

8] Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys - Winter Tide is a dark mixture of X-files, Lovecraftian horror set in the early parts of the twentieth century. It's Ruthanna's prose which makes it a wonderful horror title & yet managed to showcase the humanity of its characters.

9] The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso - The Tethered Mage is a book that seems YA but is far, far from it. Highlighting some crucial themes about identity, individuality, & patriotism, Melissa Caruso wives a dark story that won me over and I'm excited for its sequel as well.

10] Court Of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark & The City Of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty - These 2 titles round up the list and both were wonderfully imagined books. Anna Smith Spark's debut was the more difficult to like and enjoy but that doesn't detract anything from its uniqueness. The City Of Brass featured some wonderful worldbuilding & while the love story wasn't all that great. The overall story made it a debut to remember.


Annemieke said...

I've been hearing nothing but great things about Red Sister so I am very curious now. I still have The Waking Fire on my shelf to read but had heard some mixed reviews about it. I'm glad to hear the second one really picks things up as those covers really draw me in!

weeny said...

On the 7th in top debut 2017, I think it should be Godblind ?

Really interesting post, thanks !


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