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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Mihir's Top Debuts Of The Decade (2010 - 2019) (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Here we go, as with my top 50 titles of the decade, here I attempt to catalog the top 50. But ti my eternal chagrin, I found this to be much harder than before. There have been so many great debuts over the last few years that I couldn’t limit it to just 50. While epic fantasy always stood the tallest, it was many proponents of urban fantasy who showcased some unique genre mixes and made their debuts into must-reads for me. So without further ado, here we go

50) Court Of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark

49) Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher & Scourge Of The Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

48) The Shadow Of What Was Lost by James Islington

47) The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

46) Zero Sight by B. Justin Shier

45) A Devil in the details by K. A. Stewart & Hounded by Kevin Hearne

44) The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

43) The Grace Of Kings by Ken Liu

42) Blackwing by Ed McDonald

41) The Winds Of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu

40) Godblind by Anna Stephens

39) The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

38) The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

37) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

36) The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

35) The Girl With The Ghost Eyes by M. H. Borosen

34) The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer

33) The Nine by Tracy Townsend

32) Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike

31) The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

30) Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn

29) Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher

28) Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn

27) The Woven Ring by M. D. Pressley

26) Kings Of The Wyld by Nicholas Eames

25) Rage Of Dragons by Evan Winter

24) The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer

23) The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

22) An Alchemy of Masques And Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

21) Govinda by Krishna Udayasankar

20) Damoren by Seth Skorkowsky

19) Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

18) Paternus: Rise Of The Gods by Dyrk Ashton

17) The Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian de Castell

16) Endsville by Clay Sanger

15) Age Of Assassins by R J Barker

14) Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

13) I am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

12) The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes

11) The Grim Company by Luke Scull

10) God’s War by Kameron Hurley – Kameron Hurley’s debut was a zinger, it combined an unlikeable narrator, bugs and an SF landscape that was unlike any that has come before. God’s War isn’t a book for everyone and that’s fine. It was a spectacular read for me and I can safely say that God’s War was as unique a debut as they come.

10) Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines – Combining superheroes, zombies and a solid comedic tone, Ex-Heroes was an absolute blast to read. Peter Clines grabbed my attention immediately and since then I’ve read every book of his. With Ex-Heroes, he managed to give a spectacular story that combined so many different things (zombies, superheroes, a post-apocalyptic scenario, etc) and yet was refreshingly fun. Ex-Heroes heralded a rare comic talent who also wrote SF akin to Michael Crichton. Now if that doesn’t interest you, I don’t know what will.

9) Daughter Of The Sword by Steve BeinDaughter Of The Sword is one of those unique books that combine two different genres and makes them stronger. Set in Japan, and with dual timelines, Steve Bein’s debut story about powerful swords made me stand up and shout about its awesomeness from the rooftops. With magnificent attention to detail, and superb characterization, DOTS is another debut that needs to be in more readers’ hands.

8) The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron – Rachel Aaron’s debut about a glib thief wanting to get his bounty raised to a certain amount was a much understated book and one of my favorite titles from when I began blogging. Filled with humour, lots of charming skullduggery & a fun plot, The Spirit Thief is an absolute blast to read and clued me in to Rachel’s talents. Nearly 18-plus books later, Rachel Aaron is one of my alltime favourites and it’s this book which heralded what sort of writer she would be.

7) Prince Of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – No reading list of mine would ever be complete without Mark Lawrence. With his debut Prince Of Thorns, Mark Lawrence wrote a psychologically thrilling story about a broken man who is a villain (by his own words) and yet his story is heart-breaking than most heroes. Jorg Ancrath is incredibly hard to forget and Prince Of Thorns is as bleak and solid a story as any other book. The key difference being it does so with far little fanfare and exposition, giving us a brutal and dark story about a sociopathic character and his reasons as to his being.

6) The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden TBATN by Katherine Arden is a beautifully written debut focusing on Russian mythology & landscape. Katherine’s story about Vasilisa and her family is a terrific journey and the entire trilogy is one of my reading highlights of this past decade. I can’t stop recommending this trilogy and it all begins with this book. Dive in to find a rich story with several stories within and deeply nuanced characters.

5) Miserere by Teresa Frohock Miserere in my mind deserves a lot more accolades than it ever got. Mistaken for Christian fantasy, this brilliant debut about the world’s religions and an afterworld with a solid dose of horror was spectacular in every way. Teresa Frohock’s debut had a lot of unique features and I sincerely hope many other readers give it a try and make it a classic in the years to come.

4) Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell – Richard Nell really burst on the scene with Kings Of Paradise, a Kane vs Abel story that would have you rooting for a cannibalistic savant. With brilliant characterization, a real dying world narrative and a brutal landscape that will have you turning pages and marveling at Nell’s ingenuity and prose. Don’t take my word, go read it now. As I said before, Richard Nell's Kings Of Paradise is the underrated find of the decade for me.

3) Senlin Ascends by Josiah BancroftSenlin Ascends is a story that perhaps transcends its genre. It’s so hard to describe what makes Josiah Bancroft’s book so special, some point towards the lush prose, some towards the multi-faceted characterization, many towards the unique plot & world settings. I would think I fall in all those camps and more. We owe Josiah Bancroft a huge debt of gratitude for allowing us a peek into his fabulous creation.

2) The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker – Again another title which in my mind is the epitome of spectacular writing. Helene Wecker has created one of the most interesting stories set in New York City and it is so much more than just a love story. It’s an exploration of life, love, food, pathos and many other things that make up the human experience. Set in turn of the century NYC, the author has written a fable for the ages and yet it so much more than what I describe.

1) Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – As stated previously, Blood Song blew my mind with its singular POV and yet how gloriously Anthony Ryan showcased the world of the Unified Realm. Blood Song has it all, a great coming of age storyline, a central mystery about the main character and Vaelin Al Sorna, the only successor to Druss the legend. Anthony Ryan in my mind is the only heir apparent to David Gemmell’s top spot atop Heroic fantasy’s peak. Checkout Blood Song for the birth of a new legend and one that’s sure to leave a mark deeper than Snaga.




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