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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Mihir's Top Reads Of The Decade (2010 - 2019)

I’ve been an active blogger since 2009 so getting to compile this list was one of my top-to-do things. Unfortunately it got delayed as I’ve been dealing with some house stuff in the last 6 months. However the first part is finally complete and let me say compiling this list wasn’t an easy thing to do. Looking back at all the lists I’ve compiled over the last decade, this one was even tougher than all of them combined! Because this list got so gargantuan, I’m breaking it down into two parts. Firstly the top 50 titles and in a couple of days, the top 50 debuts.

So here are my top 50 choices from the past decade. This list is entirely based of the titles that I've enjoyed and were five stars reads even upon re-reading. It is more fantasy (epic, urban and grimdark) heavy than SF, which is entirely due to my preferences. Some series I've included all the books as each book has been special and with others, I've included singular titles or a couple depending on my enjoyment. There's a mix of self-published and traditionally published works and so onward with the top 5o beginning from the bottom up:

50) Fourteen by Peter Clines

49) Corvus by Paul Kearney

48) Heaven’s Needle by Liane Merciel

47) The Chaos Crystal by Jennifer Fallon

46) American Elsewhere by Rob J. Bennett

45) Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

44) The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden

43) The Winter Of The Witch by Katherine Arden

42) The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

41) We Ride The Storm by Devin Madson

40) Jade War by Fonda Lee

39) Priest Of Lies by Peter McLean

38) The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear

37) Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene

36) The Colour Of Vengeance by Rob J. Hayes

35) The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

34) Jade City by Fonda Lee

33) A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne

32) Miserere by Teresa Frohock

31) Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell

30) The Labyrinth Of Flame by Courtney Schafer

29) Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell

28) No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

27) The Killing Floor Blues by Craig Schaefer

26) River Of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

25) Arm Of The Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft

24) The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

23) Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

22) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

21) Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

20) The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

19) Gunmetal Magic + Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews

18) Those Brave Foolish Souls From The City Of Swords by Benedict Patrick

17) Paternus: Wrath Of The Gods by Dyrk Ashton

16) Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

15) King Of Assassins by R. J. Barker

14) Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

13) Bring The Fire by Craig Schaefer

12) Detonation Boulevard by Craig Schaefer

11) Sworn To The Night by Craig Schaefer

10) City Of Stairs by Rob J. BennettCity Of Stairs was a revelation for me. Focusing on a historian tasked with solving a murder in a land wherein Gods died and now their bodies can be used as WMDs & more. This is a powerfully written story with several layers to it and featuring incredible world building. City Of Stairs is an absolute delight and should be mandatory reading for almost all fantasy fans.

9) The Fifth Empire Of Man by Rob J. Hayes – It’s pretty evident how much fun Rob J. Hayes was having with his pirate focused duology and it’s in this book that he fully showcases his amazing skills. We get a ton of naval battles, literal & figurative backstabbing, solid plot twists and one hell of a climax. All in all a sequel that definitely cemented my opinion about his work & this is possibly his best work yet. A must read for all naval fantasy aficionados.

8) Children Of Earth And Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay – Guy Gavriel Kay is a master at merging historical fiction & fantasy. Plus almost all of his recent work have been standalones , which makes it easy to dive into. With COEAS, he really gives us a rousing story of political & social intrigue as well as action that will swell the heart of any fantasy fan. The characters, the world setting, everything is pure bliss and I believe this title to be one of his best works easily.

7) The Sword Of Kaigen by M. L. Wang The Sword Of Kaigen is one of those gems that came through via the SPFBO and is a book that literally gut punches not once but twice. Told via POVs of the Matsuda family and heavily steeped in Japanese culture. This book is an absolute gem of a story and I hope that the author continues to write more stories set in this world. For those who still haven't heard about it, mark my words, this is a future classic.

6) Skullsworn by Brian Staveley – It’s hard to write prequels and even more so when it’s about characters who are cutthroat killers. Brian Staveley decided to do both and succeeded colossally on either front. Pyrre Lakatur is a fierce and intense person and her story is no less so. Part love story, part thriller and entirely unpredictable, this standalone story is told with a breakneck pace that will not let up. Skullsworn is a superb indicator of Brian Staveley’s genius and has me longing for his future works intensely.

5) The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker – It’s an absolute shame that Helene Wecker has just released just one title in the past 7 years. But simply based on her debut I can tell you that I’m a fan of hers for the rest of my life. Bringing turn of the century NYC to life brilliantly while making the readers invested in a Syrian Jinni,  a Jewish golem and their love story. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, HW gives us a gorgeous story about human & inhuman lives and I can’t wait for the sequel whenever it releases. The Golem And The Jinni is one of those rare miraculous books that some writers write as their debut and captivate fans forever.

4) Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – Most of the folks who know me, know my love for Anthony Ryan’s  self-published debut. Blood Song is an absolute perfect book with just the right amount of mystery, action, magic as well as deadly characters. This debut book featuring a singular narrative voice (Vaelin Al Sorna) puts most multi-pov doorstoppers to shame with its compact mix of ingenuity and incrediblenes. Blood Song is a book that I will cherish to my death no matter how many time I re-read it.

3) The Folding Knife by K J Parker – What do I say about K. J. Parker, him being the writer of scoundrels and charmers who one might not want to befriend but would love to get acquainted with. The Folding Knife is a brilliant story about the life of one Basso (Bassianus Severus Arcadius) of the Vasani republic and while it’s a political fantasy (with almost no magic). It’s a profound book about human nature, foibles & will. Plus it will have you hooked onto the antics of Basso and root for him throughout all the way till the glorious fall. Possibly my favorite standalone story of all time and one which I can never shut up about.

2) Kings Of Ash by Richard Nell – Richard Nell is a name that most fantasy fans are unaware and herein lies the real tragedy. The Ash & Sand trilogy is one of the most unique works out there and to add to it, it’s been entirely self-published by the author. Featuring perhaps the only fantasy character to rival Hannibal Lecter and The Bloody Nine, this book is a brilliant deconstruction of fantasy tropes and a savage journey of one man’s struggle to save his people from environmental doom. Featuring utterly brilliant writing, and combined with a savage dose of gallows humour, mark out Richard Nell as the most underrated find of the last decade.

1) Circe by Madeline Miller – Here we are, the best book of the entire decade and this was an entirely easy decision. Madeline Miller’s sophomore effort about one of Greek mythology’s most ill-understood characters, was the book that stood out in my mind. Featuring Circe and her life story amid the gods, humans and other creatures, Madeline Miller’s standalone epic would be the magnum opus that most authors strive for their entire lives. Featuring exquisite prose and with a fantastic imagination, Circe is the book that every book lovers SHOULD own on their shelves.


There were go folks, that's my top reads of the last decade and in just a couple of days, I'll be super happy to reveal the top 50 debuts. Until then I'll be excited to hear your thoughts about my choices as well as what would have been yours...


Mike said...

Skullsworn was awesome.

Dyrk Ashton said...

Well it looks like I'd better read Circe and right quick! :)


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