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Monday, January 9, 2023

Mihir's Top Reads Of 2022


2022 was a horrid year for me personally but reading wise, it was possibly one of the best ones in the last 5-7 years. I would this was the year of Debuts as there were so many spectacular ones that it was hard for me to narrow my top 10 list. 

 So here we go with my top 10 reads for 2022 and followed by the debuts below:


1) Sons Of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty – This book is possibly the best debut of the last 5 years. As an Indian SFF reader, Gourav Mohanty combined Mahabharata, Hindu mythology & epic fantasy in a unique mix that was absolutely brilliant. I can’t sing its praises enough and I hope it gets re-published soon.

1) The First Binding by R.R. Virdi – This was another fantastic epic fantasy debut that is about the concept of storytelling, epic fantasy tropes, Indian & (world) mythos and more. This is a grand story and promises to be the epic start to a hopefully long series. RR Virdi is an absolute beast and I can’t wait to see where he takes the story next.

2) The Umbral Storm by Alec Hutson – Alec Hutson is another epic fantasy author whose books I never miss. The Umbral Storm was the start of a brand new, experimental series and one, which while being chockfull of tropes, combined with Alec’s superb writing, made this a fab read. I LOVED The Umbral Storm and I’m desperately awaiting the sequel.

3) The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – The Stardust Thief was a welcome return to the sword & sorcery tales but there was an added bonus. It was written by a Kuwaiti author who explored the mythology and her cultural heritage within this debut. The Stardust Thief was charming, audacious and a blast to read. In this year of such terrific debuts, this would have been my favourite if not for a couple of others.

4) The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean – This was such a fascinating plot that managed to combine horror, urban fantasy, and dual timelines so smoothly. Sunyi Dean wrote a hell of a story about motherhood, identity & family ties and while it tore at your heartstrings.  The writing absolutely elevated this strange gem, which isn’t for everyone but if you like the darker side of fiction then this one is an absolute banger.

5) An End To Sorrow by Michael R. Fletcher – An End To Sorrow brought an end to the first Obsidian Path trilogy and it was mind-blowingly epic. Think Moorcock but with the dark fantasy quotient dialed up even beyond. Michael R. Fletcher delivered a story that was completely unpredictable and it ended on an even more shocking climax. I have to salute MRF for his sheer audacity in the telling of this story and (for now) leaving readers with that tantalizing last image.

6) The Art Of Prophecy by Wesley Chu – Wesley Chu is a versatile writer who needs to be read more. With the start of this new series, he’s poised to become a bigger star than he is now. The Art Of Prophecy is a solid fusion of epic fantasy and wuxia fantasy. Plus Wesley goes all out in mixing action, humour, rich characters and an ode to all things fantasy. By the time, he gets done with this series, it’s going to be counted as a classic.

7) The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron – A Rachel Aaron book for me is always a thing to be celebrated. With this new series, Rachel tackles a new genre avenue namely historical fantasy. With a rich cast of characters and mixing, a western plot setting with an intriguing crystal based magic system. The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow is a blast to read and heralds the start of a story that combines epic fantasy, western and alternate history. Now that’s a combo that should set every reader’s pulse racing.

8) The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish – This was a new series started by one of my favourite authors and The Bladed Faith didn’t disappoint. The story starts with deicide and then we get an absolute incredible story that promises to outdo whatever David has written before. This dark fantasy focusing on characters and the turmoil life and magic places on them.  If you haven’t read it yet then jump on it.

9) The Broken Room by Peter Clines – This was another fantastic standalone book that combined horror, action and SF genres into a potent story that was exhilarating and genre bursting. Peter had some tiny nods to his previous works within but for those who were new, this is still a story that thrills.  I loved it and its best summed up as Logan meets Jason Bourne.

10) Phoenix Rising by J. A. Andrews – The Keeper Origins trilogy has been a riveting read and JA brings all the plot threads to a climatic epic ending. The story began with Sable and the search for her sisters but along the way, there were a lot of hijinks and now the story successfully ends with a bang. If you haven’t given The Keepers Origins trilogy, now’s an excellent time to start as the story is complete.


1) Sons Of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty – It was a tough decision between this title and The First Binding but Gourav Mohanty did something incredible with just his first book and he managed to combine the Mahabharata into a grimdark, epic fantasy story that blew my minds everyone else who read it. Hence SOD is my top choice for debut of 2022

2) The First Binding by R.R. Virdi – The First Binding while tying with Sons Of Darkness for the best book of 2022, narrowly misses out on being the top debut. RR Virdi has self-published about seven titles before this one and this was his traditional publishing debut. Hence I think that this is the second best debut of 2022 by a hair’s breadth.

3) The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – This would have been my debut of the year if not for the awesomeness of TFB & SOD. Chelsea Abdullah won me over with her story set in a desert and I honestly hope that she keeps writing because she has a talented career ahead.

4) The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean – This was another fantastic debut that I loved and frankly I was completely besotted as to how the story would be resolved. Safe to say, the ending is as fantastic as the premise. Sunyi Dean is a fantastic writer and I hope she continues to write her dark, and fantastic stories.

5) Illborn by Daniel T. Jackson – Illborn was another debut that I read a lot later than it was published. Daniel T. Jackson has written a wonderfully character rich story that is dark and completely riveting. Focussing on just four POV characters, DTJ gave us an epic story that promises much heartbreak and reading pleasure. Illborn was an absolute gem and the way it ended. I’m desperately awaiting the sequel later this month.  

6) The Justice Of Kings by Richard Swan – This was another terrific grimdark debut and Richard Swan has written such a fascinating tale. With Konrad Vonvalt, the author has given a fascinating character who while not being the protagonist is so charismatic that he carries the story whenever he appears. The world setting is also tantalizingly showcased so that you will be besotted.

7) Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel – Kaikeyi was a debut that has gotten a lot of laurels. It focusses on a mythological character who was often thought of misguided. Here the author focuses on Kaikeyi and gives us a rousing story. Now I have my slight reservations about certain plot aspects of the story but there’s no doubt about Vashnavi’s skill. She’s a skilled wordsmith in the vein of Madeleine Miller and Helene Wecker. I can’t wait to read whatever she decides to write next.

8) The Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart – This was another 2021 debut that I got into much later than I would have preferred. P.L. Stuart has written a story about a people that have lost their homeland but now seek to dominate everyone else. In a world mixed with different religions, a monotheistic & narcissistic prince will try to craft a kingdom. Similar to Mark Lawrence’s debut trilogy, this book is about an unlikeable character who is very charismatic and crafty. I’m hooked on for the sequels.

9) Reign And Ruin by J. D. Evans – Reign And Ruin was a very interesting debut and it is the current SPFBO winner. It was a solidly written romantic, epic fantasy that was set in a Levant-esque world and focusses a lot on political intrigue, magic and definitely some steamy scenes. JD is a wonderful writer and this was a fab book to get introduced to her style of writing.

10) Rise Of The Mages by Scott Drakeford – This debut was another solid one in this amazing year and somehow it doesn’t get as much appreciation as it should. Scott Drakeford has written an epic fantasy that mixes political and military intrigue and is action packed. This was a fast paced fantasy debut that will have cheering on for the good guys and hating the bad guys, now that’s as classic as it gets.



Writer's Block said...

That's a heck of a list!


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