08 December, 2009

Bona Fide: The Final Reads in 2009

Do you know this overwhelming feeling that you need to read ten books within the next two hours? That is what I felt after I had to pause reading for several days due to my inflamed tooth. But now everythings is fine. Today is the 6th of December. Only 25 days left until end of 2009. And here I am surrounded by books. How to decide what to read next? Finally I found a solution for me: I preselected a dozen books - a real dozen not a Baker's dozen. Two books will be delivered soon. The rest is on my shelf. I took me just five minutes to choose from my more than 130 unread books.
From this pile I will read as many books as I can. The more the better. Now let's have a look at my preselection. There is no specific order but I included a comment why I chose the book:

First Book
Sasha (2009) [US][UK], by Joel Shepherd is the first book of the A Trial of Blood & Steel trilogy.
"Sasha turns her back on her regal heritage, forsakes the life she could have as the princess in a rich kingdom, and trains instead to be a powerful warrior, fighting for the good of the people her father commands. Sasha is a princess, the like of which the highland country of Lenayin has never seen before. Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle and often led by her rash temper. In the complex world of Lenayin loyalties, her defiant wilfulness is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Lenayin is a land almost divided by its two faiths: the Verenthane of the ruling classes and the pagan Goeren-yai, amongst whom Sasha now lives. The Goeren-yai worship swordplay and honour and begin to see Sasha as the great spirit--the Synnich--who will unite them. But Sasha is still searching for what she believes and must choose her side carefully. When the Udalyn people--the symbol of Goeren-yai pride and courage--are attacked, Sasha will face her moment of testing. How will she act? Is she ready to lead? Can she be the saviour they need her to be?" [Source]
You find a lot of promising reviews about this book [1][2][3][4][5]. That is not unusual. But it is conspicuously how often Sasha is compared with A Song of Ice and Fire as Lou Anders found out. Read his Sasha: Are We Seeing a Common Thing Here?
Comment: I posted about the book in Weekly Roundup #45. Finally I could not withstand and ordered the book. I expect the delivery in the upcoming week.

Second Book
The last book has a story behind it. I read about it over at Dave Brendon's blog Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF. I was interested in the book and tried to search out the publishing date, but I failed. So I asked Dave and Dave asked the author Stephen Zimmer. And finally I got in contact with the author. You will get a full review and more information soon. Crown of Vengeance (2009, 612 p.) [US][UK], by Stephen Zimmer is the first book in The Fires of Eden series. Begin an epic journey...
"On a night that begins no different from any other, strange mists engulf Janus Roland, Erika Laesig, Mershad Shahab, and several others going about their lives in a quiet midwestern town. When the mist dissipates, they all find themselves looking up into the bright skies of a new, incredible world. Without explanation of why it has happened, or any notion of where they are, they embark upon a grand adventure within the fantastical world of Ave (pronounced ah-vay). Some find themselves in the lands of the Saxan Kingdom, while others have emerged within the lands of the Onan, one of the tribes in the Five Realms confederation. Storms of war loom over both Saxany and the Five Realms, as invasion forces mass under the inspiration of The Unifier, a mysterious, captivating figure whose influence has swept across the surface of Aveever since His rise to power in the Gallean duchy of Avanor.
It is a war that will be fought in the skies, upon the seas, on land, and even in places non-physical in nature. A majestic, epic fantasy that begins many adventures and journeys across a diverse and enthralling world, filled with races and creatures both familiar and new, Crown of Vengeance lights the flame of the Fires in Eden series, bringing to life a bold, far-ranging, and grand new venture within the realms of fantasy literature." [Source]
Comment: This book has been part of my November Reading Challenge. I still wait for delivery. I stay in contact with author Steven Zimmer. I will read and review it as soon as I get my hand on the copy.

Third Book
A Magic of Twilight (2008, 547 p.) [US][UK], by S. L. Farrell is the first book of the Nessantico Cycle. Jeff C over at Fantasy Book News & Reviews wrote about the book:
"This is also one of those books filled with gray characters." "If you like books filled with politics, religion, a bit of magic, and lots of intrigue, I would recommend checking out A Magic of Twilight."
I felt intrigued and bought the book. Now the time has come to read it:
"An intricate tale of murder and magic, deception and betrayal, Machiavellian politics, star-crossed lovers, and a world on the brink of devastating war....
Over the decades and slow centuries, the city of Nessantico spread its influence in all directions, subsuming and converting the majority of other religions and lesser gods within the Holdings. Always strong even as the borders of the Holdings ebbed and flowed under the effects of war and commerce, always magnificent even as tastes and styles changed, always seductive and desirable no matter what other exotic lands and places might briefly come into fashion, Nessantico gathered to itself all that was intellectual, all that was rich, all that was powerful. There was no city in the known world that could rival it. But there were many who envied it..." [Source]
Comment: The second book from my November Reading Challenge.

Fourth Book
Wolfbreed (2009) [US] [UK] by S. A. Swann. As far as I reconnoitered it is different to other werewolf books. Graeme over at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review wrote in his review:
"‘Wolfbreed’ is definitely up there for my ‘surprise find of the year’. If you’re after an engrossing slice of historical fantasy, or if you just like werewolves, then I don’t think you’ll go wrong with this one..."
And also John Ottinger over at Grasping for the Wind liked it and wrote in his review:
"Themes of loss, human nature, and the power of love drive this action-adventure tale. I was so engrossed that I read the entire thing in an afternoon, entranced by the captivating love story and the thrilling action. I found Wolfbreed to be an exciting read and I recommend it."
The setting is promising: 13th century Northern Europe, Teutonic knights, religion and political intrigues, werewolves....
Comment: I posted about the following book in Weekly Roundup issue #35 and in issue #49. And now the time has come to read it....

Fifth Book
The Lies of Locke Camora (2006) [US] [UK], by Scott Lynch. And this is the blurb:
"An orphan's life is harsh - and often short - in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains - a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans - a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful - and more ambitious - than Locke has yet imagined.
Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men - and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game - or die trying.…" [Source]
Comment: I'm sure a lot of you read this book. Recently I watched following video which finally convinced me to add the book to the dozen:


Sixth Book
In the Weekly Roundup issue #40 I posted about Drood (2009) [US] [UK] by Dan Simmons who is a very versatile writer.
From Drood (about Charles Dickens) to Terror (2007) [US] [UK] (about the Sir John Franklin expedition to discover the Northwest Passage) to Hyperion (1989) [US] [UK] (a masterful work of science fiction, read Alec's review), Mr. Simmons has produced a wide range of titles. I read and liked Terror. Hyperion is on my shelf and Drood is sitting on my table. I look forward to reading Drood, but I won't forget Hyperion. What is the book about?
"On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?" [Source]
Comment: Since I received my copy of the book I knew I want to read it within 2009. Fortunately I have some days off between Christmas and New Year....

Seventh Book
The Curse of the Mistwraith (1993) [US] [UK], by Janny Wurts is the first book of her Wars of Light and shadow: Ships of Merior series.
"The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith's stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light. Arithon and Lysaer soon find that they are inescapably bound to a series of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well, there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith: between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world--its harmony and its future--in their hands.
It began with a Mistwraith that smothered all the world in fog and dampness, followed by a war that upended order and overthrew the rule of the High Kings. Now, two rival brothers must unite to clear the skies of the deadly Mistwraith if their world is to survive. Advertising in Locus." [Source]
Comment: I bought the book after reading John Ottinger's review over at Grasping for the Wind and Renai LeMay's interview with Janny Wurts over at Keeping the Door. If I will like it I wil by more books of the series....

Eighth Book
I'm a fan of the Harry Dresden novels by Jim Butcher. But I also want to know how the author deals epic fantasy. So I bought Furies of Calderon (2004) [US] [UK], which is the first book of the Codex Alera series.
"In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies-elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal-fifteen-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos-when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies-Tavi's simple courage will turn the tides of war." [Source]
Comment: I read about the series before but I was not really sure whether to try or not. Then I checked ratings over at Goodreads: 2,175 ratings, 4.01 average rating, 254 reviews. And these ratings finally convinced me. You can read chapter one and two here.

Ninth Book
When reading blogs you will mention after a while that there are authors without much hype but always mentioned that they are worth to read. For me it seems Daniel Abraham is one of these authors. So I think the time has come to read A Shadow in Summer (2006) [US] [UK], which is the first book of the The Long Price Quartet series.
"The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless's bonded poet-sorcerer, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan. In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht, either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever." [Source]
Comment: Since I read Keeping An Eye On... Daniel Abraham over at Stomping on Yeti I knew the time has come to read this book....

Tenth Book
Last month I read the first book in the Twilight Reign series - The Stormcaller (2006, 493 p.) [US][UK], by Tom Loyd. And now I want to read the second book - The Twilight Herald (2007, 514 p.) [US][UK]. So far three books are available and books four and five will both be published in 2010.
"Lord Bahl is dead and the young white-eye, Isak, stands in his place; less than a year after being plucked from obscurity and poverty the charismatic new Lord of the Farlan finds himself unprepared to deal with the attempt on his life that now spells war, and the possibility of rebellion waiting for him at home. Now the eyes of the Land turn to the minor city of Scree, which could soon be obliterated as the new Lord of the Farlan flexes his powers.
Scree is suffering under an unnatural summer drought and surrounded by volatile mercenary armies that may be its only salvation. This is a strange sanctuary for a fugitive abbot to flee to - but he is only the first of many to be drawn there. Kings and princes, lords and monsters; all walk the sun-scorched streets.
As elite soldiers clash after dark and actors perform cruel and subversive plays that work their way into the hearts of the audience, the city begins to tear itself apart - yet even chaos can be scripted. There is a malevolent will at work in Scree, one that has a lesson for the entire Land: nations can be manipulated, prophecies perverted and Gods denied.
Nothing lies beyond the reach of a shadow, and no matter how great a man`s power, there are some things he cannot be protected from." [Source]
Comment: I enjoyed the first book and now I want to know how the story continues....

Eleventh Book
The Belly of the Bow (1999) [US] [UK] , by K. J. Parker. This is the sequel to The Colours in the Steel (1998) [US] [UK] which I read last month. I was really impressed. Read my review.
"The city of Perimadeia has fallen. Bardas Loredan, the man who was chosen to save it, is now on the Island—a recluse living in the mountains, away from his family, with only a young apprentice for company. His life as a fencer–at–law is over. Instead, Loredan spends his days perfecting the art of bow making. But his isolation will not last forever, and when the Island comes under attack, his skills as a soldier and leader are once again called into play. The second installment in The Fencer Trilogy, The Belly of the Bow firmly establishes K.J. Parker in the top rank of fantasy writers. " [ Source]
Comment: I added the book without hesitation. I need to know how the story continues...

Twelfth Book
This is the last book of my preselection but it is also the first book I started to read. Intriguing... The Darkness That Comes Before (2003) [US] [UK], by Scott Bakker. I own all books of the Prince of Nothing trilogy.
"A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse. The No-God has been vanquished and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns... Drusas Achamian, tormented by 2,000 year old nightmares, is a sorcerer and a spy, constantly seeking news of an ancient enemy that few believe still exists. Ikurei Conphas, nephew to the Nansur Emperor, is the Exalt-General of the Imperial Army and a military genius. He plots to conquer the known world for his Emperor and dreams of the throne for himself. Maithanet, mysterious and charismatic, is spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples. He seeks a Holy War to cleanse the land of the infidel. Cnaiur, Chieftain of the Utemot, is a Scylvendi barbarian. Rejected by his people, he seeks vengeance against the former slave who slew his father, and disgraced him in the eyes of his tribe. Into this world steps Anasurimbor Kellhus, the product of two thousand years of breeding and a lifetime of training in the ways of thought, limb, and face. Steering souls through the subtleties of word and expression, he slowly binds all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men - even great men - means little when the world itself may soon be torn asunder. Behind the politics, beneath the imperialist expansion, amongst the religious fervour, a dark and ancient evil is reawakening. After two thousand years, the No-God is returning. The Second Apocalypse is nigh. And one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten..." [Source]
Comment: A few days ago I read Jay Tomio's review over at BSC. Read it and then you may understand why I want to read this book.

I'm sure that I can't read all these books within this month. But I like to dream and who will know... Fortunately I have some days off between Christmas and New Year. My wife, my daughter and I decided that during this time we will lock the door and ignore the phone. We want to do the things we like most beside good food: playing games, reading books, watching movies and a pinch of www.
Maybe this list give you some inspirations about what to read next. And it is always a good opportunity to get books instead of ties and underpants at Christmas.

Anway all the books I read within December have an influence of my Top Reads in 2009 list. And it is time for me to continue reading.....

9 comments:

avagdro said...

Thanks for sharing.Wish you all a Happy Christmas n New Year eve ahead.

Cheers!!
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ediFanoB said...

avagdro,

thanks for your wishes. Of course I wish Happy Christmas too.

Mark Chitty said...

Hope you manage to read as many as you want to! I've been looking at my shelf and seeing just what I really want to read this year but haven't got around to is depressing. So many books, not enough time...

ediFanoB said...

Good news!

Yesterday I received my copy of Sasha
by Joel Shepher and today I received my copy of Crown of Vengeance by Stephen Zimmer. Now all twelve books are on my shelf.

ediFanoB said...

Hey Mark,

I know your problem very well from my own experience.

Therefore I chose these twelve books and forget this month the rest of my shelf. I'm sure I can't read them all but every book I read raise my spirits. For me it is the best solution for this month.

Get rid of your depressing spirit. Just choose some books and enjoy to read them.

I think sometimes we spend to much time for selecting the books we want to read.

logankstewart said...

The A Shadow in Summer cover reminds me a lot of Brandon Sanderson's Elantris.

ediFanoB said...

logankstewart,

I agree with you. Did you read Elantris and A Shadow in Summer?

By the way Elantris is on my shelf.... unread :-)

Dave said...

Good luck finishing everything on the list!

I've just finished my first fiction book in (almost) the whole of 2009. "Best Served Cold" was fantastic. Hopefully I have time for another one on my shelf!

ediFanoB said...

Dave,
to finish all books on the list within one month is a dream. But who are we without dreams. The most important thing for me is to enjoy each of these twelve books.

I read "Best Served Cold" and it was a tough one. Compared to you I must be really happy because I could read a lot more books.

I hope you will find more time for reading in 2010.