I read 53 books this past year. That included rereads, novellas, graphic novels, but I also read my fair share of EPIC fantasy(and Science Fiction). Now I’ve already made a video concerning this list, but I’ve also added to this list to reflect more than just the books that came out this year and include my favorites that I happened to read this year too. The list is in chronological order throughout the year when I read them.
1. The Thrawn Trilogy(I read books 2 & 3 this year) by Timothy Zahn
I got so hyped for Force Awakens that I decided at the end of 2015 to read the alternate “Legends” universe future of the Star Wars universe after Return of the Jedi. I’m so glad I did. Zahn just delivered a really great trilogy with the these books and I completely understand peoples’ fondness for them through the years. I actually don’t think the strongest part of these novels is Thrawn but rather the insight it grants us into the minds of Han, Luke, and Leia as they struggle to make the rebellion into a governing republic. And yes Mara Jade is awesome.
2. Gentlemen Bastards 1 & 2 by Scott Lynch
These books do the most important thing in the very best way. By most important thing I mean character. You just fall so very hard for these characters. Their hopes, their dreams, their friendship with each other. It’s done quite elegantly with a backdrop of high adventure and heist-filled flair that keeps you turning pages and wringing your hands for those characters you love so dearly.
3. Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn books continue to show us what happens when a master of epic fantasy is willing to explore his own ideas in new and exciting ways. Was that too fanboy? I don’t really care. I love Brandon’s work and this rivals his other masterworks in terms of action, character, and world building/magic systems and their consequences… I could go on but really just read all of his books and then get back to me(Start with the OG Mistborn trilogy)
4. Golden Son and Morning Star by Pierce Brown
The Red Rising trilogy is so very special. It serves as a vehicle for big ideas like class warfare, political revolutions, economic crises, totalitarian propaganda, slavery, and all the places those things intersect. But it’s also really just about a group of friends growing up and finding themselves in a complex world. It’s also about wearing grav boots and wielding Pierce Brown’s non space wizard answer to the light saber. READ THESE BOOKS
5. The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley
There’s a lot to be said about the subtle brilliance in The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne: the elegant world building, the purposeful yet mysterious use of magic, the epic scope and stakes that slowly rise to the top. All of this is delivered via characters we grow to genuinely care about underpinned by set pieces that inspire and excite. I can’t wait for more from Mr. Staveley to say the least.
6. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
My fanaticism for Sanderson is rivaled by my ardor for Lawrence. Mark again shows us that when it comes to the combination of pithy wisdom, dark humor, and the gothic aesthetic of horror fantasy there are perhaps no rivals. It’s a rare thing that a book that makes me laugh so much and care so much can also leave me with images and ideas that I believe might haunt me for years to come. The Red Queen’s War is a must read companion series to the Broken Empire trilogy whether you liked/finished those books or not(I think they’re excellent as well but the character of Jalan seems to appeal to people who found Jorg completely intolerable).
7. Los Nefilim by T. Frohock
The children of angels and demons battle in pre WWII era Spain. That in of itself is worthy of a movie by Guillermo Del Toro but what really sells this book is the heartbreaking tale of family and intimacy at the core. It’s just so powerful and human and it proves that Fantasy can be used to great effect to tell a multitude of stories that speak to the human experience.
8. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
Anthony Ryan entered the public consciousness of SFF fandom with his epic sword and sorcery tale Blood Song. A book that I love so much that I both listened to it and then read it again this last year. Some were unsatisfied with the conclusion to Raven’s Shadow-I found the conclusion satisfying if a bit of a deviation from the style of Blood Song in service to the themes Ryan wished to explore-BUT we’re here to talk about The Waking Fire. This book is just dang good fun. People drink dragon blood and get powers. There’s really cool tech, action, and characters with a great story of mystery, corporate intrigue, and magic that ties it all together. Absolutely cannot wait for the next installment in this series.
9. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
A mystery set in WWI concerning a medium who talks to soldiers after they’ve perished on the battlefield. It’s a compact and unique tale that won me over not just by the strength of its premise but by the magnetism of its protagonist. I really, really, really want a sequel.
10. Senlin Ascends/ Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft
Mark Lawrence decided to be a cheerleader for this under-appreciated self published series and boy am I glad that he did. The Books of Babel series is a singular story of high adventure and mystery in a steampunk world. I just can’t get enough. There’s more than a little wisdom to be mined and head scratching to be done when you consider what Josiah might be saying with his world of the Tower all the while he delivers a genuinely fun romp with a fantastic cast.
11. Paternus by Dyrk Ashton
My elevator pitch for this self published gem is “American Gods -did you like that?- WELL then READ THIS BOOK” Paternus is good enough to survive a comparison to Gaiman and that in of itself is saying something. The ancient deities described in this book became characters I cared about even with their immortal otherness so brilliantly realized. Add to that the character of Fi who serves as our eyes on the mortal ground with all her attitude and coming of age struggles and we get a book that hooks both heart and imagination. Can’t wait to see where Dyrk takes this world next. Also I want a novella about Tanuki. FOR REAL I love that Racoon-god-bro and I need more of him.
Honestly I gave out a lot of 5 star reviews this year. I just read so many good books that it’s hard to leave some out on a list like this. I really enjoyed The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. I also throughly enjoyed the John Cleaver books by Dan Wells, Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, The Darkness that Comes Before by R Scott Bakker, and the first three Witcher books by Sapkowski. I also want to continue series like the Dresden Files and Ryria Revelations into my reading goals this year.
Thanks for reading! This should be a home for my longer form thoughts on books I read this year with maybe a little TV/video games mixed in. I’ll be supplementing that with some videos too depending on the nature of the thing that I want to talk about.
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of Paternus though I mostly read from the paperback copy I purchased. I also like many of these authors as people and interact with them on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. I’m not unbiased but I do strive to be honest and authentic about the things I enjoy.