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Fantasy-Faction’s Reading List for 2011

Well we are approaching the end of the year. *sigh* And in 2010 I didn’t read nearly as much as I was intending to. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen again, for 2011 I am putting together a reading list of the best fantasy novels. These are books that people have been telling me to read for months, but for one reason or another, I have swerved in order to read others.

I am also going to add on a couple of books that I have read, for those who have not yet read them. The way this book list is going to work is I am going to go for easy read/slightly longer read. I would estimate most people read a book in between two and four weeks, so I am going to go for 18 books, and then if it takes you longer, it can be your 2011/2012 reading list. Hey, for some people it may even end up as their Christmas List!

There are 18 series here in total. Each of these books is a book one. The thing to do, is once you read a book and enjoy it, add the sequels onto next year’s reading list and obviously ones you don’t enjoy knock off the list. You could end up with 5 years worth of reading here!

Book 1 – January/February

The Accidental Sorcerer by K. E. Mills

The Accidental Sorcerer (cover)

Gerald Dunwoody is a wizard. Just not a particularly good one. He’s blown up a factory, lost his job, and there’s a chance that he’s not really a Third Grade wizard after all. Career disaster strikes again. Luckily, an influential friend manages to get him a posting. So it’s off to New Ottosland to be the new Court Wizard for King Lional. His back up, an ensorcelled bird with a mysterious past, seems dubious. But it’s New Ottosland, or nothing. Unfortunately, King Lional isn’t the vain, self-centred young man he appeared to be. With a Princess in danger, a bird-brained back up, and a kingdom to save, Gerald soon suspects he might be out of his depth. And if he can’t keep this job, how can he become the wizard he was destined to be?

Book 2 – February/March

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Furies of Calderon (cover)

Furies of Calderon is the first book in the Codex Alera sequence by Jim Butcher, best known for his urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. Here we meet Tavi, a young Aleran boy who has been orphaned and raised by his aunt and uncle. Unlike everyone else who lives in Alera, Tavi is unable to furycraft – that is, use the elemental furies to assist him in work and battle. Tavi stumbles across a plot to bring the Marat tribespeople – cannibals and mortal enemies of the Alerans – sweeping through the Calderon Valley, destroying the steadholders and moving against the First Lord of Alera. When he meets Amara – a spy and Cursor for the First Lord – he is drawn into an epic adventure, racing against time to bring help to the steadholders.

Book 3 – March/April

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel (cover)

This may be the first book of yet another “cross-over” fantasy trilogy–theoretically equally appealing to both children and adult readers–but thankfully Sabriel has enough verve and panache about it to reach just such a wide readership and to ensure that author Garth Nix has created a bandwagon all of his own. Constantly rich and meaty, the story is intriguing from the off. Page by page the tension builds and draws you into a highly imaginative landscape that has familiarity and originality in equal measures.

Sabriel attends Wyverley Girls College in Ancelstierre (Nix’s version of normal) and has recently graduated with runaway firsts in every subject. But her particular school has certain extra-curricular activities, like the learning of Magic, because of its proximity to the Wall which marks Ancelstierre’s border with the Old Kingdom. Over the wall, life is very different and the use of magic is commonplace. Then, on the edge of death, Sabriel’s father, Abhorson, sends her a cryptic message that means she must venture into the Old Kingdom and calm the storm that is brewing there, and which will surely multiply at her father’s passing. Refusing to accept his fate, Sabriel inherits the tools of her father’s trade and his name. Her new duty is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest with the help of seven powerful bells worn across the chest. Sabriel seeks her father’s slayer in a mammoth journey that is hindered by dark magic, monsters-a-plenty and shadowy unsubstantial evils.

Book 4 – April/May

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Empire In Black and Gold (cover)

Seventeen years ago, Stenwold witnessed the Wasp Empire storming the city of Myna in a brutal war of conquest. Since then he has preached vainly against this threat in his home city of Collegium, but now the Empire is on the march, with its spies and its armies everywhere, and the Lowlands lie directly in its path. All the while, Stenwold has been training youthful agents to fight the Wasp advance, and the latest recruits include his niece, Che, and his mysterious ward, Tynisa. When his home is violently attacked, he is forced to send them ahead of him and, hotly pursued, they fly by airship to Helleron, the first city in line for the latest Wasp invasion.

Stenwold and Che are Beetle-kinden, one of many human races that take their powers and inspiration each from a totem insect, but he also has allies of many breeds: Mantis, Spider, Ant, with their own particular skills. Foremost is the deadly Mantis-kinden warrior, Tisamon, but other very unlikely allies also join the cause. As things go from bad to worse amid escalating dangers, Stenwold learns that the Wasps intend to use the newly completed railroad between Helleron and Collegium to launch a lightning strike into the heart of the Lowlands. Then he gathers all of his agents to force a final showdown in the engine yard.

Book 5 – May/June

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism (cover)

The start of a brand new trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way of Shadows. Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

Book 6 – June/July

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (cover)

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it’s a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming. A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora…

Book 7 – July/August

The Black Company by Glen Cook

The Black Company (cover)

Forget the routine sword and sourcery drag of rescue-the-maiden-and-complete-the-quest: The Black Company is amoral, footslogging, unromantic – realistic fantasy in short. With a cast of well drawn characters, a suitably cynical narrative voice and a complete absence of slushy sentiment, The Black Company series manages to be gripping, funny and moving all at the same time. This, the first novel in the series, follows the Company’s mercenary wanderings from garrison duty into the heart of battle, in the process throwing up interesting thoughts on the nature of good and evil, and introducing in the Lady a villain to relish. The story drags you along, and you really care what happens to Croaker and co. A wonderful read!

Book 8 – August/September

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study (cover)

Choose: A quick death…or a slow poison…About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace – and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust – and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonising death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

Book 9 – September/October

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Spellwright (cover)

In a world where words can come to life, an inability to spell can be a dangerous thing. And no one knows this better than apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal. Nicodemus is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without ‘misspelling’ – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon

Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without ‘misspelling’ – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power – power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will.

‘Spellwright is exactly the kind of book that got me into fantasy in the first place. Blake Charlton has built a world that is as new as it is classic, and a story that kept me reading late into the night. Blake Charlton is a talent to watch.’

Book 10 – October/November

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice by Stephen Deas

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice (cover)

Berren has lived in the city all his life. He has made his way as a thief, paying a little of what he earns to the Fagin like master of their band. But there is a twist to this tale of a thief. One day Berren goes to watch an execution of three thieves. He watches as the thief-taker takes his reward and decides to try and steal the prize. He fails. The young thief is taken. But the thief-taker spots something in Berren. And the boy reminds him of someone as well. Berren becomes his apprentice. And is introduced to a world of shadows, deceit and corruption behind the streets he thought he knew. Full of richly observed life in a teeming fantasy city, a hectic progression of fights, flights and fancies and charting the fall of a boy into the dark world of political plotting and murder this marks the beginning of a new fantasy series for all lovers of fantasy – from fans of Kristin Cashore to Brent Weeks.

Book 11 – November/December

Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk

Shadow’s Son (cover)

Treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, in the holy city of Othir. It’s the perfect place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples. Caim makes – or perhaps more accurately, takes – his living on the edge of a blade. Murder is a risky business, but so far he reckons he’s on the right side of it. Or he was . . . because when a short-notice contract job goes south, Caim finds himself thrust into the middle of a sinister plot in which he seems to be one of the primary marks. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers and the darkest kinds of sorcery, it’s going to take more than luck if he’s to get through this alive. He may lack scruples, but he’s still got his knives, and his instincts, to rely on – and a developed sense of revenge, or should that be justice? – to fall back on. But when his path leads him from the hazardous back streets of Othir and into the highest halls of power, will instincts and weapons alone really be enough? If Caim is really going to unravel the plot which has snared him, to unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he will have to finally claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son?

Book 12 – December/January

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon (cover)

With a field as crowded as heroic fantasy, a reader is entitled to know what makes the latest blockbuster worth his or her attention: but Bantam books are throwing considerable marketing weight behind Steven Erikson, because they clearly believe he is the Next Big Thing. They may be right–he has the breadth and detail of imaginative vision, he is able to create a world that is both absorbing on a human level and full of magical sublimity, and, above all, he can write.

Gardens of the Moon concerns the military campaign by the Malazan Empire to capture the last remaining Free City on the Gernsbackian continent. War is waged with conventional soldiers as well as powerful magicians, and gods mix with mortals in a complex, but rewarding, series of narrative threads that come chiefly out of the school of Feist’s Magician, although there is also something of the flavour of Gavriel Kay’s celebrated Fionavar books. The moon of the title is a wonderfully grand conception, a sort of floating mountain that moves through the skies of the war-striken continent, and is the home of the ‘Son of Darkness’. The various magical battles are splendidly written, and the characters are well realised. Rewardingly mellow and fiendishly readable

Book 13 – January/February

Witch Fire by Anya Bast

Wit’ch Fire (cover)

Long ago the Mages of Alasea, beset by a dark and implacable evil, made a last desperate stand to preserve some remnant of their once-beautiful land. Knowing their own destruction to be inevitable, the Mages gathered the last of their magic and stored it away against the need and peril of a distant time. In doing so the Mages gave the people of Alasea a future and a hope — and damned themselves forever …Now, five centuries after their destruction, a young girl, Elena, inherits the powers that the Mages had so carefully hidden from their enemy. But though the Mages are long dead their ancient foe is not — and when the Dark Lord learns of Elena’s power he turns all of his terrible strength against her. Desperate and alone, fleeing from disaster, escaping into darkness, Elena seeks out the allies and knowledge that can help her to master her bitter gifts and cast down the evil that shattered the land of Alasea ..

Book 14 – February/March

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front (cover)

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technically the ‘only’ at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they come to him for answers. For the ‘everyday’ world is actually full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever. The first six Dresden Files novels will be published over three months – a great introduction to Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard who manages to get into some seriously tricky situations.

Book 15 – March/April

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (cover)

‘I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me’ So begins the tale of Kvothe – currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeepter – from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin. The Name of the Wind is fantasy at its very best, and an astounding must-read title.

Book 16 – April/May

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows (cover)

The perfect killer has no friends. Only targets. For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

Book 17 – May/June

Covenants: A Borderlands Novel by Lorna Freeman

Covenants (cover)

“Rabbit is a trooper on the Border Guards, just another body in the King’s army. But when his patrol encounters a Faena-one of the magical guardians of an uneasy ally-Rabbit is thrust into a political and magical intrigue that could start a war. Because Rabbit isn’t just another trooper. He is the son of nobility-and a mage who doesn’t know his own power…”

Book 18 – June/July

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man (cover)

The Painted Man tells the tale of Arlen whom we meet as a 11 year old boy in the aftermath of a demon attack on the village of Tibbet’s Brook. Arlen lives in a world where the coming of night brings the rise of the coreling , demons of various flavours ( wood near forests , stone in the highlands / mountain ranges and sand in the desert , you get the picture ) Humanity has chosen to hide behind magical wards that these coreling cannot cross , living sheltered lives only during daylight hours.

‘I enjoyed The Painted Man immensely. Action and suspense all the way.’ – Terry Brooks

‘An absolute masterpiece… literally unputdownable, and deserves to be the next Big Thing in dark fantasy.’ – www.ozhorrorscope.com

‘A very accomplished debut fantasy. Recommended.’ – www.sfrevu.com

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2 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Faction. Fantasy Faction said: I have just posted up the 2011 fantasy book readers 'reading list' for 2011… Check it out! http://bit.ly/dXyzj3 […]

  2. Apikkon says:

    I have read most of these, although I’m liking the look of one I haven’t… ‘Lies of Locke Lamora’. I think it would take me more than a year to read this lot though!!! 😀

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