The Best Of 2011
Right, OK! I know we are a little late compared to the other 2011 ‘Best Of’ lists… however, we decided that we would wait until the initial burst of them and then throw up our thoughts after things died down a little 🙂 I also didn’t want to do just a ‘best books’ list, the Fantasy genre now includes far more than simply ‘reading books’ and therefore there are a few categories below that may surprise you 🙂
So, how was 2011 for Fantasy? In a word: FANTASTIC! It seems that we hit the nail on the head this year… we had some great débuts (Songs of the Earth, Among Thieves, Prince Of Thorns), we had some amazing continuations of series (Wise Man’s Fear) and then there was some ‘legendary’ series that concluded (The Crippled God) or continued the high standards they had already set (Dance With Dragons). Seriously, even packing in 68 books this year, I wasn’t able to read everything I wanted to!
I have tried to pick just one book for each ‘subject’, I did initially do 5, however, I found it was impossible to order them and also it just ended up looking like pretty much all the other ‘best of’ lists across the genre blogs and I wanted to do thinks a little bit differently 🙂
Best Novel of 2011:
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie is a master story teller. We have known this for a very, very long time. Well, since the launch of his first novel; The Blade Itself. I am ashamed to admit that after hearing this novel would be a standalone and NOT featuring Logan Ninefingers, my response was ‘oh for ***** sake’. Not because I didn’t enjoy ‘Best Served Cold’, I thought it was a great way to continue the story and leave us in suspense, but because I wanted to know what happened to Logan and the rest of our original cast. However, when I picked up Heroes I thanked the stars that Joe had written this book because it was indeed the stand out book of 2011 for me. In ‘The Heroes’ – Joe Abercrombie has created a military centred fantasy novel that offers us a completely unique perspective of war and what it takes to fight in one. We don’t have battalions of brave, invincible men who fight for honour and a cause… not in Abercrombie’s world. Instead we have men who are relatively pissed off with having to fight a war, fighting for who pays best and offers the better chance of surviving. If you have read Abercrombie’s work before I have little doubt you will find this his best release to date. The fight scenes are sharper, pointier and more realistic. There is better character development. And finally, the narration is darker, grittier and even more seamless than ever. For a standalone novel to achieve so much is simply incredible – a true testament to the skills of Abercrombie.
Review of ‘The Heroes’: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/joe-abercrombie-the-heroes-review
Interview with Joe Abercrombie: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/joe-abercrombie
Swords & Dark Magic
Imagine if someone was a renowned enough editor to get the following people into a single anthology; Joe Abercrombie, C. J. Cherryh, Glen Cook, James Enge, Steven Erikson, Greg Keyes, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tim Lebbon, Tanith Lee, Scott Lynch, Michael Moorcock, Garth Nix, K. J. Parker, Michael Shea, Robert Silverberg, Bill Willingham, Gene Wolfe. Oh wait, in 2011, someone did; Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders. This anthology is one of the best fantasy anthologies I have ever read and it made me a believer in the idea that Fantasy Anthologies can and indeed do work. For years Science Fiction have been pushing out anthologies, but rarely, have we seen good Fantasy Anthologies that are both diverse and full of high quality authors. This anthology did just that and I applaud the editors and writers for such a great collection.
Mark Lawrence / Douglas Hulick
I know I said I would only chose one for each category however, I lied. There is no way I could chose one or the other here.
Mark Lawrence’s book is about a young man named ‘Jorg’. Jorg had to watch a tragic incident when he was a child and as such he is pretty broken. He doesn’t seem to feel emotions and as such has no problem killing anything that stands in his way. Having left his father, the king’s side when he was younger in order to form his own band of men, Jorg decides he isn’t willing to wait for the throne any-longer. What unfolds is a fantastic journey that is dark yet beautiful, poetic yet gritty and one hell of a ride.
Review of Prince Of Thorns: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/prince-of-thorns-by-mark-lawrence
Interview with Mark Lawrence: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/interview-mark-lawrence
Douglas Hulick’s book is somewhat is the style of a early 20th century detective novel. His intriguing protagonist ‘Drothe’ is a nose, which means he spies on rival gangs by infiltrating them. The story itself is based around a problem; Drothe’s boss has noticed that someone is leaning on his people and certain people are disappearing. Drothe’s trail leads him down some dark paths and his only clue seems to be this deadly book that everyone seems to want to lay their hands on. In order to get to the bottom of things, Drothe is going to have to risk his life over and over again and delve deeper and deeper into the dangerous city of Ildrecca. Doug’s novel is fairly unique within modern fantasy and I don’t think there is a single book that I finished as quickly as I did ‘Among Thieves’.
Review of Among Thieves: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/among-thieves-by-douglas-hulick-review
Interview with Douglas Hulick: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/interview-with-author-douglas-hulick
Best Author to Follow:
Twitter is packed full of authors these days and sometimes it is difficult to know who we should follow. Personally, I like to follow authors who blog about writing and the genre or make me laugh, hearing about their day is nice, as long as it isn’t ‘I am making toast’ or ‘I am just popping to the loo’ type posts 😛 We awarded ‘Sam Sykes’ the ‘Author to Follow’ award because simply… he is THE author to follow on Twitter. Just a sample of the last few day’s tweets:
“To encourage productivity amongst workers: 1) Set productivity goals, 2) Add the words “to the death” after each goal.”
“We have somehow reached the point in American cinemas where we pay actors millions of dollars to get on screen and not act for two hours.”
“All bloggers should make the resolution to talk about Sam Sykes and how much of a great ol’ knucklehead he is a lot.”
We were lucky enough to interview Sam Sykes, you can check that out here:
Best Author’s Blog 2011:
Peter V. Brett
For those who don’t know of ‘Peter V. Brett’ he is the author of fantasy series ‘The Demon Cycle’. Peter is a very active blogger and what we love about him is that he is a geek. We are presenting him with this years best blog award due to the huge variety of posts he makes and how interesting and readable each one is. From writing advice, details on what we is currently working on through to his thoughts and reviews on things in the genre, there is something for everyone. Not only this though, he also interacts with his community and invites them to get involved with his blog by running various costume contests, art contests and much, much more besides. Now, if you haven’t visited the blog yet, we suggest you do it now: http://www.petervbrett.com/peephole/
We were lucky enough to interview Peter V. Brett, you can check that out here:
Saddest News of 2011:
Scott Lynch delays Republic of Thieves
We love Scott Lynch. He is a great guy and one of the most talented young authors writing in our genre today. However, when this question came up: ‘what was the saddest point of 2011?’ for me, it had to be hearing (twice) that the book was delayed. That being said, Scott Lynch and Gollancz do expect the book to be out in 2013, so yes, look out for that! 🙂
We were lucky enough to interview Scott Lynch, you can check that out here:
Most Exciting Piece of News 2011:
Michael Sullivan is snapped up by Orbit
If you have never heard of Michael Sullivan… where have you been!? Michael Sullivan is one of the most important authors of the new era of digital publication. Michael has written a fantastic series called the ‘Riyria Revelations’ and proved that whether you are published by a publishing house or self published; if your book is good enough, people WILL read it. From April 2009 to October 2010 Mr Sullivan put five books from his series ‘out there’ and captured thousands upon thousands of readers all over the world. Michael made a good amount of money, certainly enough to support himself and his family -something previously deemed as almost impossible for a self-published author within the fantasy genre. An important fact is that he hasn’t pushing his books out for $0.99, he was putting them out there for $4.95 and still getting onto the bestseller lists alongside the likes of; Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks and many other ‘published’ authors. Michael’s success obviously attracted a publishing house in the end; Orbit and I am sure he has done very well from the books they have released (as omnibuses of his series). For those authors who are out there, self publishing their work it just proves that if you are good enough and prepared to do the work, you could have great things to look forward to.
We did a review of the series here: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/the-ririya-revelations-by-michael-j-sullivan
Best Fantasy Video Game 2011:
It stole our lives… it killed Twitter and I lost a lot of friends because of it… some are still missing actually. Yes; Skyrim. For those unfamiliar with this game; the storyline in Skyrim basically sees you as a person (human, feline, reptilian, orc, elf – you decide!) within a world where extinct dragons seem to be reappearing around the world. The best part about this? It will eventually be your job to kill the pests! That being said… they are about 10 times your size, breathe fire and have a blood lust that is pretty much unmatched… so don’t get too ahead of yourselves… this is a game with over 100 hours of gameplay and killing dragons will be something you work towards!
The theory is that we as fantasy fans are nostalgic, looking to return to a world we think would be damned cool to live in. We dream of being that individual that the world relies on, we want to be the guy that saves those fair maidens from terrifying villains and yeah, we want to kill a dragon or two. Skyrim allows us to do this and believe it to a currently unrivalled extent. If you are a fan of ‘Fantasy’ and you want to get as close as possible to living the life of a character within a fantasy setting – this is the game for you.
We did a review of the game here: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/skyrim-review
Well, that is the end of our list. Really hope you’ve enjoyed stopping by and checking it out. We’ll be doing the same next year of course and in the mean time, why not check out what 2012 has in store with our ‘Best Books Coming in 2012′ post?
As always, should you have anything to add, please feel free to comment 🙂