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Who Will Win The David Gemmell Awards in 2013?

I have to say that I though the Gemmell Awards’ shortlist was absolutely SPOT ON this year. If I was to do a list of my favourite novels over that same 12 month period, I’d probably come up with the exact same one. The nominees really were the best of the best. In case you haven’t seen them, here the short lists:

The Gemmell Legend Award (best novel):

Abercrombie, Joe – Red Country – Gollancz
Kristoff, Jay – Stormdancer – Pan Macmillan UK
Lawrence, Mark – King of Thorns – Harper Collins UK
Lowe, Helen – The Gathering of the Lost – Orbit
Weeks, Brent – The Blinding Knife – Orbit

The Morning Star Award (best debut):

Ahmed, Saladin – Throne of the Crescent Moon – Gollancz & DAW
Cameron, Miles – The Red Knight – Gollancz
Gwynne, John – Malice – Pan Macmillan UK
Harte, Aidan – Irenicon – Jo Fletcher Books
Kristoff, Jay – Stormdancer – Pan Macmillan UK

The Ravenheart Award (best cover artist/cover):

Graffet, Didier & Senior, David – Red Country – Joe Abercrombie – Gollancz
Harman, Dominic – The Legion of Shadow – Michael J. Ward – Gollancz
Lang, Neil – Stormdancer – Jay Kristoff – Pan Macmillan UK
Langley, Clint – Besieged – Rowena Cory Daniells – Solaris
Manhood, Silas – The Blinding Knife – Brent Weeks – Orbit
Youll, Stephen – The Black Mausoleum – Stephen Deas – Gollancz

You can see the Ravenheart covers here.

How do the Gemmells work?

The David Gemmell Legend Awards work on a very simple principle, that rather than have a panel decide who should win, they wanted the fans to have their say. So, the first stage is that publishers from around the world nominate titles (for best book, best debut, and best cover) that they think matches their criteria (basically epic fantasy). Then, once they have a sizeable list, polls open and genre fans all around the world get to vote on which they’d like to enter into the short list. A few months later the top five books in each category are put into a short list and fans are once again invited to vote on their favourite. The winners are then announced at an annual award ceremony – this year’s is tonight!

Who will win?

Award Trophies

What the winners will receive!

It is probably easier to begin with “who will probably not win”. So, if I had to rule a couple out, I’d say Irenicon by Aidan Harte is probably a little too slow-moving and complex for the Gemmell Morning Star readership and that, although it was brilliant, Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer isn’t quite up to the standards of the heavy hitters in the Gemmell Legend Award (I do think he stands a good chance on the Morning Star though – keep reading for why).

Helen Lowe was last year’s surprise winner in The Morning Star Award and there have been a number of people suggesting she may win the biggie this year round too (especially as she gets kudos for being the only female up there – which is kind of sad). However, I think I’d rule her out in this award due to the huge following of the other three nominees (remember the vote is won by number of votes accumulated).

So, that leaves us with Lawrence, Abercrombie and Weeks. I should say that I’d be happy to see any of them win.

Joe’s book was his best yet and a real innovation in terms of what one can consider fantasy. That said, I think that perhaps Red Country doesn’t quite fit the Gemmell Awards’ ideal winner. Also, Joe hasn’t been pushing his nomination all that much (although I’m sure he wants to win, he has said publicly before he is unsure about awards that allow authors to fish for votes).

Mark Lawrence’s book sparked mass debate amongst the fantasy genre. It is a dark, well-written epic fantasy and so certainly fits the bill. However, Mark himself often speaks about how authors such as Weeks, Brett and Abercrombie far outsell him and that could hurt him in an award that is based on the number of votes accumulated – Mark is the Social Media master though and has probably been the most vocal about his nomination…so you never know!

That brings us to Brent Weeks. I’m not sure who sells more books out of Brent and Joe, but I know Brent has a huge following. Back to his book, The Blinding Knife; it was probably the best book I read last year. I find that hard to say, because I truly enjoyed Red Country and King of Thorns, but I think Brent’s latest really raised the bar in terms of characterisation, magic systems, atmosphere, setting, plot – it just had everything. If there is one thing that may hold Brent back though, it was that the first book in the series was a little slow and you have to wonder whether many people rushed out to pick up the second book. (Note: If you’ve read book one and have held of reading book two because you felt it was slow – go get book two now! It picks up. Trust me!)

In the Morning Star award I think it’ll be a close battle between Saladin Ahmed and Jay Kristoff. The Red Knight got mixed reactions from the community and I think it was probably a bit too long for your ‘casual fan’ to pick up – it was a real tome. Malice, I think, is the best written book in the list, but I also think that it flew under the radar a little. Similar to The Red Knight, it was HUGE – and complex too – in a way that David Gemmell’s work never was. Hopefully this award will mean more people pick the book up, but for now I think the huge presence of Kristoff and Ahmed within the community will mean one of them take it.

So, if I had to pick, I think I’d go with Jay Kristoff. Saladin’s book, Throne of the Crescent Moon, is a little weird and out-there in places and a little bit “normal” in others. I also think that as good as it is, it is more of a first book that is setting up future tales. That leaves us with Kristoff then. His book probably has the biggest appeal and Jay himself is a very likeable guy. I loved the merging of a Japanese-style world, martial arts and an almost Pokémon-like creature blended together so well. I wouldn’t say it is a 10/10 book, but it was damned fun and one that had me rushing for the sequel (I won’t be so quick to pick up the sequels to Malice or Red Knight, although I will read them). Oh, and the cover fricken rocks too and I bet a lot of people picked it up just for that.

You know what though? Whoever wins, I won’t be all that surprised. Any book on that list has a fair and deserved chance to pick the award up. As I think about this, it makes me grin. Look at how strong fantasy is in 2013. Look at how much choice we have. Look at how many talented writers are writing for us.

Anyway, community, enough of me, who do you think will take it?


One Comment

  1. Overlord says:

    Winners Announced:

    Didier Graffet and Dave Senior for the cover of Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)

    John Gwynne for Malice (Pan MacMillan)

    Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife (Orbit)

    I was half right! 😀

    What I like is that both the ‘best’ books won (in my opinion). Although I thought Stormdancer would win, that was only because I thought perhaps Malice was a bit too long and complicated compared to a book like Jay Kristoff’s that is more easily accessible. Well done, community!

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