As I mentioned in my previous post, 2011 was an awesome year for me when it came to reading. I read and listened to some really fantastic novels and I wanted to give them a little more credit than I was able to before.
The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
One my favorite podcasts is the Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club, and the hosts continuously lauded Abercrombie’s first fantasy trilogy. After such glowing praise, I had to check it out and, damn, I’m glad I did.
The First Law Trilogy is what they refer to “post modern fantasy,” which I guess means that it’s grittier, grimmer, and somehow more realistic than the high fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien and his contemporaries. As it turns out, I loved that style. The characters were flawed, there was no clear line between good and evil, and the plot was an intricate weave of politics and gruesome warfare. Plus, it featured one of the most awesomely vicious characters I’ve ever come across: the Bloody Nine.
Now, this trilogy isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t like blood, this series isn’t for you, but, otherwise, it’s a great modern fantasy trilogy and I recommend it highly.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
Believe it or not, I actually followed Pat’s blog for several months before I picked up The Name of the Wind and, in that time I learned something: Pat is an awesome dude and he writes a very honest and sometimes very humorous blog. So, going in, I had pretty high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. The Name of the Wind was amazing…I absolutely loved Kvothe’s adventures.
Now, I actually timed this out pretty well and finished the first novel right as the second was published and as soon as I finished The Name of the Wind, I tore into Wise Man’s Fear. Rothfuss’s second novel was also very good, but, despite it’s massive acclaim, I actually liked the first novel a little better. Regardless, I cannot wait to see how the story ends! The Kingkiller Chronicles are highly recommended.
The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
I actually picked up the whole trilogy on Amazon.com for no other reasons that I had heard of the author and it was a great deal. As it turns out, it was a steal! Although it was the last book I read in 2011, I’m pretty sure The Way of Shadows was my fastest read of the year. I just could not put it down. I’m currently reading the third book in the trilogy now, but I would already recommend it highly to any fantasy reader.
One of my reading goals of 2011 was to try out some new authors (I actually tried out many new authors), but I was especially eager to find out what the big deal was about Neil Gaiman. After reading The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, a couple volumes of The Sandman, and, most importantly, American Gods, I think I understand. Neil Gaiman gets fantasy. His writing perfectly embodies that sense of awe and wonder that truly make a story a thing of magic.
The bottom line is this: I’m really glad I found Neil Gaiman this year. If you haven’t read his works, seriously, you need to get on that!
Well, I think that’s all I really wanted to say. I don’t know if 2012 can top 2011, but I’m up for the challenge.