Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enchante's Top 5 books of 2008

This is the first ever time I have read enough books in one year to warrant a top anything book of the year. I think in total I read 29 books, 2 of them were short stories, 2 young adult books, 1 auto-biography, 1 non-fiction, 1 crime/thriller and the rest were fantasy/sci-fi. 

I think last year not only did I read a lot of books (at least for me) but the quality of books I read was also quite superb. This is due to the fact that I am playing a lot of catch up on classics and also because the amount of quality fantasy writing has increased. It was really difficult for me to pick a top 5 not only because I read a lot of great books but some of them were read 300 days ago and my memory is failing me. 

Anyways on with the show.

#5 Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin is my favourite author in the world. He wrote the series called a Song of Ice and Fire which has won the hearts of many. Too often when an author has a stand out series is that many of his other works go unnoticed or aren't mentioned very much and I have not heard anyone ever mention Tuf Voyaging.

As with most of Martin's earlier works they are more sci-fi orientated with a hint of horror and this book is no exception. The plot of this story is about a relatively poor merchant/transporter who is in love with cats. He accepts to take a group of 'scientists and mercenaries' to find a 'lost' technologically advanced ship which would make them all richer than the Sultan of Brunei, but finding the ship was the easy part, surviving the terrors on board and surviving each other will become of the utmost importance.

This story is very witty and funny. Martin spares no details when describing scenes/people and dead. An excellent story which I hope one day gets a sequel. 

#4 Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Don't judge a book by its cover and certainly not by someones first name. I had heard many raps about this book from BookSpotCentral.com before I read it and it certainly did not disappoint. Mieville creates this world called New Crobuzon where races of Bird men, Cacti men, Khepri (scrab people), mutants, humans and other strange races fill the living world of New Crobuzon. 

The story starts off very slowly and pulls you along making you guess what the real story is about (unless you read the blurb at the back), developing the characters, the culture of this city and the city itself.

It is hard to describe this book because it is like no other fantasy I have ever read before. The races are different, the world is different (vastly), the technology available is neither here nor there. The main character is not your swash buckling long haired hero with a greatsword in one hand and a maiden in the other but rather a slightly overweight scientist who falls in love with a woman totally forbidden.

Be prepared to have your fragile little mind blown apart when reading this book and don't let it hit you on the head either, the book is thicker than your skull.

#3 American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is known to comic enthusiasts as the author of Sandman. To movie goers he is known as the author of Stardust but to readers of fantasy he is known for Neverwhere, Good Omens a book he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett (recently knighted author of the Discworld series).

I picked up this book from the recommendation of my friend Leigh. I wasn't sure of the book at first but the more I read the more I couldn't put it down. 

This story is about the Norse Gods, Odin, Loki etc. and how they are trying to survive in a world where no one remembers them and no one believes in them. However, when you have power you won't relinquish it easily and the Gods are preparing to rejuvenate their power and to do so they must take on the new generation of gods,the Internet, the Media, the American Gods!

Gaiman has definitely captured my heart and I am currently reading his Sandman Graphic Novels. I hope to read Good Omens soon, as it is getting lonely on my bookshelf.

#2 The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I will always remember this book as the first 1st/1st Edition Hardcover book that I owned. I was so happy to hold it and turn the first page and finished it in about 3-4 days (quick for me).

The story follows Locke (in my mind Lock - e, and not Lock) Lamora an orphan who is bought by a blind priest of Perelandro to stop him from being executed. However the blind priest turned out not to be blind nor even a priest. Chains (the fake priest) was actually a thief, a very good one at that but an old one and he was building a tiny gang teaching them the ways of thievery, disguises, deception and cooking! 

The story keeps you on your toes because every 2nd chapter goes back to Locke's past and Scott Lynch always left the chapter before on a semi-cliffhanger. 

Locke is your typical main character who is smart, intelligent, gets away with the impossible and very very lucky. 

Locke is not your typical main character because he isn't a striking man, when it comes to fighting he is actually really shit.

I loved how Lynch wrote with such a simple touch, kept to basics but made the characters interesting enough and Locke's background interesting enough to deprive me of sleep and social interaction. This book would also make a great TV series!

#1 Troy: The Fall of Kings

Gemmell at the top of your list? But once you've read one Gemmell book you've read them all! I keep hearing/reading that from people. Perhaps that is why this series has fallen under the radar a bit. 

To my benefit Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, was the first Gemmell book I read, since then I have complete the Troy trilogy, 'Legend', and 'The King beyond the gate'.

Fall of Kings is the 3rd and final installment of the Troy series ('Lord of the Silver Bow', 'Shield of Thunder' being the first two). David Gemmell died before the book was finished. Stella his wife was left with 14,000 words already written and a skeleton diagram of how David wanted the book to end. I could definitely tell where Stella picked up and she isn't as talented as David but it still did not diminish this series for me.

I can tell you that Troy is NOTHING like the first two books Gemmell had published (the fore mentioned books). There is a lot more character depth, twists to amazing legends that you may or may not know (perhaps from the shitty film called Troy), death to some of your favourite characters, betrayal,  love and tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. 

Books like Legend were great but won't make me miss Gemmell. Troy definitely has made me miss Gemmell. Go pick it up from the bookstore/library now. If you know me personally, ask me to borrow it, I won't hesitate and praise Gemmell for what I call his finest work. Rest in peace David Gemmell.

Honourable Mentions:
Last Arguments of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
Dune by Frank Herbert
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (not on my list because it was a re-read)

No comments: