The Top 5 books I’ve read this year:
I did have the pictures in my original post but they seemed to have disappeared.
1. Robert McCammon - Swan Song
I discovered Robert McCammon only last year when I read, “Speaks the Nightbird”, the first in the excellent Matthew Corbett series. I immediately read the sequel and also read, “Boy’s Life.” All three books I enjoyed immensely.
However, none were as great as, “Swan Song.” My first Stephen King book was, “the Stand” and whether it is nostalgic reasons or not, I still rank it up there as one of King’s best books. Even though looking back I remember hating the ending. Swan Song surpasses the Stand in every respect. There are moments in the book where I genuinely had tingles on the back of my neck. It is the first book in a very long while, where I have been so immersed in the story that I have forgotten where I was on my bus journey home. One chapter even saw me going intentionally past my stop to finish it – “All Hail Lord Alvin!”
Swan Song is one of those rare books that is told from multiple viewpoints and you never groan when you leave one character to join another. All of the characters are strong. In short it is a joy to read.
2. Excalibur - Bernard Cornwell
This year me saw me read the final book of three great trilogies. The best of these was the final book in the Warlord Chronicles. Excalibur is as close to perfect as a book gets. It wraps up everything in a satisfying manner. It has deaths that are moving and memorable and the characters stay true to themselves. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. The only reason it did not take top spot was because it had the advantage of concluding two excellent books before it. I have subsequently gone out and bought a lot of Cornwell’s work as a result of this trilogy.
3. Troy: Fall of Kings - David and Stella Gemmell
This is the second of my completed trilogies. Unfortunately David Gemmell passed away when he was writing this book and his wife Stella took over. She does a remarkable job of working from his notes to the extent where you do not notice the transition. Again, the plot points are all tied up in a satisfying manner. The best thing about this book (as with Cornwell above) is the Gemmell’s have taken a well known story and flipped elements of it on its head. The changes are often brilliant and in most cases more plausible to the reader, highly recommended.
4. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
This is frequently referred to as the greatest book in modern times. Whilst I wouldn’t go that far, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. If it wasn’t for reading such a strong list of books this year, it could have been easily number 1. Who would have thought that a story about a cathedral could be so exciting? Some say the villains are too cartoonish, but I disagree. They are all plausible and it is refreshing to read about a villain who is just and out and out evil scumbag. The vogue is for the villain’s to have shades of grey or redeeming features. Sometimes you just want your villain to be mean. A great book and an epic in every sense.
5. Under the Dome - Stephen King
I went back and forth over which book should occupy the fifth spot. In truth it could have been one of 4 or 5 books that I really enjoyed, but did not quite reach the level of the top 4. I opted for King as no one does characters like him. I loved this book and like many of his books, some people have a problem with the ending. I disagree, I really liked the idea behind why the Dome is in place (at least you find out). Honourable mentions:
The Passage – Justin Cronin. Justin Cronin’s debut is really as good as the hype. The first third is fantastic and it only misses out on the top 5 as it suffers slightly in the middle when he decides to change everything.
Last Argument of Kings – Joe Abercrombie. It surprised me when compiling this list that I did not include this book. It is the third of the great trilogies I mentioned above and really deserves the accolades it receives. Again, another year it might have been higher.
Blood Harvest – S J Bolton. This is a thriller set in a rural town in England. My other great love in reading is the crime genre. For some reason I don’t talk about it as much, but this was the best of a strong year. Although I am reading John Connolly who is one of my favourites and that book potentially could easily make the list.
This award goes to the author I have discovered or eventually got around to reading, depending on your point of view. The award goes to Jim Butcher. I read, “Storm Front” the first in the Harry Dresden series. It is fast paced, fun and I already know it will be a series I will be reading more of in 2011.
Most anticipated book of 2011:
This one is a no brainer really. I can’t comprehend the length of time it has taken to write this book but then I also don’t have a problem with it. George has said he will make an announcement at some conference or other around January 8th. He will have a death wish if this is anything but to say the book is completed and when it will be out. I predict he will say the book is done on Christmas Day and then the announcement in January will be to state when it will be released.
Have a great Christmas all and I will post soon.