Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Dark Wolf's Awards - Readings

Once again my end of the year list of books that enchanted me the most throughout the last 365 days (still three days left, but that would not change my list) will be made without taking into account the year of publication, genre or length of the book. Because although I would certainly like to read more and a bit more varied (not that fantasy would not have the lion’s share of my readings) it is not always possible. 2010 was quite a busy year and the time for reading a bit cut down compared to other years. It still was an interesting year when it comes to books though and here are my favorites, linked to my full impression of the reading experience:

1. “The City & The City” by China Miéville - “The City & The City” is an intricate, strange and beautiful novel, one that left me wondering if China Miéville doesn’t see things that the other humans fail to see or chose to “unsee”.

2. “The Folding Knife” by K.J. Parker - “The Folding Knife” has no action that emphasizes on physical qualities, but that should not drive readers away from this novel. As life offers smaller or bigger events each day so is “The Folding Knife”, with something happening with each page and chapter. As for the author of the present novel, I read enough of her works to say that every list of top genre writers would not be complete without K.J. Parker’s name on it.

3. “Purple and Black” by K.J. Parker - It is said that the strongest essences come in small vials, but I still regret that “Purple and Black” is a short piece of fiction, a wonderful story in the span of a few pages. I am happy though that my regret is counter-balanced by the fact that I can always find a couple of hours to read and enjoy K.J. Parker’s novella again.

4. “The Harm” by Gary McMahon - Previously of “The Harm” my only pleasant experience with a reading made on a computer screen was with Joe Hill’s “Gunpowder”, but this novella changed that, because Gary McMahon’s story is such a high-quality story that “The Harm” is worthy of a reading despite the form in which the novella is found.

5. “Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson - I am still wondering how did I start to read Steven Erikson’s series after so much time, but I am very happy that I finally did. And by the looks of it “Gardens of the Moon” is just an appetizer introducing the main courses to follow.

6. “Kalpa Imperial” by Angélica Gorodischer - In the book’s presentation we can read that “Kalpa Imperial is the first of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer’s nineteen award-winning books to be translated into English”. Sadly, seven years after its publication it is the only one available in English. The situation is so much unfortunate because “Kalpa Imperial” proves that the English market, and not only, has nothing but to gain from the translation of Angélica Gorodischer’s works.

7. “A Matter of Blood” by Sarah Pinborough - “A Matter of Blood” can be taken as a self contained story, but there are a few threads that are left hanging, leaving the door opened for the events to follow in “Dog-Faced Gods” series. If the events to follow will take the “Dog-Faced Gods” series to a new height is something to be seen in the novels to follow, but until then we have in the flesh of Cass Jones, a character who might be the person staying next to the reader as we speak, a realistic guide through the bleak atmosphere and the captivating story of Sarah Pinborough’s “A Matter of Blood”.

8. “Nopți Albe, Zile Negre” (White Nights, Black Days) by Marian Coman - Well, I am very happy that I met “White Nights, Black Days”, it showed me again that Marian Coman is a very talented writer. It also made me think that if I had the power I would force Marian Coman to write more. Better still, I would pay him to do it.

9. “The Reapers Are the Angels” by Alden Bell - Lately, I run away from zombie fiction, but “The Reapers are the Angels” didn’t prove to be a reason to keep running away. The zombie element is hardly the central part, just another cause for the world turning into a bleak setting. Instead, Alden Bell’s “The Reapers are the Angels” is a story of life, tragic in places, but engaging and beautifully written. It is a confirmation of the beauty of literature.

10. “Kraken” by China Miéville - “Kraken” is an excellent example of how urban fantasy should be made and although the engagement with the story requires a bit of patience from the reader that doesn’t ruin the pleasure of reading this novel. I feel that the novel didn’t reveal all its mysteries to me in this first reading and that a second one will show me new dimensions of the story. In the end, “Kraken” is a literary induced dream and China Miéville is the dealer providing it.

11. “Dog Blood” by David Moody - David Moody set for himself high standards with “Hater” and he successfully rises to those standards with “Dog Blood”. And since nothing from “Dog Blood” hints of the conclusion of David Moody’s trilogy we can only wait and see if the final volume will be as pleasantly surprising as the first two novels of the series were.

12. “City of Ruin” by Mark Charan Newton - Although “City of Ruin” is obviously connected to the first novel in the “Legends of the Red Sun” series, “Nights of Villjamur”, it can be read as a stand-alone novel without a problem. However, “City of Ruin” proves that Mark Charan Newton is growing fast as a writer, his prose, story and philosophical approach making his work more robust. I am certain that in this cadence Mark Charan Newton’s series can turn to be one of the landmarks of modern fantasy.

13. “Secrets of the Sands” by Leona Wisoker - Leona Wisoker introduces the reader to an exotic setting in “Secrets of the Sands”, a setting with a unique flavor and that together with the story incites to a further exploration in the novels to follow.

14. “Rain” by Conrad Williams - My first instinct after finishing Conrad Williams’ novella was to look for more of his works, because “Rain” is a short but strong story, as a summer storm, and it left a powerful mark on my mind.

15. “Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide” by William Hussey - Despite the fact that “Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide” didn’t work as strongly as “Through a Glass, Darkly” and “The Absence” for me, the novel still offers a beautiful reading and proves that William Hussey is a talented author and one of the strongest voices of modern horror.


Joe said...

Interesting selections which gave me a couple of titles to pick up for a read. Thanks! I love China Mieville too, but I wouldn't if Kraken was my first exposure.

Mihai A. said...

Joe, thank you! "Kraken" is not the best work of China Mieville, but it was interesting. However, "The City & The City" is amazing :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I've got to get back to that Mieville book. I checked the audio out from the library and listened to about a quarter of it, was really liking it, and then ran out of time and needed to get it back.

Mihai A. said...

Carl, I love China Mieville's works. I am looking forward to his "Embassytown" this year :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I haven't read enough of his work, that's for certain. Gotta figure out a way for someone to pay me to read, that way work wouldn't take up so much of my reading time. :)

Mihai A. said...

Carl, that would be the best of it. I wish for something similar as well :D