Hullo faithful friends. I’ve noticed a fair number of mid-point round-ups on other blogs and always eager to steal an idea that prevents me from having to think myself, I’ve decided to do my own round-up.
I am up to 72 books read this year, a respectable number even with all the novellas and comics included. It’s been a pleasingly all over the shop arrangement of fantasy, crime, comics, esotericism, history, rereads, new reads, and so on. That number doesn’t include a decent number of the started and not yet/never will be finished too.
My top 10 of new to me this year so far reads
- The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z Hossain.
- King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
- Penric’s Demon/Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
- Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
- Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirrlees
- The Shimmering Prayer of Sûkiurâq by S.L. Dove Cooper
- The Moonsteel Crown by Stephen Deas
- Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher
- Into the Wyrmoods by Bryan Wigmore
- Heroes Shed No Tears by Gu Long
That leaves a number of good books in the HMs category – Caruso’s The Tethered Mage, Caplan’s The Sword in the Street, Hawke’s Hollow Empire, In Midnight’s Silence by Frohock to pick a few. Doubtless a lull is coming but right now this is one hell of a writing year. Er. Reading year. Also having a good writing year but that’s not the focus of this post (but it’s my mind enough to leave the typo in).
Are there any particular surprises/great new to me authors/what not I particularly want to shout about?
Well, for one, I refuse to shut up about The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday which still stands for me as an exemplar of how to combine imagination, wit, sharp-edged observation and fantastic writing into pretty much perfection. I thought King of Scars would be my book of the year at this point (save for the opening five per cent of Paladin’s Grace) but while it is very, very good, it’s not The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday. I don’t know how Hossain packed so much into such a tiny space. I’ve said that about a few novellas this year, but it’s by far the truest here. I am so excited for Kundo Wakes Up. In fact, I’m pre-ordering it right now.
I guess biggest surprise is The Moonsteel Crown. One, because I’d never heard of his books before a stray tweet; most books I pick up these days come from recs, from knowing a little, but this one was pretty much blind. Two, because it’s been a while since I’ve picked up the sort of medieval-esque adventure-intrigue that I devoured in my youth and thought “yes, that’s the good stuff”. I don’t know if I’m burnt out, or unlucky, or whether my taste on where that subgenre’s evolution should go is at cross-purposes with the writers, or all three to some measure, but that’s where I am. So yes, a surprise.
I have decided to DNF The Stone Knife by Anna Stephens. I am also very close to doing so with Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick – probably the biggest disappointment given how much I’ve loved Marie Brennan’s work to date (half of the writing team behind M.A. Carrick). Likewise with The Shadow of What Once Was by James Islington and The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie.
Which brings me to future plans, books to be excited for, and so on! Some of you might remember this list. I’m doing okay with trying authors from the list as I also have Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name and Thompson’s Rosewater on the go which leaves me with six authors to try in six months. I’ve gone nowhere near the second XI and, let’s be honest, will probably only be trying one or two from it at most as I am constantly sidetracked by the new and shiny. So, plans. Which I will break down by type.
Currently Reading and Should Probably Finish
Cam Johnston’s The Maleficent Seven (a mood read; feels like a Disney meets D&D parody that Adult Swim would put out about villains as protagonists, which sometimes is awesome and sometimes is too cartoony)
Miles Cameron’s Cold Iron (just started despite the list of books coming; so far so interesting)
John Harrison’s Viriconium (fascinating but dense)
John Crowley’s Aegypt (Probably will be DNFed if honest, all without getting near the speculative elements)
AK Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name (Intriguing and imaginative but the narrative momentum has not dragged me in)
Tade Thompson’s Rosewood (See above. Also present tense)
Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower (veers between utterly captivating and impressive, and very dry)
James Islington’s The Shadow Of What Was Lost (very competent but nothing about it sparks wow in me)
M.A. Carrick’s Mask of Mirrors (Very dense for not much story yet)
CJ Cherryh’s The Well of Shiuan (Doesn’t seem to have the same driving force as The Gate of Ivrel which might be down to getting the most cramped font paperback ever; sourcing a new copy and will see what difference that makes)
Clark Ashton Smith’s The Return of the Sorcerer (Interesting but attention to payoff ratio so far isn’t ideal for me, also I hate short story anthologies, why do I do this to myself)
David Alan Parnell’s Justinian’s Men (A history of the social structure of the Byzantine Empire’s army in Justinian’s reign, have been snipping off bits here and there)
Alison Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitaine (Kinda forgot about this one, need to finish it, fascinating woman albeit Weir has a task with the limited source material)
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Forgot this one until the end, which maybe tells its own tale)
I don’t have a book finishing problem. You have a book starting problem.
Need to Read for Projects
I’m still aiming to finish Gemmell’s bibliography soon-ish, which leaves me with Bloodstone, Swords of Night and Day, The Troy Series, and Dark Prince. Assuming I don’t do his non-fantasy books. Which I might.
Also, since The Fantasy Hive’s Women in Fantasy month is coming, I thought it’d be a good idea to read some more fantasy by women in the next month to have intelligent things to talk about. This bodes well for some of the books up above. It’s also likely to propel the following up towards the top of my list:
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Sword of Fire by Katherine Kerr
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts
I would go on but this list is looking like enough of a work of fiction as is. I might be revisiting Jen Williams’ and Mercedes Lackey’s work; getting around to Brittain, Walton, and McKenna; maybe a glimpse at Suri’s The Jasmine Throne or Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, maybe another go at liking Kate Elliott’s books… so many possibilities.
Finally, my pre-Tolkien fantasy project needs to go on, but I don’t even know where to go after CAS as my notes were awful. Maybe a Howard re-read for easy pickings.
Netgalley ARCs I took and haven’t already mentioned
The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin (published 2019, I am a shit)
Dragons n’ Antibodies by Linh Nguyen-Ng
Gotrek and Felix: The First Omnibus by Bill King
A Dance for the Gods by E.O. Odiase & K.N. Pumpuni
The Gut Stuff by Lisa MacFarlane and Alan MacFarlane (onto books published this year, oh dear)
World Travel by Anthony Bourdain
The Preserving Answer Book by Sherri Brooks Vinton
The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley
Other Books I’d Like To Read
Like many in the blogging community with a foot in both fantasy and crime, I very much want to read RJ Dark’s A Numbers Game, if only to spite RJ Barker. Also in the crime game there’s Kerry Buchanan’s Small Bones. I also very much feel the need for Lindsey Davies rereading.
Back in fantasy – well, I haven’t read a GGK this year, and want to get more into Deas’ bibliography. People have very much sold Cox’s The Wood Bee Queen to me. I also want to reread Gemmell’s Winter Warriors and Knights of Dark Renown. I picked up Stella Gemmell’s The City recently and one of Feist’s new series, they’d be fun to read. Maybe Imyril will be getting the gang back together for a Kushiel’s Avatar readalong? Speaking of which, I’ve got one planned for Pratchett’s Witches series when life gets more sane.
Comics wise I want to continue with Lucifer and Sandman, and try The Wicked and the Divine.
This is a small slice, and I’m stunned if anyone is still reading this far. I guess we all know I’m not reading all of these, although it is likely that what I read will be on this list somewhere.
Well. Half of it.
Anyway, that’s where I am halfway through a year of reading, let me know where you are.