Best of 2014 Part 1a: Novels

This post is coming in at a slightly later time than I’d prefer, about two weeks late at least, but I guess I can’t really “complain” when the lateness is due to my own wedding which took place exactly two weeks ago on the 5th. It has certainly been a very busy and intense time, what with being engrossed in all the marriage stuff and then even after that there’s been one thing after another. Reading time has definitely suffered greatly, which makes me a little sad considering how much I love reading, but eh, all for a good cause really.

With half the year now over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st January to 30th June. There’s been a ton of books that I’ve read in this period as usual, and I made a very strong effort to read more tie-in fiction than I usually do, so the list is most assuredly going to reflect that. Tie-in fiction is a very important part of the publishing industry I feel and it always deserves some recognition. Now if we could only get an award started that celebrated tie-in fiction and all would be alright with the world. Or so my thinking goes.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

A few notes:

  • As usual, the list is a slight departure from how I do my Reading Awards, I’m going to be presenting the Top 6 here, not the Top 3. I know I haven’t done my monthly Reading Awards for almost 5 months now (don’t worry, it is coming!)
  • The list is divided into two sections – the Top 6 and the Honourable Mentions.
  • And just to repeat, this is a January 2014 to June 2014 list.
  • The numbering is just for convenience, and because I like numbers.

*****

More books/comics-related lists from me:

*****

Best of the Best Novels

The Top 6 –

1. Star Trek: The Fall #3: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack

Star Trek - A Ceremony of Losses  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review

THE NEEDS OF THE MANY

Despite heroic efforts by Thirishar ch’Thane, the Andorian species is headed for extinction. Its slow march toward oblivion has reached a tipping point, one from which there will be no hope of return.

THE NEEDS OF THE FEW

With countless lives at stake, the leaders of Andor, the Federation, and the Typhon Pact all scheme to twist the crisis to their political gain — at any price.

THE NEEDS OF THE ONE

Unwilling to be a mere bystander to tragedy, Doctor Julian Bashir risks everything to find a cure for the Andorians. But his courage will come at a terrible cost: his career, his freedom … and maybe his life.

2. Blackhart Legacy #1: Banished by Liz de Jager

Banished - Liz de Jager  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s living with her unorthodox cousins and sharing their strange lives. Especially since their home-schooling includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons.

But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies.

As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

3. Riftwar #1: Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Riftwar Saga 01 Magician  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review

Raymond E. Feist’s classic fantasy epic, Magician, has enchanted readers for over twenty years. The revised edition was prepared to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its publication, and incorporates over 15,000 words of text omitted from previous editions.

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician – and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever.

Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun.

Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.

4. Gotrek & Felix: The Serpent Queen by Josh Reynolds

Gotrek and Felix - Serpent Queen  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names | Interview

Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers?

The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask…

Travelling to the mysterious south in search of a mighty death, the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson and his human companion, Felix Jaeger, find themselves caught up in a battle between warring kingdoms.

Captured by the sinister Queen Khalida and forced to do her bidding, the adventurers must brave the horrors of the sun-soaked Land of the Dead…

And the dead do not rest easy.

5. Prospero’s War #1: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty Magic  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names

MAGIC IS A DRUG. CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive.

When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

MAGIC IS A DRUG. CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.
The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.
Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

– See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/jaye-wells/dirty-magic/9780316228435/#sthash.zhTk6EIe.dpuf

6. The Daedalus #2: The Enceladus Crisis by Michael J. Martinez

The Enceladus Crisis  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names | Interview

Two dimensions collided on the rust-red deserts of Mars—and are destined to become entangled once more in this sequel to the critically acclaimed The Daedalus Incident.

Lieutenant Commander Shaila Jain has been given the assignment of her dreams: the first manned mission to Saturn. But there’s competition and complications when she arrives aboard the survey ship Armstrong. The Chinese are vying for control of the critical moon Titan, and the moon Enceladus may harbor secrets deep under its icy crust. And back on Earth, Project DAEDALUS now seeks to defend against other dimensional incursions. But there are other players interested in opening the door between worlds . . . and they’re getting impatient.

For Thomas Weatherby, it’s been nineteen years since he was second lieutenant aboard HMS Daedalus. Now captain of the seventy-four-gun Fortitude, Weatherby helps destroy the French fleet at the Nile and must chase an escaped French ship from Egypt to Saturn, home of the enigmatic and increasingly unstable aliens who call themselves the Xan. Meanwhile, in Egypt, alchemist Andrew Finch has ingratiated himself with Napoleon’s forces . . . and finds the true, horrible reason why the French invaded Egypt in the first place.

The thrilling follow-up to The Daedalus Incident, The Enceladus Crisis continues Martinez’s Daedalus series with a combination of mystery, intrigue, and high adventure spanning two amazing dimensions.

Honourable Mentions –

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Odyssey 01 2001  Link | GoodreadsMy Review

The year is 2001, and cosmonauts uncover a mysterious monolith that has been buried on the Moon for at least three million years. To their astonishment, the monolith releases an equally mysterious pulse—a kind of signal—in the direction of Saturn after it is unearthed. Whether alarm or communication, the human race must know what the signal is—and who it was intended for.

The Discovery and its crew, assisted by the highly advanced HAL 9000 computer system, sets out to investigate. But as the crew draws closer to their rendezvous with a mysterious and ancient alien civilization, they realize that the greatest dangers they face come from within the spacecraft itself. HAL proves a dangerous traveling companion, and the crew must outwit him to survive.

This novel version of the famous Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Clarke in conjunction with the movie’s production. It is meant to stand as a companion piece, and it offers a complementary narrative that’s loaded with compelling science fiction ideas.

2. Star Trek: The Fall #2: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack

The Fall - Crimson Shadow  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review

Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave.

When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.

To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal….

Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal…. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Star-Trek-The-Fall-The-Crimson-Shadow/Una-McCormack/Star-Trek/9781476722207#sthash.sNb09gtB.dpuf
Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal…. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Star-Trek-The-Fall-The-Crimson-Shadow/Una-McCormack/Star-Trek/9781476722207#sthash.sNb09gtB.dpuf
Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal…. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Star-Trek-The-Fall-The-Crimson-Shadow/Una-McCormack/Star-Trek/9781476722207#sthash.sNb09gtB.dpuf

3. Blood & Feathers #2: Rebellion by Lou Morgan

Blood and Feathers 02 Rebellion  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names

Driven out of hell and with nothing to loose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they’re winning.

As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice – barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over – once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high?

And what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?

The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose.

4. The Shadow Campaigns #1: The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

The_Thousand_Names  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review | Guest Post: On Names

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost—until a rebellion left him in charge of a demoralized force clinging to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must lead her men into battle against impossible odds.

Their fate depends on Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. Under his command, Marcus and Winter feel the tide turning and their allegiance being tested. For Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to reshape the known world and change the lives of everyone in its path.

5. Paradox #3: Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach

Paradox 03 Heaven's Queen  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running.

It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running.
It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

– See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/rachel-bach/heavens-queen/9780316221122/#sthash.4dfinEjG.dpuf

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running.
It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

– See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/rachel-bach/heavens-queen/9780316221122/#sthash.qUsynbt8.dpuf

6. World of WarCraft: The Shattering: Prelude To The Cataclysm by Christie Golden

The Shattering  Link | Goodreads | Author Blog | My Review

Thrall, wise shaman and the warchief of the Horde, has sensed a disturbing change…

Long ago, Azeroth’s destructive native elementals raged across the world until the benevolent titans imprisoned them within the Elemental Plane. Despite the titans’ intervention, many elementals have ended up back on Azeroth. Over the ages, shaman like Thrall have communed with these spirits and, through patience and dedication, learned to soothe roaring infernos, bring rain to sun-scorched lands, and otherwise temper the elementals’ ruinous influence on the world of Azeroth.

Now Thrall has discovered that the elementals no longer heed the shaman’s call. The link shared with these spirits has grown thin and frayed, as if Azeroth itself were under great duress. While Thrall seeks answers to what ails the confused elements, he also wrestles with the orcs’ precarious future as his people face dwindling supplies and growing hostility with their night elf neighbors.

Meanwhile, King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind is considering violent action in response to mounting tensions between the Alliance and the Horde, a hard-line approach that threatens to alienate those closest to him, including his son, Anduin. The conflicted young prince has set out to find his own path, but in doing so, he risks becoming entangled in political instability that is setting the world on edge.

The fate of Azeroth’s great races is shrouded in a fog of uncertainty, and the erratic behavior of the elemental spirits, troubling though it is, may only be the first ominous warning sign of the cataclysm to come.

*****

So that’s all for now.

Picking out these 12 books from a list of 24 books that I consider to be the top books I’ve read so far this year in the first-half was an absolute chore. There are far more books that I wish I could spotlight here, such as Aaron Allston’s X-wing: Mercy Kill or Forgotten Realms: Forsaken House by Richard Baker or The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch or Heirs of the Demon King by Sarah Cawkwell, but unfortunately, there are only so many that can go on here.

And after all, reading 58 or some such books all year, well, that initial pool is already high.

There’ll be a follow-up post soon, that focuses on monthly comics, so keep an eye out for that one!

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