This isn’t a complete “top-ten” list, since many of the books I’ve read this year have been either back-dated instalments of a series (I’m looking at you, Dresden) or simply released between 2009-10. Nevertheless, the seven books here that will get a mention as being “Leo’s Best Books of 2011” damn well deserve the praise: each title here (more or less presented in preference order, from bottom to top (the last one essentially being my BEST book of 2011) is different from the next, and well deserving of a little extra praise than a simple review. Since we’re not yet at the end of 2011 and I’ve got the time to read another handful of books released this year in the meantime, I’ll include a little snippet about new releases I expect would have made the list if only I’d read them sooner.
We’re three books shy of a full top-ten, so we’ll start at my seventh most appreciated book of 2011
- There’s a lot to be said about this book, and it’s here for two reasons: vampires, and Venice. It’s a damn good book that borrows from Shakespeare and mixes it with gritty fantasy to offer something dark and exciting and very new.
- The penultimate book in the Legends of the Red Sun series was a damn good addition, but honestly and truly failed to live up to the sheer and unadulterated awesome that made Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin such excellent reads.
- The second book in the Shadow saga, this instalment picked up the pace and took the story to a new level. Surpassing both my expectations and the excellence of the first book, Shadow’s Lure was an essential read for me this year, having already been made into a Caim fan seconds after opening the first book.
- Technically this is tied with Songs of the Earth for placement. I loved Spellwright, but this surpassed the first in the Spell series—and then some. Everything about this book is imaginative and insightful and just downright bloody awesome. It’s an excellent story with excellent characters and generally, the whole thing is a damn good read. It’s a fantastic book and a pleasure to read.
- This debut blew me away. I freaking loved this book. Everything about it worked. I gave this book a stunning review because it’s how I felt about it straight after reading it, and if I were to follow-up review it, my opinion would not have changed. This has been one of the year’s absolutely best debuts—and there have been a few here and there.
- This book should have been at number one, and it would have been at number one, if not for the goddamned Adem. Couldn’t stand them and Rothfuss spent FAR too long indulging them in this book. However, let me make it clear that I FREAKING worship Rothfuss. I don’t care what people say about Kvothe, or about Pat—he’s a god and the Kingkiller Chronicles are THE SHIT. If I were to stand in line for hours in the pouring rain, cold and freezing, just to get a measly signature with nary a word besides, for Pat Rothfuss, I would do it. He is my god. He rekindled all the hope and faith in my writing that depression made me lose. The Wise Man’s Fear wasn’t half a shade on The Name of the Wind. However, I’m a fae-fanboy, therefore, I’m crazy about Bast and the insights into Bast and the fae very, very and almost nearly made up for the Adem. That there’s a book rated higher than this in my list, is testament to just how amazing that book has to be.
- This book topped The Wise Man’s Fear. Wow. Just, wow. This book was everything it needed to be and it was the best, the absolute best book I have read in 2011. I’ve seen it described as “fun” and this annoys the crap out of me: this book is not just “fun”. This book is absolutely and utterly amazing. Everything about this book is a pleasure. It’s well-written, funny, witty, exciting, and downright bloody awesome. Anyone who passes a book like this off as “fun” (you can sort of imagine the sniffing, too) might as well start down the slippery path that eventually leads to general fiction and lit-fic. This book is everything a fantasy book should be, and it’s damn brilliant besides. I ate this book in about a day and I regret nothing! Buy this book; love this book. (And pre-order Sworn in Steel, too!)
Books that get a special mention for 2011:
Ashes of a Black Frost, by Chris Evans (Iron Elves #3)
The Emperor’s Knife, by Mazarkis Williams (The Tower and Knife #1)
Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A Corey (Expanse Series #1)
These books are all sitting prettily on my shelves, waiting to be read, though I expect them to be some of the best books of the year, added to the ones above.