The 10 fantasy (and science fiction) books I liked the most this year
Another year! This one has been loaded with great readings (even though the year in general is turning out a little bluergh, and I’m sorry for the stop in the blog rhythm), so many that I’ve even reached 15 books that deserve a place in this top 10.
From those I have removed Shadows of Identity (because Sanderson would already have 3 books in the top) and The grace of kings (no doubt the one I liked least of the fifteen, and there are books that deserve more bombo than him), and there are thirteen jewels of three genres: Fantasy (10), Science fiction (2), and Romanticism (1). However, there is a lot of variety within this fantasy… Let’s go!
The magician and other cruel tales – Elia Barceló
Elia Barceló is a sublime writer, and she demonstrates it completely in this anthology of short stories. I don’t include her in the top because an anthology, but if she did, she would be among the first five, without a doubt. You can see a very high level narrative in these stories of his. I loved it and that’s why I usually reject stories.
Radiant Words – Brandon Sanderson
I don’t include it because it’s the second part of a saga, and because Sanderson already has another novel in the top. But come on, The Storm Archive will be a saga that will be remembered at the level of The Lord of the Rings, so I predict.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë must be the best author I’ve ever read. It’s also a timeless classic. Putting it on the list would be unfair, and it’s not that Wuthering Heights is an unknown or little-recognized book. It must be one of the best novels I have ever read. At some point in your life you have to read this novel, if you like even a little human being. One of the best constructed characters ever written.
And now, without further ado, let’s go to the top 10
Cutting mirrors – Concha Perea
I must admit I didn’t like all the parts of The Court of Mirrors the same. But the first 70 pages, which are introductory to the world and the characters through a history of them… are the best short novel I have ever read. It’s also a very curious and intriguing fantastic setting, with some very cool characters (Nicasia takes the prize and is one of the best female characters we have in Spanish fantasy).
As I said, the first 70 pages form a masterful story, and although I didn’t like the rest of the novel so much, it’s still very good (for me it’s one of the three best fantasy novels written in Spanish).
Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
I read it to myself in English, but recently it was released into Spanish… and it’s very good. It’s a bilogy, unfortunately, and I don’t like what they do at the end with the character of Inej (to link to the second book), but the rest is great. A fantastic story in the style of Oceans Eleven, more youthful than Locke Lamora’s Lies, with a very interesting and memorable cast of characters. Let’s see how is the second part, Crooked Kingdom, but come on, if it’s half as good as this first book, it’ll be great.
The god killed in the knightly service – Sergio S. Morán
This book is fucking laugh. I already reviewed it, and I maintain what I said: Morán has created a saga of urban fantasy and comedy that I feel will last for many years. Veronica Guerra is a character with all the lyrics, the humor is really funny, the story is funny… it’s great. If you like fantasy with comedy, you can’t miss it.
The Breath of the Gods – Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is Sanderson, but the truth is that The Breath of the Gods is one of his weakest adult fantasy books (there is still much level).
I largely read it to death as soon as I found out that there was a conscious sword in the novel, treated as a true character and not as a tool (although it was a bit disappointing, actually, but of course, I have too high standards in that regard). However, this story has a very curious system of magic, some jaw-dropping script twists, and impressive character development. It’s also self-conclusive, what more do you want?
Harry August’s First Fifteen Lives – Claire North
There are two types of science fiction. There’s traditional science fiction, which uses history as an excuse to explore a chachi idea (and that’s why it usually has some very bad or boring stories and some flat characters), and then there’s science fiction that’s cool to me, which uses an idea as a concept that gives rise to an amazing story.
This novel belongs to the second
Seraphina – Rachel Hartman
I don’t loosen the words “perfect execution” lightly. There are few books that I have read that achieve all that is proposed effectively and efficiently, and Seraphina is one of them. I am afraid because I have been told that the second part, Scales, is not so good, but I will read it sooner or later and find out for myself.
In any case, Seraphina is a very good work, with a very original fantasy world, with very original dragons and a great perspective, with memorable and unique characters… It is a work of youthful fantasy that knows how to really make a “fantastic racism” (mestizos with dragons are really discriminated against) and that knows when to leave romanticism aside because we have more important things to deal with. I recommend this book, it’s great.
Auxiliary Justice – Ann Leckie
Although for great book, Auxiliary Justice. It has the best character of all the top: Breq/Esk Una, an artificial intelligence of a combat ship in multiple bodies.
The best? She is the protagonist of the novel. It’s a science fiction work that requires a bit of mental gymnastics (seeing the world in feminine as Esk Una does is difficult to mentalize at first, especially when she calls the male co-star in feminine all the time), especially in the part of Anaander Mianaai’s conspiracies.
However, the effort is worth it, it’s an impressive novel and no wonder I’ve won everything I’ve won. THAT THE REST OF THE TRILOGY IS ALREADY TRANSLATED (although it can be read independently).
The best revenge – Joe Abercrombie
Abercrombie writes very well, but I think The Best Revenge will be one of his works that will be best remembered over time. An ode to revenge that I think deals better with the subject than The Count of Monte Cristo. Even if it is set in a fantastic world, it is a realistic work from head to toe, with only the slightest hint of magic at a specific point.
Monza Murcatto, the main character, is a layered character, and it’s very interesting to see how far revenge drags her. In addition, Abercrombie returns with secondary novels of other novels, like Escalofríos, and embroider the scenes of battle as only he knows how to do it. A work that condenses the Grimdark fantasy more gray and human.
A dark tale – Naomi Novik
After so many years of writing and dissecting novels, I find it very hard to find one that really absorbs me. It has to meet a minimum of quality and fluency, it has to offer me an interesting story and characters I can empathize with… In short, it’s VERY difficult.
And this book has done it. It has got me head over heels into his world, with a narrative that in its eight hundred pages only makes three small understandable mistakes, like saying “Pyrrhic victory” in a world without Pyrrhic wars. His metaphors about magic are precious and very visual, the forest as an antagonist is brutal, has many turns and is full of depth wherever you look. I love his approach to magic.
It’s a novel that doesn’t have anything left over, but could be dressed a little better to achieve a better effect. However, improving it is difficult and in many cases unnecessary (the characters are a little flat, but they don’t need more depth, for example). Even the problem that magic doesn’t seem to have limits with consequences on the story (yes, they have a limit of energy, but never really get into trouble for lack of it) is greatly mitigated, as the problems are usually not because of the amount of magic, but because of the focus of their spells.
In short, I put it here because it’s been a long time since a novel absorbed me so masterfully. I know it’s personal, and not everyone will like it, but I recommend it.
The secret song of the world – Jose Antonio Cotrina
And on the other hand, number 1 isn’t personal at all. Remember I said that La corte de los espejos was one of the three best fantasy novels in Spanish? Here’s the first one. Remember what I said about perfect execution? Here’s the best example I can give of it (which I reviewed some time ago)
La canción secreta del mundo (The Secret Song of the World) is the best Spanish fantasy novel to date. It is probably also one of the best macabre fantasy novels in the world, as it has nothing to envy Neil Gaiman (although they have different approaches). Everything is twisted. His characters, his world, his plots, the emotions he leaves behind.
The secret song of the world is a PERFECT novel, speaking with all the objectivity I can muster. If you like urban fantasy or macabre fantasy at all, read this book. It is a book that deserves much more recognition than it has.