Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 3 Novels of the Year, 2009

Continuing with our yearly round up, we now bring you the Top 3 Novels of 2009. Looking over the list of everything I've read this year, I've actually just realized that there was little in the way of new novels that took my interest, however unlike the silver screen what there was was strong in the offering.

3) Star Wars: 501st - An Imerpial Commando Novel. Continuing the military sci-fi saga set in the popular Star Wars universe, Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel continues the tale of Omega Squad. The Republic has been overthrown and the Empire has risen and the remaining Republic Commandos now serve as operatives of the 501st, Vader's Fist. All save the Clones that have fled with Kal Skirata.

Skirata and his band of Mando's have set up a safe haven on Mandalore for any clone deserters, and Skirata has taken it upon himself to raise the child of his adopted son Darman, who is stuck with the 501st, and Darman's Jedi wife Etain, killed during the purge. This task is further complicated by the Imperial Garrison that has stationed itself upon Mandalore, and the changing galactic political situation that is affecting everyone.

Slower than the other novels of the series, Star Wars: 501st - An Imperial Commando Novel deals more with the fallout of the changes wrought by Order 66 and the events of the previous novel. Despite this change of pacing and more emotional take on the plot, the characters are still as solid and gripping as ever, and Star Wars: 501st - An Imerpial Commando Novel is another excellent, gritty, military novel.

2) Gears of War: Jacinto's Remnant. And when one thinks of gritty, they certainly think of the Gears of War universe. The Locust Horde has finally been defeated, but at great cost, for the battered remnants of humanity have lost their last city in the process. Jacinto is no more, and the leaders of the COG now must face another great threat, that of providing simple shelter and food for their people.

Once more, I need to commend Karen Traviss for her work in the Gears of War universe. For a franchise not known for any great story or deep characters, she adds a great deal of depth, emotion, and purpose to Delta Squad and co.

Picking up where the sequel leaves off, Traviss follows her previous formula of contrasting current events with flashbacks, this time with the original deployment of the Hammer of Damn in humanity's darkest hour. In the present day, can people learn to co-exist with one another again without the common cause of a deadly foe, and what purpose will the Gears now play during peace time?

All of this Traviss explores with here usual depth of character, descriptive environments, and emotional connections.

1) Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe. I can honestly say I wasn't expecting much from a novel that was a collection of shorts, but without question it turned out to be the strongest Halo novel I have yet read.

Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe takes a look at so many aspects of the rich Halo universe, from before the war to during to after. From the side of the UNSC, the Covenant, and even the Flood, there's a lot of new ground covered throughout this compilation. Not only that, but the fact that the several stories are penned by different author's gives each tale it's own feel, it's own style, and yet they're all connected by the greater Halo lore.

There are many character driven and action pieces, a nice horror story, and even some poetry, and when all is said and done Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe has a little something for everyone, and for the Halo nerd, a wealth of new information not yet gleaned anywhere else. All of that aside, it's also some damn good military sci-fi, and I'm please to award Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe our Novel of the Year.

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