Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 3 Novels of the Year, 2010

Looking back on 2010 in terms of novels, I found I spent most of my reading time re-reading great books I've already gone through. I did happen to pick up several new paperbacks though, and below are my personal favourites published this year.

3) Gears of War: Anvil Gate. Considering that the Gears of War franchise is certainly _not_ known for having a strong story and character development, it never ceases to amaze me how well Karen Traviss continues to flesh out this game's universe.

Under the careful penmanship of Traviss, I've really come to care for not only Marcus and Dom, but also for characters like Hoffman, Baird, and Cole. She takes her gritty approach to military fiction and deep human stories and pretty much rams it down the COG's throat with very fine results.

Gears of War: Anvil Gate is no exception, focusing on the refugees of Jacinto as they further establish and secure their island haven while preparing to face the new threat of the Lambent. True to the series' story telling style, the present day events are contrasted with a similar tale of woe from the past, once again courtesy of Hoffman and his role in the siege of Anvil Gate.

The back and forth narrative between present and past, combined with solid military sci-fi and strong character moments make this novel a must read for any Gears of War fan.

2) The Children of Hurin. What else can I really say save that this tale was a hundred years in the making, and it certainly shows. Begun when Tolkien first began crafting what would be Middle-earth, The Children of Hurin represents the most put-together version of "The Tale of the Children of Hurin."

Young Turin Turambar must flee the land of his birth after it is subjugated by the forces of the Dark Lord Morgoth, and with the tutelage of the Elves he learns to be a warrior of great skill and valor. Yet a darkness hangs upon Turin, for the malice and doom of Morgoth is always with him.

What follows is a rich tale of fantasy and culture as Turin seeks to defeat his doom and master his own fate, and his exploits will not only affect the remains of his family, but all of Middle-earth itself.

Tolkien is a master storyteller who's works have certainly stood the test of time, and this edition features wonderful illustrations by Alan Lee that helps bring Turin's legend to life. For anyone with an interest in The Lord of the Rings or simply an interest in fantasy itself, The Children of Hurin makes an excellent read.

1) Order in Chaos. With this third and final volume, Jack Whyte brings his Templar trilogy to a close. A master storyteller of historical fiction, Whyte consistently writes deep and complicated tales with ever evolving characters that keeps the readers glued to the pages.

The Order of the Temple is no more, having been usurped by the greedy King Philip of France. Sir William St. Clair must lead the remnants of his brethren to the only safe haven he knows, that of his homeland of Scotland. But Scotland itself is in the midst of war, both Civil and with England, and while St. Clair and his knights seek refuge in this land, the very virtues of their Order will be called into question and put to the test.

To compound things even further, St. Clair and a few of his senior remaining brethren are part of a secret society that not only created the Templar Order as a front to conduct their own business, but that secretly opposes the will and corruption of Holy Mother Church. In the land of Scotland, isolated from the larger politics of the world, St. Clair will have great secrets revealed to him that will forever change both his path and those of the remaining Templars.

Weighing in at 921 pages, Order in Chaos is a fantastic read filled with history, military prowess, and romance, and as such an amazing and well rounded fiction, it's clearly the choice for my novel of 2010.

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