Well 2011 is wrapping up and it was a pretty good year for books. My top three picks below:
3) BioShock: Rapture. BioShock is a great franchise and it's always had a compelling and disturbing universe. The underwater city of Rapture itself is simply fascinating, not just in the scope of such a marvel of engineering but also in its history and its people themselves.
By playing the first two games, you come to learn a lot about the history of Rapture and the people behind it, primarily through the various audio logs left behind, but with BioShock: Rapture you actually get to read firsthand how this city was conceived, built, and corrupted from within.
Andrew Ryan himself is the man behind Rapture, the one who had the vision, the capital, and the drive. Gathering like minded people to help make Rapture a reality, Bill McDonagh really believes this underwater city will be a better place than the service world, and that it'll be a marvel to raise his family in. But what will happen when Ryan comes into conflict with those who see Rapture as a means for profit instead of freedom and how will McDonagh draw the line between right and wrong in a city with no laws, no morality, and no hope?
A great read for any fan of the franchise looking to understand more about these wonderful characters.
2) Halo: Cryptum. The Halo universe is one long steeped in mystery, and while the Covenant War is the focus of the games, a darker threat looms above all. This threat, as any fan knows, is the Flood, an extragalactic parasite that seeks to devour all life in the galaxy.
Scattered throughout the Halo universe are ruins and relics from a long lost civilization, called the Forerunners. Worshiped as gods by the Covenant, the Forerunners possessed technology far beyond the comprehension of humans and were once the custodians of the galaxy, until they were brought face to face with the ravening Flood.
Halo: Cyrptum goes back 100,000 years prior to the games and for the first time, truly shows the tale of the Forerunner-Flood War and the construction of the Halo array. What follows is a tale unlike anything else featured in the Halo universe, and this first book in the trilogy clearly shows us how different the galaxy was 100,000 years ago, how flawed the Forerunners really were, and how humanity was woven into it all.
While Halo: Cryptum can take a bit to get into, it's a fascinating piece of science fiction that really takes the Halo universe in unexpected directions, and will make an interesting read for anyone who's ever wanted to know hard details and facts about the Forerunners themselves.
1) The Forest Laird. Jack Whyte's first novel in his new Guardian series, detailing the history of the wars of independence in Scotland, The Forest Laird follows the rise of one William Wallace as he reluctantly steps forward to be the leader the realm needs him to be.
So unlike Braveheart, The Forest Laird takes a different approach at examining the life of the Wallace, drawing upon further legend of the time. Essentially, Whyte proposes that Wallace was the basis for Robin Hood, the outlaw whom we all knew robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
How Whyte builds upon this theme and how he develops not only Wallace himself but the great group of characters surrounding him is a hallmark trait of such a great author, injecting the tale with both drama, compassion, honour, and folly. Whyte's characters are as human as they ever were, and The Forest Laird presents readers with a view of English and Scottish history that they likely have never considered before.
The Forest Laird is simply an excellent, lengthy, and fantastic read, and it takes the cake as my novel of 2011.