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I’ve read (and listened to) a lot of great books this year. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Bernard Cornwell’s, Lords of the North, the third book in his Saxon series.


Here’s the book blurb:
The Lords of the North begins soon after the events described in The Pale Horseman. Uhtred, having helped Alfred secure Wessex as an independent Saxon kingdom, returns north in an attempt to find his stepsister. Instead he discovers chaos, civil war and treachery in Northumbria. He takes the side of Guthred, once a slave and now a man who would be king, and in return expects Guthred's help in capturing Dunholm, the lair of the dark Viking lord, Kjartan. There is [fencing, fighting,] betrayal, romance [possibly true love] and war, and all of it, as usual, based on real events.


I’ve always liked historical fiction and there’s something about the way Mr. Cornwell contrives to make his poor characters suffer (usually by making them long for something they can never get) that I find irresistible, as anyone who’s enjoyed his Sharpe or Starbuck Chronicles novels will agree.

I'm sure there are those who don't care for his work, and I'm the first to admit that Mr. Cornwell loves his adverbs, but so what? The man writes compelling stories that keep you coming back for more, and that should be good enough for everyone, don't you think?

The next Uhtred novel, The Burning Land, comes out in the US next month.



I’m already excited about reading it. I thoroughly recommend the whole series.

How about you?

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

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Comments

( 102 comments — Leave a comment )
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bogwitch64
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's hard to decide. Mythago Wood, perhaps, tied with The Color of the Wind.
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
A double feature ;)
mtlawson
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Boy, that's going to be a tough decision. I can probably get the list down to five books, but that would be hard to go further.

Let me look at my list and get back to you.
mela_lyn
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
I know! Right? And I read so many genres... but I still couldn't pick one per genre. Lots of good writing this year.
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jakobdrud
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
This has been a year of light reading, so I'll define "best" as "having the highest entertainment value". For that I'd recommend either the "Vatta's War" series by Elizabeth Moon or "Halting State" by Charles Stross.

As for not-so-light non-fiction, there's no doubt that "A Continent for the Taking" by Howard E. French was my most mind-opening reading experience.
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Any particular favorite among the (I think) five Vatta's War books?
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black_faery
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
I have just bought The Pale Horseman as one of alarndir's Christmas presents. It looks most interesting - I may steal it off him once he's read it :-)

I will be doing a post on this year's highlights at some point, but The Book of Lost Things, and the Dresden Files (currently on book 8) have both ranked highly in 2009.
bogwitch64
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
YIKES! How could I have forgotten the Book of Lost Things. Gads, I loved it.
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mela_lyn
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
I have to choose?!?!?

It's a toss up. I read so amazing writing.

Soulless by Gail Carriger - combination steampunk/romance/urban fantasy/humor

Bitter Nights by Diana Pharaoh Francis - urban fantasy
If you like fantasy, you should try Di's other series. She's written 2 epic fantasy ones. :) Amazing...

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe - fantasy noir detective/gumshoe novel (so awesome)

And the list goes on!!
smeddley
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
I read Soulless - I didn't think the writing was very polished (it was very informal and almost blog-ish in a lot of ways) by my goodness was that story fun. And I did like the characters (though I refuse to picture her like the woman on the cover, who bothers me for some reason - people, do not judge this book by its cover!). I'll definitely be reading more!
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smeddley
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:13 pm (UTC)
I just finished The Case of the Missing Marquees by Nancy Springer. Yes, it's a juvenile book, but it is excellent. It's the first in a series of books about Enola Holmes, Sherlock's younger sister. I'm going to pick up more in the series as soon as the library opens!
mela_lyn
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
Who cares if it's juvenile?! Sometimes they get the better books! :) My shelves are probably 1/3 young adult fantasy. I've found they get to talk to more dragons than adults do. :)
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clarionj
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
he way Mr. Cornwell contrives to make his poor characters suffer (usually by making them long for something they can never get)

This makes me think I have to try something of his. In January, I need to visit a library :)

The best book I've read this year? I can't even remember the books I've read. I'll be back later if I do remember, but the first book to pop to mind is The Greatest Knight (and its sequel The Scarlet Lion) by Elizabeth Chadwick because they both captured my heart in ways I hadn't expected. I don't remember when I've ever cried while reading, but I did in these. And they were both for work!
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, The Greatest Knight is on the 'possible books to buy for Senior Management this Christmas' list. Seeing your recommendation has made me transfer it to the 'Books I should definitely buy for Senior Management this Christmas' list :)

By the way, was it you who posted about Buffy and Angel the other month? Only, Target is selling a seasons 1&2 combo pack of Buffy for $26.99, and 1&2 and 3&4 combo packs of Angel for $19.99 each. in case you're interested.
(no subject) - clarionj - Dec. 16th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
mark_west
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
Apart from re-reading my own stuff (ha!), my favourite non-fiction this year was essentially a tie between "Skywalking" by Dale Pollock and "Life & Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid" by Bill Bryson. In fiction, it was the "Different Skins" collection by Gary McMahon.

Full details here - http://mark-west.livejournal.com/154860.html
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
'Apart from re-reading my own stuff (ha!)'

Hey, if you don't enjoy your own novels, how can you expect anyone else to, right? :)
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peadarog
Dec. 15th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
I finished The Burning Land a few days ago. It's more of the same, really, but I have no problem with that. I still think you need to give "The Winter King" a go. It's a completed series and, IMHO, much better than the Saxon series -- i.e. the magic in it is really, really insane/scary and not in the least bit attractive.
bogwitch64
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, gads! I have the Winter King series and have had them on my shelf for...forever. I'll have to pull them out and get them onto the TBR pile next to my bed.
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(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
An interesting choice.

Thanks for sharing :)
brian_ohio
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Under the Dome by Stephen King
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
That's the newest one, right?

By the way, nice eye-con ;)
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Dec. 15th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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lindaabdavis
Dec. 15th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
It would have to be Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs. Her Mercy Thompson series is awesome.
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Interetsing. I'd not heard of her before.

Thanks for sharing :)
gaaneden
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
Best anthology: Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Strange Journeys by Ken Scholes

Best book on writing: The 10% Solution by Ken Rand

Best SFF book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Best Horror book: Duma Key by Stephen King
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
You were ready for that question, weren't you? ;)

Thanks for sharing :)
alaneer
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Difficult to just pick on, but I'd say The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds.
jongibbs
Dec. 15th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
And they said The Glitter Band had no chance after Gary left ;)
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(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 16th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC) - Expand
tracy_d74
Dec. 16th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
I have two favorites. The Book Thief. I loved, loved, loved it. The writing was brilliant. It took the author three years to write it and I can see his care in every word.

And then for my hook-me-up-to-an-IV-and-wear-a-Depends read: Catching Fire (the sequel to Hunger Games). I think it is the first time I have read a sequel that I liked better than book one. I wanted to crawl into Suzanne Collins' head and look around, steal some stuff.
jongibbs
Dec. 16th, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)
The Book Thief sounds interesting. It's not about someone who crawls around inside an author's head, looking around for stuff to steal is it? ;)

(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Dec. 16th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


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THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

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