It’s that time of year again – everyone’s doing the the “Best Of” lists, and so too are The Young Podawans! We both consumed a whole Imperial Star Destroyer load of geek entertainment this year, but this is our very best of the very best! So without further delay, here we go!
BRIAN: Confession: I didn’t read any books this year that actually came out this year. Like many of you, I have a massively extensive “To Read” list and this year was spent going through some of that backlog. The Best Book I read this year actually came out in 2012 (close enough?) and that book is THREE PARTS DEAD by Max Gladstone.
The story follows Tara, a detective and practitioner of the Craft, the ability to tap into arcane magic, as she tries to unravel the mystery behind a god’s death. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, part fantasy epic THREE PARTS DEAD presents a story and world-building the likes of which I’ve never read before. Described to me as “Legalpunk” and “gods as failed banks” this book is a genre all its own.
Max is a hell of a writer as well. From the cramped alleyways of Alt-Coulumb, to the vast celestial expanse of the a dead god’s remains to the churning machinery deep within the Church of Kos, everything is described in lush detail. Nothing is overbearing, but gives just enough to make the reader feel they can reach out and touch the world his characters inhabit on the paper.
If you’re looking for a fresh and inventive voice in SFF give this a try.
KRISTIN: SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho. Some really great books came out this year, both standalones and installments of series, but SORCERER TO THE CROWN stood out for me in terms of characterization, setting, and plot (triple threat!). This book was a tremendous debut by Zen Cho, and I couldn’t put it down. I talked about this one in Episode 2, but it’s worth repeating.
The story follows Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer to the Crown, and Prunella Gentleman, a young woman seeking to learn magic on her own terms, as they set out to stop the decline of magic in England. Austenite hijinks ensue. With a rich historical setting (more believable than many alt-histories I’ve read) and a well-rounded, diverse cast full of lovable characters, this book is what fantasy SHOULD be. It was immersive, funny, and well-told, and if anyone I know asks me for a new read anytime soon, I’ll be putting this one into their hands.