2019 Reading Review

Disclaimer: I originally wrote this to be the introduction and first post of my blog, after the birth of our daughter, I ended up writing another post that has already been published you can read here.

Hi everyone, I’ve decided to add another avenue to my hobby of writing by creating a blog. Now, why, you may ask, do I have anything of note worth reading? Well, maybe I don’t. Especially if you’re not interested in the genre of fantasy or my own self-important musings. My hope for this blog is to add a second way for me to keep writing if/when I have lulls in my own fiction writing. I love it, but some of those scenes where I don’t know what happens next can get scary.

In 2019 I was proud to finish 36 books, most of which were Fantasy and Writing Reference books. The majority, I listened to on audible.com which is my go-to, but I also made a conscious effort to go back to some of my favorites (The Gentleman Bastards Series) and read them in paperback instead of just listening. My audible library is massive at this point, and I feel like it has given me a good ear for the flow in writing, but I want to develop an eye for it as well.

If you are not interesting in my musing on the genre of fantasy, stop here. If you think that perhaps, I may have an opinion you find interesting, keep scrolling!

TitleAuthorGenreMedium
The Heroes (First Law World, #5)Abercrombie, JoeFantasyAudiobook
The First Law (The First Law #1)Abercrombie, JoeFantasyAudiobook
Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel, #2)Bancroft, JosiahFantasyAudiobook
Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1)Bancroft, JosiahFantasyAudiobook
The Works of Julius Caesar: The Gallic WarsCaesar, Gaius JuliusHistory, Ancient-HistoryAudiobook
Legion versus PhalanxCole, MykeAncient-HistoryAudiobook
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)Doyle, Arthur Conan ClassicsAudiobook
Kings of the Wyld (The Band, #1)Eames, NicholasFantasyAudiobook
Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer’s Craft Book 10)Hall, RayneWritingAudiobook
Revenant Winds (The Tainted Cabal #1)Hogan, MitchellFantasyAudiobook
New Spring (Wheel of Time, #0)Jordan, RobertFantasyAudiobook
A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14)Jordan, RobertFantasyAudiobook
On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftKing, StephenWritingAudiobook
Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War, #1)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
King of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #2)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #3)Lawrence, MarkFantasyAudiobook
Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)Lynch, ScottFantasyPaperback
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)Lynch, ScottFantasyPaperback
The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)Lynch, ScottFantasyPaperback
Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1)McClellan, BrianFantasyAudiobook
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered EmpireRucka, GregScience-FictionComic 
The Time of Contempt (The Witcher, #2)Sapkowski, AndrzejFantasyAudiobook
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)Simmons, DanSscience-FictionAudiobook
Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations, #1-2)Sullivan, Michael J.FantasyAudiobook
The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles, #1)Sullivan, Michael J.FantasyAudiobook
The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1)Weeks, BrentFantasyAudiobook
Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character DevelopmentWeiland, K.M.WritingAudiobook
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to SuccessWeiland, K.M.WritingPaperback
The Rage of Dragons: The Burning SeriesWinter, EvanFantasyAudiobook
Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your NovelYardley, CathyWritingAudiobook
Rock Your Revisions: A Simple System for Revising Your NovelYardley, CathyWritingAudiobook
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing NonfictionZinsser, WilliamWritingAudiobook
Diversity of Genres is not my strong suit this year

Here are a few of my favorite’s from 2019.

The Rage of Dragons – Evan Winter

This book recently won the Reddit r/Fantasy ‘Stabby’ Award for Best Debut Novel, and it is well deserved. Winter takes on classic fantasy tropes that would probably be tired if they were in the same old medieval European setting, but it’s not. The story takes place in an African-like culture where two races have been warring for hundreds of years and are stuck in a virtual stalemate. Tau, the protagonist, is thrust into the conflict when the opposing force attacks his home village, and the book just never stops from there. It includes demon realms, gladiator combat and lots of awesome action.

I was initially turned off of the book when I saw the title. Rage of Dragons is about as generic as it gets, but the book is hardly generic. I would highly encourage anyone who is looking for a fresh voice in the realm of Fantasy to pick up The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. You won’t be disappointed.

Kings of the Wyld – Nicolas Eames

I have heard that this book is super popular. I see Reddit comments frequently talking about how this book has revitalized their interest in a stagnant genre. The premise is based on the idea of a band getting back together for a reunion tour, but instead of a musical band it’s a war-band. OK, awesome. Love the premise. A bunch of over the hill old warriors get together for one last performance.

It was a big swing and a miss for me. Despite the intriguing premise, the book felt too chaotic for my taste. I think what draws a lot of people to this style of fantasy is that it feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s fast-paced, constant action, constant new threats and monsters. I get it. There are a ton of people that love this style; the races are familiar, the magic system is clear. I think this makes a lot of readers feel cozy and comfortable. There is nothing wrong with comfortable, but apparently this is not what I look for in fantasy. I don’t know if that makes me a traditionalist or an obscurest, but I know that I am going against the grain a bit here. All that said I still have The Bloody Rose, the sequel, on my To-Read list. As writing podcasts harp on, if you want to be published, you’ve got to have a beat on what is selling!

Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft

Again, this book was a breath of fresh air in a genre loaded with poorly done tropes. Tom Senlin, a school teacher from a fishing village, takes his wife on a honeymoon to the Tower of Babel. It is clearly modeled after the biblical location, but Bancroft uses initial similarities as a runway; the book takes off with character of it’s own immediately. Each level of the tower has different characteristics and acts as a gate to go higher up the tower. And each level has many nefarious and sinister things going on behind the scenes. Senlin Ascends is a wonderful adventure about a man trying to find his wife. It’s refreshing to have a book with such a narrow scope. There is no Evil Lord trying to subjugate humanity, just a man trying to find his wife.

There are some clear themes here among the three books, all of which were published in the last few years. Fantasy as a genre, thanks in large part to the rampant success of Game of Thrones, is really living in a golden age. It seems as though publishers are willing to take a lot more risks on different kinds of fantasy in order to roll the dice on a genre in its heyday. But that also means there are loads of books that are telling very similar stories. I know personally, unless the characters are dynamic and engaging, I am pretty bored with classic fantasy. Whether the uniqueness of the books I discussed is due to me searching out fresh fantasy, or it says something of the genre at large, I could not tell you. But one thing that’s for sure is that there are increasingly diverse voices in the genre, and that only continues to be more and more true as time goes on.

Thanks for reading. My goal is to have weekly posts from topics ranging from the current books I am reading/listening to, to my current writing work, to the trials and tribulations of attempting to have a side hustle while also having a newborn (newborn still pending). If you like what I have shared here, please let me know! I am mostly writing for myself, but I am very interesting in knowing what people think about my opinions.

Best,

JL

Published by writerlarkin

Neuroscience and Research Project Manager background; deep passion for all things fantasy and writing and mythology!

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