My favourite thing about Philip Reeve – one of my favourite authors – is how completely he can change his voice and style between books. Mortal Engines is written differently to Here Lies Arthur, for instance. The man is a chamelion, and it means you get a completely different experience each time. They are always, however, really good.
His Goblins series, which recently launched its third entry, is completely different again. They are a lot more humorous and, to be fair, skewed a little younger, but they’re still great fantasy stories. There’s the traditional Dark Lord and his army of goblins, and the galliant hero come to rescue a princess. But the Dark Lord is long gone, the hero is a bit of an idiot, and the princess is a middle-aged woman who’s quite happy staying where she is thank you very much. And we see all this through the eyes of a Goblin, who aren’t as bad as people think, but are still quite bad. The ultimate lesson, then, is not to judge a book by its cover – which also applies to the bright day-glo jackets of the books themselves.
Goblins, and Goblins vs. Dwarves (the second book), are at once complete subversions of the fantasy genre but also pretty solid entries in it. Fingers crossed that I get Goblin Quest for Christmas, to find out which fantasy conventions Reeve turns upsidown this time!
As I do each year since 2011 a target is set for the number of books I’ll read each new year. My target of 20 books read this year is looking doubtful and I won’t lie it has been a tough year to find the right book to read at the right time. Long reads always seem to be a tough deal for me so it’s no surprise that all my reads this year have been under 300 pages.
Two titles that have stood out this year have been Sex Criminals – Volume 1 (Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky) and Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer). Both these took me by surprise at how uniquely their stories where portrayed. I would recommend either or both of these as gifts for those that like their Sci-Fi with a sense of humanity and dark humour. If I were to be pushed into choosing one of these two then Annihilation would have to be my pick of the year. There’s something at the core of VanderMeers Area X that haunts your thoughts after the last of the 195 pages has been read. My biggest concern is not the chance that the next two books in the Southern Reach trilogy won’t live up to the original. No mine will be getting past the mental block I have of reading a book with 300 plus pages.
And I’m getting ridiculously excited about some new books.
Last year I read Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood and the sequel, The Crimson Campaign, comes out next year paperback. This is a wonderful fantasy series – mature and unique – and I cannot wait to read more.
Over the last few years I’ve realised I love comic books so I was excited by this post that basically lists a load of novels with people with superpowers. I’m particularly interested in Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman, which basically chronicles the trials of a super villain. It’s this kind of book that will satisfy my comic book needs, as well – I often find it really hard to pick out a new comic book to read and it can be quite intimidating realising that there are hundreds of volumes to catch up on.
There are many books that I also want from watching booktube – YoutTube videos that talking about books and reading. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a novel about some sort of big game – with tons of references to geekery. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson is an epic fantasy – and who doesn’t love an epic fantasy?
All in all, I want some books of good geekery. There’s nothing better to read something you love.
Hobb’s books have been featured on Hex several times this year , but not any of her new work. So if anyone’s looking for something to pick up for me this Christmas, please do consider the latest of Robin Hobb’s novels to be set in the world of the Six Duchies.
The novels chronicling the events and people of this world are some of the most well-loved fantasy, beyond the usual awe for George R.R. Martin. I’ll say that based on the write-ups I’ve seen for Fool’s Assassin that this is probably not the best place for new readers to start, and I recommend heading back some nine or more books to the original Farseer trilogy of novels.
If you like worlds where there’s magic, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, and political and personal intrigue then do consider Hobb’s wide-ranging series. And for those of you who have read the previous novels set in the Six Duchies: maybe it’s time to return and see where life has led FitzChivalry?