Before I started reading Angry Robot novels back in 2012, I hadn’t heard of Aliette de Bodard. And then in June of that year I read her Aztec mysteries trilogy Obsidian & Blood back-to-back in a single week. The trilogy was my first proper taste of non-Anglophone fantasy, and he experience was both surreal and amazing. I loved the books of course, and the short stories that were collected in the omnibus edition. Obsidian & Blood is one of a very, very small handful of trilogies that I’ve rated as high as I have, and the entire omnibus made my list of the best books I read in 2012.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.
The other day I was having a conversation on Twitter with my reviewer friends Paul Weimer (of SF Signal and Functional Nerds) and Sally Janin (of Qwillery) about a recent debut novel that is causing waves in the publishing industry. The book in question is called Stormdancer and is Jay Kristoff’s first book in the (billed to be) Lotus War series. The premise of the novel is that it is a coming-of-age story of a young girl in a setting that is touted as Japanese Steampunk, and explores her relationship with her somewhat-estranged father and an arashitora, or thunder tiger, or griffin. Our point of discussion was the cultural appropriation by Kristoff in the novel, his particular approach being severely unpalatable to me as someone who, while not very well-versed in, is still quite familiar with Japanese culture. The discussion extended to whether or not a reviewer’s familiarity with the settings/cultures portrayed in a speculative fiction novel play a big part in our perception of how good/bad a novel is.
Twitter has been buzzing lately with “best of the year so far” and “most anticipated lists”. Looks like everybody and their fictional cat is on the bandwagon. So I thought I’d do one too, a “best of the half-year” list that is. I mean why not, I’ve read so much good stuff this year that it all deserves recognition anyway. I already do a top-of-the-month list anyway, as you can see on the Reading Awards page, so this should be good fun either way.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!