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Best of 2014 Part 2a: Novels

Doing one of these posts often takes a lot out of me because of all the linking and checking and verification and formatting and everything, but lists like this also help me crystalize my year in reading, so I value them quite highly. Thankfully, I’m able to get this list out in time and most of the books on the list have already been reviewed as well, so that’s something too.

With the year 2014 now done and over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st July to December 31st. I didn’t read as many books this time as I wanted to, primarily because I got married in the first week of July itself, and things have changed a fair bit. But life remains exciting and interesting in equal measure, and my reading also happens to match that rather closely, so I’ll take that in full indeed!

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2014: Day #12

The twelfth and final book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Erin M. Evans’ fourth and most recent Brimstone Angels novel, Fire In The Blood, the cover for which is done by Min Yum. I just posted my review of the novel, so you can head over to the post before this one to check it out, but suffice to say that Fire In The Blood happens to be the best novel in the series so far and that the ending of it gives me a lot of hope for the next novel, which Erin is currently in the process of writing and which will be called Ashes of The Tyrant.

The first of the twelfth and final set of comic covers I pick this year is for Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #3 by Jim Zub, Max Dunbar, John-Paul Bove and Neil Uyetake with the cover by Sarah Stone. The second is for Hexed #5 by Michael Alan Nelson, Dan Mora, Gabriel Cassata and Ed Dukeshire with the cover by Dan. The third and final cover is for Secret Six #1 by Gail Simone, Ken Lashley, Drew Geraci, Jason Wright and Carlos M. Mangual with the cover by Dale Eaglesham and Jason. Legends of Baldur’s Gate, Hexed and Secret Six are three of the most recent and also best comics of 2014, and that’s aptly reflected by the internal and external content both, and it really gratifies to be able to share these great covers with you all.

So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Advent Review #24: Fire In The Blood by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series has proven to be quite a good one as it has progressed. These novels feature the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh as the main characters, with a great cast of supporting chracters, each of whom is different from the other. And as great as the characters are, the plots themselves have been fairly engaging on a minimal level. I love reading the adventures of these two, with Farideh struggling to learn more about her warlock pact with the cambion devil Lorcan, and Havilar falling in love with a fellow young adventurer Aubrin Crownsilver, and both of them managing all of that while also taking down the bad guys one by one.

In the recently released Fire In The Blood, the fourth novel in the series, we pick up from where we left off at the end of The Adversary last year. The characters have all made their way to the city of Suzail, the capital of the Cormyr empire where Aubrin happens to be a noble, and even one with a half-strong claim to the throne itself. Things have been pretty rough for everyone, and Erin M. Evans revisits the concept of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Each character has to face a great many personal challenges as they are assaulted by tons of things on all sides, and have to figure out what they really want out of their lives and the events around them. Goes without saying really that Fire In The Blood is a pretty damn good novel and is certainly the best in the series so far.

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Brimstone Angels: The Adversary by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

The Adversary is the third novel in both the Brimstone Angels series and in the crossover The Sundering series which was the big event for Forgotten Realms last year. Massive upheavals on a multiversal scale aside, the novel also featured some major changes to the status quo when Lorcan’s sister Sairche tricked Havilar and Farideh into a bargain that sent them forward in time almost a decade, time which they lost and never recovered from. But that wasn’t everything of course and as The Sundering progressed in the other novels, with many old heroes returning all over the multiverse, the tiefling twins also took their place in the grand scheme of things with a climactic twist that changed them completely. The Adversary also made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 2” list at the end of last year, a deserved spot.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Erin’s second entry in the Brimstone Angels series was unfortunately not as good as the first, but it was still a rousing story in which she moved the story forward significantly as new challenges, new allies, new enemies and new complications presented themselves to the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh. Here Erin explored their personal conflicts a great deal, and really made the novel about them, which is all you can ask really.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans (Book Review)

Brimstone Angels is Erin M. Evans’ first novel in the series of the same name. I read the novel towards the tail-end of 2012, and it also happened to be the first book from the author that I’d read. And I was immediately a fan. The journey of the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh was something that I enjoyed on a whole lot of levels, and it also got me much more interested in the Forgotten Realms sagas, much as Paul S. Kemp’s own Erevis Cale novels had done just a few months ago. If you want to get started with the Forgotten Realms setting, then the Brimstone Angels series is the way to go!

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Forgotten Realms: Forsaken House by Richard Baker (Book Review)

It has been a good long while since I’ve read a Forgotten Realms novel. The last one was in December of last year, Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham. It was a fairly good read, but I’ve definitely read better, from the works of Erin M. Evans and Paul S. Kemp and Richard Baker and all. It is definitely a setting that I love exploring and the more I read in it, the more excited I get about it. Forgotten Realms fully explores the multiverse side of things for a fantasy setting, and that is part of the charm, in addition to the utter abundance and wonder of its many different races and cultures and what not.

And in that respect, Richard Baker’s first novel in the Last Mythal Saga, Forsaken House, is really good. It presents many different facets of Elf life in the Forgotten Realms and it also presents a really fast-paced, excitable and intriguing premise paired with some really interesting characters. The only other novel of Richard’s I’ve read before this is his Condemnation, the third novel in the 6-part War of the Spider Queen multi-author extravaganza and that too was a damn fine read. It is great to see Richard’s best replicated here, and the Last Mythal Saga is definitely a tale that I want to read in full now.

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12 Days of Best SFF Characters of 2013: Day #10

For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my tenth pick is Erevis Cale, from Paul S. Kemp’s Erevis Cale series, which got a new installment this year in the form of the seventh book of the series, The Godborn. The novel also happens to be the second novel in Wizard of the Coast’s current mega-event for the Forgotten Realms, The Sundering. Erevis was practically my first Forgotten Realms character that I read about, and I’ve followed most of his journey so far, and its been incredible.

Hit the break to see why I picked this character.

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25 Series I Want To Read in 2014

Last year, I blogged over at The Founding Fields about 25 book series from various genres, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, etc that I wanted to read in 2013. The intention behind that particular reading challenge was to read a broad variety of some of the most popular names in those genres as well as to try out several new authors and revisit some favourite classics. While I wasn’t as successful in the challenge as I might like, I’ve made it a new year resolution to make sure that I do indeed repeat the challenge in 2014 with new books, new authors, and finish it this time.

To that effect, here are the 25 book series I’ve picked for this reading challenge for this year. You can see the previous list for 2013 here.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #12

The twelfth and final pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for author Erin M. Evans’ latest Forgotten Realms novel from Wizards of the Coast, The Adversary. This novel is the third in her Brimstone Angels series that features a pair of twin Tiefling teenage sisters, one a spellcaster and the other a warrior, and is also the third novel to be set in The Sundering, the current big event of the Forgotten Realms setting. I started reading Brimstone Angels last year and all the three novels in the series have been quite good. They’ve maintained my interest in the Forgotten Realms setting and have provided a great counterpoint to all the other novels I’ve read in the setting.

The twelfth and final comic cover that I pick is Matteo Scalera and Dean White’s brilliant cover for Black Science #2 from Image Comics. Written by Rick Remender and drawn by Scalera, this series debuted last month and has been one of my best monthly reads for both November and now December. A (weird) pulp SF adventure that also involves dimensional travel and alternate history, the series has some great characters and some truly fantastic art. It is, for sure, one of the best new comic series of 2013.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Godborn by Paul S. Kemp (Book Review)

This is the year that Wizards of the Coast goes really big. They are in the midst of launching the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons and to tie-in with that they are releasing a series of linked novels that tell of how all the changes to the D&D settings, such as the Forgotten Realms, end up happening. Each book is written by Wizards’ top talent and links to existing series. Bob Salvatore’s The Companions is the first tale of The Sundering and it is also the latest novel in Dark Elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s epic saga that has lasted for a great number of novels.

Paul S. Kemp’s latest, The Godborn, is the second book in The Sundering and it is also the latest in his Erevis Cale series that has lasted for seven novels thus far and doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. I read the novel last month and it proved to be just as damn good a read as the previous two trilogies. There were a lot of plot threads left open at the end of the Twilight War trilogy, even as Paul provided a very satisfying, but emotional, conclusion. With the new novel, he addresses many of them and creates yet more mysteries, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.

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