Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reading Lists - Locus Award Winners for Best Fantasy Novel

Each year, the readers of Locus magazine vote for their favorite science fiction, horror, and fantasy books, among other categories. Ballots are sent in the February issue of Locus, along with a recommended reading list featuring titles published during the preceding year.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin (2009)
In The Aeneid, Virgil's hero fights to claim the king's daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word in the poem. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes the reader to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett (2008)
In the 32nd installment (yes, you read that correctly!) of Pratchett’s Discworld series, prisoner-turned-postal worker Moist von Lipwig tackles a new assignment in a different branch of the government. He is directed to oversee the printing of Ankh-Morpork's first paper currency, a job with unexpected challenges. Pratchett is known for his fast-paced, laugh-out-loud novels.

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (2007)
Anticipating nothing more than a conventional life and marriage among the city's high society, young Katherine Talbert is stunned when her uncle, the Mad Duke, hands her a sword, relegates her to boy's clothing, and sends her on an adventure-filled odyssey of self-discovery. This story’s plot and style are in the swashbuckling tradition of Dumas.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (2006)
Fat Charlie is the son of Anansi, the trickster god, whose embarrassing taunts and untimely death cause a lot of problems for young Charlie. His trouble is multiplied when he meets the brother he never knew—Spider gets him fired, sleeps with his fiancĂ©e, and gets him arrested in this romantic screwball comedy seasoned with murder, magic, and ghosts.

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (2004)
Three years free of the madness that kept her imprisoned in her family’s castle, Ista, Dowager Royina of Chalion, is finally released from her last remaining duties by the death of her mother. She undertakes a pilgrimage, but doesn’t get far before she is overtaken by trouble, sorrow, need, and a host of other adversities.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (1997)
In the first of Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice saga, the kingdom of the royal Stark family faces its ultimate challenge in the onset of a generation-long winter, the poisonous plots of the rival Lannisters, the emergence of the Neverborn demons, and the arrival of barbarian hordes. Intrigue, action, romance, and mystery abound in this saga.

The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle (1994)
Lukassa drowns but is abducted by an ethereal sorceress with golden eyes. As Tikat braves a long and dangerous trek to find the lover whose death and resurrection he witnessed, he meets three women—each of whom hides a secret, and who each undertake impossible missions.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card (1988)
The first installment of the Tales of Alvin Maker takes place in the Northwest Territory in the late
18th century. Alvin is the seventh son of a seventh son and heir to great powers that he must learn to use and control. In the tradition of T. H. White's Sword in the Stone, Card mixes historical figures and imaginary ones, fantasy and philosophy.

Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe (1987)
In 479 B.C., Athens and Sparta have defeated the invading Persians. Latro, a Latin-speaking mercenary with the Persian army, has suffered a head wound and lost his memory; he can't remember from one day to the next. Every night he records the previous day's events on a scroll, which he must read the next morning to rediscover his circumstances and who his companions are.

Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny (1986)
In the sixth of the classic Amber Chronicles, Corwin, Prince of Amber, is exiled to Earth because of an ancient feud with his brothers. He must battle his way back to the perfect world of Amber, the center of reality. Like the rest of Zelazny’s series, Trumps of Doom features heroic fantasy figures combined with kinetic action and a cliff-hanging conclusion.

Job by Robert A. Heinlein (1985)
After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgment were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world in Heinlein’s “comedy of justice.”

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1984)
Bradley’s Avalon series reworks the Arthurian legend with greater focus on the supplanting of the Earth Mother religion by male-dominated Christianity. Morgaine is a priestess of Avalon, seat of the Great Goddess. She falls pregnant with Arthur’s son during fertility rites, later turning against him when she thinks he has betrayed the old ways.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (1978)
Tolkien began writing these legends in 1917, decades before the publication of The Lord of the Rings. Two brief tales, which outline the origin of the world, precede the title story about the Silmarils—three brilliant, jewel-like creatures who are desired and fought over. Two final short tales follow to round out the history of the Third Age.

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