Best Speculative Fiction Work This Year?

A Dance With Dragons – I loved the book. A lot of new developments for characters I loved and hated. However, the continuous nature of the story, coupled with the fact that this was, indeed, a filler book made it hard for me to choose this one.

Inheritance – This shares one quality with the book that I chose: it’s the end of a series. However, Inheritance plodded around for a while before settling down into telling the story that I wanted to read. I was ready for Galbatorix to get the almighty SMITE–instead, I go some more Roran chapters. I didn’t mind them, but I didn’t necessarily want to read them either.

Zone One – This is an AMAZING book, but wasn’t chosen on the sole virtue that I just started reading it about 3 days ago.

Zoo City – See above.

The Alchemists of Kush & Escape from Beckyville – Sensing a pattern?

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Trilogy – I bought other books this year, and left this one by the wayside. I feel very sad.

No, the best speculative fiction book of the year (that I’ve read) was The Sacred Band, the third and final book in David Anthony Durham’s Acacia Trilogy. Why was it so good?

1. It continued perfectly the story that was started in the first two books. I like that all of the books flow from one to the other, and the story is so well told that I was engrossed as soon as I started the book, and invested in what happened to everyone.

2. The characters are done well. The story is mainly about the characters: Corinn Akaran‘s iron hold on The Known World, her love for her son, Aliver’s reacquisition of life, Mena’s coming to terms with her sister’s actions, and Rialus Neptos’ strategies of redemption while getting busy with enormous, hairy women. Death by Snoo-Snoo, anyone? Probably the best new characters were Dariel’s party of humanoid genetic experiments–the Sacred Band.

3. The ending. The Sacred Band was a very good wrap-up, a bold and well crafted ending to a well-loved series. The story is told from different points of view, and this creates a rich pattern of experiences that builds to a great ending.

Now, The Sacred Band was definitely my favorite book of the year, but that’s not to say it was without fault. Durham’s pacing is a thing of wonder, but it’s not the kind of wonder I enjoy. Also, the multiple points of view border on too many, but stops just short. And the disjointed, “each chapter as a moment in life” thing that works so well for George R.R. Martin struggles at the hands of Durham.

Still, I loved this book, and it is definitely the best book I’ve read all year. The verdict is still out, though. Maybe I’ll come back and revisit this post after I read all the books on my TBR list.

What was your pick for the best Speculative Fiction work of the year?

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