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The Best and the Worst of 2013

The year 2013 ended with my 23rd book read, which missed my initial target of 25 books.  But that’s okay.  I read some pretty long books last year.  This year’s target is 30 books.

In the past year, I rated nine of them a full 5 stars.  Why so many?  Well, I think I chose some pretty good books to read.  Many of them are popular and highly rated.  On the other hand, I did read two that I rated 2 stars.

So, I thought that I’d show you my top 5 books of the year and the worst of the year.  Let’s start at the bottom.

Worst of the Year

moonrush#23 – MoonRush

This book was set to be a fun one to read.  I was expecting an adventure, and I did get one.  However, it was plagued with problems.  The characters were unrealistic and cliche.  The science in this science fiction was so incredibly wrong, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.  They got basic things wrong, including how to create artificial gravity with a spinning space station.  The narration was filled with terrible puns and conversational language.  Some people like it, but it wasn’t for me.

Top 5 of 2013

dune#5 Dune

Although this was written in the 1960s, I found it to be just as incredible to read today as it must have been back then.  I enjoyed this thoroughly.  It showed a distant future with some great world-building, an evolved culture, new religions, and more.  It also showed what it would be like to live in a high tech society without computers.  It’s definitely one of my favourites of the year.  But there are 4 more!

 

thegreathunt#4 The Great Hunt

The first book of The Wheel of Time didn’t get a full 5 stars, but this one did.  It came out quickly with a thoroughly enjoyable story.  The first book started slowly and was quite predictable, but this one was quick and had plenty of twists.  I have a feeling that this will continue to be a great story in future parts.  I really look forward to that.

 

 

silmarillion#3 The Silmarillion

This isn’t really a novel.  J. R. R. Tolkien created this as a kind of way to keep his mythology straight in his mind while he wrote Lord of the Rings, but what he has here is great.  I absolutely loved it.  It reads like a combination of history book and mythology book, and was in a way a kind of religious book.  It was the basis for the history of Middle Earth.  It wasn’t dry at all, and was utterly fascinating.

 

aclashofkings#2 A Clash of Kings

Last year, my number one book was A Game of Thrones. This year, the second book exceeded the first.  I liked it more.  But it only gets #2.  Why?  Well, you’ll see soon.  However, this book was a great one to read.  More death, more drama, more realistic war and politics.  It had everything I liked in the first book and made it even better.  It’s a big book, but it was a joy to read all the way through.  Can’t wait for the next part.

And the Best Book of 2013 Is…

redmars#1 Red Mars

This is the book I’ve wanted to read all my life.  I love space travel, I love planetary science, I love realistic stories about colonising other planets.  It was incredible to read.  A lot of research went into writing this book, and it shows.  Robinson made a great novel here, and I would love to see it made into a movie.  I’m looking forward to the second and third installments.

So, do you agree or disagree with my choices?  Leave a comment.

Book Review – A Clash of Kings

aclashofkingsA Clash of Kings is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.  The story picks up right where A Game of Thrones left off, and it continues in the same fashion.  That is, lots of death, violence, sex, and plot twists.

The first book established the explosive situation that we’re in the middle of now with this book.  The format is the same, each chapter following a different character, and we see what’s happening from their point of view.  We now have Davos, who follows Stannis Baratheon, and Theon Greyjoy, who was a secondary character in the first book.  From these points of view, we see everything that happens in this massive war that is now taking place.  It’s a very complex story, and we don’t always see everything that’s happening.  There are many surprises, including deaths that we don’t expect.  That’s one thing I’ve learned from reading these books, don’t expect everyone to live.  War is nasty, and the heroes may be the ones to die.

At this point, I’m finding that the most interesting characters to me are Tyrion, Daenerys, and Arya.  Tyrion is a master at manipulating people.  He is fascinating.  He’s not all bad, though.  He does have a heart, and he seems to legitimately prefer a more peaceful solution to everything, but not everything goes his way.  Daenerys is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, after her father was deposed by Robert Baratheon.  She’s young, but she has dragons on her side.  She’s driven by her birthright, and she believes that’s most important.  She wants what she believes is rightfully hers.  Despite her young age, she’s more mature than you’d expect.  Arya is the youngest Stark daughter, and I think one of the best fighters.  She has a lot of drive, and she certainly doesn’t give up.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how she does in the next book.  I’m not so fond of either Baratheon brother, who both claim the crown, but especially Stannis.  I also don’t particularly like Catelyn Stark or Sansa Stark.  I definitely don’t like Theon, but I do like Jon Snow.  His story is going to be very interesting in the next book, I believe.

The setting is vividly pictured in my mind thanks to Martin’s ability to describe the scenes.  I get the image of a war-torn land filled with fires, burnt forests, and lots of death.  It’s dark, and that’s the way it should be.  The political maneuvering, betrayal, and blackmailing make this very unpredictable and anything could blow up at any time.  I’m loving it.  Unlike traditional fantasy, this series doesn’t use much magic, though it’s starting to show up now.  Also, the dragons are coming back.  This is getting very interesting.

I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.  Amazing storytelling, believable three dimensional characters, incredible world building, and surprises everywhere.  Highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t mind a lot of violence, sex, and death in their fantasy.