2020. What a year, right? With only a few days left, I thought it was about time I told you all about my favourite books of the year. This type of post is the closest thing I have to a tradition here on Jack’s Bedtime Reading!
The premise here is quite simple: I am going to talk about five books that I read this year that I loved the most. There is one quick rule here though, and that is that I can only pick one book per author/series. I will be adding some honourable mentions at the end, and there won’t be the one author rule for those, so you might see a few repeated.
Anyway, without any more delay and rambling, here are the five books that I loved reading the most this year!
Lancelot by Giles Kristian
Rome is burning.
In Britain, Uther Pendragon is dying.
Enemies stalk his land.
Into this uncertain world a boy is cast – an outsider, plagued by memories of those he’s lost.
Under the watchful eye of Merlin, the boy begins his journey to manhood. He meets another outcast, Guinevere – wild, proud and beautiful. And he is dazzled by Arthur – a warrior who carries the hopes of the people like a flaming torch in the dark.
But these are treacherous times, and the fate of Britain rests on a sword’s edge. This young man becomes a lord of war: loved, hated, admired and feared. He is a man forsaken but not forgotten.
He is Lancelot.
A stunning retelling of the Arthurian myths. This time with the unique twist of being told from the POV of Lancelot. Giles Kristian really beings the world of Post-Roman, Pre-Saxon Britain to life with his beautiful, lyrical writing style with a story that has just about everything in it, from romance to tragedy, adventure and brutal, bloody battles.
My affiliate link for Lancelot.
The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie
Conspiracy. Betrayal. Rebellion.
Peace is just another kind of battlefield…
Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.
For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye . . . before it kills her.
The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.
The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever.
This book is quite simply everything good and great about the First Law and Joe Abercrombie books, done even better than normal. I loved A Little Hatred last year and this is a fantastic sequel. Its gritty, grimy, brutal and filled with political intrigue, compelling characters (as always!) and gut-wrenching plot twists.
My affiliate link for The Trouble with Peace.
Godless Lands by Sean Crow
In a plague-ravaged world, humanity struggles to recognize itself. The Blight, a vicious disease that decimated mankind, beasts, and even plant life has left its crippling mark on the world. Isolated havens, once prosperous cities, selfishly hoard what little food remains.
Yet, hope lives on where least expected.
Wandering the Godless Lands between the havens, Ferris, an aged and Blight scarred soldier turned vagabond finds himself thrust into the role of guardian for a desperate noblewoman and her daughter. Thinking he does only a small kindness, Ferris soon finds himself on the run from Sir Arlo, the infamous Death Knight. With no other options, Ferris leads his wards to a hidden community amidst the desolation and hazards of the Godless Lands. What Ferris doesn’t know is that others stalk the death poxed land; a danger that the world is just becoming aware of. The Butcher of Riven is on the prowl, and he hunts for the Hungry God…
A fantastic stand-alone that sits on the shorter style for Fantasy, but that just means the pace is frenetic from the off. Despite the shorter length, Sean Crow manages to pack a whole lot of punch with his grimy world-building and nuanced character work here that makes this book really stand out for me.
Buy Godless Lands here.
We Are The Dead by Mike Shackle
The war is over. The enemy won.
Jia’s people learned the hard way that there are no second chances. The Egril, their ancient enemy, struck with magic so devastating that Jia’s armies were wiped out. Now terror reigns in the streets, and friend turns on friend just to live another day.
Somehow Tinnstra – a deserter, a failure, nothing but a coward – survived. She wants no more than to hide from the chaos.
But dragged into a desperate plot to retake Jia, surrounded by people willing to do anything to win the fight, this time Tinnstra will need to do more than hide.
If Jia is to get a second chance after all, this time she will need to be a hero.
A late comer to the list, and a bit of a cheeky addition as I haven’t actually finished it yet. I’m about two-thirds of the way, though, and absolutely loving it. The pace is startling from the word go, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up, while the characters and world-building are utterly compelling and enthralling in the most brutal, gritty way – but always tinged with the hope that is central to the story.
My affiliate link for We Are The Dead.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighbouring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
All Systems Red is witty, action-packed and just bloody brilliant. The same can be said of for the whole series, but I figured I would whack the first book on this list to entice more people to pick it up. Martha Wells has simply smashed these books out of the park. Despite the short-length of these books – they are novellas after all – we get some a whole host of great characters, intriguing sci-fi world-building, superb pacing and just a hint of mystery in each one.
My affiliate link for All Systems Red.
So, there you have it. The five best books I read this year. This certainly wasn’t an easy list to make as I had a few other books that were all strong contenders. So, here are the ‘honourable mentions’ that just missed out!
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker
Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow
The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan
Anyway, hope you all have a Merry Christmas wherever you are and a Happy New Year! Stay safe out there!