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A Repentant Contrarian


A dear friend used to say I was a contrarian. I prefer to think of myself as an iconoclast, but after reading my last few blog posts, I realize I’m starting to sound like Andy Rooney.

Rather than write about how some of the science fiction canon doesn’t hold up for me, most notably Ringworld and Hyperion, I’m dodging that “I’m always complaining” feeling and offering up my most recommended books of the years instead.


Contrarian my ass.


Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor, is a lovely, complex adventure set in a genuinely original world. It is the story of a foundling librarian who turns out to have many gifts to which even he has been blind. Wonderful magic and characters.


Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. I just freaking love The Locked Tomb series. The characters are witty and funny and sentimental in just the right places. The world-building is impressive, and the central figures, in all their dysfunctional glory, are compelling. I can’t wait for the next book.


Wendy, Darling and Hooked, by A.C Wise. Wendy, Darling was released in 2021, but these two books go together. Wise has long worked magnificently in shorter forms, her stories winning her Nebula and Hugo nominations. Her debut as a novelist is utterly remarkable. These two books changed me.


Fevered Star, by Rebecca Roanhorse. This is the second book of her series Between Earth and Sky. She creates a world reminiscent of Mesoamerican kingdoms. She handles a big cast of complex characters and the political machinations of a country torn by clan conflicts like a master. Read Black Sun first.


Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel. I’ve already written a blog post about this book: gorgeous, masterful, exciting.


The Knight Nurses of the Order of St. John. It’s hard to believe this whole series came out this year.


· The Road to Damascus introduces us to the knights and their lives. They are reincarnated knights hospitaller who crisscross America as traveling nurses bringing comfort to the sick and fighting evil with magic.


· But a Wandering Voice grapples with political victories by the Returned, sorcerers banished to another dimension who seek to return and rule our world.


· A Singer of Thrace has Paul on a rescue mission to the Returned’s homeland, the Ether to save his daughter.


· Between the Dragon and His Wrath sees the knights mount a full frontal attack on the growing evil in the world fighting an epic magical battle on the south lawn of the White House.


· In the Wilds and Mountains I Hunt (out on December 23) assembles the council once more in an increasingly desperate fight.


· The final book in the series, In Thy Absence, will be a novel (the first five are novellas). It will be out in the spring of 2023.


My Sun Sets to Rise Again is the second book of my Concerto for Rachel Trilogy. Set during the same period as The Vials of Our Wrath, My Sun Sets follows a group of people undergoing rehabilitation therapy and returning to their physical youth in a world where the treachery of those administering the therapy is only just coming to light. This title is also available as an audiobook, a work that showcases the enormous talent of narrator Stacey Lind.


Pour yourself some eggnog and settle in with one of these.


You can thank me later or you can argue with me about any of these and really put my contrarian nature to the test.


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