Luke Reviews


Top 15 Books for 2009

Posted by Luke Forney on January 7, 2010 at 2:42 PM


After celebrating the end of the year, and the whole of of the 2009 releases reviewed at Luke Reviews, it is time to celebrate the best. After some tough calls while narrowing down the list, Luke Reviews presents "The Luke Reviews Top 15 Books of 2009"! Listed in alphabetical order of the author's last name, here are the books selected as the creme of the crop from 2009, along with comments from a number of the authors (and editor!) who made the list. A huge thanks goes out to all of the people who got back to me and said something (particularly those of you who went above and beyond the call of duty; your responses were pure gold to read), and for all of the kind words.


The Chronicles of Malus Darkblade: Volume Two by Dan Abnett & Mike Lee



From Dan Abnett: I'd just like to say that Mike and I are delighted and honoured that the second Darkblade omnibus has made your best of 2009 list. Thank you for the accolade--Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2010!



Resistance: The Gathering Storm by William C. Dietz



From William C. Dietz: It was a thrill to learn that Luke had chosen Resistance: The Gathering Storm as one of his top fifteen books of the year. Working with the folks at Insomniac and Sony is a wonderful way to build out a really compelling universe in a way that compliments the games. I'm writing a second book for them now and enjoying every moment of it. I write original novels too, like my Legion of the Damned books, but tie-in work provides an opportunity to be part of a team. And an excuse to play games and call it work!



Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan



(Sadly, Luke Reviews never heard back from Harry Dolan)



The Hidden Man by David Ellis



(Sadly, Luke Reviews never heard back from David Ellis)



Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman



(Neil Gaiman has a rule of thumb that he doesn't answer questions for websites unless you go through his agent, so Luke Reviews didn't contact him)



Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey



From Hugh Howey: It's a real honor to make an "best of" list, but this is a special thrill for me (and not because it's my first and only one). That it comes from a reviewer brave enough to be a critic, someone I trust to point out my work's faults and help me improve as a storyteller, makes inclusion a real treat.



When I wrote the book, I didn't dare dream of it getting picked up by a publisher. I just wanted to please my wife, the most discerning and ornery reader I know (in a good way). That it has gone on to win rave reviews, selling far more copies than I have friends and family, was quite unexpected. That it landed on an end-of-the-year list such as this, I can only say: publish in October, not in January.



Thanks, Luke. And congratulations to all the other authors. They are now on my reading list.



The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume Twenty edited by Stephen Jones



From Stephen Jones: One of the reasons I put together anthologies is for people like you. As an editor, I don't expect the reader to like every story in a book--after all, it reflects my taste--but I do hope that most readers enjoy the majority of them. What I loved about your review of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #20 is that you "got" every single story in the book--you understood exactly why I chose a particular tale, and in an age where most online "reviews" are little more than personal blogs, it is refreshing to find a site that actually still makes an effort to review books intelligently and insightfully.



I am extremely honoured that you have chosen The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #20 as one of your Top 15 Books of the Year--it was an obvious milestone in the series and my career--and I hope that you will continue to spread the word for all genre material in 2010.



My best wishes to you and all your readers for a happy and prosperous New Year!



Storm Approaching by Brian Libby



From Brian Libby: Gold and Glory, the second volume in the Mercenaries series, should be available by early summer. Check, or write me at brnlbb(at), for more information on my books. No glory without honor!



Courage and Honour by Graham McNeill


From Graham McNeill: This was a fun book to write, as it was a chance to get back o basics with the Ultramarines. I'd taken them off to the Eye of Terror in Dead Sky, Black Sun and left them there for a while, as I went off and did other projects, but they were always itching to get back to Ultramar. I knew right away that I couldn't just have them turn up at the gates of their Chapter Monastery and say, 'Hi, we're home...' so that entailed The Killing Ground, a novel about the steps on the way home. Like DS, BS, it was a novel that took the Space Marines out of their comfort zone and had them doing very un-Space Marine-like things, so with Courage and Honour, it was time to rectify that.



I wanted this to be the book that reminds the reader why Space Marines are the premier fighting force in the galaxy. The Imperial Guard may number in the millions, but it's the Space Marines that do the really hard work, the missions that absolutely cannot be allowed to fail. This was going to be a war novel, a book that had the Space Marines doing what they did best, killing their foes with complete and utter dedication and professionalism. I wanted Courage and Honour to be a simple story, and when I say that I don't mean without complexity, I mean that is showed the Ultramarines--and Uriel--in the most classic Space Marine light possible.



These weren't Space Marines operating outside the Codex Astartes, these were warriors who fought with their Primarch's holy tome as their guide, and were winning with it at their side. Of course, I wanted elements that weren't exactly codex, which is what led to Learchus going behind enemy lines and learning what had driven Uriel to make the choices he made. It's a book with plenty of action, from all levels of the conflict, and I hope shows the brutality of warfare in the 40K universe, while also highlighting the heroism and horror that can come out of such desperate conflicts.



It's an honour to write about such an illustrious Chapter, and to have Courage and Honour chosen as one of the fifteen top books of 2009 by Luke gives me the pleasant thought that I did something right. Let's just hope that the follow up book, The Chapter's Due is similarly well received.



The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa



(With the language barrier--Luke doesn't speak Japanese and Issui Ogawa's entire site was in said language--Luke Reviews was unable to contact Issui Ogawa for comment)



Hunt at the Well of Eternity by James Reasoner



From James Reasoner: Thank you so much for including Hunt at the Well of Eternity on your list. I had a great time writing the book, and the fact that so many people have enjoyed reading it is very gratifying.



Kell's Legend by Andy Remic



(Andy Remic was kind enough to explain his very busy situation right now, and our schedules just wouldn't line up, so Luke Reviews couldn't get a comment from him)



Harbinger by Jack Skillingstead


From Jack Skillingstead: Harbinger is based on a loosely connected series of stories I published in Asimov's. In fact, the connection is so loose, I doubt most readers even noticed it--and it may be the connection exists mostly in my own head. The idea of so-called consciousness evolution was the starting point, a sort of organic singularity. But in writing the novel I became fascinated by how individuals interpret experience/phenomenon through their own filters, and that took the narrative in different directions. I'm gratified the book has been so well received, generally, and am especially happy to see it make Luke's Top Fifteen.



Slights by Kaaron Warren



From Kaaron Warren: Writing Slights was difficult. It took a lot out of me emotionally, because I devoted myself to understanding the character Stevie, who is harsh, murderous, funny, and at times repugnant. It was worth the pain if she works on the page.



Emperor's Mercy by Henry Zou



(Luke couldn't find any way to contact Henry Zou and let him know of his selection, so no comment was collected)

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Reply Xisor
4:25 AM on January 8, 2010 
"Courage and Honour" and no "Salamander"? Deary me!

I confess, I did enjoy C&A and "Emperor's Mercy" a ton, but I'm not sure I'd rate 'em top for '09, even amongst only BLP fare. Still, as said, very enjoyable books. Very keen to read "Harbinger".
Reply Luke Forney
12:10 PM on January 8, 2010 
On the one hand, this site started in May, therefore this list won't be representative of a lot of the first half of the year. Also, because of a glitch, I didn't hear back from BL after the first set of books, until early December. That means a lot of BL books didn't get a view here at the site.

That said, when it is my money on the line, I don't pick up Nick Kyme. I have reviewed a number of pieces of his here (more than most other BL authors), and while I think he has potential, I have yet to see him truly tap into it. Salamander came out during the period when I slipped through the system at BL, and with an author that, based on his previous books I had little faith in, I didn't spring for my own copy. From what I have read, reviews have been pretty mixed over it anyways.

For me, Courage and Honour really epitomized Space Marines. It was almost the archetypal Space Marine story, and for that I loved it.

Make sure to pick up Harbinger from Fairwood Press. They put out a number of really good books. Skillingstead blew me away with this first novel.
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