Jan 26, 2011

RIP Wizard Magazine

Another magazine goes online-only. Wizard was one of my favorites, and I'll be really sad to see it go, especially considering the fact that I have never been even remotely interested in online publications. Perhaps I'm getting old... Anyway, more about the whole deal here.

Jan 25, 2011

Canadian cover art for The White Luck Warrior

This cover for R. Scott Bakker's The White Luck Warrior is rather horrible if you ask me, but if Canadians aren't pleased with the US and UK versions, it's their own choice, I guess... Btw, is it me, or has someone skipped the "The" in the title?

Jan 23, 2011

Supernatural - Season 3

After Dean made the deal with the Crossroads demon to save Sam's life, he now has only a year left until the hellhounds come to drag him to Hell. What's even better, thanks to the Winchesters now there's an army of demons loose across the globe, and nobody knows what they are after. And if that were not enough, FBI agent Henriksen (Charles Malik Whitfield) is still hot on the brothers' heels, while at the same time Bela Talbot (Lauren Cohan) - procurer of mystical objects for the right price and con-artist extraordinaire - keeps interfering with their hunts. And on top of all that trouble, there's the matter with Ruby (Katie Cassidy) - a mysterious girl who possesses a knife that can kill demons just like the Colt, and claims that she could save Dean's life.

Season 3 of Supernatural had the misfortune of airing during the writers' strike a few years ago, and is therefore six episodes shorter than the rest of the seasons. But in its meager sixteen servings it manages to go so many new directions that it puts the previous two years to shame. There are almost no "monster of the week" episodes, and when they occur, there is always some part of them dedicated to the main story-arc - the Winchesters trying to find a way to escape from Dean's deal, while at the same time attempting to figure out what the demons are after and why all of them seem to be gunning for Sam. Memorable episodes include Bad Day at Black Rock, which not only introduces the charmingly annoying Bela, but is also among the most hilarious episodes in the entire show; Bedtime Stories rocks Grimm's fairy tales, while A Very Supernatural Christmas is all about the Christmas spirit... dragging people to their gruesome death through the chimney.

Hands down the best episode in the season though, and probably one of the best in the entire show, is Mystery Spot, in which the Winchesters get mojoed into their own Groundhog Day where Sam has to witness Dean's death again and again, unable to prevent it no matter how he changes circumstances. It is both funny and sad, especially towards the end. The other episode vying for the crown of the season is Ghostfacers where everybody's favorite Harry and Ed (of Hell House fame) shoot their own reality show in the most haunted house in America. The entire episode is shot in Big Brother docu-style which I normally hate, but here it's really hilarious.

Now for the "but". Like I said in my previous Supernatural review, this show really doesn't do drama very well. It has its occasional moments of brilliance, but overall the serious stuff tends to drag horribly and not move in any meaningful direction. The Winchesters just pile issues on top of issues, the important problems keep not being shared, or when they are, the conversation stops, because obviously that's what people with issues do - avoid problems. So the end result is boring drama that just slows the otherwise great season.

And Season 3 is really great! On my first viewing it was definitely my favorite season, with awesome characters like Henriksen and Ruby, as well as all the cool new demon info and the awesomeness that are the few short cameos of Lilith. Plus, the trend of shooting truly imaginative and unorthodox episodes starts here, and some of its best results are in this season. Being a bridge between the Yellow-eyed demon story-arc and the demon war arc, and with the writers' strike to cripple it, Season 3 should have been the weakest in the show. Instead, it is arguably the best.


Jan 21, 2011

Brandon Sanderson cover goodness

Just a little cover art I stumbled onto - the Mistborn trilogy cover for the e-book edition, and the UK art for Elantris - Sanderson's debut novel. They are both very good, and I like how all the UK editions share the same style, but I have to admit that I am thoroughly in love with the first one, shallow creature that I am. Honestly, if I saw this artwork on an actual omnibus edition, I'd buy it in an instant!

Jan 18, 2011

Artwork from the upcoming limited edition of Joe Abercrombie's Before They Are Hanged

Subterranean are preparing a limited edition of Joe Abercrombie's Before They Are Hanged - the second book in his First Law trilogy. Alexander Preuss, who did the art for The Blade Itself, is once again handling the project, and judging by this promo, he's doing just as great a job, as he did with the first book.

For more info, go to Subterranean's page for the book.

Jan 17, 2011

Supernatural - Season 2

After the shocking cliff-hanger of Season 1, the Winchester family is put into a hospital, with Dean's life hanging by a thread. He pulls through, but at a terrible price, and the Yellow-eyed demon is once again on the loose. Only this time he also has the Colt. Sam and Dean have to find him, while at the same time they both battle their own battles - Sam with the doubts about what his powers mean and what the demon's plans for him and the others like him are; and Dean with the guilt and despair of what hunting has cost their family.

Season 2 of Supernatural goes way further than Season 1 ever did. Although the main story-arc is more central than before, there is still time for a lot of stand-alone episodes, and it is there that the evolution becomes obvious. Gone are the formulaic plots, and this time around almost none of the stories is truly predictable. Both the rhythm and twists are original and fresh, and there are no two episodes that feel alike.

Sadly, the main story-line is a lot more convoluted and... well, angsty than the previous season. The brothers' personal demons tend to get a little tedious, showing for the first time a major flaw in the show - apart from a few awesome exceptions, Supernatural doesn't do very convincing drama. Sure, it doesn't fall entirely flat either, but unlike shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which it imitates in some ways), there is no actual character development throughout the season. Instead, the issues tend to just either be pushed aside, or resolve themselves behind the camera.

That said, Season 2 is still a lot better than the first one in many aspects. To compensate for the loss of... freshness... of the Winchesters, we now have Bobby who makes multiple appearances throughout the season, as well as Ellen (Samantha Ferris) - the owner of the Roadhouse, where Hunters gather - and her daughter Jo (Alona Tal), both of whom are really awesome, and it's a crime that they show up in so few episodes.

There are a few really memorable episodes in this season, such as the opener In My Time of Dying, and the last stand-alone, What Is And What Should Never Be - both of which are basically Dean-centered, and show off his coolness in two drastically different ways. Another great story is Tall Tales, which deals with a homicidal ghost, alien abduction and alligators in the sewers (yes, exactly!), as well as the absolutely hilarious POVs of the Winchesters when they are pissed at each other and tell Bobby different versions of what's been going on. The two-part finale, All Hell Breaks Loose, finally reveals the Yellow-eyed demon's master plan, and puts an end to that story-arc. Sadly, the whole deal with the superpowered kids is ultimately rather underwhelming, but the ending is still epic as hell (see what I did there?).

Season 2 of Supernatural is in some ways less enjoyable to watch than Season 1, but it establishes a lot more of the world, raises the stakes a lot higher for the next seasons, and gets a lot deeper into the brothers' convoluted relationship. It is also a lot smarter, which is also part of why it's a little less enjoyable, but in the end, it's just as much worth seeing as the first season, and I'd even say more, since it closes a big chapter in the Winchester story. The hunt has ended. Now the war is starting.


The Game Begins - the latest trailer for A Game of Thrones

The latest trailer for the HBO show A Game of Thrones. It looks awesome! Check it out right away!

Jan 15, 2011

Cover art for the e-book edition of Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan's Knife of DreamsTowers of Midnight

Here's the amazing artwork for the e-book edition of the thirteenth installment of The Wheel of Time. As usual, it is a universe apart from the awkwardness that happened to the actual hardcover...

Jan 12, 2011

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

I last read Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire when I was fifteen. A Feast for Crows wasn't even written at the time, and I read the first three books in my own native language. Around the time it became apparent that the release date for A Dance with Dragons alternates between "a long time off" and "never", I decided that I would not touch the series again until it was completed. Aeons passed, however, and I'm not the innocent dumb kid I was then. That is to say, I'm another dumb kid now, less innocent perhaps, but oh well. The A Game of Thrones show draws near, and it even seems that the fifth book is to be published before the end of the world. So I decided to hell with teenage vows, and let's recap. And I'm terribly happy I did that, because A Game of Thrones blew my mind! So here's a review of a book everybody's read:

The Seven Kindoms of Westeros are a huge land of forests, mountains and wild rivers, where seven Great Houses vie for power. An impossibly huge wall of ice and stone protects its northern border from the frozen wasteland beyond, where wild tribes and other things - older things - live. United hundreds of years ago by Aegon the Conqueror, first of the Thargaryen kings, and his dragons, Westeros is now governed by Robert of the House Baratheon, after a bloody civil war ended the Thargaryen rule fifteen years ago.

The book follows three major storylines, as Eddard Stark, head of one of the seven great Houses, is summoned by his old friend Robert to serve as the King's Hand, after the previous Hand has died under mysterious circumstances. In court, he faces the intrigues of the Queen's family - the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, an ambitious and rich House - as well as various other factions, only to stumble upon a secret that could potentially devastate the kingdom.

Meanwhile, on the Wall, Jon Snow - Eddard Stark's bastard son - joins the Black Brothers, an order dedicated to protecting Westeros from the threats of the frozen North, even though nobody believes in them anymore. But as the years-long summer draws to an end, an even longer winter looms just beyond the horizon. And with it comes the long night, when creatures from the legends come out to devour the world. And even if Westeros does not believe in the threat of the Others, Jon is caught in events that could mean not just the end of the Seven Kingdoms, but also of every living creature in them.

And far to the east, beyond the sea, the last two surviving members of the Thargaryen family - prince Vyseris and his young sister Daenerys - are living in exile. Vyseris plots to sell his sister to a powerful warlord from the Dothraki horse tribes, hoping to gain in return her new husband's warriors in order to reconquer the kingdom that Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark stole from his father. However, Daenerys falls in love with Khal Drogo, and soon finds that her destiny goes in an altogether different direction.

A Game of Thrones is comprised of short chapters, and each of them follows a single character's POV. The most often appearing are of course Eddard Stark, his bastard son Jon, and Daenerys, but others are almost as prominent, like Eddard's wife Caetlyn, their son Bran and his sisters Sansa and Aryq, as well as the Queen's dwarf brother Tyrion Lanister (who, incidentally, is one of the best characters in the series). Through those many eyes George Martin paints a vivid picture of a pseudo-medieval world of knights and armies, of political intrigue and ancient magic that nobody believes in.

The author uses the supernatural very sparingly. The focus of the book is the power struggle and the Great Houses' machinations, but Martin still creates a world that feels fantastic, even in its amazing geography. A castle perched on the top of an impossibly high mountain above the clouds; a Wall of ice that's almost seven hundred feet high; a city of stolen gods that could house every member of a thousand tribes. A Game of Thrones also gives the reader a strong feeling of a threat looming just beyond the horizon, and one that the Seven Kingdoms willfully ignore. The two secondary plot-lines - Jon's and Daenerys' - use the inexplicable more often, and it is there that we learn more about the strange nature of the world's years-long seasons, the truth about the ancient creatures that lived before humans, or the fate of the dragons.

However, what separates George Martin from almost every other writer of epic fantasy is the fact that he is a word-smith first, and epic fantasy writer second. The language used in A Game of Thrones is incredibly elegant, used with a combination of impossible attention to detail and at the same time a seaming ease that speaks of enormous talent. Unlike most other authors in the field, Martin started out with science fiction and scripts for TV (he has written many episodes of The Twilight Zone for example). He is also the creator of the shared world of the Wild Cards series, and a contributor/editor of a mind-numbing quantity of short story anthologies. His own short story collection - Dreamsongs - came out a few years ago, and was so vast, that most editions were split into two volumes. He has won the Hugo award four times, the Nebula twice, as well as a huge number of other awards and nominations.

It is easy to forget all this amidst the anger so many fans feel for the long time he has taken in writing A Song of Ice and Fire, but I will not go there. George R. R. Martin is a lot more than "the author of an epic fantasy series", but even though I knew that, rereading A Game of Thrones in English now made me aware of this fact in a way that I wasn't before. The first installment in the series is a masterpiece of storytelling and plot-construction, as well as introducing complex and believable characters, which - even if separated into "good" and "bad" factions - all carry enough humanity in them to be relateable to a degree. The fact that two of the fans' favorites are members of the "evil" Lannister family is proof enough of how good the characterization is.

One warning to the three of you who haven't yet read the series. None of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire is self-sufficient. A Game of Thrones ends far away from where it starts, but it ends with a thousand cliffhangers. And even if none of them is a real nail-biter, it is more than obvious that the series is supposed to be experienced in its entirety, as a single titanic novel. And since probably not even our grandchildren will live to see the last installment, one should think twice before starting it.

However, I say that it is worth the frustration. A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the very few pinnacles of the Fantasy genre, and a shining example of masterful storytelling, worldbuilding and character creation. To deny yourself so much enjoyment just because the story is not yet finished, would be a crime. One you may live to be grateful for, but it's not funny if it's that safe, right?


Jan 10, 2011

New Gene Wolfe, China Mieville and Paolo Bacigalupi offerings from Subterranean

will be publishing limited editions of Gene Wolfe's upcoming Home Fires and China Mieville's Embassytown, as well as Paolo Bacigalupi's award-winning The Windup Girl. So far Wolfe's book is the only one that has a cover art (above). As for the other two, Embassytown will once again feature a dust jacket by Vincent Chong who did Kraken, and The Windup Girl will feature the two short stories that the novel grew from, as well as a new introduction by the author and interior illustration. More information on those books when it becomes available. Personally, all three of them look very tempting to me.

Jan 9, 2011

Supernatural - Season 1

I wasn't a fan of Supernatural from the start. Even though I'd heard a lot about the show, it took a long time for me to give it a try, and by the time I finally did, Season 3 was nearly finished. However, I quickly found just how lucky this delay had been, considering the monstrous addictiveness of the Winchesters' adventures. Recently I've started a rewatch, and decided that's a good enough excuse for reviewing one of the best shows on the subject ever to appear on TV.

The story begins twenty two years ago, in Lawrence, Texas. One night Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) enters the nursery of her six months old son Sam, to find a stranger over the baby's crib. Her scream draws her husband John (Watchmen's Jeffrey Dean Morgan) upstairs, but by the time he gets there, he can only witness in horror as his wife, pinned to the ceiling and bleeding, bursts into flames. John runs away with Sammy and his older son Dean, while their home and the life they knew burn behind them.

Twenty two years later the Winchester brothers have gone their separate ways. Dean (Jensen Ackles) and John have stayed together, going into the night to hunt the monsters, ghosts and demons that haunt the world, unseen by common people. In the mean time, Sam (Jared Padalecki) has opted for a normal life and is headed toward a bright future as a pre-law student in Stanford. Until one day Dean comes to tell him that their father has disappeared, and he needs his brother's help to find him. At first, Sam is reluctant to abandon his college life, but then tragedy strikes again, and the search for John Winchester begins.

Needless to say that in their travels, the brothers stumble upon a cornucopia of supernatural beasties - demons, monsters from fairy tales and urban legends, pagan gods, ghosts and mythical creatures. Most of Season 1 is actually comprised of stand-alone episodes, with the leads for the search spread thinly over the twenty two episodes. That is not to say that the main story-arc is non-existent, but it takes no more than five or six episodes, most of those - toward the end.

The first thing that separates Supernatural from shows like The X-Files or Buffy is the level of horror in the show. Despite the moderately light tone and the wisecracking (mostly courtesy of the insanely charming Dean, but I'll get there in a moment), there is a lot of blood, gore and terror in the cases that the brothers pursue. The body-count is impressive, and many episodes could easily stand toe to toe with an expensive horror movie. The nasties are often impressive, and apart from a few lapses, the CGI looks expensive.

Of course, monsters do not a TV show make, and Supernatural both excels and in a way also fails in the most important aspect - the casting. The Winchester brothers are spot on. Dean is charming, roguish smartass who always has something funny to say, and a quick smile to get himself into trouble with. He likes the ladies, and the ladies like him, but at the same time there is no one you'd want more by your side when it comes to dealing with the monster in your closet. Sam has the same training as his brother, having left after turning 18, but he could not be more different. Where Dean presents a happy-go-lucky facade, his younger bro is brooding, serious, studious and in possession of the biggest stick you could possibly stick up your butt. Or so it begins, as with the passing of seasons both main characters evolve a lot, roles get reversed more than once, and nobody is near to where they started.

However, in Season 1 the dynamic between the Winchesters is pure joy to behold. Sam and Dean's relationship is complicated but true, and with all the baggage and bad blood in the family, they are still each other's biggest support. Plus, the constant arguing, smartassery, pranks and snide remarks, combined with the touchy-feely stuff (as Dean dubs the emotional moments) make for one of the best TV couples of all time, and is the main reason to watch Supernatural.

Unfortunately, they are basically the only characters in the first twenty two episodes of the show. If there is a lesson everyone working in TV needs to learn from Joss Whedon, it is that longer mediums need their support cast. They need an ensemble. And even though Supernatural gets there, eventually, this happens slowly throughout the seasons, and it never reaches the richness of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Battlestar Galactica for example. Apart from the brothers, there are only three other recurring characters (every one of which would be a spoiler to name, so I won't do it), and they appear in less than four episodes each. Even the longest surviving member of the cast - Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) doesn't make his entrance until the very last episode of Season 1. And even beyond that, he appears rarely enough - he has only 35 episodes to his name (while the entire show has reached 126 up to this point).

There is another problem with the opening season of Supernatural - its episodes are way too predictable. Basically, all the stand-alones follow a single pattern - gruesome supernatural killing occurs; the brothers find out about it, go to investigate; investigation galore; they find out what the deal is; they kill the thing; the end. There is also a hot chick involved somewhere in the process, usually for Dean to flirt with, but of course, none of them are recurring characters. Season 2 already breaks the patterns and begins introducing more original stories, but the first one could occasionally get tedious.

Still, those are not problems that would prevent you from enjoying the show. It compensates with its great main characters, smart and witty dialogue (although, of course, nowhere near Whedon standards) and the high production values, giving real life to the supernatural. And even in Season 1 there are a few episodes original enough to warrant special attention, like Asylum, with its brilliant madhouse atmosphere and the role reversal of ghosts and victims; or the brilliant comedic Hell Hous, where a local urban legend keeps changing, altering the evil ghost in a haunted house with it. This episode also introduces two awesome characters who reappear in later seasons - the "Ghost hunters" Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) and Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) - and also have a spin-off web show of their own, called Ghostfacers.

And if you stick with it, Season 1 of Supernatural treats you to an awesome showdown and one of the most nail-biting cliffhangers in TV's recent history. My advice is to give it a try and do stick with it. This is a show that gets better and better with each season, the stakes getting higher and higher, and characters getting deeper and deeper. And even if Season 1 is a bit uncertain in moments, and lacks the punch to herald a truly special TV show, it is still better than most anything on the subject you're likely to find.


Jan 7, 2011

Eleven new photos from A Game of Thrones

The level of hype I've been exhibiting these past few days over the upcoming HBO show A Game of Thrones is mildly psychotic, and I apologize in advance if I start geeking out about it at random times in the near future. Meanwhile, I just stole those eleven production photos from Winter is Coming and I hurry to share them with you. Click on the images to engorge!

Arya Stark and Syrio Forel

Bran Stark

Catelyn Stark

Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont

Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow

Joffrey Baratheon

Ned Stark and a direwolf (probably Lady)

Ned Stark

Robb Stark

Robb and Bran Stark with the direwolf cubs Grey Wind and Summer

Robert Baratheon and Catelyn, Ned and Robb Stark

Honestly, April 17 can't come soon enough...

Mark Charan Newton's Mellowing & Industry Observations

In a post on his blog, writer Mark Charan Newton talks about blogging, publishing and Other Stuff™. It's interesting enough, although I'm not sure how right he is concerning the advent of publisher sites. Anyway, his advice for bloggers ("people love lists") is absolutely priceless, so check out the entire post!

(notice the mellow and observing picture)

Jan 5, 2011

The books I'm expecting in 2011

This is just a short list, and I haven't put that much thought into it, but I felt the need to write down the books I'm most eager to read in order of their anticipated awesomeness.

1. The White Luck Warrior by R. Scott Bakker
Even though I was slightly disappointed with The Judging Eye (there will be a review soon, after I reread it), I still can't wait to read this one. The Prince of Nothing trilogy is by far my favorite work of fantasy, and I trust Scott Bakker to deliver again with The Aspect Emperor.

2. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
For whatever reason, it's always been extremely hard for me to explain why I like The Name of the Wind so much. It is more or less a generic "orphan goes to school to become a great magician" story, but it felt neither generic, nor cliche. I am planning to reread this one as well, and I hope I can pinpoint what makes it so good. That said, The Wise Man's Fear took its sweet time, risking to put Pat Rothfuss in the same basket where George Martin is happily writing A Dance With Dragons with one hand, while supposedly programming Duke Nukem Forever with the other or something like that. Which would not be an issue, had the series not been promoted as an "already written" kind of deal, and had Rothfuss not been a writer with only that one successful book under his name. Still, the waiting is almost over and The Wise Man's Fear will be awesome. I just know it.

3. Embassytown by China Mieville
Probably not for the first time, I have to admit to the terrible shame of having never read an entire China Mieville book. It's not that I don't want to, I actually crave to! I just never seem to be able to get around to it. So, apart from about 250 pages from Perdido Street Station, read before the dawnatime, I have no experience with Mieville. However, I know enough to know that I have to read Embassytown. This writer, doing a space opera? Yes, please!

4. Home Fires by Gene Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is the greatest living writer in the speculative field area. That doesn't always make him the most interesting or approachable one, but it's a nice thing to be, none the less. I am not always in love with his fantasy, magical realism and mystical works in general, but his SF is always spot on, and terribly, terribly engrossing. Home Fires promises the usual Wolfeisms - confusing identities, stories within stories, and weird romance. In a futuristic setting. What more can the heart desire?

5. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Say what you want about Sanderson, his Mistborn trilogy was one of the best fantasy works I've read in years. So, when he announced that 2011 will see the publication of a stand-alone novel set in the same world, but 300 years in the future, in a society much more technologically advanced than the Final Empire... well, appetites have been whet. There is still very little information about this book, particularly concerning its release date, but I am fervently hoping it's around the summer. The Alloy of Law would make for awesome summer reading!

6. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
Had you asked me three years ago, this book would be at the top of the list. However, the Malazan series is not what it once was, and I have utterly lost faith in Steven Erikson's ability to deliver a satisfying conclusion to it. I have been so disinterested lately, that I haven't even gotten around to reading Dust of Dreams (that will happen soon, however, followed by a review of the book here). Still, it has been a long ride, and at least the first half of it was quite memorable. Hoping against hope has always been appealing to me, so here's to hope!

7. The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Yes, yes, I know this book is already out in the UK. But the Pyr editions are so much more... well, beautiful. Plus, I am yet to finish Blood of the Mantis, so there's no rush. Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series is slowly finding its pace, and getting better and better with each installment. I have been told that Salute the Dark marks an ending to the current story-arc, which means that The Scarab Path would be the beginning of a new one. I admit I'm curious as to how Tchaikovsky will handle that with the experience he's acquired since Empire in Black and Gold.

8. The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan
Just like Mieville, the next two places on my list are left for writers I am really interested in, but haven't had the chance to check out. I've been meaning to read something by Morgan ever since Altered Carbon, but never got around to it. I am definitely planning to try The Steel Remains however, and if it's half as good as everybody says, then The Cold Commands should go a lot higher on my list.

9. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
I've heard so many good things about Abercrombie, that I just couldn't not put The Heroes on my list. The reason for it being so far back is that I am yet to even start The First Law trilogy, and considering my reading speed lately, it would be a long time until I get to this particular book. But I will get there! One has to believe in reaching for the stars!

10. By Light Alone by Adam Roberts
My first and only contact with Roberts was through one of his parodies - The McAtrix Derided. I did not fall in love with the book, and although there were a few really funny moments, the overall feeling I got was that the writer wanted to mix serious SF with a movie spoof, and it hadn't really worked. That said, since then I've read a lot of Adam's posts in his blog, and I have gradually warmed up to the idea of reading more of his work, preferably not spoofs, but his own stuff. By Light Alone seems like a wonderful place to do that, with its promised "Fitzgeraldian" futuristic New York atmosphere. I will be checking it out, that's for sure.

Honorary mention: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
Yeah, I know. But for what it's worth, I think we have an actual shot at reading this book in 2011, even if it's a Christmas present. I wouldn't mention it though, if it weren't for the fact that I am currently rereading A Game of Thrones, due to the HBO show coming up (there will be review of it, btw, followed by other cutting edge reviews such as The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian! Stay tuned!). It was a good ten years since I last read it, and that wasn't in the original language either, so I am thoroughly enamored with it. As for Dance... well, time will tell.