2011 was undeniably a great year for fantasy fans and provided us with a multitude of exciting new releases, many of which came from debut authors. Since I started this blog early in the year I have had the pleasure of reading many of these and am therefore proud to present you with this list of my Top 5 Fantasy Debuts of 2011.
As a personal list, this only consists of books I managed to read throughout the year which is, due to other commitments, a fair few less than I would have liked to. As a result there are quite a number of other 2011 debuts I have purchased or received but have yet to read. These include, but are not limited to: Miserere by Teresa Frohock, The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams, Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick, God’s War by Kameron Hurley, Germline by T. C. McCarthy, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper. Be assured that this will be remedied as soon as possible.
1. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Dark and captivating, relentless and haunting, Prince of Thorns is a brilliant epic fantasy that more than delivers in all respects. It is the spectacular debut novel of talented new British author, Mark Lawrence, and the first installment in the Broken Empire trilogy. Not one for the squeamish, Lawrence’s fast-paced and relentless narrative plunges the reader headfirst into a brutal and bloodthirsty world, as seen through the eyes of Jorg, his twisted and warped teen protagonist.Those that can stomach the graphic violence and dark humor that define the novel can expect an exhilarating ride. Dazzling in its brilliance, Prince of Thorns is a must-read for any fan of gritty, epic fantasy that delves into the darkest depths of humanity, and a well-deserved winner of the title “best debut of the year” both on The Ranting Dragon and as my personal number one.
Check out the full review of Prince of Thorns by Stephan and Michelle.
2. Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Hounded was the impressive debut novel of Kevin Hearne, and was closely followed by the equally brilliant sequels Hexed and Hammered. Although I’m not a particularly avid fan of urban fantasy in general, Hearne’s endearing characters and wit won me over immediately. And what’s not to love? A charming Irish druid protagonist, a loveable wise cracking wolfhound companion, multiple pantheons of interfering gods, witches, vampire and werewolf attorneys, and a neighbourly old widow who doesn’t mind you burying a body in her yard, as long as it’s English..
Unfortunately I didn’t get the time to review Hounded. However, Caleigh from The Ranting Dragon did a mighty fine job of it here.
While technically an early 2012 release, Empire State is already available in some stores and thus I have decided to include it in the best of 2011. Empire State is the genre-bending debut novel of New Zealand-born author Adam Christopher, one of Angry Robot’s exciting new acquisitions. A parallel world, Prohibition-era detective noir novel with a superhero spin, its nearly endless plot twists make for a fast-paced and unique saga of surprises that is sure to keep countless readers up into the early hours of the morning.
Want more? Read my full review of Empire State.
4. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me is the much anticipated debut novel of US author Tahereh Mafi. The first book in a projected trilogy, it provides an intense mix of dystopian fantasy and young adult romance with a superhuman twist. I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel as young adult paranormal romance is usually a genre I steer well clear of. However, even I had to admit that this was a rather impressive and page-turning debut complete with great characters and a steamy romance. With its interesting premise and a deft execution, Shatter Me is a undoubtedly a rung above your average paranormal teen romance.
Interested? Check out my full review of Shatter Me.
5. Debris by Jo Anderton
Debris is the debut novel of Australian author Jo Anderton and the first in a projected trilogy, The Veiled Worlds, to be published by Angry Robot Books.Those who take pleasure in checking out new talent on the fantasy scene will have a hard time finding fault with this year’s debuts, and Debris is yet another impressive and promising title to add to the list. Complete with believable and flawed characters, a fascinating world and plenty of story to build on, Debris marks Anderton as an author to watch in the future. Personally, I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series and have a feeling that the next book, Suited, will be even more impressive.
Want to know more about Debris? Read the full review.
There are many other Best Debut lists across the internet that are worth checking out. The Ranting Dragon has a longer list consisting of picks from multiple reviewers (including myself) here. I also like this one from Justin of Staffer’s Musings, our tastes seem pretty similar and he managed to read and review quite a few of the books I missed.