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Wednesday , 04 January 2017 , 08 : 21 PM
This year saw an absolute truckload of grimdark material hit the shelves and now that the year's wrapped up, it's time to once again go to the GdM team for their picks of 2016. Matthew Cropley | Red Tide by Marc Turner Red Tide is a flawlessly executed fantasy novel. The first two books in Marc Turner’s Chronicles of the Exile were fantastic, but Red Tide exceeds them by drawing both discrete plot-lines together in a perfectly structured adventure. It’s my top pick for 2016 because I simply can’t think of a single criticism. Red Tide is a page-turner from the very beginning, filled with moral ambiguities, grit, visceral action, deep characters, wondrous magic, and horrifying monsters. It also succeeded in genuinely surprising me several times, and by the end all I wanted was for the next books in the series to be out already. Kristy Mika | Those Below by Daniel Polansky The best I've read from 2016 is Those Below (The Empty Throne #2) by Daniel Polansky. You know those photographers that go into complete disaster zones, where something absolutely catastrophic is occurring, yet they can take photographs that are stunningly beautiful? "Oh! See how pretty that nuclear bomb looked as it destroyed a civilisation! How spectacular!" is the best way I can describe it! The juxtaposition between Polansky's beautifully written prose, and the utterly ugly destruction perpetrated by the characters within the plot, made it the most disturbing book (duology really...) I've read in a long time. Cheresse Burke | Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Crooked Kingdom, the stunning second half of the Six of Crows duology, is not just my favourite Grimdark read of the year, but possibly one of my favourites of all time. Bardugo gives us six compelling, emotional characters, who sacrifice morality, secrets and goodwill to settle...
Thursday , 07 January 2016 , 04 : 11 AM
When the Heavens Fall By Marc Turner Review by Matthew Cropley   Can traditional high fantasy be grimdark? Apparently, yes. Marc Turner’s debut novel When the Heavens Fall showed me that fantasy can be saturated with magic without losing any of the grit. It manages to deliver an old-school quest narrative without succumbing to the clichés and stagnation that drove me away from classic fantasy and in to the loving embrace of grimdark. Mayot Mencada, a necromancer, has stolen the Book of Lost Souls and unleashed death magic to blight the land. This focus of power attracts all manner of gods, monsters, and mortals, some hoping to claim the power for themselves and others simply seeking to destroy it. Luker, a pragmatic magical warrior, only hopes to find some sign of his old master, who disappeared tracking Mayot down. Romany, the self-indulgent high-priestess of a shadowy god called the Spider, seeks to manipulate Mayot to her own ends. Ebon, a prince tormented by spirits, only wants to save his kingdom. Finally, Parolla, a young woman cursed with a darkly magical lineage, seeks to use the Book of Lost Souls as a gateway into the underworld itself. Each of these four separate strands hurtles together, telling different sides of a story that comes together in an explosive climax. On the surface the plot may sound like the same sort of thing we’ve all heard a thousand times, and yet, Turner manages to put a spin on it that kept me interested until the very end. The world is dark, the morality ambiguous, and the characters grey. High fantasy is given a grimdark twist and the best of both is brought to the table. Turner’s magical world let me recapture the sense of wonder that drew me to fantasy as a child...
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