People have often criticized me for being too demanding when I review a novel. They often complain about the fact that very few books ever get a score higher than my infamous 7.5/10. But the fact is that year in and year out, there are always a number of works ending up with an 8/10 or more.

When I announced on the Hotlist's Facebook page last week that Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Avatar would get a 10/10, some people were shocked. I received a couple of messages asking me if it was the first book to get a perfect score from me. I knew there were a few, but I actually had to go through my reviews to find out exactly how many of them had wowed me to perfection. Interestingly enough, in the eleven years I've been reviewing books, Carey's Kushiel's Avatar will be the 11th novel to garner a perfect score. The 13th, if you throw the Mötley Crüe biography and GRRM's The World of Ice and Fire into the mix.

Of course, out of 486 reviews thus far, it's not a very high percentage. Yet it's higher than I would have thought. Over the years, dozens of books ended up with scores of 8/10, 9/10, 9.5/10, and even 9.75/10. But only the ten following novels got a perfect 10/10 from Yours Truly. You can read my review by clicking on their title. Check them out and read them if you haven't already! ;-)

Mea culpa: The Jordan assuredly doesn't belong on that shortlist. But after Winter's Heart and Crossroads of Twilight, I guess I was overexcited by the author's return to form. . .


- Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in what he finds in the “cemetery of lost books,” a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

- James Clavell's Shogun (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power...

- Steven Erikson's Memories of Ice (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

The ravaged continent of Genabackis has given birth to a terrifying new empire: the Pannion Domin. Like a tide of corrupted blood, it seethes across the land, devouring all. In its path stands an uneasy alliance: Onearm's army and Whiskeyjack's Bridgeburners alongside their enemies of old--the forces of the Warlord Caladan Brood, Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii mages, and the Rhivi people of the plains.

But ancient undead clans are also gathering; the T'lan Imass have risen. For it would seem something altogether darker and more malign threatens this world. Rumors abound that the Crippled God is now unchained and intent on a terrible revenge.

Marking the return of many characters from Gardens of the Moon and introducing a host of remarkable new players, Memories of Ice is both a momentous new chapter in Steven Erikson's magnificent epic fantasy and a triumph of storytelling.

- Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . .

- Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

UNDER HEAVEN will be published in April 2010, and takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling. In the novel, Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in the empire's last great war against its western enemies, twenty years before. Forty thousand men, on both sides, were slain by a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently, having spoken to his son in later years about his sadness in the matter of this terrible battle.

To honour his father's memory, Tai spends two years in official mourning alone at the battle site by the blue waters of Kuala Nor. Each day he digs graves in hard ground to bury the bones of the dead. At night he can hear the ghosts moan and stir, terrifying voices of anger and lament. Sometimes he realizes that a given voice has ceased its crying, and he knows that is one he has laid to rest.

The dead by the lake are equally Kitan and their Taguran foes; there is no way to tell the bones apart, and he buries them all with honour.

It is during a routine supply visit led by a Taguran officer who has reluctantly come to befriend him that Tai learns that others, much more powerful, have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, presents him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. They are being given in royal recognition of his courage and piety, and the honour he has done the dead. You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly.

You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor. Tai is in deep waters. He needs to get himself back to court and his own emperor, alive. Riding the first of the Sardian horses, and bringing news of the rest, he starts east towards the glittering, dangerous capital of Kitai, and the Ta-Ming Palace - and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.

- George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others--a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

- Robin Hobb's Fool's Fate (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

The triumphant conclusion to our three thrilling fantasy series, from the author of the bestselling Farseer and Liveship traders trilogies. The only hopes for an end to war and insurrection in the Six Duchies rests in the hands of the small party that are embarked on a desperate quest to the frozen island of Aslevjal. Here, so legend says, lies the sleeping form of the legendary great black dragon, Icefyre. The beast is of holy significance to the people of the OutIslands, a powerful talisman, but it is this dragon that their Narcheska has challenged Prince Dutiful to kill. All he has to help him in this in the company of his small coterie: the mercurial old assassin, Chade, the gifted but slow-witted servant boy, Thick, and their Skillmaster, Fitz. The other member of the group has been left behind in Buckkeep, but the Fool will do everything in his power to be with them on the island - he has seen that this is his final destiny. When the ship finally reaches the desolate island it seems out of the question that anything could exist on this wasteland, yet the discoveries that Dutiful and his friends make will not only put the quest and their lives in jeopardy, it will also shape the future of the whole world. The Tawny Man Book 3 brings not only this trilogy but also the Farseer trilogy begun with ASSASSIN'S APPRENTICE in 1996 to a spectacular conclusion. Filled with breathtaking drama and powerful character-led story-telling, Robin Hobb's writing is in a class of its own.

- Ian McDonald's The Dervish House (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shock waves from this random act of twenty-first-century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square.

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House—the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union, a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million, Turkey is the largest, most populous, and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It's a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and central Asia. The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core—the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself—that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama, and a ticking clock of a thriller.

- Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

After four years on the New York Times bestseller list, Tuesdays with Morrie is at last available in paperback.

- Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

The Wheel of Time turns, and Robert Jordan gives us the eleventh volume of his extraordinary masterwork of fantasy.

The dead are walking, men die impossible deaths, and it seems as though reality itself has become unstable: All are signs of the imminence of Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, when Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, must confront the Dark One as humanity’s only hope. But Rand dares not fight until he possesses all the surviving seals on the Dark One’s prison and has dealt with the Seanchan, who threaten to overrun all nations this side of the Aryth Ocean and increasingly seem too entrenched to be fought off. But his attempt to make a truce with the Seanchan is shadowed by treachery that may cost him everything. Whatever the price, though, he must have that truce. And he faces other dangers. There are those among the Forsaken who will go to any length to see him dead--and the Black Ajah is at his side....

Unbeknownst to Rand, Perrin has made his own truce with the Seanchan. It is a deal made with the Dark One, in his eyes, but he will do whatever is needed to rescue his wife, Faile, and destroy the Shaido who captured her. Among the Shaido, Faile works to free herself while hiding a secret that might give her her freedom or cause her destruction. And at a town called Malden, the Two Rivers longbow will be matched against Shaido spears.

Fleeing Ebou Dar through Seanchan-controlled Altara with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, Mat attempts to court the woman to whom he is half-married, knowing that she will complete that ceremony eventually. But Tuon coolly leads him on a merry chase as he learns that even a gift can have deep significance among the Seanchan Blood and what he thinks he knows of women is not enough to save him. For reasons of her own, which she will not reveal until a time of her choosing, she has pledged not to escape, but Mat still sweats whenever there are Seanchan soldiers near. Then he learns that Tuon herself is in deadly danger from those very soldiers. To get her to safety, he must do what he hates worse than work....

In Caemlyn, Elayne fights to gain the Lion Throne while trying to avert what seems a certain civil war should she win the crown....

In the White Tower, Egwene struggles to undermine the sisters loyal to Elaida from within....

The winds of time have become a storm, and things that everyone believes are fixed in place forever are changing before their eyes. Even the White Tower itself is no longer a place of safety. Now Rand, Perrin and Mat, Egwene and Elayne, Nynaeve and Lan, and even Loial, must ride those storm winds, or the Dark One will triumph.

7 commentaires:

james j harned jr said...

Great list Pat. I've read 5 of them and agree with your rating. How about a list of the 9.75's.



Patrick said...

There is only one book that got a 9.75/10. Alastair Reynolds' CHASM CITY:

james j harned jr said...

Well I don't agree with you on that one, but what can you do. How about the 9.5's?


Patrick said...

There are quite a few 9.5/10. Don't have time to track them down. . .

Roland said...

You forgot The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. You gave that a 10/10 as well.

Roland said...

You forgot The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. You gave that a 10/10 as well.

Patrick said...

Oh crap, you're right! A perfect score for that one and the third volume as well. So KUSHIEL'S AVATAR will be the 13th novel to get a 10/10.