I struggled with doing a ‘Novel of the Year’ post for a while. Frankly, I haven’t read nearly enough of the novels published in 2008 to make any sort of blanket statement about which was the ‘best’ of them all.

I came to a happy medium by deciding to go through the books I did read in 2008 and pick my very favourites from among them. I’ve split the award into two categories – Favourite Overall Novel and Favourite Novel Published in 2008 –to allow for a bit more variety.

Without further adieu, here’re my favourite novels I read in 2008!

Favourite Overall Novel

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I bought The Shadow of the Wind over 3 years ago, when the praise for the novel was just starting to eke its way to my ears. Despite my excitement for the novel, it sat on my shelf for months and months, sorely neglected until my recent travels to Europe. Knowing I’d be a fool not to bring it with me, I tossed it in my backpack and gave it the change it deserved.

Part of the reason I think it say on my shelf for so long was that I was certain it could never live up to the hype. How could a novel that’s so universally adored possibly not be a let down? In some ways I figured that the anticipation of reading it would be better than the actual act. An hour into my plane ride I realized just how wrong I was.

From the very first pages, The Shadow of the Wind enraptured me in a way that few novels have since childhood. I few into civil war era Spain and was reluctant to leave every time I had to put the book down. Lucia Graves (who translated the novel from its original Spanish language) did an absolutely phenomenal job and deserves every bit as much credit as Zafón for successfully keeping the beautiful language intact through the translation process.

Not only was The Shadow of the Wind the best book I read in 2008, it maybe very well be my favourite novel of all time. I eagerly look forward to the sequel, The Angel’s Game, which will finally see an english release later in 2009.

You can find my full review HERE.


The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman’s take on Starship Troopers comes across as a more readable, more humourous and simply more enjoyable novel than the Heinlein classic.

You can find my full review HERE.

Favourite Novel Published in 2008

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

It’s always a risk when an author arrives on the scene with the first novel of a (projected) trilogy. No matter how good the first volume is, you can never quite be sure if they’ll follow through with the rest of the series. I missed Abercrombie’s debut and only picked up the series after Before They Are Hanged was released. I burned through the first two volumes of the trilogy and absolutely adored Abercrombie’s tongue in cheek approach to traditional fantasy. I eagerly awaited the final volume.

I was never prepared for what Abercrombie would deliver. Last Argument of Kings takes everything that made its two predecessors so successful, but at the same time pulls the rug out from under the reader flips many of the seemingly cliche plot devices right on their heads.

Littered with memorable characters, one of the best scenes of single combat I’ve ever read, and enough surprises to please anyone, Last Argument of Kings is one of the finest concluding volumes to a trilogy ever written. Though I’ll miss the characters I grew begrudgingly to love, I eagerly look forward to Abercrombie’s next novel, a stand alone set in the same world as his original trilogy, Best Served Cold.

You can read my full review HERE.


The Born Queen by Greg Keyes

I’ve often stated that Greg Keyes is the most under read author in Epic Fantasy today. The Born Queen is the concluding volume of Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone and further proves my point.

You can read my full review HERE.

  • edifanob January 2, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I totally agree with you concerning THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

    I don’t have a number one fantasy novel. I can’t decide.

    Anyway WATCHMEN is the best graphic novel I read in 2008.

  • Ben January 2, 2009 at 8:07 am

    SotW was fantastic and is also on my top 5 reads of 2008 list!

  • aidan January 2, 2009 at 9:19 am


    I got WATCHMEN for christmas, but wasn’t able to sneak it in before the new year. I have no doubt that it’ll be one of my top reads for 2009, even if I read it in the first few weeks!


    I’m thrilled so many people read Shadow of the Wind this year!

  • Kristen January 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    It looks like I really need to read The Shadow of the Wind. Still need to read The Last Argument of Kings and The Born Queen, too.

    I’m glad you made a favorites list since I like seeing what everyone picks for the most outstanding books read over the year. Like you, I struggled with making one of those lists since I also haven’t read nearly enough books published in 2008 to pick a “best.” But then, how many people have?

  • Harrison Holtz January 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I saw this on numerous Tops of 2008 lists and picked it up over the Christmas Holiday. I just finished reading it this afternoon while taking a short break from work and all I can say is that I was completely blown away by this novel. Absolutely incredible.

    The wit of Fermín Romero de Torres is hilarious, and left me with a few great one liners to use in everday conversation.

  • Carl V. January 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I have a copy of Shadow of the Wind but have also ordered a version from Subterranean Press and I’ve been waiting for that one to arrive before reading it. I’ve heard nothing but good things.