You know how it is. There are few people who can (rightly) claim to have read widely enough to create an honest-to-goodnes ‘best’ novel of 2010 list. I know I certainly didn’t. For every great book I read, there is a handful of others out there that are likely just as deserving. So, instead, here’s a neat little list of my ‘favourite’ books from 2010, published during the year or otherwise.

Favourite Novel Published in 2010

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

I mean, really, what is there to be said about Kay that hasn’t been said before and with more eloquent words than I can write. The man’s a master of the genre and his ability to weave real world history with the fantastic is second to none. Under Heaven is a lovely, lyrical novel that continues to resonate with me months after turning its final page.

Favourite Novel Not Published in 2010

A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham
A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham

Last year I named Daniel Abraham’s A Shadow in Summer (REVIEW) as my favourite book of the year. This year, I’m going back to the Abraham pot. I’ve not yet finished the series, because I’m almost too intimidated by the series’ reputation and how strong the final two volumes are supposed to be. Like Guy Gavriel Kay, Abraham is an author I keep on the shelf for a time when I feel jaded about the genre and need to be reminded of how wonderful Fantasy can be.

Best Debut of 2010

The Last Page by Anthony Huso
The Last Page by Anthony Huso

It’s not often that a new author hits the stage with as much aplomb as Anthony Huso. His debut novel, The Last Page is weird and wonderful, sorrowful and heartbreaking and will appeal to fans of Steven Erikson, Mark Charan Newton and China Mieville. Quite a list of names, but one he deserves to be among. There’s not been as much talk about The Last Page as I’d like, but I hope more people are able to discover Huso’s work in 2011 and with the upcoming release of Black Bottle, the final volume in the duology.

Favourite Short Story

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang

My review of this story still perfectly sums up its triumph and why Ted Chiang is as good a writer as you’ve probably heard:

Time travel stories are notoriously hard to tell with any success. Time paradoxes, physics being broken and non-linear timelines all lead to plot holes in the hands of an inexperienced author. Novels that pull off the conceit well, like The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers or Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut are few and far between. Chiang, though, tackles the time travel motif with aplomb and challenges the reader by filling every plot hole just when they think they’ve found one. It’s at turns both clever and profound, full of smart twists and genuine insights into the compulsion we all have to live in the past, to regret turns not made or choices gone wrong. So often, time travel stories present fluid timelines, easily saved or ruined by the hero or antagonist, but Chiang plays with the idea that only the present is fluid and that what’s before us is every bit as defined as what’s passed us by. It’s a story of redemption and regret, with a melancholy air hiding just under the serpentine switchbacks of the puzzle-like time travel narrative.

A free audio version of The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate is available on StarShipSofa.

And, there you go! I read a lot of bloody good novels and short stories this year, but there’s the cream that rose to the absolute top. Hopefully 2011 will be filled with so many good reads as 2010!

  • Stefan January 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    That story is not in any edition of Stories of Your Life and Others that I’m familiar with. It’s definitely not in the edition you’re showing.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aidan Moher. Aidan Moher said: New Blog Post — A little late, but here's my list of my Favourite Novels of 2010: […]

  • Alex January 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    You’re right – it’s not in that book, but it is an extremely good story :) Nothing to do with 2010 I’m afraid :D

  • aidan January 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve gone ahead and updated the blog post to remove the mention of Chiang’s short story collection. I mis-remembered!


  • Stefan January 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I agree with your pic for the top novel published in 2010, by the way. We had a best-of-2010 post last week, and Under Heaven was one of my selections (

  • kat January 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for the free Chiang story on audio!!!!
    Under Heaven was my favorite book of 2010, also. I read this in print and audio and can highly recommend the audio version.

  • Carl V. January 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    The Chiang collection is one I hadn’t seen until a recent bookstore trip, but am really looking forward to reading.

  • Jeff January 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

    This is my first time posting here — great blog! The books sound fascinating, and I was only aware of two of them before reading your post. Thanks for the recommendations!

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