19 December 2005

Best of 2005 -- Discovered Author

Given that 2005 is winding down, Word Nerd is taking a look over the next two weeks at the "Best of's" for reading this year.

For today -- the Best Author Word Nerd started reading in 2005.
(drumroll and the envelope, please)
Jack Whyte
Whyte is the author of the Camulod Chronicles, an historical fiction of the Roman exodus from Britain and the subsequent founding of Camulod (Camelot). Whyte starts his foray into the King Arthur story two generations before Arthur ever appears with two Roman soldiers, Caius Brittanicus and Publius Varrus. Brittanicus and Varrus become Arthur's ancestors. As the series progresses, more and more familiar characters enter the story, including Merlin, Uther, Lot of Cornwell, and eventually, Arthur himself.
Whyte's take on the Arthur story is quite different than others because it is far more practical and less mythic. His research on the history of early Britain comes through, but in a very readable way. The Chronicles are loaded with good writing, believable history and characters that measure up to the magnitude of Arthurian legend.
Word Nerd, being a long-standing King Arthur fan, is a tough critic of any author who will try to add to the Arthurian mythos. After five books in Whyte's Chronicles, it is safe to say he earned his place with an Arthur (and a Merlin) that are as human and heroic and flawed as they come.
The Camolud Chronicles include the following books: The Skystone, The Singing Sword, The Eagles' Brood, The Fort at River's Bend, The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis. Word Nerd needs to continue reading the series with Uther and The Lance Thrower.

Runners up:
Garth Nix: Wrote the Abhorsen trilogy. It's maybe YA fiction, but well-worth reading
Donald E. Westlake: Mystery/crime writer. Word Nerd has been reading his Dortmunder series about the adventures of John Dortmunder, a thief who manages to bungle most of the capers he gets involved with.

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