These are all books that I've read and reviewed on this blog. They aren't in any particular order and links are provided to the full reviews.
Joe Abercrombie's one of my favourite authors, and I think this is the best book he's written to date. Red Country mingles the mood of the Wild West with a medievalesque civilisation, wrapped up in Mr. Abercrombie's trademark gritty gruesomeness. It's fantastically entertaining.
This is the second Shadows of the Apt book, and whilst I liked the first I thought it was a bit hit and miss. Dragonfly Falling, however, is very much a hit. The addition of several new characters and a wide-ranging, and engaging, story make it well worth reading.
Spellmonger is the first book in Terry Mancour's Spellmonger series, and tells the tale of an invasion that one man (the Spellmonger of the title) more than any other works to foil. It's tense and very well-written. (An interview with the author can be found here).
I could've picked any of the three parts of the Riyria Revelations but went for the last one because it was perhaps the most enjoyable. Can't spoil the plot, but Michael J. Sullivan does a great job of creating a coherent world and a very well integrated plot which covers three (or six, as each book has two parts) books. It never stutters and never ceases to be entertaining, and is great to read.
This is the first book, I think, by Douglas Hulick, and follows the misadventures of Drothe, a criminal seeker of knowledge who finds himself entangled in a scheme far beyond the usual nefarious plotting of the underworld. Mr. Hulick's world has a very interesting religious/power structure and the plot has a number of unexpected turns.
This was one of the earliest books I read this year but it was a definite for this list. I'd never read anything by Mr. Kay before and was greatly impressed by his style of writing and the world he'd created (sadly, I think it's only used in this one book). Romance is usually an area (in literary terms) I dislike, but even here the book's offering was very enjoyable to read.
I reviewed this very recently, and was quite taken by the unusual adoption of the present tense for a history book. Most parts are delightful to read, and some (the description of plague, for example) were quite brilliant. To get a flavour of Medieval England, this book provides an excellent introduction.
I deliberately read this book slowly, because I enjoyed it so much. Perhaps a smidgen slow at the start, Livy does a perfect job of capturing the mood (or the mood as it was suspected to have been several centuries later) of early Rome and charts, mostly accurately, the rise of the city and the fall of kings. The Rome covered in this period is not the all-conquering superpower of centuries later, but a strong yet challenged city state facing significant local rivals. It's extremely easy and enjoyable to read.
I knew sod all about Jugurtha and little about the rise of Marius until reading this book. The lack of historical sources means it's occasionally patchy, but the author always points out where sources fail and conjecture/varying theories fill the gap of fairly reliable evidence. The period covered is very interesting (and not one of the better known bits of Roman history) and the book's well worth reading.
This is a splendid collection of miscellany about the ancient world (mostly Roman and Greek, as you might expect) and covers the gamut from jokes to odd little anecdotes and lists of lesser known gods and various means of ancient transportation. As with his Legionary and Gladiator Unofficial Manuals, Philip Matyszak displays a witty sense of humour to accompany his in-depth historical knowledge.
I couldn't really do a list of books for the year whilst omitting my own. Bane of Souls came out around the middle of this year and tells the tale of Horst, a barbarian youth who finds himself conscripted by mages when visiting the city of Highford. Abandoned by his uncle and forbidden to leave on pain of death, he then learns the city is being terrorised by murders, and the culprits have a taste for dead mages…