The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Swords & Sorceries
Occult Detective Stories might be my first love, but close on their heels is the Sword & Sorcery genre. As such, Day Four of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards honors such tales. My only regret is I didn’t get the chance to read King of the Bastards by Steven Shrewsbury & Brian Keene because I’m sure if I had it would have found a place among the following recipients —
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
This is not the book I was expecting. Set in the world of Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, this haunting tale features one of the author’s most compelling characters, Auri. Rothfuss has warned readers to not begin his series here, but I beg to differ. I was enchanted by this book and believe it is Rothfuss’ finest work, allowing him to exercise another set of writerly muscles and prove him to be a master of his craft.
The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin and Luis Royo
This one surprised me. A lifelong fan of Royo’s to begin with, seeing his art coupled with a fairy tale-esque story set in Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire, The Ice Dragon is a tremendous all-ages adventure of courage and sacrifice.
Swords of the North by Robert E. Howard
Howard is the undisputed king of the sword and sorcery tale. Hell, one could easily say he invented the genre. Swords of the North is a brilliant collection of Howard’s Celtic and Viking adventure stories. Clocking in at over 500 pages, this is a must-have for Howard fans.
Best Short Story
The Viking in Yellow by Christine Morgan
I’ve been a fan of Christine’s for a while now. We both share an affection for Norse tales and she has delivered a real nasty piece of work in Celaeno Press’ In the Court of the Yellow King. Lovecraft and Vikings — it’s a match made in, well, Hel I suppose.
The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia, & Linda Antonsson
Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire has dominated the fantasy genre for nearly twenty years, a domination that has only escalated since the launch of the successful HBO series. With fans clamoring for more, Martin, along with Garcia and Antonsson delivered. A history of Westeros, as recounted by a maester, is a brilliant way to add to Martin’s rich tapestry and filling it with beautifully rendered maps and lavish illustrations makes this a must-have supplement to everyone’s favorite fantasy series.
The Arneson-Gygax Award
Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) by Wizards of the Coast
D&D came roaring back with a vengeance with the release of its fifth edition. Not willing to rest on its laurels, Wizards’ assembled a design team that did the unthinkable — they changed the game. Culling some of the best aspects of the previous four editions, 5e has streamlined the game, simplified the rules, and made “roleplay” take precedence over “roll play”. I’ve been running two separate campaigns for months now and I am shocked to say that this is my favorite iteration of the game yet… and I’ve been actively playing since 1978.