I hate for the first reply to be negative, but at the moment it is all I have to contribute.
Thus far I have only read one nominee, Huso's The Last Page, and I will not be voting for it. Frankly, it was a mess; not so much bad as sloppy. Above average ideas with a below average execution.
Northern Irish fantasy author Paul Kearney is, for my money, the closest author we now have in spirit and talent to David Gemmell. Like DG, Paul writes economic, fast-paced action stories which have a strong moral centre and great atmosphere. He's perhaps a tad more cynical than DG, though not as nihilistic as some other authors. He also has terrific, well-realised characters, great worldbuilding skills and a tremendous ability to write battles. He is, without hesitation, the finest realiser of battles in epic fantasy working today.
In 2010 he had a new novel released, Corvus, the sequel to his excllent Ten Thousand. Whilst the first book recounted the Xenophon by Anabasis into a fantasy world, the sequel takes its inspiration more from Philip II's conquest of Macedonia and Greece, and the rise of his son Alexander. However, Corvus is less slavishly reliant on the history than the preceding book and Paul throws in some great surprises. At its centre is the character of Rictus and the battle he wages in his soul as his cynicism over idealism and military adventurism gives rise to hope that Corvus can unite the Macht as a single nation and end the bloodletting. His adversaries are as superbly-realised, the sieges and battles without equal in the modern field and the story unfolds with pace and verve. Paul also had his earlier, five-volume Monarchies of God sequence reissued in two omnibus editions. A vast secondary world epic packed into a modest page count, Monarchies features cannons, gunpowder, werewolves (not the Twilight, thankfully) and huge battles on land and sea, with a finely-laced sense of tragedy unfolding as well.
Also worth seeking out is one of Paul's earlier books, A Different Kingdom, in which a young boy growing up in Northern Ireland discovers a gateway to another world and forges a connection to it which haunts him for the rest of his life. An Irish Mythago Wood, it's a rich and different type of fantasy.
Hi Iron Cow,
A lot of the publishers do send out mails for the next round of voting, they like to see who the fans pick from them and then when the second round is announced send out updates to people on thier lists letting them know which titles are available to vote for.
Hi Adam, For my money Joe Abercrombie is the man currently. I know i dissed his title last year due to large amount of profanity but this time i stuck it out and actually purchased The Heroes. Very entertaining and not quite so nasty. I am enjoying it immensely!
I have to say I'm really keen on James Barclay's 'Elves: Once Walked with Gods'. I read it as soon as it came out, having really enjoyed several of James's earlier books, and I thought he surpassed himself. His version of elf culture is really well thought through, but quite different from the usual Tolkien-inspired versions. His elves are split into a number of different 'tribes' (for want of a better word), who have very different approaches to life. The most militaristic are, however, extremely violent, whilst simultaneously very honourable - almost like Elvish ninjas! Anyway, the book itself is a great read, and it really made me eager to see what happens in the next volume of what is, I think, a projected trilogy.
I’ve voted for R.A. Salvatore The Bear even though I haven’t read the book yet, and I must stress the have part as I definitely will. This is the 4TH Book in The Saga of the First King based in the fictional world of Corona.
Mr Salvatore is probably one of the best fantasy writers I have read so that’s why he gets my vote. He’s basically the reason why I got into Fantasy. He’s most famous for the Demon Wars Saga also based in Corona and his Forgotten Realms novels. If you enjoy descriptive, intricate battle scenes whether it’s between two foes or two armies R.A. Salvatore is the author for you. Along with the wonderful colourful characters and subplots within subplots that every novel of his contains that I have read so far (31 and counting). I couldn’t recommend him more.