I've finally gotten back to a regular reading habit and I've hit upon some real gems (as well as sifting through the colored glass).
Chris Roberson's Paragaea: I wanted to like Roberson's Paragaea. It is marketed as coming from the adventure tradition of E. R. Burroughs (Tarzan, a Princess of Mars) but is very much out of touch with such works. While it shares a fast-paced plot across a pleasantly unbelievable landscape, the driving characters are so shallow and motive-less that I ended up trying to read around them. I liked the world they explored, the characters they interacted with, and some of the action sequences and mysteries were involving. Ultimately, though, the characters had no good reason to strive for much of anything at all and the ending seemed forced and abrupt. 2/5 stars.
Lars Walker's Erling's Word: Easily the best historical fantasy I've ever read. Takes actual historical figures (Erling Skjalgsson) and treats the spirit-haunted world they lived in as tangibly real. Somewhat brutal (as those times were) and not afraid to dive straight into the complicated relationships between religious traditions of the time, this book isn't for the faint of heart. If you've ever wondered if a story could treat the Christian faith as fairly as the indigenous populations' religious traditions, here's a story that does so marvelously. Pure genius. 4/5 stars. FYI, getting a hold of Erling's Word is a little tricky, since this book is out of print. I haven't had too much trouble finding used copies at my local bookstores.
Stephen Hunt's Court of the Air: I'm only about halfway through this book and I'm enjoying it so far. It's a mature example of the recent "steampunk" trend, and easily the best example I've read so far. Far warning: the book takes a lot of work to get into, the author having a lot of world to throw at you in rapid-fire fashion. But, if you can manage the first 70 pages or so, you'll find yourself acclimatized and enjoying the ride. Hunt needs to be congratulated on cramming so many cool ideas into so few pages. I'm looking forward to seeing where this one goes, and I'm glad to see it already has a sequel.
Barnes and Noble's Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft: Somebody decided that December was Cthulhu month, a fact which I must have intuitively known, since I've been digging through my big collection of H. P. Lovecraft's stories. I started at the very beginning and read some of his earliest stories, including some prose poems. If you don't have this mammoth complete collection from Barnes and Noble, you need to pick it up. It isn't expensive and the printing is very high quality. Otherwise, you'll miss the rarer gems of Lovecraft's work not often seen in other collections.