This year's edition has been fantastic! For those of you lucky enough to follow the voting process online from your university feed or from the Cambridge one, this year will be remembered for that clumsy guy who dropped his pen inside the ballot box. Well played Aaron, well played.
Most of us expected Joe Abercrombie to win this edition, but there has been a pleasant surprise and Richard R. Matthews delighted the jury with his novel Diplomat of Uram. Dr Matthews is a university lecturer so in the next days you will hear the usual criticism from the New York Times and the Washington Post claiming that the Fantasy Critics Award is elitist, that it focuses too much on Literature academics, and all that jazz.
This year's winner is published by Reddaren Academic Publishing, which doesn't help dismissing the suspicion that the organization is trying to make Fantasy and Sword & Magic books more respectable and serious. Don't get me wrong though. If, say, Shadokan Publishing had managed to get the contract with Matthews instead of Reddaren the criticism would be the same as any other year.
In any case, the jury seems to be very happy with the story, the plot, the characters, and especially with the twists... Ooooh those professors in the jury sure love them sweet twists!
The book seems to be very good, but (unpopular opinion, I know) you don't need to have a PhD in Literature to write a good book. Perhaps the fellows at Cambridge could finally accept that George R. R. Martin is on top of the world without being Dr George or anything like that.
In any case we are reading Diplomat of Uram right now, and although we still haven't finished it we can say that it's a great book wonderfully written with a fresh story and interesting characters.