Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this list was Books I Hope Santa Brings, and, while this did sound like a fun topic, I instead decided to continue my annual end of year wrap up of some of the best books of 2022. In previous weeks I have highlighted some of the best debuts of 2022, as well as the best pre-2022 novels I read in the last year, but this week I am going to look at something near and dear to my hear, the best audiobooks of 2021.
Readers of my blog only need to check out my extensive audiobook category to know that I have a lot of love for the audiobook format. In my opinion, the audiobook is often the best way to experience a good book, and in many cases, this format makes a book a lot more enjoyable for me. As a result, I listened to quite a few audiobooks this year, and while several of them are books that had been released before 2022 and featured in my Throwback Thursday posts, a large majority of them were released this year. There were some truly outstanding and impressive audiobooks released this year, and I already know that I am going to have an extremely hard time coming up with the final version of this list.
For this list I have only included audiobooks released in 2022 that I have listened to and completed, so I am excluding a few audiobooks that were probably pretty awesome, but which I didn’t have a chance to listen to. Despite this, I still ended up with a long list of extremely good audiobooks, all of which were extremely worthy of appearing on this post. To help cut this down, I too into account a range of consideration, including quality of the original novel, skill of the narrator, production value, pacing and other factors, including any featured music or sound effects. Looking at all this I was eventually able to cut the list down to the absolute best 10 audiobooks (as well as an extended honourable mentions section). I had to make some very hard decisions here, and I ended up losing several extremely good audiobooks from this list. Still, I think it really represents the best audiobooks I enjoyed this year, and there are some amazing productions down below. So let us see what made the cut.
An outstanding tie-in audiobook to the Warcraft video game franchise, Sylvanas provides a fresh retelling of the origins of one of the game’s most complex characters, Sylvanas Windrunner, all narrated by the voice of Sylvanas herself, Patty Mattson, in an awesome performance.
The first of many Warhammer 40,000 novels that are going to appear on this list, Steel Tread is a dark and gritty war story that follows a ragged tank crew into the hell of war, all of which is deeply enhanced by a fantastic audiobook format.
Star Wars audiobooks are always pretty damn awesome, but the one for The Fallen Star, which details a disastrous day in the High Republic, was exceptionally good, especially as the music, sound effects and excellent narration, helped to bring the listener right into the heart of the chaos.
Denny Flowers continues to grow as an author with his second Warhammer 40,000 novel, Outgunned, this time following a propaganda expert as he follows a chaotic pilot into a strange new warzone. This entire compelling scenario, as well as the distinctive main characters, are perfectly showcased in this audiobook, which is really worth a listen.
Top Ten List:
After really wowing me with the first book in The Bloodsworn Saga series, The Shadow of the Gods (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), John Gwynne returns with the epic sequel, The Hunger of the Gods. Perfectly continuing the incredible narrative from the first book, The Hunger of the Gods was an exceptional book, which really comes to life in the audiobook format. Featuring amazing narration by Colin Mace, The Hunger of the Gods was a remarkable listen that I cannot recommend enough.
I had a lot of success listening to Warhammer 40,000 novels in 2022, so it is no surprise that a few are going to show up on this list. Easily one of my favourites would have to be the new novel by Nate Crowley, who previously did such a great job with The Twice Dead King books, Ruin and Reign. His latest release was Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh!, which retold the tale of the legendary ork warlord from a crazy new perspective. While the story itself is pretty damn clever and highly entertaining, the real joy came from the amazing audiobook production which featured three talented narrators. I loved how the narrators switched around multiple times throughout the production to correspond with which character was telling the story and it made for a distinctive and highly exciting listen that was a great deal of fun.
Mark Greaney had a very good year in 2022 as, in addition to his Gray Man movie and action-packed novel, Armored, he also produced another impressive Gray Man thriller with Sierra Six. I have had an amazing time with Greaney’s previous Gray Man novels, including The Gray Man, Mission Critical, One Minute Out and Relentless, and Sierra Six was another excellent addition to the series. Featuring an intense and highly addictive narrative that set protagonist Court Gentry against a dangerous threat in India while also diving into his deadly, tragic past, Sierra Six was an exciting and powerful read that I had a wonderful time listening to. The audiobook format of this book was extremely good, primarily thanks to the excellent narration of Jay Snyder, and I was dragged right into the middle of the action when I listened to Sierra Six on audiobook.
Another exceptional Warhammer 40,000 audiobook I enjoyed in 2022 was the brilliant and high-octane Assassinorum: Kingmaker by Robert Rath, which saw three elite assassins travel to a feudal Knight World and attempt to reign in the mecha-suit wearing elite by killing a deranged king permanently bonded to a massive war machine. This book was as awesome as it sounds and Rath wove together an exceptional and complex story of politics, conspiracies and assassins, focused around several impressive characters. I deeply enjoyed the elaborate and powerful plot of this great book, which was further enhanced by the exceptional audiobook format. Not only did narrator Gareth Armstrong perfectly encapsulate the fantastic characters, but his amazing tones allowed you to envision all the epic carnage in amazing detail. I had so much damn fun listening to this audiobook and it is a must read for all Warhammer fans, as well as anyone who is interested in seeing assassins go up against mechas.
One of my absolute favourite authors, Jonathan Maberry, made an interesting leap this year from science fiction thrillers to dark epic fantasy with Kagen the Damned. Combining his typical writing style with a compelling new fantasy world, Maberry wove together the captivating tale of Kagen Vale, a once noble warrior and hero who is broken and damned after the royal children he was sworn to protect are ruthlessly murdered during a sudden and destructive military invasion. An exceedingly intense and brutal fantasy read, I got extremely hooked on this impressive novel, especially as I made sure to grab the audiobook version. I have always had an exceptional time with Maberry’s audiobooks and I was very excited to see that one of my favourite audiobook narrators, Ray Porter, was returning for this book. Porter always captures the dark tone of Maberry’s writing perfectly, and Kagen the Damned was no exception as he imparts every gruesome detail of this story in his powerful tones. At the same time, Porter effortless inhabits the multiple complex characters in this book, and really brings them to life in some amazing ways. I absolutely loved this amazing audiobook and I cannot wait to grab the sequel, Son of the Poison Rose, in a few weeks time.
There was no way that the new Thursday Murder Club audiobook by Richard Osman, The Bullet That Missed, was going to be excluded from this list. Following on from his awesome first two novels, The Thursday Murder Club (one of my favourite books, audiobooks and debuts of 2020), and The Man Who Died Twice, The Bullet That Missed sees your favourite group of crime solving pensioners return for another complex mystery. Osman came up with another exceptional mystery storyline in this third book and I loved seeing his delightful and utterly hilarious protagonists once again use their unique insights and skills to solve it. The audiobook version was once again exceptional, and I deeply enjoyed new narrator, Fiona Shaw, who I have been a fan of for years. Shaw does a remarkable job narrating this third Thursday Murder Club book, and I loved how she provided a great range of fitting accents and tones for the distinctive characters, while also moving the plot along quickly with her fantastic voice. An incredible audiobook that is near impossible to turn off.
Next up we have the outstanding second book in Anthony Ryan’s Covenant of Steel fantasy series, The Martyr. The sequel to Ryan’s excellent 2021 novel, The Pariah, The Martyr continues to tell the unique story of Alywn Scribe, a former bandit turned scribe, who finds himself in the middle of tumultuous events that will change the world forever. This time he must accompany his religious fanatic master on a deadly military mission to a foreign land, which will see him get involved in politics, espionage, assassinations and two epic sieges. I actually held off reading this book until I got the audiobook copy, mainly because of how much I enjoyed the audiobook version of The Pariah last year. Steven Brand provides some amazing narration for this compelling read and I really found myself absorbing more of the complex details of this fantasy word when listening to it. Easily the best way to enjoy this exceptional read, I cannot wait to get my hands on the third Covenant of Steel audiobook.
The final Warhammer 40,000 audiobook on this list is the gripping Warhammer Crime book, The Wraithbone Phoenix by Alec Worley. Set in a massive and crime-ridden city, The Wraithbone Phoenix follows an unlikely duo of abhuman criminals as they attempt to pay off their debts by recovering an ancient artefact from decommissioned space ship. However, when the entire city becomes aware of their scheme, they are soon forced to go up against a range of over-the-top killers, thieves and bounty hunters, all determined to kill them and take the prize for themselves. This was an extremely fun and captivating read, which was even more enjoyable as an audiobook as narrator Harry Myers had to voice a ton of unusual characters. I had an outstanding time listening to The Wraithbone Phoenix and I look forward to more fun and fantastic Warhammer Crime audiobooks in the future.
One of the best fantasy books of 2022 had to be the epic and captivating In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan. McClellan, who already created magic with his Powder Mage novels (such as Promise of Blood), did a remarkable job of creating a new elaborate fantasy universe where all magic is tied into glass. Following several complex and damaged protagonists as they attempted to navigate war, politics and a dark conspiracy, In the Shadow of Lightning was a remarkable book that perfectly set up McClellan’s planned Glass Immortals series. I had a wonderful and incredible time with In the Shadow of Lightning, and I absolutely loved how well it came out in its audiobook format. Featuring the amazing voice of Damian Lynch, who dove right into the complex roles before him, this audiobook is extremely addictive and I powered through it extremely quickly. A highly recommended audiobook, I am so damn excited for the sequel.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence, written by Zoraida Córdova and narrated by Marc Thompson
Finally, I had to feature at least one Star Wars book on a list about great audiobooks (it is an Unseen Library rule), and boy was I spoiled for choice this year. While books like Path of Deceit, Midnight Horizon and Brotherhood all had excellent audiobooks, I ended up going with the Star Wars book I am currently listening to, Convergence by Zoraida Córdova. Despite the fact that I still have a little more to listen to (I’m probably going to finish it tonight), I have been deeply impressed with Convergence and I think it has the best combination of narrative, characters and audiobook features of all the Star Wars novels I listened to in 2022. The first adult book in the second phase of The High Republic, Convergence has a great story that explores a deadly war between two planets, while simultaneously introducing elements from an earlier period of Star Wars history. This excellent story is greatly enhanced by the usual outstanding Star Wars production values of cool sound effects, emotionally charged music, and the fantastic voice work of Marc Thompson, who is one of the best audiobook narrators in the world today. This was a remarkable read and I look forward to seeing how this new phase of The High Republic continues in 2023.
Well that is the end of this latest Top Ten list, and as you can see, I have been lucky enough to listen to some awesome audiobooks this year (although I clearly focussed a little too much on Warhammer fiction). All the above audiobooks are extremely good and I would highly recommend each of them in their audiobook format. There is still a little time for me to listen to a few more great audiobooks this year, and I cannot wait to see how they all turn out. Let me know what your favourite audiobooks of 2022 were in the comments below, and I will have to try and check them out as well.