The Silver Skull vs. Bloom County Vol. 4
Winner: Bloom County Vol. 4
While I love Bloom County (Opus!) a lot, I don't know if any of the volumes would have won unless this situation came up - it was up against a book I didn't like very much. And that's what happened in this case! The Silver Skull wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good, either. In fact, I barely remember it, and that's far from a good sign. So I am happy to bestow this particular crown on Opus, Milo, Bill the Cat and everyone else and wish them luck on their 1984 presidential campaign.
The Wild Things vs. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Winner: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
I liked The Wild Things a lot more than I ever thought I'd like a novelization of the movie of Where the Wild Things Are, but in the end, when it imitates Godzilla and strides into Tokyo to knock over buildings and take on The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the wistful poetry and pervasive strangeness of The Ocean distracts people from the destruction, and charms me into awarding it this round, and sending The Wild Things back to Monster Island.
The Crown Conspiracy vs. Bob the Gambler
Winner: Do I have to? Fine, Bob The Gambler
This particular battle is far less which I liked more, and far more figuring out which of the two I liked less. In the end, Bob the Gambler merely had frustrating characters, while The Crown Conspiracy had irritating characters and an annoying plot. Don't expect Bob the Gambler to survive the next round, but it ekes out a win here.
The Lies of Locke Lamora vs. His Majesty's Dragon
Winner: The Lies of Locke Lamora
I enjoyed His Majesty's Dragon more than I had thought I would - it's solid fantasy with a tinge of those naval Napoleonic war books. But I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora. The characters are great, the storyline engrossing, the world interesting - and Scott Lynch is not afraid to break his toys. It's devastating and necessary. There's a lot of swearing, which some people have complained about. Not me, though. It seemed perfect for the story that was being told.
The Blade Itself vs. Incarceron
Winner: The Blade Itself
Like a bunch of these, I didn't love either of these two. I remember dinging The Blade Itself for feeling too derivative, and not fully committing to its darkness, and Incarceron for having neat ideas but not the best follow-through. It's coming down to how much of the books I remember - a few of the characters from The Blade Itself stay in my mind all these months later.