Before They Are Hanged vs. Fall of Giants
Winner: Fall of Giants
This was a hard one, because neither of these books that I really loved. I would normally lean towards the fantasy of the two, but Before They Are Hanged was just such a slog to read. While I had issues with the brick that is Fall of Giants, at least it was more fun at times. So Ken Follett gets it, in a close match-up.
Sabriel vs. Camera Obscura
Winner: Camera Obscura
These were both interesting and entertaining fantasies set in worlds that are a little different from the traditional high fantasy world - one is on the other side of a Wall in England, threatened by necromancers. The other is set in a Victorian England where the Queen is a lizard, and characters from Victorian novels stalk the streets. It's the second in the series, and while I didn't love the first one, the second one felt much more assured, and in this case, it gets the win over Sabriel.
The Circle vs. Cyteen
Disappointing pre-dystopia vs. opaque science fiction? It's not an easy choice. In the end, although Eggers has some good points, it's a bit too histrionic about social media for me. While Cherryh is often distant from her material, and doesn't let the reader too close to her creation, there's also so much good stuff here, in this world where artificially-raised people are only separated from human-raised people by programming, and a young woman lives twice.
The Imposter Bride vs. Behemoth
Winner: The Imposter Bride
Easy match-up here. Behemoth continues Scott Westerfeld's fun young adult steampunk romp through war...maybe that sentence explains why something about the books rubs me a bit the wrong way. Nancy Richler's The Imposter Bride is a much quieter look at the long-term effects of war, and does so slowly and beautifully. It was a book that took me entirely by surprise, in a good way.
Cold Comfort Farm vs. The Robber Bride
Winner: The Robber Bride
I really enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm's snark about gothic doings on the moors. It's entertaining, and I can see why it's a classic. However, The Robber Bride blew me away. The prose, the female characters, it was just beautiful to read, if difficult. The male characters are a little slim, and pretty much all idiots, but the sheer pleasure of reading this book made it worth it.