Tag Archives: Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: ‘Words of Radiance’, by Brandon Sanderson

wordsofradiance_cover-1My first book finished of 2017, and what a book! I loved The Way of Kings massively, and was worried that there was no way it could go but down. What I got blew me away however. The truly epic scope of the series really came to the fore, with new PoV characters (including a parshendi) being added. It was fascinating to see things from the point of view of the savage enemies of the first book, although I have to admit I was disappointed with the direction Eshonai’s story ultimately took. Another aspect I found really interesting was the idea of the Diagram, but for spoiler reasons I don’t really want to say more than that.

The incredible care clearly taken over the design of the world means that there are almost too many subplots to count, and this means that, although the main plot may always be progressing at the speed I would’ve liked, there is always something happening, and invariably, they seem to matter more in the late stages of the book than I would have guessed. Having said this, perhaps what struck me most upon finishing the book and having a while to consider it, is the habit Sanderson has of coming at fantasy tropes slightly differently. All the main ones are present: the (un)likely hero; the big baddy; and the world-ending apocalypse, but they’re all slightly skewed, and they all seem to come at unexpected points in the series.

I will finish this review by saying that, if this is book 2 of 10, I am incredibly excited (not to mention impatient) for the remainder of the series.

‘Words of Radiance’, by Brandon Sanderson is the second in The Stormlight Archive.

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Book Review: ‘The Way of Kings’, by Brandon Sanderson

thewayofkingsWhat I decided very early on was that I’m definitely not a fan of audiobooks, though I am willing to concede that this one is done well, with a female reader for the female PoV chapters and a male reader for all the male PoV chapters. While one might think this a superficial detail, I found it made the whole experience significantly more immersive. Having said that, it took a little while to get used to, and I found it a little jarring to begin with. Once I got used to it however, I found myself enjoying it, though there were a few instances of different pronunciations between readers.

Having been introduced to Brandon Sanderson later (partly due to the end of The Wheel of Time, but also largely due to the desire to read The Stormlight Archive), I have by no means read all of his works, starting with the Mistborn Trilogy last year, before trying Elantris earlier this year. Both had a certain flavour to them, and while the subject matter was in places very dark and grim, I felt the overall tone was light and fun, and I suppose a little innocent. I think the best characterisation of how I personally feel about the books is that they came across a little more as YA (albeit incredibly dark YA) in style and tone.

By contrast, I thought that The Way of Kings seemed considerably more mature, far darker (in perhaps a less obvious way), and far more cynical. As well as this, there was a lot more of an explicitly military focus, which I always love, and the scope was, as is common in Sanderson’s work, epic beyond belief. The plot gathered momentum like a tide, and I found the final battle and its immediate aftermath so gripping I listened to almost the last hour in a single go. I particularly enjoyed the numerous teases seeded throughout for the rest of the series. There is a lot to think about, and even more to be excited about for the coming series.

‘The Way of Kings’, by Brandon Sanderson is the first in The Stormlight Archive.

Book Review: ‘Elantris’, by Brandon Sanderson

elantris_coverI’d heard great things about this book as one of the best standalone novels around. It took me a while to get to Brandon Sanderson as an author, but I eventually started with The Mistborn Trilogy, and loved it. Starting Elantris, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I found the premise interesting, and thought it was written in a very similar voice to all of the Mistborn books. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the style is quite light and easy-going. Unlike many other epic fantasy series, it doesn’t jump around too much in terms of PoV either, which represented a refreshing change, and significantly contributed to the simplicity of the book.

This is not to say that the book is simple, as there is a great deal of politicking throughout the book, something I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to in fantasy books. I do have a few criticisms however, though most are understandable given the fact that the book’s a standalone. There is a lot of world-building and set up in the beginning of the book. While I recognise its necessity, it does mean it takes a while to get going. The characters are interesting and varied, but there are a few similar names, which confused me – this might be down to the fact that I was listening to them rather than reading them though. As well as this, and considering it is a standalone, there are several questions left unanswered at the end. To me it felt like he was intentionally leaving the door open in case he wanted to revisit the story. The result, to me, felt like somewhat of a cop-out – that he couldn’t commit to finishing it as completely as he might have.

‘Elantris’, by Brandon Sanderson is a standalone.

Book Review: ‘The Hero of Ages’, by Brandon Sanderson

Hero of AgesWarning: Mistborn Trilogy Spoilers all.

Reaching the end of the Mistborn Trilogy, I was forced to sit back and wonder how it could possibly have taken me so long to get around to reading the series. Needless to say, I enjoyed the trilogy as a whole, and The Hero of Ages in particular, a massive amount. I thought that it represented a fantastic close to a fantastic and innovative series.

Somehow the series has continued to grow more epic in scope from book to book. This is impressive considering the fact that the first book culminated in the killing of a god. Somehow Sanderson managed to move the plot along from a disparate band of thieves to a clash of forces which transcend nature itself, and all without anything seeming too much of a leap. Perhaps this is what I enjoy most about this series. Much like Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, there are clues throughout the trilogy which makes it immensely satisfying when everything comes together. Nor was the climax all dumped into one scene or moment; there were a number of such revelatory moments throughout the series.

Almost all of these managed to provide some kind of twist or another, something which kept me as a reader on my toes, and it was not until maybe four lines before I guessed Sazed’s final fate. As one of the most relatable characters in the series for me personally, I enjoyed the conclusion as epic beyond belief. I’ve been aware of new Mistborn novels coming out in recent years, and am excited by the scope and implication of the revelations made at the end of The Hero of Ages.

‘The Hero of Ages’, by Brandon Sanderson is the third in the Mistborn Trilogy.

Book Review: ‘Well of Ascension’, by Brandon Sanderson

Warning: Minor/Vague Spoilers.

Well of Acesnsion

Initially the book seemed in a very similar style to the previous book, which I very much enjoyed. Much of the plot is very character-based, and the empathies developed for the cast in the first book only continue to be strengthened throughout the second. The whole book is one of an expanding scope, both in terms of plot and geographical area covered, with a much more in-depth exploration of what promised to be a fantastic world in The Final Empire. The ease with which Sanderson manages to switch between characters without the jump being too jarring also remains remarkable, and only makes the book all the more readable.

I very much enjoyed the hints in The Final Empire at this wider world, and in Well of Ascension we get to see other dominances, more characters, and the feared Koloss. In short, the book moves on from the ‘coming of age’ story detailed in The Final Empire to something far closer to epic fantasy, with the climactic battle scene an awesome confirmation of this fact. I also very much enjoyed Vin’s transformation in the course of the book: from simply Kelsier’s student to the near-deity she becomes. Her fight against the Koloss is one of the highlights in a final few chapters which are full (as with The Final Empire) of twists which absolutely blindsided me.

‘Well of Ascension’, by Brandon Sanderson is the second in The Mistborn Trilogy.

Book Review: ‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson

It’s taken me a very long time to get round to a well-loved series of books. I have to say, I can see what all the fuss is about. The twist on the usual interpretation of fantasy is very refreshing – the idea that the evil overlord (the ‘Lord Ruler’) is in control, with the main characters being the rebels.

The magic systems as well (those of ‘Allomancy’ and ‘Ferochemy’) are unlike anything I have read before. By virtue of its sheer innovation therefore, the story is one of exploration of a new world, complete with histories and cultures. For me, a self-confessed world-builder, I found such an exploration incredibly interesting.

The plot itself, while starting a little slowly, does build up momentum, and by about the halfway point, I found myself pulled along by the political intrigue. While a book including political intrigue seems bound to be compared to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the sort found in The Final Empire is far more accessible and perhaps more understandable, if less subtle. By the time I reached the last five or so chapters, I was unable to stop myself from continuing. The twisting nature of the final chapters was so unexpected that I was forced to re-read them more than once, and I still ended up shouting at the book – always a good sign for me.

In short, I would definitely recommend the book, and feel that it certainly lives up to the hype. Writing immediately after finishing the book, I do feel however that this high praise comes only off the back of the conclusion of the book. The slow initial sections are inevitable when introducing a new world, and I feel they were dealt with as well as can be hoped for.

‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in The Mistborn Trilogy.