Posts Tagged ‘brandon sanderson’

Firefight

The middle volume of a trilogy is often the tricky one, for writers, readers and reviewers. Sanderson pulls it off neatly, with a story that has a clear beginning, a middle and a truly spectacular ending. But that isn’t the striking thing about this book. What I found truly memorable was not the characters, although they continue to develop in interesting ways, nor the plot, although it was well-structured. No, what remains in my mind is the setting. This is Sanderson’s Babilar, Babylon Restored, the city of New York reinvented through Epic power, and it’s quite astonishing. Weird, beautiful, and truly imaginative. Yes, I know that this is background, but it is what grabbed me. Not that there’s a problem with the story, it’s action-packed and lots and lots of fun. We learn a great deal more about Epics, their weaknesses and the source of their powers – but not so much that I’m not really looking forward to the next book!

Gollancz

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of Steelheart here

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steelheart

Wow! Brandon Sanderson takes the superpower meme and makes it epic! Literally, because “Epic” is what Sanderson calls superpowered individuals, and metaphorically because this novel reads like an epic fantasy. Urban fantasy, because like most stories featuring superpowers, this is set in the immediate future. But not any future you’d recognise. You’ll notice that I’ve avoided the term “superhero” in this review and there is a reason for that. Sanderson has chosen to take Lord Acton’s adage that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and apply it to superpowers. So the use of Epic powers turns an individual to an insane megalomaniac? Pretty much.

An Epic named Steelheart rules Newcago with a steel fist, with a coterie of other Epics, among them Nightwielder, Conflux, and Firefight. Our youthful hero lives with the knowledge that as a child he saw his father wound Steelheart and then be killed by him. Consequently, he hates Epics with a passion. But Steelheart, like many Epics, is invulnerable to almost all attacks. Somehow, David’s father had found his weakness. And so he seeks out the Reckoners, an underground group fighting the Epics, and finds them in the process of taking down an Epic named Fortuity. I have no intention of giving away any more of the plot – suffice it to say that there is no lack of action, a dose of mystery, plenty of wit, and a great twist at the end. Sanderson has a refreshing take on the science of super powers: “Too much about them breaks what science says should happen. I sometimes wonder if they came along because we thought we could explain everything.” In fact, there are a lot of great lines in this novel. Very quotable. And very cinematic. Not surprising, since Sanderson is clearly angling for a movie with this one.

I requested this volume from the library after the local publishers kindly sent a review copy of the second book in the series, “Firefight”, and a cursory look round the internet convinced me that for once it really would be worth my while to read the first book before embarking on the second. I was not disappointed. And, now I suspect I might have to go and purchase a copy of this book!

Delacorte

Supplied by Auckland Public Libraries

Reviewed by Jacqui

legion and the emperors soulNow, as I have stated elsewhere, electronic publishing is bringing about resurgence in the publication of novellas and novelettes. So what do print publishers do? The obvious is to gather up multiple stories and publish them as a single volume. These two novellas have nothing obvious in common except they’re both by Brandon Sanderson; they’re not even in the same genre (which may present a problem for some librarians).

Legion is a science fiction story about a man with multiple personalities and a device for taking pictures of the past. It’s beautifully conceived, with a fascinating protagonist and very clever in the way that it satisfies the reader while leaving its central question unanswered.

The Emperor’s Soul is the fantasy tale that won the Best Novella at this year’s Hugo Awards. Given that I voted for it, you may safely conclude that I liked it, at least better than the other nominees. It focuses on a novel form of magic, that of Forging, which involves rewriting the past so as to alter the present. The problem is that the Emperor has been not entirely successfully assassinated, and while his body has been healed, his mind is gone. It is up to Shai, imprisoned for attempting to replace the Moon Sceptre with a forgery, to Forge the Emperor’s soul before the end of the hundred days of mourning for his wife.

And there you have it, two novellas bound to together not by anything so obvious as setting or character, but by the way in which they both explore the nature of art, of time, and of the human condition.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jacqui

Nthe alloy of lawow, you’ll have to understand that I haven’t actually read the original “Mistborn” trilogy, though I’m certainly encouraged to do so by this novel. The original trilogy was essentially medieval high fantasy, but Sanderson has rolled the clock for “The Alloy of Law”.

It’s three hundred years later, and technology has advanced in the way it usually doesn’t in fantasy novels. However, this book is not your typical Victorian Steampunk novel, having a much more Wild West feel. There are lots of guns, there are lawkeepers, and there are train robberies. There is also the “magic” of Mistborn, which if you haven’t read the other books, has more a flavour of psionics, maybe even superpowers. Is this another case of science fiction in fantasy dress? I’m not sure.

As for the book itself, there’s plenty of action, some of it spectacular – there’s even a running battle on top of a train… The heroes are complex enough to be both interesting and memorable, and the primary villain’s motives are sensible and insane at the same time. As for the villain behind the villain…  that really would be telling. Definitely worth reading.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jacqui