Ardwulf Reads: Brandon Sanderson

After talking to EVGA and some folks more tech-savvy than myself, seems to be that it’s probably the motherboard. The RMA just cleared with EVGA today, and I’d expect them to ship out the replacement within the next couple of days. So hopefully the loyal readers will not have to put up with too many more digressions like this before I get back to the business of PC gaming.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

At one point I was a pretty big fan of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. The first four books or so were really solid, and the fifth had some good stuff in it as well. But with the fifth book, the pace of the story, always fairly leisurely, started to slow down. By the end of book 7 it had become glacial, and it became apparent to me that Jordan had lost his way and had no idea how to move the story to its already-written conclusion. I abandoned reading them at that point, although I still bought the next couple, intending to eventually get around to reading them. The consensus at this point is that there’s about one piece of significant plot progress in books 7-11, all quarter-million-plus word doorstops. I don’t have the patience for that.

I used to keep up with fantasy literature fairly avidly, but I slipped out of it after a while as other things came up to command my attention (even before MMOs.) So maybe it’s not surprising that I’d never heard of Brandon Sanderson when Jordan up and died and he was selected to finish the series. Maybe not surprising, but I also doubt I was alone. But Sanderson wasn’t an unknown, already having published the Mistborn trilogy and a stand-alone or two by that point.

The first of Sanderson’s posthumous collaborations with Jordan is now out: The Gathering Storm, the first of three volumes intended to finish the series. There seems to be a consensus that it’s the best Wheel of Time book in a good long while, and the reviews have been very positive. I’m now tempted to pick the series back up, at least once it’s finally finished. But that appears to now be in sight.

And in the meantime, I figured I’d sample some of Sanderson’s own work, so I picked up Mistborn the other day, and am about halfway through it.

It’s pretty good. Pure world-building is not Sanderson’s strongest suit, but he does manage to make the setting fairly engaging, and in any event, in the case of The Wheel of Time, where the world has already been built up by Jordan (who was good at it,) I doubt this will be a liability. It’s almost not even in Mistborn, where I have questioned aspects of the setting in a couple of places, but which has some really neat twists as well. I think I see where Sanderson is going with the story (thanks to the spoilertastic back cover blurb,) but I really want to see how he plays it at the end. And there’s two more books after that.

I’m still waiting until all the Wheel of Time books are out to start in on that monster again, and I dread the 5-book slog I know I’ll have to put up with to get to the good stuff again, although I also expect the climax of Winter’s Heart to make up for quite a lot.

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4 responses to “Ardwulf Reads: Brandon Sanderson

  1. That’s odd, because Sanderson is really into technical magic systems and interconnected worlds. I haven’t read Mistborn. I sampled Sanderson in Elantris and was impressed that he fit an epic fantasy tale, that was unique and satisfying, into a single book.

    My review of Elantris is here: http://www.heartlessgamer.com/2008/11/book-thoughts-elantris.html

    A lot of people seem to have sampled Sanderson and pretty much everyone seems to agree he was a perfect fit to take over and finish the WoT.

  2. The magic system is part of my issue; it’s a bit too tidy, and a bit too casually learned. By a third of the way through the book 95% of it’s been completely explained. It reminds me, in this sense, of Lyndon Hardy’s Master of the Five Magics and its sequels; the magics are very logically thought out, which is good, but magic ought to have a bit more mystery to it.

    Nevertheless, I see this as a minor complaint, even as far as Mistborn is concerned; it’s not as though Sanderson’s world-building is actually bad, and the story is damn engaging.

  3. Heh. You only *think* you learned 95% of his magic system.

    By the end of the 3rd book you know 75% of Allomancy (as per his own appendix), and that doesn’t even count the other 2 magic systems he’s got going that you don’t even know about yet. . . . . They’re there — you see their signs, you just don’t realize you’re seeing them.

    Elantris is absolutely wonderful, and I quite enjoyed Warbreaker as well as the complete Mistborn trilogy. I’m actually thinking about re-reading them as soon as I can pry my copies back from my sister!

  4. ETA: And I’m totally with you on “I’ll buy the WoT books when they’re all out and then read through them at once.”

    I’ve made it through the 1st 8 books, and in the 7th and 8th I lost track of a lot of the story threads due to the time between reading the prior books and the new ones’ releases. I’ll admit I’m very much looking forward to seeing the plot actually start to move forward again once Sanderson takes over, but I still can’t bring myself to try to catch up the series yet until it’s completely out.