Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'review'.

More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


  • Brandon and Book News
  • Events, Signings, & Giveaways
  • Columns and Features
  • Site News
  • Shardcast


  • 17th Shard
    • Introduce Yourself!
    • 17th Shard Discussion
    • The Coppermind Wiki
    • Arcanum Discussion
  • Brandon Sanderson
    • General Brandon Discussion
    • Events and Signings
    • Sanderson Fan Works
    • Arcanum, the Brandon Sanderson Archive
  • Spoiler Zone
    • Tress of the Emerald Sea (No Cosmere Spoilers)
    • Tress of the Emerald Sea (Cosmere Spoilers)
    • Frugal Wizard Spoilers
  • The Cosmere
    • Cosmere Q&A
    • Cosmere Discussion
    • Cosmere Secret Projects Previews
    • Stormlight Archive
    • Mistborn
    • Elantris and Emperor's Soul
    • Warbreaker
    • White Sand
    • Cosmere Short Stories
    • Unpublished Works
  • Non-cosmere Works
    • The Reckoners
    • Skyward
    • The Rithmatist
    • Alcatraz
    • Dark One
    • Other Stories
    • The Wheel of Time
  • Related Works
    • Writing Excuses and Intentionally Blank
    • Reading Excuses
    • TWG Archive
  • Community
    • General Discussion
    • Entertainment Discussion
    • Science, Tech, and Math Discussion
    • Creator's Corner
    • Role-Playing
    • Social Groups, Clans, and Guilds


  • Chaos' Blog
  • Leinton's Blog
  • 17th Shard Blog
  • KChan's Blog
  • Puck's Blag
  • Brandon's Blog
  • Darth Squirrely's Blog
  • Tales of a Firebug
  • borborygmus' Blog
  • Zeadman's Blog
  • zas678's Blog
  • The Basement
  • Addy's Avocations
  • Zarepath's Blog
  • First time reading The Well Of Ascension
  • Seshperankh's Blog
  • "I Have Opinions About Books"
  • Test
  • Which actors would you like to see playing the characters of Mistborn?
  • Drifted Mists
  • Jaron's Realm
  • Roshar Speculative Theories
  • ChrisHamatake's Blog
  • Paradox Flint's Blog
  • Deoradhan's Blog
  • Storm Blessed's Blog
  • Elwynn's Blog
  • firstRainbowRose's Blog
  • Rotabush ShardBlog
  • Hoid's Compendium
  • InterContinental Adventures
  • Claincy Creates
  • WoR Thoughts and Questions
  • Blogfalcon
  • David Coppercloud's Blog
  • yurisses' notes and theories
  • Lark Adventures
  • LUNA's Poetry
  • Inspiration Board
  • Trying to be Useful for a Change
  • The Way of Toasters
  • Cosmere Nerd Things
  • Dapper's Music Blog
  • Shhh Spoilers for Ronald.
  • Wyn's Adventures in Geekiness
  • Words With Ene
  • Dapper's Blog
  • Things to talk about, stuff to do
  • Zelly's Healthy-Accountability Blog
  • D&D campaign design.
  • Rhythm of War Liveblog
  • Unnecessarily Overcomplicated
  • Star's Art Blog
  • Weather Reports
  • Axioms Idioms & Adages
  • The Blog of Dubious Copyright Legality
  • Trutharchivist's Rambles
  • 5
  • Xino's corner of insanity
  • The Perfect Space Opera
  • My Journey Through Roshar (A Liveblog)
  • Lost Metal Liveblog by ccstat
  • The cheeseman does worldbuilding.
  • TTRPG Design Stuff
  • Programming (Like a Fool)


  • Community Calendar

Found 19 results

  1. Two years ago, inspired by the question of who is the community's favorite mod, we ran a poll to see how we were doing as the staff team. This year, we're doing it again, to see what are the areas where we can improve. We'd love it if you can fill out this anonymous form and tell us what you think. If you feel strongly about any part of the moderation, or even if you don't, we encourage you to answer honestly, we appreciate any feedback you may have. We will run the poll for two weeks, and take a week to analyze the results, and let you know about the overall stats like we did last time. Thank you for your time, we are looking forward to see what you think.
  2. The Lost Metal, the fourth and final book of Mistborn Era 2, is finally here. It's been eleven years since the first one of these--the Alloy of law--came out in 2011, so we've been waiting quite a while. There's tons of ground for this book to cover, both in wrapping up Era 2 and setting up Mistborn Era 3, and this is definitely the longest of the Era 2 books by far. So how did it go? I think The Lost Metal was a pretty good conclusion, but this book didn't quite come together as well as Shadows of Self or The Bands of Mourning for me. I'd say this book has a lot of pieces that are extremely awesome, and while the book is good, overall the whole is less than the sum of its parts. I think ultimately the problem is the overall plot for the book. It's not as interesting, conceptually, as what we got in Shadows of Self or Bands of Mourning, and doesn't totally come together. One of the plotlines for half the book feels a bit like it is spinning its wheels until we get to the epic conclusion (which at least is awesome). There's a lot of running around and investigating, and it is not as interesting as you might hope. It doesn't help that that plotline has two new antagonists which, frankly, I just do not like the character concepts for. Those antagonists are a disappointment for a final book when I felt like we could have gotten a lot more cool stuff. Something about that plotline did not work for me. By comparison, the other plotline in the book was so much more interesting to me, so that probably didn't help me thinking that things didn't quite gel together. There's one more plotline that has effectively a dead-end for this book that feels like pure setup for Mistborn Era 3, which I really didn't like. I think you could argue that this book is disappointing because it doesn't deal with a few big aspects from prior Era 2 books, presumably to save them for Era 3. This book does deal with the biggest plot thread of the Era 2 series, which is good, but just brace your expectations. The best part of the plot is the ending, which has fantastic moments and has an excellent Brandon avalanche that is tense and thrilling. Of course, I can't speak much to it in a spoiler-free review. It's really exciting. However, I would not say it makes up for some of the other flaws in the book's plotting earlier in the book. The character work for most characters is really great. One character arc in particular I felt was 10/10 and done fantastically. The other characters were done well, too, though not as good as that killer character arc. And as Brandon has said before, Steris gets to do more in this book, which is lovely, though she still gets quite a bit less than Wax, Wayne, and Marasi. One character in the main cast didn't get that much character conflict to work with, but I didn't mind it too much. Overall, I'm pleased with the character endings for Era 2 here; they were quite satisfying. If you are a cosmere fan, well, there is a ton to love in this book. There were WoBs that implied this book would be quite a doozy in that respect, and that is completely accurate. It's really, really spicy. I'm curious if you're a Mistborn-only reader how you'll feel about the end being more cosmere-heavy. I think it's fine overall, but I could very much understand that with this series starting in the "Brandon said stories will be self-contained" timeframe of 2011, this could be a bit jarring. For me personally, I think it's right on the line of acceptability. It's clear to me that as we proceed from now on in the cosmere--especially after Stormlight 5--we're going to get a lot of crossovers very prominently. For what its worth, I think this book does a good job of explaining the crossovers that appear in the book, because the characters are like "hey what is that?" which clues the audience in. Your mileage may vary though. The Lost Metal is a pretty good ending to Mistborn Era 2, and is a fun read. I do think people will have some specific things to complain about and it won't be universally loved. There are things the book didn't do that are some missed opportunities, and the plot didn't come together completely for me. It suffers a bit because it's setting up the next Mistborn eras. But, it does wrap up the things it needs to do to be a satisfying conclusion. There are extremely cool moments, fantastic character work, and some really killer cosmere stuff that we will be talking about for ages. It's pretty good, but not my favorite.
  3. I'm looking for a Discord server that serves as a kind of writing group, as I have all these ideas for what I would like to write and someday publish but have no one IRL to talk with them about and get constructive feedback. I really don't where on reddit to put this, or even if that's a good idea, and I've previous gotten some great book recommendations from 17th Shard, so I came here with my request. Or, if this is forum is a good place to put my work for review by fellow enthusiasts, that would be good to know too. I'm of the Brandon Sanderson writing persuasion, where I'll come up with an idea for a short story that in my head is just a page or two on Word but will balloon out into twelve by the time I get everything I wanted into it, so I'm not sure.
  4. This review is spoiler-free for Cytonic but does contain spoilers to the end of Starsight. I like Cytonic, the third Skyward novel, but didn't love it. The book does what it does well, but I expect Cytonic to be a divisive book, even moreso than Starsight was. In fact, if you didn't like that Starsight didn't have Skyward Flight characters, this book might be even worse for you. At the end of Starsight, we see Spensa hop into the mysterious nowhere, and well, that's exactly what we get in this book. It's another Spensa adventure in a new location, where we learn more things about the world and meet a bunch of characters. For those of you who really like Spensa and delving (heh) into cytonic, magic, and lore stuff, I think you could really love this book. I liked Cytonic pretty evenly throughout the book. Brandon makes it easy to get absorbed into the story, and I cruised through the novel quickly. The worldbuilding, as usual, is fascinating, and there new mysteries introduced as well as old mysteries getting solved in very satisfactory ways. In many respects, the worldbuilding is the highlight of this book, which really carried me through it rather than the characters or plot. Those of you who watched the Starsight Reactions episode and Brandon Beefs Shardcasts know that I really liked 95% of Starsight, but I had major issues with an aspect of the ending. I felt deflated and unexcited about the future of the series. Well, Brandon did it: he actually solved one of my huge issues with Starsight, which in my opinion was sorely needed. I am genuinely surprised he pulled it off considering how much I hated that last five percent of Starsight. There is a worldbuilding decision made that even though it made sense, it lowered the tension in most of the book, which made many combat sequences weaker because of it. I don't know about you, but I loved in Skyward the existential threat and danger I felt every time Skyward Flight lifted off. For much of this book, especially in its middle, I did not feel that, so combat sequences felt off without that tension. I think this lack of tension is this book's biggest flaw. Rarely did I feel like Spensa was in actual danger, so some moments that were supposed to be big deals did not land. But the other big flaw of the book is really baked into the core premise of the book: Spensa is in the nowhere, so it can feel somewhat like a sidequest. In that sidequest, there's another objective that feels like yet another sidequest, which we spend a good chunk of the book on. This, combined with the lowered tension for most of the book, is realistically the biggest flaw of the book. Along with that, we don't get to see a lot of old cast members. It's essentially the same issue you could have had in Starsight. I love the Skyward Flight crew a lot! The interplay with them and Spensa was fantastic in Skyward, and I did miss them in Starsight, which had a different crew who I liked, but didn't like as much as the old side characters. Well, there's new side characters here, and though I also liked them, it's hard for me to get particularly invested in them when each new book it seems like the old side characters aren't really in the next volume. Will I see these in the fourth and final book in the series? Maybe Brandon can pull it all together, perhaps, but I'm skeptical. Fortunately, if you miss the Skyward Flight characters, there's a solution: three Skyward Flight novellas! The first two, Sunreach and ReDawn, are already out, with the third, Evershore, coming out December 28th. They are ebook and audio-only for now but there will be a collection of all three novellas coming eventually. I do think these novellas are mandatory reading, because otherwise this series feels disjointed. The novellas and Cytonic complement each other fantastically. Love Spensa and M-Bot? Well you get a lot of that in Cytonic. Do you miss the other side characters? The Skyward Flight novellas give you loads of that. I actually think the plotting in the novellas is superior to Cytonic and as a whole, better than this book. So, that's a lot of complaining, but don't get me wrong, I did actually like Cytonic. It's hard to go into detail because the nowhere is so mysterious, and this is spoiler-free, so it's hard to not be vague. But really: the mysteries and lore in here are fantastic, and oh man, I loved the ending. I am a very ending focused reader, and it was by far the best part of the book. I felt that tension and dread again. It was intense and emotional, and makes me incredibly excited for the next book. Considering how after Starsight I wasn't sure if I'd even like the rest of the series, I must say, Cytonic did the legwork and I'm into this. In that respect, I suppose I have to rate Cytonic above Starsight, if I was ranking the books in the series. Your mileage may differ, however, since endings do really make or break a book for me. We will have our usual reactions Shardcast on Cytonic coming December 4th, and we will get into the spoilers and more specifics about this. Having many people on the show comment on the book will be interesting, because I said, I expect this book to be divisive and different people could feel vastly differently from my view. I'm so curious how you all will feel as well, so hit up our Cytonic spoiler board and our spoiler channel in our Discord server and let us know what you felt about the book.
  5. Hi! Sanderson fan here. But besides Cosmere stuff, I just started reading The wheel of time, and liked it. I just took off with a series of reviews on YouTube, I'll leave the link here, just in case there's someone interested. I'll be super grateful to anyone giving it a shot. Thanks!
  6. youtube

    So the non-spoiler reviews for Rythm of War have started popping out and 2 that I was expecting were Daniel's Greene & Merphy's Napier. From what they say here I am a bit worried that I will have the same issues with RoW, as I had with Oathbringer. Daniel says it very well, something along the lines of "liking the meat, but not the bone". For me Oathbringer had a lot of specific moments that were my favourites in the series, but as a whole didn't deliver on all the fronts I was hoping for. The reviews are mostly non spoilery, but just to be extra cautious I addes in "spoiler" what I thought might be considered one. . What makes you even more excited after listening to their reviews? Also, I don't know the indepth policies of the forum, so if putting the links to their reviews in this ,it is considered promotion of some sort, I am sorry. Hope that it's ok though Daniel Greene - Merphy Napier -
  7. Hi everyone! Eric with 17th Shard here, and I'm here to talk to you about Rhythm of War, by Brandon Sanderson, the fourth novel in The Stormlight Archive. This review is completely spoiler free! There will be no spoilers for the preview chapters, or other cosmere stuff, so if you haven't read anything about Rhythm of War, this won't have any information other than some non-spoilery info Brandon has discussed about the structure of the book. Of course, all of us at 17th Shard are mega-fans, so you can take us with a grain of salt that, yeah, we really like Brandon books and his writing style. But if we didn't like a thing, we'd tell you, and that'd hold some weight. So, in this review, these are my opinions here, but you'll hear from all our other staff members about the book soon enough, too! If you'd prefer to watch a video instead, check out our video review! So let's talk about Rhythm of War! This book is the longest of the Stormlight books, even longer than Oathbringer! Overall, this works really well. I didn't think Oathbringer had fluff, but this book is even leaner. It's just that the world of Roshar is so big, and the number of characters is so big, that there's a lot to do in this. Plus, stuff happens! A lot of stuff happens in this book, and it will really surprise you in many ways. Rhythm of War has some absolutely killer moments. There will be joy. There will be a lot of pain and suffering, too. I think a lot of people will tear up on more than a few occasions. Character Character is a massive focus in Rhythm of War, moreso than Words of Radiance and Oathbringer. This book is a character study for several of our characters, and the character moments are the best moments in the entire novel. Mental health and struggling with mental health takes center stage in the book, and it personally affected me more than it has in the series. As someone who struggles with depression, this book spoke to me fantastically. Now, this might be controversial in the book, because the mental health stuff could be hard to read for some. It gets deep, and it gets dark, darker than Brandon has taken characters before. That might turn you off of the book. And there may be readers who don't find characters dealing with their mental health to be important, and yeah, this book might not be for you. I think it was done really well, I think it really spoke to me, and I think mental health is always a good thing to thoroughly explore in books to continue to destigmatize it. There are tons of characters in The Stormlight Archive, and as always, Brandon has to juggle a lot of different characters and plotlines. I've always felt Brandon deals with this well, with some characters getting less in some books but more in the next, and that continues in Rhythm of War. It focuses on the right characters for the book, but we still see from all of our main gang of protagonists, and they are all important. There is a main character who gets less viewpoints than others, but there is another character who really comes into their own here, which was lovely. There are new characters, too. One new character is one I can't wait to talk to you about, because they really steal the show. We also see more viewpoints of characters we didn't see as much as we should have before, and it's lovely to see more from these more minor characters be fleshed out. Plot I can't really tell you too much about the plot, honestly. But this book doesn't go where you'd expect. After Oathbringer I didn't really know where the story would go, but... I didn't quite expect this, I don't think you'll expect it either! It is really cool and awesome, as you'd expect from Brandon. There are three groups of characters and after Part One they do split up. Some of these interweave a bit, others don't. It's more that Way of Kings vibe, where in that book, we had Shallan in Parts One and Three and Dalinar/Adolin in Parts Two and Four. Rhythm of War is like that in many way with its three groups, and only one of the groups is in all five parts, with the other two alternating after Part One. But each plotline is engaging, and they all get extremely intense. This book will definitely keep you at the edge of your seat. Now, The Way of Kings is not my favorite Stormlight book. Words of Radiance and Oathbringer had plot structures I more preferred, and the endings of those books, where absolutely everything comes together, man... that just really speaks to me, and I love that so much. Rhythm of War has a great Brandon Avalanche. The highs are REALLY high, but it's not going to be like the ending of Oathbringer where everything comes together. So I liked the ending less so than Words of Radiance and Oathbringer, but I know there are people who thought this was the best Stormlight book, with the best ending. I think it may come down to how character focused you are. I'm more plot based, so I liked it a bit less, but I think this structure is done better than it was in The Way of Kings. There's a ton of awesome here and it's really cool. I quite enjoyed the plot and the ending, it's just the different plot structure Brandon went for here was not as in line to my personal preference. You may well be different! I do want to say, though, that where the book is meant to have a big impact, Rhythm of War absolutely executes incredibly. There was a moment that confirmed something I figured, but the way it was portrayed makes it easily one of the best and memorable scenes in the book. When there's suffering, you feel it, and when there's a "hell yeah" moment, it's just the best. Probably one of the weaker parts is the flashbacks. There are both Eshonai and Venli flashbacks, and it's cool, but it's nothing as impactful as Dalinar's flashbacks were. But I mean, Dalinar's were so good and so impactful for the main story, and we just can't have every flashback sequence be as awesome as those. But if I had to get a criticism, it may be these flashbacks. They are fine, but not incredible. This book has a one year time jump from the end of Oathbringer, which is different for the series thus far. All the other books have happened immediately after the previous novel. So how'd this go with this one? The time jump worked pretty well for me. I felt like we've gotten enough hints of what happened in the interim that it was fine. The time jump allowed the world and characters to progress, and sets the stage for the real action that's happening in this book, and I think made the plot better. Lore and Worldbuilding Let's talk about the lore and worldbuilding of the book. Every Stormlight book has tons of worldbuilding. Remember Oathbringer, where it widened the world so much? Rhythm of War expands things way further than I ever could have imagined. I don't think you'll expect where the book ends up, because some of the things we learn are so crazy, I don't know how you'd guess them. The door is open for so many more things by the end of this book. It's insane. We are all going to have so much to talk about once you're all done with this. I didn't think a Stormlight book could expand the world more than Oathbringer did, but this one sure as storms does. The connections to the greater cosmere increase in this book, even more than Oathbringer had. This might be controversial. Brandon has said in some comments on the Part One chapters (which you can read for free) that Brandon is phasing things more to "things are intersecting more in the cosmere" now, which is a bit different than how he's done things before. It's hard for me to comment on this effectively, because I am so deep into the cosmere books, but I don't think references to other cosmere books ruin your enjoyment of Stormlight if you are a Stormlight-only reader. It's more, "hey, there are some things that are mysteries in world to our characters, but you can learn more by reading some other books if you want." It is less subtle here, so I do think pretty soon Stormlight-only readers may want to start reading the other books. That said, if you're already deep in the cosmere, all of this is JUICY! It is so, so good. Final Thoughts Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There are some of the best moments in the series here. Its very character based, but also expands on the lore a lot. It's just for me, I like the ending of Oathbringer so much, and though the Sanderlanche is awesome as you'd expect, I just like the Oathbringer and Words of Radiance style of book more. So for me, Rhythm of War is not my favorite Stormlight book, but I think it's really excellent! I imagine this will be a lot of people's favorite, of the four books. Maybe the worst part of the book is just the wait till book five. If you didn't know, The Stormlight Archive is ten books but split into two five book arcs, and Brandon has always said book five will have a big climax for our cast of the first half. After Rhythm of War, yeah, I really need book five now, please! But of course, I want book five to be as good as can be, and I can only imagine what it's like going through this massive 470k book for several drafts. I understand Brandon needs a bit of a break from Stormlight, and I do want Skyward sequel and that final Wax and Wayne book. So I'll wait! This book has tons to tide people over to through the wait for book five. And for the cosmere fandom, there's going to be plenty to talk about. We'll definitely have spoilery reactions on our podcast, Shardcast, and I can't wait to talk to you about it all!
  8. The Dark One graphic novel by Vault Comics came out on ebook on the 26th. This story is not a cosmere story, so there hasn't been too much hype in the fandom on this one. Perhaps you're waiting for the hardcover (which comes out in August). Maybe you've been burned by the White Sand graphic novels, which could never reach their full potential because the story wasn’t written for a visual format to begin with. Even then, I wouldn't say a cosmere fan has to read White Sand. It's mediocre at best. So, on that level, I can see anyone being apprehensive about another graphic novel. Let's cut to the chase: is Dark One worth getting? Yes. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I'm almost surprised to say so! I always have a personal issue getting into new stories, even if it's from an author I love. There's just a big inertia for me against reading new stuff. You have to get invested in new characters and a new setting. It's easy for me to put a book down. I'm not sure I would have picked up Dark One rapidly unless it was for this site, if I'm being honest. Maybe you have the same problem on getting into something new, or maybe you're worried about another Brandon graphic novel that isn't great. But everyone: Dark One is definitely worth your money. The art is excellent and the story has interesting twists and turns with the hallmarks you'd expect from Brandon, like clever worldbuilding and plot. It's a quick read, even though it's 200 pages long, and now that I'm done, I'm very invested in this universe and I can't wait to see what's next. Dark One is tailor-made for the graphic novel medium, unlike White Sand which started as a prose novel, and you can see how much of a difference it makes. Characters are introduced briskly with their motivations established immediately, so you're never confused as to why anyone is doing something. The art has a lot of color and diversity, communicating in a panel or two far more than pages of dialogue or thoughts in prose could. There is worldbuilding in the art, if you're paying attention. It's put together in a wonderful, clever way that I think really shows what graphic novels can do. The world has some standard fantasy tropes, a Dark One rising and a Destined One fated to meet them, but there's this undercurrent of the Narrative which drives the machinations. Some characters chaff at the Narrative and its designs, and some work against it, even though its said to be futile. It's pretty cool, and it harkens back to Brandon playing with those ideas of prophecy and the foretold hero back in Mistborn Era 1, which I always thought was fun and there are so many ways those fantasy tropes can be used. You'd be surprised at how much depth in the worldbuilding there is, with single lines holding a lot of implications for the past and the future. If you didn't know, Dark One is a portal fantasy story, where our main character, Paul, comes from Earth and he's transported to a fantastical world (Mirandus), where he becomes the prophesied Dark One. This isn't a premise that gets me too excited on paper, but in application it is executed wonderfully well here. Both Earth and Mirandus matter, and their connections are part of the intrigue. Really, all of the story just feels smooth in a way that I didn't expect. The plot moves exceptionally quickly. I think part of this is that it is a graphic novel, where we don't need to spend time on establishing shots because we can simply do a two-page spread on a new locale and call it good. I love tightly plotted stories, so this worked great for me. The ending is quite a Sanderson avalanche, and it might feel too quick to some, but I enjoyed it a lot. There are two twists in particular that I found extremely clever and I absolutely loved it. I'm a guy who loves my sweet endings, and I am a very happy camper with Dark One. Now, you need to know that this is the first book in a series of graphic novels (I believe three of them). This graphic novel does have a satisfying conclusion, but I also need the next things in the series immediately. I wouldn't say this is a "standalone" per se. Still, I think you'll be satisfied with this first one, but I sure hope we can get more of these quickly. I do not want to have to wait twelve months for each installment. That's about it. It's tough for me to get into new stories, but Dark One hooked me very effectively and I am now super invested in this universe. When Dark One was announced, it was said to be a multimedia project with a graphic novel, TV show, podcast, and novels. We already got hints of audio originals for Dark One, and I couldn't be happier. More please! One last thing: if you're trying to get friends or family into Brandon books, but the long novels are a harder sell, this might be a great place for them to start. Thoughts from Others at 17th Shard: Argent I finally feel like I understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel. [Dark One definitely felt like a novel to me, key scenes were given room to breathe, and the characters and the world alike had depth to them. Probably my favorite thing about the entire graphic novel is how real most of the characters feel - like real people, with real motivations, and no easy “good” or “evil” label being applicable to them. But the art is also really neat, and the visual language is strong and consistent, and… I guess the rest is spoilers. But I would absolutely recommend this! FelCandy Dark One was a highly anticipated graphic novel for me because I saw the potential for a visual accompaniment to Brandon Sanderson's writing. Because the story was written for the medium, I feel like the worldbuilding and character development was enhanced by the artwork rather than just illustrated. The artists' use of color and dramatic framing really immersed me into the world of Mirandus and the minds of the characters. The story is truly epic in scale, and even though it is in a less wordy format, fans of Sanderson's prose will not find the story lacking in lore and depth. Last weekend we got so excited about Dark One that we recorded two Shardcasts on it. The more we discussed, the more we realized how much depth was there. Our first one will be out Friday! You can discuss Dark One on our forum or our Discord server!
  9. Skyward is out right now, on ebook platforms and physical editions! Skyward is the first of a quadrilogy of books by Brandon Sanderson. This Top Gun/How To Train Your Dragon mashup is a YA sci-fi story that tells the story of Spensa, the daughter of a coward, and her battle against both the alien Krell and the very Defense Force she is trying to fight for. Until Brandon Sanderson, I was mostly a sci-fi guy, with Brandon being my first foray into fantasy. As such, I was very excited for my first ever Brandon sci-fi (I haven’t read much outside of the Cosmere). Brandon has said before that he doesn’t see much difference in the way he writes his fantasy and his sci-fi, and I have to agree, Skyward is a Brandon Sanderson novel through and through. I really enjoyed Skyward. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s extremely well paced, there was only ever one moment I felt we were about to get to a boring part but luckily something exciting happened and the book moved onward as brilliantly as before. The characters of this book are all distinct and easy to like. Spensa is definitely a highlight for me. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say I think Spensa feels like one of Brandon’s most well fleshed out characters with one of the best arcs out of any of his books previous. If you’ve read the preview chapters, you probably think I’m insane for thinking this but I truly feel this way. The gulf between who Spensa believes she is and who she actually is is massive and the character growth she goes through during the book is amazing. Her struggles to fit in as a teenager is something everyone can identify with and provide a great framework for the rest of the plot. The person Spensa ends the book as is a very very different character to the one she starts out as and I love it. I found Spensa’s wingmates started a little hard to distinguish to begin with but each one gets enough time to shine eventually--Kimmalyn being a personal favourite of mine. You get a good sense of them, and when they are put through pain, you feel it. The combat sections throughout the book were fantastic too. Not just because they are written in Brandons cinematic style that make them easy to follow and exciting, but Brandon also does a fantastic job of instilling every combat sequence with a sense of dread. Every time Skyward flight takes to the air, you’ll find yourself filled with a creeping sense of anxiety. Really, if anything, Skyward is one of the most emotive books Brandon has written. Nearly every other chapter hits you with an emotional impact. There are big character moments and plot reveals, and the book never lets up the pace. Unfortunately, it’s those plot revelations that I think this book is at its weakest. Skyward starts off by setting up several major mysteries to be answered throughout the book and I unfortunately felt that they didn’t always pay off as well as they could. This may just be because of my incredibly high expectations on Brandon’s worldbuilding but I felt some answers were kind of unsatisfying. In the end, I came away from Skyward excited for the rest of the series. Not because of the world, but for the characters. The ending makes the book stand on its own, but leaves the series incredibly open for where it could go, and you'd have to be a psychic to try and predict where this series is going. Enjoy your time with Skyward flight, it might not last as long as you first think. Check out Skyward discussion in our spoiler board, or #skyward_spoilers in our Discord server.
  10. Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is now out. If you aren’t familiar with Brandon’s Legion stories, they’re a mix of action, mystery, and a splash of a Brandon magic system. The first two novellas have been released before, but this omnibus is currently the only place where you can find the final story. Legion is about a man named Stephen Leeds who is perfectly ordinary except for one small detail: he see hallucinations of people he calls aspects. Each aspect is an expert in a different field and he uses them to solve crimes. The aspects’ unique personalities and the crazy cases that Stephen takes on can make his life very interesting. Whether it’s the paranoid bodyguard J.c., the schizophrenic yet soothing historian Tobias, or the sarcastic psychologist Ivy, each aspect brings Stephen a skill he needs. Legion and Skin Deep The first two Legion novellas are both incredibly fun, enjoyable reads. If you haven’t read them and you enjoy faced-paced mysteries, I highly recommend them. These stories have hilarious moments that will make you laugh out loud and tense moments that will put you on the edge of your seat. The ending of Legion: Skin Deep is a particular favorite of mine, where Brandon mixes his standard avalanche with a heavy dose of cleverness and humor to make an incredibly satisfying ending. The characters are all incredibly unique and engaging. Sometimes you love them, and sometimes you want to punch them (I’m looking at you, J.C.), but you’re always rooting for them to pull through. Lies of the Beholder This is the part where those of you who haven’t read the first two novellas leave to go do that. Everyone gone? Good. (There will be no spoilers on Lies of the Beholder in this section, however.) Lies of the Beholder is not your typical Legion book. I know that seems strange to say, as we only have two others to base it on, but it’s true. Where the other two stories were silly and fun, Lies of the Beholder is an emotional rollercoaster. You may find yourself hopeful, angry, and sad. Once again, Brandon proves his ability to make you care deeply about characters you’ve spent so little time with. But just because Lies of the Beholder is different than the other stories, that doesn’t mean it loses all of the aspects (pun intended) you’ve grown to love in the other Legion books. It still has a tightly-paced story filled with mystery and action. Lies of the Beholder has the tightest plot of all three novellas, and the questions it brings up are ones that have been lingering in the background of the entire trilogy: questions about Sandra and the nature of aspects. While the aspects often stole the show in Legion and Skin Deep, Lies of the Beholder is truly Stephen’s story. You’ll get to experience his emotions and thoughts as he's in his most raw and vulnerable state. It’s fitting, then, that Lies of the Beholder is labelled as "A Stephen Leeds Story" and the other two aren’t, as this is the first story that truly focuses on him. Lies of the Beholder is by no means a perfect book. I have plenty of problems with it myself. Some of the mysteries brought up throughout the series weren’t answered as well as I’d hoped or expected they’d be. I felt that some characters got shoved to the side in favor of the story Brandon wanted to tell, when instead I wanted to get to know those characters more. And at times, I felt the story moved a little too fast, to the detriment of the impact of some events. (Some people here disagree with my assessment here, however.) But overall, I think most people will agree that this story is a satisfactory conclusion to Stephen’s story. It wraps things up with more emotion than I or anyone else expected out of this novella. Just because these characters don’t exist, it doesn’t mean they aren’t real to us. Need more perspective on Lies of the Beholder, or want spoilery discussion on it? Just wait until Thursday's Shardcast, where we will talk about our reactions and thoughts to the story. Discuss your Lies of the Beholder reactions in our spoiler thread:
  11. This is my official review for Oathbringer, which I just barely finished. And so first off...... Holy crap. Brandon is a true artist of words. This most definitely one of the best books he has ever written. The plot is sound, and gives us new things to digest and think about all throughout the book. But looking at the number of pages now, I think it is safe to classify Oathbringer as a tome, not a novel. One of the things I deeply appreciate about Brandon's writing is the way he gets us to feel for his characters, even if they aren't major players. Now that may not be the case for his past novels, but Oathbringer definitely fits that mold. Every death wrenched at my heart. I was excited for Oathbringer when it was titled Stones Unhallowed because we were finally going to see Szeth's backstory. But when that changed to focus on Dalinar, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I love Szeth's story arc, and felt a little despondent that I wouldn't be able to see what his past was about. But my feelings quickly dissipated as I began to read Oathbringer. Dalinar never really appealed to me as a character until now. We finally saw why he acted the way he did, and why he felt hindered. Before Oathbringer was released, I had talked with several people who had also voiced my opinion that Dalinar was not a very good character. Well, my opinion has changed. I feel that Brandon moved Dalinar's story forward not only to make his vision real, but also to put Dalinar in the spotlight. Kaladin and Shallan are very well developed, and Dalinar's chapters felt like politics in the first two books. It was when he started interacting with other main characters like Kaladin that he got interesting. Oathbringer helped my unbelief. My favorite character in Oathbringer was actually Dalinar, which tells you how much he improved in this book. His arc shows us his emotional pain as he struggles with the returning memories. I love how Brandon makes you expect one thing, then switches it up. I thought his wife's name was going to be long, but it turned out to be a short, simple one. Evi. We feel for Dalinar as he sinks down into despair, but ultimately triumphs, Ascending and becoming a storming Shard. Another thing I really liked was the Bridge Four chapters. We saw Skar, a member of Bridge Four we haven't really seen, work his way to use Stormlight himself. We see a side of Teft we never saw before, as he struggles with addiction. He doesn't want to be a Radiant, but accepts the inevitable. One thing that really struck me was the parallel between Moash and Elhokar. Moash was a respectable soldier, Elhokar was a despised king. Moash chooses the path of destruction, ultimately choosing to serve Odium. Elhokar finally begins to become the king he should have been, rising to glory, but struck down at the last second, by Moash. That was the point where Moash could not leave the path he had chosen. He serves the Fused, kills Jezrien, and becomes Vyre. As I don't want to ramble, here is a list of things I loved: Kaladin's return to Hearthstone Dalinar's first meeting with Odium Cultivation and the Nightwatcher Vivenna/Azure Riino (who might be one of the Ire?) Adolin learning his Blade's name Renarin being the catalyst of the Diagram, and also him cutting off the thunderclast's hand Szeth's oath to Dalinar Nightblood The way Mraize drew Shalash out into the open Taln recovering (sort of) Wit Awakening the doll I could go on forever, but alas, not now. I'll post more things here later. Also, I will be analyzing the Letters. I love this book.
  12. This pre-release review is specially approved, and contains no Oathbringer spoilers for any of its pre-release materials. It does contain some Words of Radiance spoilers that are also mentioned in the Oathbringer synopsis. Oathbringer is my favorite book. I know this will seem like an empty statement. We are on 17th Shard, after all. Loving a new Brandon book--especially a new Brandon cosmere book--is par for the course. But, with that said, I've thought about this for a long time, and I truly cannot think of a book I've read that has made me feel the things Oathbringer has. It has the highest highs, the lowest lows, and moments where your eyes go wide in amazement. "Is this really happening right now?" you'll say. Yup. It is. This is the third book of the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer. I don't think I can overhype this for you. This is the best thing Brandon has written. It isn't even close. I imagine it might just be your favorite book, too. Expert Craftsmanship Oathbringer is a colossal 450,000-word book, longer than Words of Radiance. (Remember when Brandon said Way of Kings was long because it needed to be long, and the next books would be shorter? Bwahaha.) Is it too long? No, there's absolutely no fluff in this book. It's jam packed with so many things. Oathbringer is all killer and no filler. Every scene feels like it belongs. I'm a guy who loves a tight plot--even more than I love worldbuilding--and this book is beautifully crafted. You won't be bored at all. Brandon walks a fine line of things of having events feel natural, but also doing some very unexpected things. There are things that happen in Oathbringer that I didn't expect we'd get until the back half of this ten book series. It's shocking what all happens in this book. Things vaguely referenced that many casual readers probably missed become absolutely central. Brandon explains these elements carefully, so even if you aren't up to speed on the craziness of Stormlight speculation, you won't feel lost here. There's still a depth to the book if you are heavily invested (get it?), and it holds up on a reread. It's astonishing that Brandon crafts something that feels so natural and effortless, because there are a ton of characters in Stormlight. Brandon juggles viewpoints really effectively and we see new viewpoints that add to the world a lot, but we never forget about our main characters. It's probably for this reason that this book feels so tight, because you'd think there's so much space in a book this big, but there's so much to do. Every viewpoint is precious and there's a huge amount to explore. You might even say it is almost too fast, maybe! This book is Dalinar's book, and we get a large flashback sequence from him. It has a lot more flashbacks than Kaladin and Shallan, and honestly I feel like we could have had more than we got, but Oathbringer is a lean story and everything has its piece in the grand story arc. Even though it's huge, when you read this book you'll see it really is one book. Everything is connected. Even though this could really be three shorter books, it's one connected whole. It cannot truly be split. It's one glorious, beautiful whole. Worldbuilding Of course, Brandon has always been known for his worldbuilding. He's been introducing us to the world of Roshar slowly, which sounds hilarious to say considering The Way of Kings had a big learning curve. But seriously, Roshar really has insane depth. Ten Orders of Knights Radiant, Ten Heralds, Ten Oathgates, who knows how many Desolations that happened millennia ago, the Recreance, the Voidbringers, and three Shards on Roshar. There's so much, and those are just the highlights. That alone is enough to keep us going for ten books, but wait there's so much more. How foolish of us. Oathbringer changes so much about Stormlight Archive. We get killer lore in Oathbringer. Things you've wondered for many, many years will be answered. You can really tell Brandon has been worldbuilding this for a long, long time. Things are insanely complex, but also, everything makes sense. There's so much clever, subtle foreshadowing that few have picked up on. Roshar is huge, deep, and you really can get lost in it forever, now more than ever. The beautiful thing is even though we get crazy lore in this book, there's new, absolutely freaking insane puzzles that we never could have expected. Seriously. You all have no idea. It's bonkers. How deep will the lore be just by book five? Words of Radiance ended with the summoning of the Everstorm, which would bring back the ancient enemy of Roshar, the Voidbringers. If you were worried about the Voidbringers being boring or one-dimensional villains, worry not. There's a huge amount of depth to everything with the Voidbringers. Nothing is quite as it seems. It's hard to explain how crazy Roshar is after everything we learn and everything that happens in Oathbringer. Simply put: it's bigger, more epic, and crazier than ever. But Oathbringer never is self-congratulatory on its lore; it is all in the service of this amazing story. Speaking of amazingness... The Avalanche One of Brandon's signatures in his writing is the Brandon Avalanche at the end of his books, where pacing gets very fast, and everything happens all at once. It makes for some amazing endings. You might thinking that you know Brandon's tricks. You'll know how this book goes down. Hah. That's funny. No, you haven't seen an ending like this one. If you were to compare Words of Radiance and Oathbringer's endings, it's not even remotely close which is more awesome: Oathbringer by a mile. The crazy thing is that this book has three separate climaxes. Part One alone has a completely satisfactory conclusion that you could read and say, "Yes, I got my fill, that was awesome." It has another. And then it has the grand finale. Let me try to explain: It starts with us finally seeing [REDACTED] go [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. Then it turns out [REDACTED] didn't [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED], but [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. You get [REDACTED] and it's immediately time for [REDACTED], and it's this epic [REDACTED] right away. Oh, and not only is it [REDACTED] [REDACTED], but just [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED] is [REDACTED]. It turns out [REDACTED] was the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] was [REDACTED] to be [REDACTED], and for a moment you [REDACTED]. All in [REDACTED] [REDACTED] was so [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] makes [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. All the while, [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] are in [REDACTED] (because of [REDACTED]) at [REDACTED], fighting [REDACTED] and trying to get [REDACTED], but the [REDACTED] refuses to [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] tries to get [REDACTED] to [REDACTED], but [REDACTED] keeps [REDACTED]. All the while there's [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. Oh also there are [REDACTED], because why not, clearly more needed to be happening. But then, [REDACTED] (the actual chapter title), [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] just [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED], or [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] faces [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], and it is so [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED], reaches [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED] to [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED], and they are [REDACTED] into the [REDACTED] and it's so freaking amazingly awesome. You see [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. Oh, and that's just the first half of the avalanche because then [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] with [REDACTED] and it's just insane. The most intense thing ever. Hmmm... something tells me that isn't going to come across well with me needing to redact all of that. I did actually write that paragraph, but there was so much happening that it's just a small snippet of how crazy it actually is. Despair. Triumph. The feels are so real in so many ways. It's amazing and perfect and ties everything together brilliantly. Get Hyped This is by far the best Stormlight book and the best book Brandon has ever written. I'm sure there will be some characters’ paths that some will not exactly love, and stuff will definitely break your heart, but I think all of it is necessary and fit perfectly. Brandon's learned so much since Mistborn and The Way of Kings, and it shows. Was it worth the wait? Damnation, yes. I know it's so painful to wait, but given how ludicrously complex this book is, I think Brandon should take his time to outline these. (He's said recently he's outlining Stormlight 4, which he said could take a year and a half, and I do not doubt that.) These are colossal undertakings and I can definitely see why Brandon would get exhausted writing them, even if he loves what he does. I have some worries about the Stormlight Archive as a whole, but they are good problems to have. With Words of Radiance improving on The Way of Kings, with so much more happening, and Oathbringer bringing it to a whole new scale, will the next book be even better? Well, I didn't think it was possible to top Words of Radiance, and that was totally foolish thinking about it now. So, let's consider the alternative: what if the next books are so amazing that the first book is the weakest one? All in all, many of you are here because you loved The Way of Kings, but I imagine some were turned off from that one, and it could be hard to introduce our friends to this amazing series with The Way of Kings. Still, I suppose if our biggest problem is that the later books are so incredible that the earlier ones pale a bit in comparison, that's a pretty good problem to have. I'd happily take that over a beginning that has all the good stuff there, and then have pointless sequels afterwards. Things are looking really great here, both this book and the series as a whole. Oathbringer is, I daresay, a masterpiece and I can't wait for you to read it.
  13. Welcome to the first weekly book review by Sharders, for Sharders! Come here to read critiques and discuss what everyone's reading this week. (To write your own review and contribute to this great community, Sign up here!) Applause goes to The Young Bard for organizing this group. To get the ball rolling, I'll share my review of The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, originally written a few years ago after I read the book the second time. And, if you've already read The Immortal Rules, you might be interested in my reviews of books 2 and 3 in the Blood of Eden trilogy, The Eternity Cure and The Forever Song. (SPOILER WARNING: My reviews of books 2 and 3 contain spoilers for previous books in the series.)
  14. Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection is finally here. This is a big, 670+ page book, with a ton of stuff. This has every single cosmere story that has been published outside of the main novels in one convenient collection. It has: The Hope of Elantris, The Emperor's Soul (which is incredible), The Eleventh Metal, "Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Episodes 28 and 30", an excerpt from White Sand (both graphic novel and from prose), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, The Sixth of Dusk, and, for the first time in physical print, Mistborn: Secret History. That's a ton of value, just considering Secret History and Emperor's Soul. But that is not all. Its main headline feature is a large, 40,000 word long Stormlight Archive novella: Edgedancer. It's a novella about Lift, of course, and covers her story after we saw her interlude up until the end of Words of Radiance. Not only that, but Arcanum Unbounded has some crazy cosmere information--essays from the author of the Ars Arcanum, Khriss, on each of the star systems--and star charts. So how is it? I'd say its a resounding success. The original content is enough for me to be thrilled about this release, and if you haven't read any of the older content, the value keeps piling up. Khriss Essays and Artwork First, let's talk about the cosmere goodies. Each of the stories is separated per star system, and at the beginning, we have a gorgeous drawing of each solar system, followed by a short two page essay written by Khriss. Since she writes the Ars Arcana in each book, that gives you a certain level of expectation on awesomeness. And, well, get excited. Khriss talks about more than a planet's magic system. She talks about the sizes of planets, the Shards of the planets, and overall covers the basic history. I know that sounds boring, and maybe if you aren't into the cosmere, some of this will be boring. But each star system has crazy, unique things. Here's the thing: Khriss delivers lore bombs casually, if they were nothing. Things that I have wondered for years are answered in a sentence. There's a thing that I never even considered could be possible that is discussed, and it is insane. And, like always, there are new mysteries for us to ponder. (If Khriss can't figure them out... well, we will have on the forums theorizing about it for years to come.) There are essays on every planet, save for Nalthis. It's probably because there was no Nalthis content in this rather than any other deeper reason. While I'm sure much of this essay info you'll find on the internet (like on the forums, or on the Coppermind soon), but it really does add to this idea that these worldhoppers collected and catalogued this information. It's awesome. Each story has original artwork preceding it, and every star system gets a neat icon. Oh, and on the endpages of the book, there's also a completely awesome star chart of the cosmere. It's an artistic thing, with drawings that represent constellations on it. It's gorgeous, and terrifying, for a reason that you'll see as soon as you lay your eyes upon it. The entire product is far more than an anthology. Edgedancer But, of course, you want to know about new Stormlight content. It feels like an eternity since Words of Radiance, so it is amazing to finally advance the story. Edgedancer is about Lift, featured in one of the interludes of Words of Radiance. She'll actually be a main viewpoint character in the back five Stormlight books. So, if you love Lift, you'll love Edgedancer. It is that simple. It's funny. It's dramatic. It's emotional. It's everything you wanted out of a Lift story and more. It's hard for me to imagine going into Oathbringer without having read this. Significant stuff happens. There was actually some mindblowing events here. (And it also has something I did not expect, which answered a huge, huge question in the series. It totally blindsided me that this was the story that this happened in, and I did actually scream.) I suppose it isn't strictly necessary, because the characters here are separated from the main characters of the Stormlight Archive, but you'll be really glad you read this. I will say, though, that Edgedancer was so sweet that it made me desperate for Oathbringer. It made me realize how much I love Roshar. So, in a way, this piece which Brandon wrote to tide us over until Book 3 as an apology for it taking so long ends up being a novella which makes me need Oathbringer, immediately. I'm basically Gollum, and I wantses it now. I think any way you slice it Arcanum Unbounded is worth the full price release. The original stuff is great, and the value that the art and the essays bring to the old work is fantastic. Sure, some of the older works in this collection are not my favorite, but come on, with Emperor's Soul, Secret History, and Edgedancer, you get a lot here, and that isn't everything. It's a great anthology.
  15. The day has finally come. The day that many have been waiting for, for far longer than is fair (Thanks, Scholastic! Clearly the best time to drop a series is at the cliffhanger before the last book! Clearly, they’ve been taken over by Librarians, in order to keep this story under wraps). Alcatraz 5 is upon us, and Brandon’s been promising that we’ll finally see the long foretold altar scene. This is going to be a review of both the Starscape re-releases of the first four Alcatraz books, as well as a review of the fifth book in the series, though it will fail spectacularly on the latter point. The Books The new editions are nice. The covers are all much more cohesive, and not nearly as random as the Scholastic editions. It’s a little disappointing to lose the jacket art on the cover, but I think what we got instead is a reasonable trade, aside from the inconsistent embossing on book two, as seen here: But what really shines in these new editions are Hayley Lazo’s wonderful illustrations. From small glimpses into what’s happening in the stories to Bastille illustrating Alcatraz’s wild exaggerations and then snarking about them, they’re a delightful addition to an already wonderful story. I’ve read the first four books several times over the years, and these illustrations made me excited to read them again. And if you think I’m exaggerating, here are Isaac’s and Brandon’s thoughts on the upgrade. If you’ve been holding out on reading these, now’s a great time. Sure, they may be “kids books”, and you may be here for “adult fantasy”. These are a fun, light read. Yes, they’re on the more whimsical side, but they’re a wonderful side project, and I consider them to be the best Kids/YA series that Brandon has ever written. The Dark Talent Still with me? Read the first four books? (If not, shame on you. Go out, buy yourself the rest of the series [two copies of The Scrivener’s Bones and an Austen novel, as you’ll need them for the arts and crafts section of the program], and come back and finish reading this review once you’ve gotten that far, or else Alcatraz will make fun of you.) Alcatraz outshines both The Rithmatist and The Reckoners series in the last book of his autobiography. Waiting for nearly six years for this book was too long by far (thanks, Librarians!), but this book was worth the wait. The pacing is on point, and the action is bigger and better than ever. In this book, we finally get answers to questions that were posed earlier in the series (and maybe a few that haven’t), such as: Is the Breaking talent really the dark talent? How can Alcatraz wear a green jacket if he’s a fish? How do I reset my router if I’m stealing Wi-Fi from my neighbors? Who Killed Asmodeon? Is The Reckoners series tied to the Cosmere? If Alcatraz were to try really hard, could he break his way onto Scadrial? If Alcatraz is an unreliable narrator, can we trust him to be telling the truth about being on Earth, and not a cosmere planet? HOW DID ALCATRAZ END UP ON THAT ALTAR OF ENCYCLOPEDIAS?!? YOU’VE BEEN TEASING US FOR YEARS, AND IT’S NOT VERY NICE! Alcatraz warned you about that last one. By his own word, Alcatraz is: Not a good person A Liar Awesome An Idiot A Coward A Fish I, in general, wouldn’t trust a word that’s come out of his mouth since the beginning of the series. Maybe you’re more trusting than I am, though. Maybe you’ll finally get to see the altar scene, and maybe you’ll finally realize that this is an incredibly unlikely series of events to happen to a fish. Yes, this is a terrible review. I did warn you, after all. I wish I could tell you that it’s everything you’ve ever imagined, and that they all live happily ever after. But I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the fun. If you’ve read this far into the series (and amazingly, stomached this much of this crapaflapnasty review), go out and pick this one up. You’ll be surprised that Brandon can still shock you, even in a children’s book.
  16. A little over a year ago, Brandon made the surprising announcement that he had not only written the sequel to The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, but the sequel to that as well. The Bands of Mourning, as the sixth Mistborn book, has a lot to live up to. Not only with these characters, but with the world itself, there's a lot of history to contend with. Luckily, Bands soared above the hopes I had for it. It's quickly become my favorite Wax and Wayne era novel, and, for me at least, it's neck and neck with some of the Era 1 trilogy. Bands picks up about six months after Shadows of Self concludes, the aftereffects of which are still being felt. Wax has had his worldview shaken and is still reeling from the emotional blow of Shadows' climax. So when a kandra arrives, seeking his help to find the Bands of Mourning, the fabled metalminds of the Lord Ruler--rumored to give any who possess them his powers--Wax is disinclined to agree. That is, of course, until a more personal motivation comes to light. The Set, and Wax's uncle Edwarn, are back and there's no telling what they are up to now... Part of what sets Bands apart from Alloy and Shadows is the setting. We leave Elendel behind, and while Bands still has the distinctive thriller pacing of its predecessors, you can definitely see hints of a more epic scope as we explore more of the wider world. Turns out there is a lot more going on than the people of Elendel would like to admit. Bands is also a distinctly different kind of story. Alloy was very much a Western, it may not have been set in the Roughs proper, but it was steeped in the feel of it. Shadows, on the other hand, was more of a true thriller, a cat-and-mouse mystery. At its core it's a personal story. Bands though... Bands is like an Indiana Jones story set on Scadrial. There's a certain extravagance of plot and of situations beyond mere mortal men (and women). The characters have also come a long way. Wax, Wayne, and Marasi are not the same people that we met back in Alloy, they have grown and changed, and in some cases made some pretty tough choices. Bands continues that. The book is full of moments of character growth and realizations about themselves and their companions. These are some of the most powerful moments in the book. It goes to show that while Brandon is known as the "worldbuilding guy," he's a master of character as well. The stand out character is Steris, by far. This is definitely the book where she comes into her own; she's not just a side character any more. I feel she helps bring a certain amount of levity to the book in a way that is distinct from Wayne's humor. You cannot help but smile at her sincerity and earnestness in the face of the almost larger than life world of Wax, Wayne, and Marasi. She may not have powers, but she's far from useless. Over the past few months I've seen more and more people show an appreciation for her, but if you are still on the fence, I think she might win you over in Bands. I'll even wager that she'll become a fan favorite going forward. If I had to describe The Bands of Mourning in one (two?) word(s) it would be "mind-blowing". Looking back at it now I still cannot believe that Brandon was able to pull off everything that he did. Especially that he was able to do it without the book feeling rushed. Don't get me wrong, Bands still has the Brandon Avalanche that we all know and have grown to love, but the build-up to it is much more subtle. I was already well into the avalanche by the time I realized it had even begun. It is hard, even, to pinpoint the beginning of the avalanche, as the pacing is handled so smoothly. There are moments where you have to stop and go "Wait a minute, is that... It is! Oh my Harmony, I can't believe it!" Then at other times you think you know exactly what is going on only to have things take a hard right into sheer, unbridled insanity, but it's incredible nevertheless, in a way you would never have dreamed possible. And it's like this over and over again. It's a wild ride, and at times it will leave you breathless, but in the end you'll be hanging on every word, right until the very last. To be honest it's hard to think of my least favorite part of the book. I do have a few minor complaints but they are tiny, nit-picky things, such as a scene near the beginning that drags on rather longer than was really necessary, but in the long run they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Really the worst thing about Bands is that it spoiled us! We only had to wait three months for its release (after Shadows) and unfortunately it's going to be significantly longer than that before we can get our hands on the next book. During last month's State of the Sanderson, Brandon put the current estimate for the release of The Lost Metal-- the final Wax and Wayne novel--at late 2018. Luckily that's not as long as the wait between Alloy and Shadows, but it is not an insignificant amount of time. I have hard time holding that against the book, as even though the wait won't be as short, or as easy, as we might wish for, there is still plenty to keep us busy in the meantime. And I don't know if I'm quite ready to move on from these characters, especially after the experience that is this book, so perhaps the wait is a blessing in disguise. It will undoubtedly give us time to sort through everything (and believe me when I say there is plenty to work through). This is one adventure you do not want to miss. Early copy provided by Dragonsteel Entertainment. Posted with their permission. The Bands of Mourning comes out on January 26th, 2016.
  17. Shadows of Self is the latest Mistborn novel and the sequel to The Alloy of Law, which came out all the way back in 2011. It's been a crazy long time. There's been plenty of Brandon Sanderson to read since then, but my first love is Mistborn, so I've yearned for this for... well, four years. Fortunately, it's fantastic. If you liked The Alloy of Law--particularly the idea of an urban fantasy thriller set in the Mistborn world--you'll love Shadows of Self. This time, Wax and Wayne continue their hunt for the Set, the shadowy organization seen in The Alloy of Law. Then, the murder of a huge portion of Elendel's criminal elite--including the governor's brother--pushes Wax onto the case, where he discovers that the person responsible is insanely dangerous. They need to find out what this person's plans are, before Elendel collapses in on itself. It's hard for me to talk about Shadows without comparing it to The Alloy of Law. Alloy was a pretty good urban/western fantasy thriller. Not fantastic, but the nostalgia of the Mistborn world made it quite good. For a standalone, though, the ending was unfulfilling. Alloy demanded a sequel, and now that we finally get it, it is so very satisfying. Shadows is quite similar to Alloy in style. They are both set in Elendel, both have a particular "case" to focus them, and are urban fantasy novels. For this reason I often compare these books to the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, the gold standard of urban fantasy. Shadows takes the good elements of Alloy and makes them better, while cutting out some of the flaws that Alloy has. The result is a novel that is as awesome as Dresden books. I don't think it's hard to see why Shadows turned out better than Alloy, and it comes down to what Brandon does best: planning. Alloy was a short story that turned into a novel and it showed. In the time between writing Alloy and Shadows, Brandon fully planned out what he’s going to do with this time period. No longer are the Wax and Wayne novels only a bridge between the fantasy Mistborn trilogy and the 1980s Mistborn trilogy. With this extra planning, the Alloy era has become important to the world of Scadrial. While Shadows is still about the length of Alloy of Law (making it about half of the length of the books in the original trilogy), there’s a feeling of a grand design that Alloy didn’t really have, while maintaining the fast pace that Alloy set. Brandon knows with razor-sharp focus what this era of novels are supposed to be doing in the grand scheme of everything now. And boy, Shadows does it so well. I've always been a reader who loves a tightly crafted plot. It's one of the reasons I love Brandon’s novels. Well, Shadows not only has a tighter plot, but also a more interesting one than Alloy. The worldbuilding of Scadrial is important to events, and for you cosmere buffs, there will be plenty for you to love here. And Shadows' villain is terrifying for so many reasons that make Miles Dagouter look tame by comparison. One thing with Alloy and Shadows is that, like many other of Brandon's novels, there are multiple viewpoints. A lot of urban fantasy is written in a single first person viewpoints--like Dresden--and I felt that in Alloy, though it was fun to be in multiple characters' heads, it didn't make that book incredible. Not so with Shadows. Multiple viewpoints really enhances the book, and raises the overall tension. This tension is key, because it raises Shadows from being just another case file to something... more. Something legitimately awesome. Surprisingly, one way Shadows raises the tension is through politics. Sometimes Brandon goes way too in-depth of political intrigue, like with Elantris. Considering how bad politics can be in a story (cough, Star Wars prequels, cough), you realize how well Shadows does it. The political intrigue truly heightens the threat level. It's never distracting, and is always important. Elendel is in serious danger, so it makes sense that it is so essential to the plot. As much as I love plot, the soul of stories are the characters, and all the characters you love from Alloy have progressed in reasonable ways, with new levels of depth. Wax and his relationships advance in unexpected, but interesting, fashions. Wayne, hilarious as always, has a ton of depth that I did not expect. Marasi also really comes into her own. And speaking of Marasi, I've often seen people who dislike either Marasi or Steris. After Shadows, I've loved both. You really do need to read Alloy before Shadows, as there is critical character depth you'd miss without it, but Shadows is such a good sequel. It's crazy to think that before Words of Radiance, Brandon had only written one other epic fantasy sequel in his own worlds: The Well of Ascension. In my opinion, that’s the weakest book of the original trilogy, and Brandon's learned so much about writing sequels since then. Brandon takes the best of the series' predecessors and makes the sequels even better than one could hope. Shadows is faster paced, better plotted, and its worldbuilding more important and grander than Alloy. The characters advance in great ways, and the multiple viewpoints enhance this book substantially. Really, Shadows of Self perfects the formula of Alloy in every way, and is a truly wonderful novel because of it. Score: 17 metals out of 16. Note: Brandon actually used to call the original trilogy and the 1980s trilogy as the "first Mistborn trilogy" and "second Mistborn trilogy," with a third science fiction trilogy. Alloy didn't really have a place. Now, the different time periods are called eras, so the first trilogy is Era 1, and Alloy and Shadows are Era 2, with Era 3 and 4 set to be published in the future. Early copy provided by Dragonsteel Entertainment. Posted with their permission. Shadows of Self comes out on October 6th, 2015.
  18. (This special prerelease, spoiler-free review is specifically approved by Team Sanderson.) It's safe to say that Words of Radiance has the most pre-release hype of any of Brandon's solo works to-date. And it makes sense. The Way of Kings was Brandon's best work at the time, and so everyone is wondering, will Words of Radiance live up to the high bar set by book one? This is a sequel that has a ton riding on it. After all, despite the first book's length, there's still so much more of Roshar to explore. There's so many places that The Stormlight Archive can go from here, that it has been hard to predict what would happen in this book, much less a few books down the line. Words of Radiance could fall on its face. So, does it live up to the hype? Storms yes it does. "Of course you'd like the book," you immediately say. "You're a 17th Sharder, you'll love anything Brandon writes." I'd say this is somewhat true. None of us would be here if we didn't like what Brandon's done, but when you are a hyper fan, you set these books up to a high standard. You can see flaws that no one else sees, simply because you are so invested. For a while, I worried that Words of Radiance would end up like The Well of Ascension, which I have some problems with to say the least. I loved Well's ending (which made it entirely worthwhile), but rereading it is a slog for me. Well of Ascension was Brandon's first true sequel, and it shows a bit. Obviously, Brandon has grown a vast deal from almost a decade ago when that book came out, but it was still a worry. Sequels are not easy, to say the least, but it looks like finishing up The Wheel of Time really honed Brandon’s sequel chops. I also worried because--and this may sound like absolute heresy to many of you--I didn't immediately love The Way of Kings when it came out. I've come to love it after rereading it, but the first time I read it, well, while the Battle of the Tower was awesome, I had expected Part Five to be more. In all the Mistborn books the final part of the book contained even more awesomeness, but Way of Kings's final part was admittedly more of an extended prologue to the rest of the series. It took me a while to adjust to The Way of Kings and learn to love on its own merits instead of comparing it to Mistborn, which is a very different type of novel. I say this to convince you that no, we don't believe Brandon Windruns on water. So when I say Words of Radiance is absolutely phenomenal, an amazing achievement, and my favorite Brandon book to date, I'm not being a hyperbolic fan. It really is that good. It takes everything that was great about The Way of Kings and takes it up at least five notches--maybe ten or fifteen notches, even, depending on how you measure your notches. No matter which way you slice this massive tome with a Shardblade (in which case, can I have your Blade? Actually, that might be a bad idea), Words of Radiance is incredible. And when I say that everything is taken up a level, I'm again not being hyperbolic. Did you enjoy the interludes in book one? They are better and more plot important now. The epigraphs here are similarly more awesome and terrifying. The interior art? When you hold the book in your hands and see the gorgeous Shallan endpapers, you'll fall in love. Dan Dos Santos (artist extraordinaire, who did the beautiful US Warbreaker cover) does some art work and it is oh so excellent. You might think that Words of Radiance, being longer than The Way of Kings, would be a chore to get through, but you couldn't be more wrong. The plotting is so much better here. You'll be amazed by how much actually happens in this book. Every part of the book is focused and tight, and it has incredible, thrilling moments all along the way. Do you want to see more magic? Oh, we see more. Words of Radiance expands on the world and characters in such a natural way that you'll be thinking, "of course this is how it should have been. There was no other way." Brandon weaves together character development, tight plotting, and the world and magic of Roshar in a way that I can only describe as masterful. Brandon reveals so much in Words of Radiance. Things I expected to have to wait at least two or three more books to find out are explained in full by the end of the book, which leaves me to wonder "If he’s giving us this information now, what is he holding back?" Not only is the story great, it also has some of the most beautiful writing I've read--I teared up more than once, and that's rare for me--and it also has some of the most haunting writing I've ever read. And it manages to be hilarious, too (let me say that two characters meet in a rather unexpected way and leave it at that). It pulls at your emotions the entire way. It's relentless like that. You can tell how much he has grown as a writer in the years since he wrote The Way of Kings. And then, that ending. That ending. Guys, I'm not trying to deliberately hype it up for you, but you haven't seen anything yet. I had thought of giving you a summary with the spoilers heavily redacted, as in: "Then REDACTED REDACTED with REDACTED, because why not?" But I decided even that was too spoilery. All you really need to know is that there were four separate moments where I screamed "REDACT YEAH!" (insert your favorite storming swear here) in my empty apartment. Note, this was at Very Late O'Clock. So, to my poor neighbors, I would say that I'm sorry, but when you read it, you will understand the awesomeness. It was totally justified for me to scream and wake you up in the middle of the night. Pinky swear. And when the storm passes, after you think days, weeks, and months after you finish as you try to sleep "Wow, that was incredible" (I did this five times that I'm aware of), does Words of Radiance still hold up to a less hyped up mind? It really does, and there's so much depth in the book to dissect. There's also a deeper reason for why it has stuck with me. I love The Stormlight Archive for a lot of reasons, like its deep world and extensive magic. I'm a sucker for that, as many of you on 17th Shard are. But there's something more. As a genre, fantasy, with George R. R. Martin and others, has been trending towards darker, more "realistic" worlds. Stormlight Archive is not that. One criticism I hear about Brandon's works is that his characters aren't gritty or real enough. Well, you know what? I like heroes being heroes. Brandon writes about heroes. When you think about it, that's what the Knights Radiant and the Stormlight Archive are all about. What does it mean to truly be a hero? Having people try and struggle to do the right thing is fascinating, and allows for opportunities where you literally scream with joy (as I did) and just stand up and cheer. I'm so glad Brandon bucks that dark fantasy trend and gives me something to love. Wrap Up Words of Radiance is truly an achievement. It expands on its predecessor, fulfilling the promises it sets up, and manages to surpass it. There is no question about it: this is my favorite Brandon Sanderson novel. When I read The Way of Kings, I had thought that while it was (at the time) Brandon's best written novel, it wasn't my favorite, but that The Stormlight Archive series absolutely had the potential to be Brandon's best series. Well, that was entirely right. There's no doubt about it. Out of five stars, this book is ten heartbeats, with a 2:1 stars to heartbeats ratio. If you adored The Way of Kings, you will be blown away by Words of Radiance. Even if book one didn't thrill you, however, I can't see how you won't be enthralled by this volume. It really is that good. You'll be sold on the entire series with this. Fire and hammer forge a sword; time and neglect rust it away. And the same is true for The Stormlight Archive. Yes, we have seen the time and maybe even felt some neglect, but what Brandon was out of sight doing tempered his skill as a writer, and this book is the reward. The Knights Radiant will stand again, and this book is proof that they will stand for a long time. Thanks to Josh for his contribution to this review. Words of Radiance comes out in the US on March 4th, 2014, and in other territories on March 6th, 2014. Talk about the book in our Words of Radiance board.
  19. I'm not trying to deliberately hype you guys but it's really good: