GreyPilgrim

Arcanum Unbounded: Worth It?

26 posts in this topic

Hey all. I apologize if someone has already made a topic of this sort, but being a very, very infrequent user and being unfamiliar with the site's new interface I don't really know what I'm doing.

Being a much less avid follower of Brandon than I once was, I only recently became aware of Arcaunum Unbounded. Based on the information I have read about it, it appears that the only content in it that I have not already spent money on at some point will be the new Stormlight novella (!!!!) and Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell. I must admit, to me, this seems like somewhat of a cheap cash grab on Brandon's part. Now, I have already gone years without reading SFSitFoH and thus can go plenty more time without reading it (and it appears it is now available for $3 on its own, which is not at all unfair). But this new Stormlight novella has me intrigued. Alas, again, being a less avid follower than in years past, I could probably pass on this one as well, for a time. Thus my questions:

Suspending your general assumptions that nobody on this site could possibly even consider not getting a new Brandon book immediately, is Arcanum Unbounded a worthwhile purchase?

Does Brandon plan to eventually release the Stormlight novella on its own (and also do we have any knowledge of its nature beyond being a Stormlight story)?

Are there any additional special features to the book beyond the literary content that I may not be aware of?

Is there any particular benefit to purchasing a physical copy of the book over a digital one?

I know it may seem silly to go through all this when we're only talking about $15-$20, but again something about this feels kind of cheap to me (and alas, as a college student, I must consider all purchases carefully).

Thank you in advance Sharders.

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5 minutes ago, GreyPilgrim said:

Does Brandon plan to eventually release the Stormlight novella on its own (and also do we have any knowledge of its nature beyond being a Stormlight story)?

No idea behind the first part, but as for the latter, it's a story about Lift, taking place after her interlude in WoR. She's apparently saving some buddying Skybreaker from Nale.

6 minutes ago, GreyPilgrim said:

Are there any additional special features to the book beyond the literary content that I may not be aware of?

Every Cosmere world represented in the story will have an introduction penned by Khriss. The book also comes with a Shadesmar/Cognitive Realm map of the Cosmere, showing relative positions of all its worlds - also an in-universe document. 

8 minutes ago, GreyPilgrim said:

Is there any particular benefit to purchasing a physical copy of the book over a digital one?

The map will probably be far more readable and intelligible in paper form than on an e-reader screen. 

So... I guess you'll just have to judge for yourself whether you'll find it a worthwhile purchase.

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If you plan on buying a digital version and don't mind waiting, the price will probably drop by a couple dollars in a few months. 

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Since I haven't purchased any of the stories featured in Arcanum Unbounded, I do plan to buy it, but I can see why the format would unnerve other readers. I agree it does sound cheap for the author to make readers pay extra money for stories he already published in other format. The Lift novella is about 40 000 words, so not too small and it may present viewpoints which may be relevant to SA3 or so I have heard. How relevant? I cannot say. The author presents it as a form of excuse for not publishing SA3 in 2016 as he initially planned, but I would have rather he had worked on SA3 instead and got the book out a few months earlier. As it happens, SA3 may not be ready before early 2018: there is so much left to be written and very few months left within the year.

For my part, since I am not an avid Cosmere fan, if it weren't for the Lift novella, I wouldn't buy it and I only want to read it because it may be tied to SA3. I will however admit my interest within the Stormlight Archive has been slowly going down. I still love Brandon, but not as much as I used to.

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Are you a cosmere nerd? If so then get it. Seriously. 

It's not just Edgedancer that you get here. There's art and essays that are incredible. Like holy crap. It is not just the works themselves.

I know that sounds like I'm being a shill, but... it's hard for me to think that it's a cash grab when you get every single cosmere story that hasn't been in a novel. Like, if you haven't read Emperor's Soul, that alone is worth it. If you never read Secret History, that alone makes it worth the purchase. 

To be clear, you get:

The Emperor's Soul
The Hope of Elantris
The Eleventh Metal
An Allomancer Jak story
Mistborn: Secret History
Shadows for Silence
Sixth of Dusk
Edgedancer

Emperor's Soul and Secret History are really long and extensive. Edgedancer is also really long. Those three are absolutely worth the price of admission, and the extra cosmere goodies are really awesome, but maybe that's because I'm a giant nerd. 
 

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If you can't stand reading digital then arcanum unbounded is a great deal. You get to read all the stories that everyone else on the forum probably read ages ago.

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2 hours ago, Rasarr said:

Every Cosmere world represented in the story will have an introduction penned by Khriss. The book also comes with a Shadesmar/Cognitive Realm map of the Cosmere, showing relative positions of all its worlds - also an in-universe document.

This does sound really cool.

1 hour ago, maxal said:

The Lift novella is about 40 000 words, so not too small and it may present viewpoints which may be relevant to SA3 or so I have heard. How relevant? I cannot say.

Good to know, that is a substantial length and the potential relevance helps, though as you say we may not see SA3 for quite a while which means I have plenty of time to spare.

47 minutes ago, Chaos said:

Are you a cosmere nerd?

Once upon a time, certainly. These days... Not as much. Alas, the time since the release of Words of Radiance has seen a gradual decline in the avidness of my Brandon following. I'm now more of a casual fan than the fanatic I once was.

47 minutes ago, Chaos said:

There's art and essays that are incredible.

By essays do you mean the Khriss introductions to which Rasarr referred?

47 minutes ago, Chaos said:

Like, if you haven't read Emperor's Soul, that alone is worth it. If you never read Secret History, that alone makes it worth the purchase. 

To be clear, you get:

The Emperor's Soul
The Hope of Elantris
The Eleventh Metal
An Allomancer Jak story
Mistborn: Secret History
Shadows for Silence
Sixth of Dusk
Edgedancer

Emperor's Soul and Secret History are really long and extensive. Edgedancer is also really long. Those three are absolutely worth the price of admission, and the extra cosmere goodies are really awesome, but maybe that's because I'm a giant nerd.

As I said in the OP, the only works here that are new to me are Shadows for Silence and Edgedancer (and, looking again, the Allomancer Jak Story). I was just kind of thrown off by the fact that Brandon is rereleasing a bunch of stuff that many people (myself included) have already paid good money for. Indeed, I have already spend well more than the list price of this book getting purchasing most of this material in the past, so I am getting relatively low value for Arcanum Unbounded. I understand why this is an amazing deal for someone who has not read any of this material before, but to someone who has, it's kind of irksome.

But based on what y'all have said here, it does sound like this is worth the price of admission regardless (plus, I realized it comes out on my birthday, so I can treat it as a gift to myself, and it comes out right before I have Thanksgiving break, so I may actually have time to read Edgedancer right then if I so wish).

Plus, perhaps this will serve to reignite my Sanderfanhood, to an extent. :-]

I hope I'm not coming across as too slontzey, I see now that I may have overreacted a bit... (oops, lol, I forgot this site had a swear filter, I was really confused for a second there)

Edited by GreyPilgrim
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@GreyPilgrim I feel what you're feeling. I own either physically, digitally, or both all the stories except Edgedancer and so I've questioned the worth of this to me and "is it a cash grab"? 

I don't think it is, because there IS new content besides just Edgedancer. The essays and the in universe cognitive realm map to me are worth it to me. I think there a number of fans out there who haven't wanted to spend $ on anthologies and other products just to get a short story here or there, and this is really for them. The added content are to make it appealing to people like me who already have the others. 

It will be nice to have Secret History and Hope of Elantris in physical copy. Everything else I have both physical and digital. To me it's worth it just to get teh maps and novella Edgedancer. Everything else is icing on the Cosmere-cake that this book will be! 

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@GreyPilgrim: You could also wait a few months and read the reviews before jumping on the purchase if you are unsure. Since you say you aren't in a hurry to read it, you feel no urge nor anticipation, then you may very well wait it out and see if the novella won't end up being sell as an independent book.

Or just borough the book at the local library... This way, you'll get to read the stories you haven't yet read while not splurging  money on stories you have already read. Once you read it, you can decide if the purchase is worth adding to your collection. 

On my side, I only buy Stormlight Archive books, but I intend to buy this one because I know I won't read it in one pass. I haven't read Elantris yet, so I'll definitely skip the Hope of Elantris. Buying thus is the best move, for me.

You also aren't the only one seeing his interest lower as the delay to publish SA3 increases. For me, it has been a growing source of frustration and since I mostly care about SA, the release of additional books such as Arcanum Unbounded doesn't help. I wish Brandon had concentrated on SA3 when he said he was starting to write it instead of taking several months break every two months to work on something else. I know the man is entitled to whichever work ethic he wants to have and I know side projects keep him fresh, but taking such long break while being in the middle of writing a book just doesn't register in my head as a good thing.

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1 hour ago, Chaos said:

To be clear, you get:

The Emperor's Soul
The Hope of Elantris
The Eleventh Metal
An Allomancer Jak story
Mistborn: Secret History
Shadows for Silence
Sixth of Dusk
Edgedancer

Isn't there also an excerpt from White Sand? I heard something like that.

Also, Khriss introductions + starmap/Shadesmar map <3

1 hour ago, Chaos said:

There's art and essays that are incredible.

Is there any additional art apart from the map?

Edited by Oversleep
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28 minutes ago, Oversleep said:

Isn't there also an excerpt from White Sand? I heard something like that.

Is there any additional art apart from the map?

There is indeed an excerpt from White Sand, and each star system has a map to go along with its essay.

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1 minute ago, WeiryWriter said:

There is indeed an excerpt from White Sand, and each star system has a map to go along with its essay.

So, summing everything up:

Apart from the novels themselves, each world gets Khriss introduction and its star map. And there is also a Shadesmar map?

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1 hour ago, Green Hoodie Mistborn said:

 

 I think there a number of fans out there who haven't wanted to spend $ on anthologies and other products just to get a short story here or there, and this is really for them. The added content are to make it appealing to people like me who already have the others. 

 

yup, that's me. I haven't read many of those stories, and I cheer them being published all together. especially since i don't like ebooks for reasons tied to the byzantine stuff they go through in an effort to fight piracy, so this is my first chance to read most of those stories as paper.

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According to this, it is a "stylized star map" of the cosmere and not a Cognitive Realm map. Each story also has a new illustration by Ben McSweeney.

But yeah, it includes all the stories listed here (plus an excerpt from White Sand), an essay by Khriss for each included world, a star map for each essay, an illustration for each story, and the star map of the cosmere in the endpages.

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Arcanum Unbounded pre-order is currently listed at US $18.72 on Amazon (free shipping w/Prime.)  So, for the price of a new Blu-ray,  or a case of beer, or dinner for two at a cheap take out place, you get all the Cosmere short stories/novellas in one neatly packaged hardcover edition that should last your entire life.

Perspective is everything. 

Make your own decision on your purchase but, the man writes books for a living.

Edit:

Is there any particular benefit to purchasing a physical copy of the book over a digital one? 

Other than adding it to your bookshelf? One can never have too many books. 

2nd edit: Upon revisiting my post, I realize what a storming a-hole rant that it might sound like. I just got really excited to try to talk you into it, so I'm sorry. I really should have ended after the first paragraph:unsure:

Edited by AngelEy3
Apology Spren
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Also, while I dislike cash grabs as much as the next guy (more than most guys, probably), I really don't see Brandon making one.

I mean, the guy gives good money to charities; if he was that greedy, he'd be more likely to stop donating first.

Furthermore, he became succesful when he was appproaching his thirties; he got used to little money, and now I have no idea how much he earns, but it must be in the 6 digits. He probably doesn't even know how to spend all that money. That's what happen with most people who become rich later in life.

Ok, Brandon may be an exception to both of those general principles, but it is more likely that he's going to run his business with honor.

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Hardcovers aren't cash grabs - the leather-bound editions are cash grabs. (Full disclosure - I have Elantris leatherbound, and will be buying Mistborn when it comes out in December. I have confidence that even if I decide to abandon collecting the full set, they will hold their resale value.) But no one who buys them is surprised at what they get, anymore than any other limited edition book or film collection - they're called "Collector's Editions" for a reason.

I was once where you were @GreyPilgrim - college student, not much money, and I was even hesitant to buy books because of space concerns. What worked out well for me was going to my local library - I could request books for them to purchase, and they charged me a 25-cent 'reservation' fee for it. I got Alloy of Law that way, within a month of it coming out. The only downside was that there was another library patron who would smoke while reading - and I could unfortunately recognize his particular odor on all the Sanderson books in the library. But that's not that big a deal in the long run, so I'd recommend seeing if your library will be picking up a copy, and you can read Edgedancer and SSFH for almost nothing.

Another budget-saving measure I took (this was back before I was reading Brandon) was waiting for the paperbacks. Buying a hardcover is kind of like paying for a movie ticket; it's more expensive, but it's the only way to get access to the content right away. I, personally, don't watch too many movies in theaters; I wait until they come out in Redbox, and then watch them for $1.50. Waiting for a paperback to come out is the same; cheaper, and you miss out on some of the 'release experience,' but you still get all the content in the end. I'm actually still doing that now; there's a sci-fi book series that I've been following pretty much since it came out in 2006. The final book came out in May, but I haven't purchased it yet; I'm waiting for the mass-market paperback, which will cost a third as much.

The other reasons I've moved to hardcovers are more along the lines of super-fan syndrome. I've had numerous paperbacks fall apart after about a dozen reads (no, I didn't read them a dozen times - I'd pass them around to friends. And reread them a couple of times myself.), so hardcovers will last better if you plan on sharing. And, as far as I know, you can't share ebooks at all (please correct me if I'm wrong; I am quite a caveman when it comes to this sort of thing). I also like having hardcovers in front of me for research purposes - when I'm trying to build a theory about realmatics or something big, I like to be able to open to similar passages across books (like comparing Forging to Soulcasting).  

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I would buy it just for the star map (of all the cosmere worlds) that will be included. I'm also not that into anthologies so I am excited to get all the cosmere stories in one place. I've held off buying Mistborn a secret history bc I knew this book would be a way to get a physical copy. Add in the Lift novella and that makes Arcanum unbounded a no brainer for me.

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On 10/23/2016 at 0:43 PM, GreyPilgrim said:

I must admit, to me, this seems like somewhat of a cheap cash grab on Brandon's part.

. . .

Does Brandon plan to eventually release the Stormlight novella on its own (and also do we have any knowledge of its nature beyond being a Stormlight story)?

1) Couldn't disagree more, GP.  To put it into perspective, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite bands, U2.  When they put out their greatest hits collection, I didn't buy it, because I already had all the original albums.  But at the same time, they also released a B-sides collection, which I was super excited to get.  Those songs had all been released previously-- as B-sides on singles-- but I didn't own them and was happy to be able to pick them up all at once.  And I'm sure U2 was happy to have my cash, but that's the beauty of markets: everybody wins.  If this isn't a win for you, then don't pick up the book.  But I for one am glad Brandon has put this collection together.

2) My guess is yes, because this is what he has tended to do with all his other novella- and novelette-length works.  It might take a year or two, but I would expect Edgedancer to be sold separately at some point (perhaps just in electronic formats). 

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On 10/23/2016 at 2:30 PM, maxal said:

I agree it does sound cheap for the author to make readers pay extra money for stories he already published in other format. 

To make another comparison to the music biz, some people only want to buy one song and some people want to buy the whole album.  Making these stories available in lots of formats puts the choice in the hand of the consumer.  I love it when writers do this (eg., Jim Butcher's Side Jobs), and wish it would happen more often.

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On 10/23/2016 at 3:36 PM, GreyPilgrim said:

I was just kind of thrown off by the fact that Brandon is rereleasing a bunch of stuff that many people (myself included) have already paid good money for. Indeed, I have already spend well more than the list price of this book getting purchasing most of this material in the past, so I am getting relatively low value for Arcanum Unbounded. I understand why this is an amazing deal for someone who has not read any of this material before, but to someone who has, it's kind of irksome.

So, let's take the example of a story released previously in an anthology, like "Sixth of the Dusk," or "Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell."  When a writer signs a contract for an anthology, they almost always have to agree to a period of exclusivity.  This is because the editors know there are some fans who simply can't wait and will buy the anthology, even if they aren't interested in the other authors.  Sometimes I'm among them, happily paying a premium to get that content early-- like paying extra for an import CD before it's released in the US.  And sometimes I don't have the cash (or the interest) and I wait.  Either way, I'm glad the anthology editors included the story and gave me the option.  And I'm glad that they put my favorite authors' works in front of other potential new fans who are just buying the anthology to get someone else's story.  Helps authors, helps fans.  I think it's pretty great. 

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On 10/23/2016 at 3:48 PM, maxal said:

You also aren't the only one seeing his interest lower as the delay to publish SA3 increases. For me, it has been a growing source of frustration and since I mostly care about SA, the release of additional books such as Arcanum Unbounded doesn't help. I wish Brandon had concentrated on SA3 when he said he was starting to write it instead of taking several months break every two months to work on something else. I know the man is entitled to whichever work ethic he wants to have and I know side projects keep him fresh, but taking such long break while being in the middle of writing a book just doesn't register in my head as a good thing.

The waiting is the hardest part, no mistake.  But the dude publishes more than a thousand pages of new original fiction each year.  I can think of no more than a handful of fantasy authors who have this same kind of work ethic.

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On 10/24/2016 at 0:23 PM, Pagerunner said:

Hardcovers aren't cash grabs - the leather-bound editions are cash grabs. (Full disclosure - I have Elantris leatherbound, and will be buying Mistborn when it comes out in December. I have confidence that even if I decide to abandon collecting the full set, they will hold their resale value.) But no one who buys them is surprised at what they get, anymore than any other limited edition book or film collection - they're called "Collector's Editions" for a reason.

Yup, authors do this because there are super fans who love having books like these on their shelves.  Me, I don't require books written in liquid diamond on unicorn-vellum, but authors who are lucky enough to have fans like this would be fools not to listen up and give them what they are asking for.

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On 10/23/2016 at 4:36 PM, GreyPilgrim said:

This does sound really cool.

Good to know, that is a substantial length and the potential relevance helps, though as you say we may not see SA3 for quite a while which means I have plenty of time to spare.

Once upon a time, certainly. These days... Not as much. Alas, the time since the release of Words of Radiance has seen a gradual decline in the avidness of my Brandon following. I'm now more of a casual fan than the fanatic I once was.

By essays do you mean the Khriss introductions to which Rasarr referred?

As I said in the OP, the only works here that are new to me are Shadows for Silence and Edgedancer (and, looking again, the Allomancer Jak Story). I was just kind of thrown off by the fact that Brandon is rereleasing a bunch of stuff that many people (myself included) have already paid good money for. Indeed, I have already spend well more than the list price of this book getting purchasing most of this material in the past, so I am getting relatively low value for Arcanum Unbounded. I understand why this is an amazing deal for someone who has not read any of this material before, but to someone who has, it's kind of irksome.

But based on what y'all have said here, it does sound like this is worth the price of admission regardless (plus, I realized it comes out on my birthday, so I can treat it as a gift to myself, and it comes out right before I have Thanksgiving break, so I may actually have time to read Edgedancer right then if I so wish).

Plus, perhaps this will serve to reignite my Sanderfanhood, to an extent. :-]

I hope I'm not coming across as too slontzey, I see now that I may have overreacted a bit... (oops, lol, I forgot this site had a swear filter, I was really confused for a second there)


That's the thing, for every one of the people that have bought all of his shorts, there's a person like me who has bought only a couple of them, or none at all.

I've only read Secret History, and I have Shadows but haven't read it.  I'm not much of an e-reader fan.  And I don't like buying novellas at a price more than a paperback (Emperor's Soul). 

I feel that being a big fan, and buying many of the shorts as ebooks or in anthologies, you've opened yourself up to having to overpay at some point when the author decides to allow the more casual fans to catch up.  For me, it was Side Jobs for Butcher's Dresden Files.  I've since not bought his new shorts, waiting for another collection (Brief Cases?). 

So I guess the big way to look at it is, it's not a cash grab to get the diehards to pay more, it's to allow casuals to catch up and see more of the stories they otherwise have missed. 

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