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So, some of this thread is going to come off a little negative, but please bear with me.  I want to explain things.  Some spoilers for the Mistborn Trilogy ahead.

First, the question:  Should I read Brandon Sanderson's non-Mistborn books?

The reason I ask is because of my relationship with the Mistborn series, which is where the aforementioned negativity comes in.  This is going to be a bit long.

A friend of mine, who reads voraciously, loaned me the books (Mistborn trilogy and Alloy of Law) absolutely gushing over them.  It's not at all rare for him to talk about whatever book or series he's actively reading, but it's rather rare for him to be so taken with one he'll insist I read it.  His main selling point was "it has an amazingly cool magic system."

So, I started reading Mistborn, and was really beginning to wonder what he was seeing in it.  I thought Mr. Sanderson's "voice" was rather bland and generic, he didn't pull me in with his writing style the way, say, Andy Weir or Simon R. Green did.  The world was interesting, but at the same time I felt rather dumped into it without sufficient framework to understand what he was talking about.  What the heck is a dueling cane, what's an obligator, are the skaa a visually distinct race, etc.  The characters also didn't really jump out at me as being very interesting.  Vin, in particular, felt like an odd combination of a Mary Sue and a main character the author thought was less interesting than another main character (Kelsier).  Most annoyingly to me, Mr. Sanderson seemed to be working too hard at being mysterious, dropping in oblique references and seemingly pointing them out, as though saying to the reader "Ooh, burning tin?  What does that mean?  Don't you want to keep reading and find out?"  This is the most negative thing I think I'll say, and I honestly do not want it to sound insulting, but from my perspective, it felt a little manipulative.  Like Mr. Sanderson didn't have confidence we'd engage with the story and characters on our own, so he had to tease us into turning the page.  To be fair, I was not engaged with the story and characters on my own at this point, but I wonder if the effort spent on being mysterious might have been better spent polishing the early parts of the book to engage the reader on their own merits.

Now, I wish to stress that I didn't think the book was bad at this point, but it wasn't really holding my interest.  I made a conscious decision, which I rarely do reading books, to give Mr. Sanderson a time limit.  My middle school language arts teacher had said "Give the author 20 pages.  If they don't hook you by then, they aren't going to.  If you're not hooked 20 pages in, put the book down and find another one."  20 pages always seemed a bit brief to me (and I was well past that point in Mistborn already), so I decided that Mr. Sanderson had until the explanation of Allomancy.  If he lost me there, I'd return the books to my friend with a polite "thanks, but no thanks."

Well, he obviously didn't lose me there.  The explanation was interesting and self-consistent, and really felt like Mr. Sanderson was a gamer, writing Allomancy with a GM checklist at his elbow.  "This would be overpowered, no; this would be crazy broken, no; this would be awesome and should totally be allowed."  I mean that as a very sincere compliment.

But I still wasn't engaged.  I was getting to know the world and the characters better, but I wasn't feeling that drive to continue reading, to find out what happens next, to keep living in this world with these characters.  So I set another time limit.  If I still wasn't engaged at the end of this book, I had no drive to continue the series.

Not long after, it happened.

During the scene with Kelsier, Vin, and the Inquisitors at Kredik Shaw, I became hooked.  The scene was taut, tense, pulse-pounding, edge-of-my-seat thrilling.  Now, I cared about the answers to the questions being raised.  How had Sazed rescued Vin?  What made Steel Inquisitors so powerful?  How do they see, nevermind live, with iron spikes through their eyes?  More importantly, I found I now liked the characters.  Which isn't to say I'd disliked them before, I just hadn't had any strong feelings about them.  Now, I wanted Vin to get better, I wanted Kelsier and his crew to succeed, I wanted Vin and Elend's relationship to grow.  I was hooked.

I devoured the rest of the Mistborn books, and moved on to Alloy of Law, which I actually found to be a substantial improvement.  Compared to the Mistborn Trilogy, I thought the writing in Alloy of Law was crisper, the characters better developed, and the dialogue way funnier.  I chuckled a few times reading the trilogy, I laugh out loud often reading Wax and Wayne.  And I thought the end of the Mistborn Trilogy was perfect, just an absolutely sublime, tearjerkingly awesome conclusion.  Except for one of the final lines, where Sazed/Harmony mentions "Oh, by the way, there's a bunch more Allomantic metals, but I'm not going to tell you what they are yet."  Okay, yet another obvious piece of mystery to get me to keep reading, except this series is over.  I know there's a sequel, but really, if I've been with you for three books, is there honestly a chance I'm not at least going to give the fourth a shot?

So, going back to the question, and the reason I dredge all this up, should I read Mr. Sanderson's other books?  Are they more like the original Mistborn Trilogy, or more like Wax and Wayne?  Would some of the things that bother me in Mistborn bother me in other works (namely, the constant layering of self-aware mysteries to get me to turn the page)?  On the one hand, a part of me says "You've found a series you can read and reread with enjoyment, leave it at that," while another says "Well, you liked this, so give his other stuff a chance," while the first part retorts "Yeah, but he also annoyed us at places, and he might annoy us more elsewhere."  So I put this out to people who have read his other works to help settle the debate.

Thank you for your time, and again, I sincerely hope my criticisms are taken in the manner in which they are intended, and do not offend.

Edited by ErikModi
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I think many of Sanderson's books, specially the first in a series start off relatively slow, as there is such a complex, yet solid magic system that the rules of it, and of the whole world must be set down. Once the rules are set and the reader wont get lost its a full throttle ride. Also, while all the series can be read as standalones and nothing will be lost, the fact that all the series are set in the same universe (Cosmere) means that having read one world, its easier to understand the rules of other worlds. I can't help but think that the reason why you found Alloy smoother is partly because you already knew the rules of Scadrial. That been said Wax and Wayne are hilarious characters.

Sanderson's other books are very clearly his style and format, but each series has a slightly different flavor, like the slight but obvious difference between mistborn 1 and 2. If you want a fun and single read to increase your understanding of the Cosmere, try Warbreaker. If you want to laugh histerically try Alcatraz, if you want a good but short story try Emperor's Soul. If you are ready for a huge world check Way of Kings; although from what you say im not certain if this is the type of story you would enjoy, its utterly absorbing, but its an epic series, starts slowly, specially the first half of the first book where the world is been set for the next 9 books. Although after that you would likely feel like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole (in a good way).

I hope that was helpful :)


Edited by WhiteLeeopard
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brandon likes to experiment with different books, with different atmospheres, and they are fairly different from one another. Still, there are some things he is fond of using, indeed things that are his style:

- highly consistent and organized magic systems

- extensive worldbuilding

- several background characters with complex agendas that won't be clear until close to the end, if by then

so, let's see your points:

- you didn't like that the start was slow and it took a while to understand the world. that's unfortunately inevitable. as every book is a unique setting, brandon needs time to introduce you to the setting. since magic is essential to the story, and understanding how it works is essential, brandon has to explain it. it takes time and pages.

- layered mysteries are another staple of sanderson. he likes his books to contain big mysteries. that said, not every sanderson book is about a big mistery like mistborn, but in all of them some of those misteries are central to the plot. you won't get a straightforward "you must destroy the ring - oh, now you destroied the ring, mission accomplished" plot. most of us like it that way, but what can I say; love it or leave it. I would point out, though, that those misteries aren't a way to hook readers and get them to turn the page. If that was the case, once you reach the end and get the answer there's no reason to go back reading it again - actually that's my problem with crime stories. No, the misteries are just part of worldbuilding.  As for there being still questions unanswered by the end of the story, the reason is twofold: first, brandon has bigger plans in his head than a few books; he is setting in motions things that will be explained decades from now. Second, his magic works like science, and in science for everything you discover you realize there are more questions unanswered.

- humor: varies among books, but many of those have a character a bit like wayne. all sanderson books contain some humor, and probably the original mistborn trilogy has less than most, owing to the darkness of the setting.

So, can't really say if you'll appreciate them or not. sanderson is somewhat borderline for your tastes. still, if you ended up enjoing mistborn, why not give the rest a try? Just be advised that it will take a while, in the beginning, to figure out what is happening.


P.S. are you aware that there are two more books of vax and wayne? plus a fourth (and final) will come out in maybe a year. planned are also two more mistborn trilogies, one with a contemporary setting, the other in a sci-fi setting.

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Oh, yes, I own Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning, just finished Bands the other day and am rereading Shadows.  I intended "Wax and Wayne" to refer to their series as a whole, not just Alloy of Law.  I should have noted that, after finishing the borrowed copy of Alloy, I went out and bought Mistborn and Alloy of Law/Shadows of Self (Bands hadn't come out on paperback yet), and have since re-read Mistborn and Alloy before heading into Shadows (my job gives me LOTS of downtime to read).

I have to say, I don't mind a slow start, I don't mind worldbuilding and laying the groundwork for the future.  I'm a struggling writer myself, and I get needing to lay a foundation before building the house, as it were.  I can't point to specifically why Mistborn didn't grab me right away, all I can point out are some minor gripes that hampered my initial enjoyment.  Which is mostly why I posed this:  are my issues just endemic to Mr. Sanderson's writing style, meaning I won't enjoy his books as much as I might enjoy others?  Which is fine, not every writer's style works for every reader.

Thank you for the replies so far, they are actually very helpful.

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Well one thing to consider is that between the first trilogy and Alloy era, Brandon stepped in and finished the Wheel of time series. As someone who was a fan of the series he has stated that he had to significantly improve his skills to do it justice, and it shows. The problems you point to are at their worst in Elantris, which is understandable as it's his first published Novel. Pre-WoT and post there is a noticeable difference in his writing. That said they all have a lot of good in them.

I think you'll be able to get something out all of them, so I think it's probably worth it. I do think you'll run into the same thing in his Pre-WoT books, there aren't many of them you haven't read already though. 

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I was actually wondering about that.  There did seem a very noticeable uptick in the quality of his writing.  Again, not that he was bad before, but it got much better.  I actually had the impression the original Mistborn Trilogy was a great idea that maybe should have been postponed until Mr. Sanderson had the skill to really make it sing.  Now I'm very curious to read Elantris, and see how his skill has evolved.  It's somewhat fascinating to me to see how an author improves (or declines) over the course of their career.

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It's a great story and Hrathen is honestly one of my favorite characters. Raoden and Sarene are, in my opinion though, some of his weakest written characters in that if they set out to do something, it will happen. Especially Raoden. Brandon himself says characters need weaknesses, and Raoden doesn't really have any. It's always bothered me. The story itself is great.

Considering how much Brandon's writing has improved, and the fact you're able to view the books in that light, definitely read them. You'll get glimpses of the greater Cosmere as a whole, a good story, and the contrast created by his improving skills. 

Welcome to the Fandom. 

Edited by Calderis
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I also had troubles getting into the story the first time I read mistborn. I think what was putting me off was that it was too streamlined: the protagonists set off to do something, and it worked. then they set off to do something else. I got into it when the skaa rebels got themselves killed, so when the first serious wrench is thrown into kelsier's plans. on the other hand, vin was pulling hard on my protective instincts, and I liked kelsier as a mentor and visionary, so I at least hadd them to carry me through the first half of the book. After I got to appreciate the whole picture, I enjoied the first part of the book too. sanderson's books are often like that: you appreciate them more in retrospect. the first read goes with a bang, but in subsequent reads you can look at all the fine details you missed.

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5 hours ago, ErikModi said:

Should I read Brandon Sanderson's non-Mistborn books?


Mistborn Era 2: Didn't actually interest me as much as Era 1 did, so I'm on the other side here :)

Elantris: It's got the feeling of being an experiment (which is what usually happens in a first published novel) It's got viewpoint cycling: Raoden for a chapter, Sarene for the next, then Hrathen, Raoden again.. which is a bit different from his other works, but at least characters don't just disappear for half the story. I really like the magic, and as Calderis said: Hrathen is a great character.

Warbreaker: Subject of some debate what with the Cosmere books becoming movies thing, but I liked it. There are definitely some unanswered questions, but Brandon plans to answer most all of those when he eventually writes the sequel.

Stormlight: It's ~1,000 pages a book, and 10 books. 10k pages for a big story will inevitably have lots of worldbuilding details and some dull moments, but the extra page budget lets the good scenes become even better. There's even things that rival Kelsier vs Inquisitor from Mistborn 1.

White Sand & Shadows for Silence: I haven't read these yet.


Reckoners: These were great, bit more of a comic book superhero esque world. If that's your thing, you should give it a try.

Rithmatist & Alcatraz: I haven't read these yet either. I've heard good things though..

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I'm not gonna lie, I kind of disagree with you about the start of Mistborn. I felt immediately pulled into this fantastical world, and I wanted to learn about every little secret it had to offer me. I especially enjoyed the complexity of the Metallic Arts (mainly Allomancy-Feruchemy and Hemalurgy were just added bonuses), and I loved the fight scenes, even as sparse as they were. I loved how I could never really predict anything that would happen, besides for some minor exceptions. And I loved all the little hints to a bigger story going on, and I loved trying to figure out who was writing the little blurbs at the beginnings of each chapter. I absolutely loved the first Mistborn trilogy.

However, I read Elantris afterwards and, while I eventually came to love the book by about the middle, the beginning was quite boring, and the magic system didn't interest me (mainly because it's still pretty mysterious by that point). I feel like the complaints you made about Mistborn apply more to Elantris, though it does definitely get better. I don't think it's as good as Mistborn, but it's still really good.

And I just finished The Alloy of Law today. I loved it, especially the whole Twinborn thing (I loved the mixing of Allomancy and Feruchemy). Twinborns got me thinking; what if someone was both a full Allomancer and a full Feruchemist? That'd be freaking awesome. Of course, we'd probably end up with another person like The Lord Ruler, but whatever. Anyway, I don't think I enjoyed this book as much as the originals, but it was still absolutely amazing.

Anyway, to sum it up, I don't think you'd like Elantris all that much if you found Mistborn to be really boring at the start, but it does get a lot better throughout the story.

Edited by StrikerEZ
Realized I didn't really answer the question you asked.
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I want to state, I didn't think Mistborn was boring, it just wasn't holding my interest.  "Boring" is "I really need to do something, anything, else other than read this," "not holding my interest" is "okay, this is passing the time, but there's a few other things I can think of I'd rather be doing."  Having read through all the thus-far published Mistborn stories (except Secret History), I do love and appreciate what was going on now.

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18 hours ago, ErikModi said:

I want to state, I didn't think Mistborn was boring, it just wasn't holding my interest.  "Boring" is "I really need to do something, anything, else other than read this," "not holding my interest" is "okay, this is passing the time, but there's a few other things I can think of I'd rather be doing."  Having read through all the thus-far published Mistborn stories (except Secret History), I do love and appreciate what was going on now.

Okay, that makes more sense. I understand better now. I think I was just being defensive of Mistborn, because it's my favorite book by Brandon (so far-though The Reckoners is really good too).

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On my first read of Mistborn, I was a bit confused at the beginning as well, especially when Vin was still calling allomancy her "Luck". I was quite young at the time so perhaps I can blame that. The issue with the mysteries that you mentioned, is partially because it's the author's second book, and the fact that "there's always another secret" is highlighted a lot as a theme of the novel. Some of what you said about Sanderson trying to hook you in with giving you a glimpse of something and not explaining it makes sense. But at the same time, Sanderson is a very "show, don't tell" author, and while it can be confusing for the reader at first, Mistborn allows you to learn about the magic alongside Vin, which gives a convenient excuse for the author to "tell" about the magic through Kelsier's training. 

I just reread the first Mistborn novel this month, and each time I do, I'm blown away by the foreshadowing that Sanderson puts in there, Reen's voice, stuff about Atium, etc. You can clearly see that Sanderson has a plan in mind for the series, but it's very hard to guess it. A lot of the characters don't get any growth until the second book, which you probably found out, which is my only serious problem with the first book.

In answer to your question then, though it may be a biased opinion, is yes, you should definitely keep reading. I'd recommend starting with Warbreaker. It's a little slow at the beginning, but even then you start to care about what happens to the characters. I also think it contrasts and reflects the first Era of Mistborn quite well. Instead of dark and depressing, it's light and colorful. There's a lot of humor in it, and the plot is very fulfilling in the end as it ties together. It was written before Wheel of Time was finished though, if I recall correctly, so you may not quite get the feeling of vast improvement like you did with the second Era. 

The Stormlight Archive is also excellent, and the characters are all much more interesting. It's one where you can see Sanderson's growth at writing character. It's also been described as the series that's close to his heart, the one that's been growing in the back of his mind for a few decades, so he's putting everything he has into it. I will warn, however, that the series is only two books (and a novella) in so far (out of ten), but each one reads like a trilogy, and has several climax points. If you don't like waiting for books, it may not be the series for you, but most of us here consider the wait well worth it (and Sanderson is a machine when it comes to writing, so the waits aren't going to be as long as the wait for Doors of Stone or Winds of Winter). The third book will be coming out in November, though, so we're already decently into the series.

Anyways, hope my rambling wasn't too long. Welcome to the Shard!

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