I just finished my re-read of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings and I’m now rolling directly into Words of Radiance. I’m not going to rehash a second review of Way of Kings, initial excitement aside my thoughts from my review still stand. I can add some additional bullet points:
- I don’t like Kaladin’s flashback chapters. During this second read-through they felt a bit clunky and de-railed the story’s momentum. I understand their importance in establishing Kaladin’s multiple betrayals and his father’s influence in his life but they really derailed the plot for me.
- Knowing more about Shallan actually helped in my second read. I spent less time wondering how she fit into the grand scheme of things and more time enjoying her wit and observations.
- Surgebinding feels very much like a evolution, a streamlining, of allomancy from Sanderson’s Mistborn series. Surgebinding allows for visually impressive action, any scene involving Szeth is something I’d love to see in motion, without the complexity of Allomancy.
- Wit, remains one of my favorite parts of The Way of Kings and hope he returns in Words of Radiance.
- Despite the importance of the Kholin family there is surprisingly little information on Renarin. Maybe that will change in the next book.
- I love the villain reveal as well as the revelation about the Voidbringers.
- Reading Mark Lawrence and digging on Numenera has warped my perceptions a bit but there is a bit of science fantasy vibe here. It’s probably my imagination combined with how shardplate reminds me of power armor.
Anyway, I had a blast re-reading this book and am eager to jump into Words of Radiance. If you didn’t have time to re-read The Way of Kings on your own I highly suggest you take a look at Tor.com’s When We Last Left Our Heroes: The Way of Kings in Ten Minutes.
I seriously enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s The Archived so I decided to give her adult novel Vicious a spin. At its most superficial Vicious is a novel about people with superpowers and how those power affect their lives. Upon close inspection Vicious is in truth a deconstruction of a superhero mythos wrapped up in a careful psychological character study of two very similar men. The comic book fan in me can’t help but note the similarities in Vicious’ story to the history between the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards and his own arch-nemesis Victor Von Doom. While Vicious’ Eli and Victor are friends at the start of the novel their is a toxicity and volatility to their relationship that makes their eventual conflict feel almost inevitable.
The Emperor’s Blades is the tale of two brothers (and a sister, but I’ll get into that later), the sons of the Emperor of Annur. Kaden, the heir to the throne, was sent to a remote monastery to learn the teachings of the Blank God while his younger brother Valyn was sent to join the Kettral, the Empire’s elite military unit. When the Emperor is murdered from within both suddenly find themselves facing more than a little bit of trouble. While Kaden and Valyn face their own threats their sister Adare does her best to hold the Empire together from within its ruling council. The basic structure of The Emperor’s Blades, particularly in how it deals with a geographically scattered ruling family looking to hold their Empire together reminded me a bit of David Anthony Durham’s splendid Acacia series.
The internet, in all it’s messy democratic glory, has opened up the door for not only the exploration of new formats of storytelling but also to once explore formats of old. The notion of the “serial” is nothing new from Dickens,to radio, to television, to comics it is a long lived means of telling a story. In the 21st century the proliferation of the internet, and particularly its mobility, have opened the floodgates for the serial’s return. Sean Platt and David W. Wright are the founders of Collective Inkwell where they have focused on telling serialized stories. Recently, the duo signed a deal with Amazon’s 47North which is how I came to stumble upon the audiobook version of Yesterday’s Gone: Season 1.
I went into The Iron Wolves with the expectation that it wouldn’t be exactly my cup of tea. I’ve been feeling a bit burned out on the whole “grimdark” thing and I figured The Iron Wolves would continue that trend. Much to my surprise I found Remic’s latest fantasy novel to be an engaging, almost hypnotic, opus of foul sorcery and violence. I mean that in the best way possible. The Iron Wolves, a titular squad of heroes have since disbanded and most have fallen on hard times. Of course, there is trouble brewing as the sorcerers creature Orlana the Changer has flesh-crafted horrific creatures to serve her and has set about raising an army of vicious Mud Orcs. So it is that the Iron Wolves are needed once again.
I enjoyed the audiobook for The Strain,I’ll definitely be checking this out!
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach is like a love letter to all the tons of cool things you can do with science fiction. Devianna “Devi” Morris is a power armored space marine whose career has peaked in her current position. Devi is ambitious and she wants to server with the elite of Emperor’s soldiers but to do that she has to prove her worth. Enter The Glorious Fool a ship whose service record is so perilous that 1 year about her is worth 5 years of experience anywhere else. Devi, anxious to prove herself, signs up for what turns out to be a tour both more mysterious and more perilous than even she could have imagined.
When I reviewed Myke Cole’s first Shadow Ops book, Control Point, back in 2012 I found that the book had a great premise, a fascinating world and thrilling action. I was less than enthused with the novel’s main character Oscar Britton. In Fortress Frontier, the second Shadow Ops novel, Cole expanded the characters and the world by introducing Colonel Bookbinder. The split perspective of that novel, primarily between Bookbinder and Britton, made for some better reading and the expanded world made for amazing set pieces. Breach Zone takes things to the next level and (re)introduces Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorrson, aka Harlequin, as a central figure. After the events of Fortress Frontier, and with the previous Presidential administration on the outs, Thorsson has become the public “face” of the Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC). At the same time General Bookbinder has been moved into an advisory role thanks to his borderline “treasonous” actions in Fortress Frontier. All of that changes when goblins and other creatures, lead by Scylla, invade Manhattan. Pulled out of his PR position, Thorsson is placed in charge of the defense with limited support from SOC brass.
Malice is a debut novel from John Gwynne that travels a more traditional path than many novels in recent years. It’s a debut fantasy that reminds me very much of lazy summer days as a teen barricaded in my parent’s air conditioned home while pouring over the latest dictionary sized fantasy novel. Malice, in a way similar to Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, is a novel that seems written to bridge the gap between teens and adults. As a result Malice’s prose walks a middle ground as it tries to appeal to both teens and adults. Much of Malice is about set up as Gwynne details the signs and portents of a world teetering on the edge of a great (and mysterious) conflict. Ancient stone alters bleed and strange creatures stir in the dark places of the world. It actually takes a bit of time before a prophecy is revealed predicting an ancient struggle between the force of light, lead by the Bright Star, and the forces of darkness, lead by the Black Sun. Thrown into the mix of two diametrically opposed prophesied individuals are a number of magical objects, crafted in ancient times, which will be sought after by the Dark Sun and his forces.
Throne of Glass, currently consisting of Throne of Glass (2012) and Crown of Midnight (2013) [plus four prequel novellas available as e-books], may just be my favorite teen fantasy series so far. Seriously, I’m very excited about this series. Throne of Glass opens with 18-year-old female assassin Celaena Sardothien forced into slavery working mines in a prison camp when Prince Dorian and his Guard Captain Westfall arrive with an offer: complete in a series of challenges to become the King’s Champion and she will earn her freedom. Of course being the King’s “Champion” means doing the blackest of deeds serving the man who conquest ruined her life and sent her into the slavery. But the carrot of freedom is too tempting, particularly given the brutal conditions of the camp, and Celaena enters the competition. Over the course of the novel Calaena, whose life has been far from easy even before being exiled to a labor camp, steps into the quagmire of court life and a deadly competition. If competing for the title of Champion isn’t enough the palace, much of made of strange glass, is also plagued by a series of mysterious murders targeting the competitors.