Posts in category 'books'

  • Review: The Final Empire

    Review of The Final Empire (Mistborn #1.0) by Brandon Sanderson (9780765311788)★★★★★

    An exceptional first installment of one of my favourite series, I decided to go back and re-read the series as part of my dive into the Cosmere. I was not disappointed!

    Cover for The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

    For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier "snapped" and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

    Kelsier recruited the underworld's elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

    But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel's plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

    This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?

    So I checked Goodreads and I’m a little shocked to discover it’s been over seven years since I first read The Final Empire. As a result, while I remembered the rough beats in the storyline, I’d long forgotten the details and so in many ways this felt like a fresh read. I’m happy to say my view of the book has absolutely not changed since then, and in fact having read more of the Cosmere–and perhaps having changed a bit myself in the intervening years–I think I’ve come to appreciate it even more.

    Now, I’m going to say up front: this review is gonna be jam packed with spoilers for books across the Cosmere. You have been warned!

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  • Review: Oathbringer

    Review of Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3.0) by Brandon Sanderson (9780765326379)★★★★

    Book three of The Stormlight Archives, Oathbringer centers around the journey of Dalinar, whose journey feels the most complex and relatable yet.

    Cover for Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

    In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

    Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

    Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together―and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past―even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

    The books of The Stormlight Archive are certainly not short. In fact, because I’ve been reading them on my Kindle, I only just now realized that The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance are both over a thousand pages. But it was certainly evident that Oathbringer was longer than both, and at over one thousand, two hundred pages, I was definitely right.

    But I have to admit, despite their sheer volume, every book in this series has felt well paced, moving along briskly between multiple plotlines, each of which carries a momentum that’s kept me interested. And in that regard, Oathbringer is no different. It’s length was only evident in that just so very much seems to happen in this book.

    Having read the third volume in this series, I now see that each book focuses on a specific character journey. In the first book we see Kaladin go from lowly slave to bridgeman to leader to eventually becoming Radiant. In the second book we see Shallan follow her own path to bonding her spren and becoming a hero in her own right. In each case we are presented with a flawed character and a narrative in the present that shows their struggling to find their way to becoming something greater, along with flashbacks to their past meant to help us understand the traumas that have lead them to be who they are.

    I’ll be blunt: in both cases, I found the stories… unconvincing. That, combined with the fact that I find both characters a little flat and uninteresting, meant that the character-driven aspects of these books left me feeling a little cold. Fortunately, the world of Roshar and the broader story arc kept me going.

    Oathbringer, on the other hand, is something else entirely.

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