Posts in category 'books'

  • Review: Elantris

    Review of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (9780765311771)★★★★

    How do you summarize Elantris? It's got mystery, magic, romance, action, political intrigue... and it all works while avoiding falling into classic fantasy tropes and cliches. #books (https://b-ark.ca/Ou8ws6)

    Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

    Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god. But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

    It’s been about a week and a half since I finished reading Elantris, which means once again this review is coming late, well after my initial impressions have faded. So, don’t expect too much.

    Despite being his first work, this feels like classic Sanderson to me. We have reversals of classic fantasy tropes. We have powerful female characters leading the fight for justice, something which I’m discovering is a bit of a fixture in Sanderson’s work. We have, of course, a fairly coherent magic system whose rules are the key to the big reveal at the end of the novel. And, of course, we have a bit of a Sanderson avalanche at the end.

    I will say, the slow reveal of the magic in this world was a bit frustrating, if only because it proves so critical in the final acts of the book. But, that issue aside, this book was well paced and exciting.

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  • Review: Words of Radiance

    Review of Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2.0) by Brandon Sanderson (9781429949620)★★★★

    Book two of a two part pentology, Words of Radiance follows directly from The Way of Kings, in plot, structure, and pacing, but provides a satisfying climax for the first major act of this epic series. #books (https://b-ark.ca/Ug_CC_)

    Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

    The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.

    Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

    Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

    This review is coming many days after I finished this book, and having already started Oathbringer, I have to admit the plot is already blurring in my mind. But, I’ll do my best!

    And, of course, it’s already been nearly a week since I started this review, so the book is blurring even more in my mind… oh well.

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