Ok, I finished it. My rating is contingent upon my completion of Crippled God as I recognize it's really one book split into two.
However, I struggle wOk, I finished it. My rating is contingent upon my completion of Crippled God as I recognize it's really one book split into two.
However, I struggle with Erikson. I find it incredibly difficult to figure out what's important and what isn't. I recognize this is my failure, not the authors, because frankly I don't think Erikson cares a wit that I'm confused. He's doing it on purpose.
This is the first time in my years of reading fantasy that I realize I have to reread this entire series KNOWING the ending to really appreciate what he's done....more
Wonderfully conceptualized book. I really enjoyed the setting, but the character were fairly one dimensional and the narrative was uneven. I'll probabWonderfully conceptualized book. I really enjoyed the setting, but the character were fairly one dimensional and the narrative was uneven. I'll probably check out the sequel because I enjoyed the setting so much. Despite the unevenness, when he got it right the writing was compelling....more
It is always difficult when an author chooses a complex story set in a complex world. I constantly found myself searching for context in the setting that would reveal something about the story, but I never had the tools at my disposal to do that. Rajaniemi eschews information dumps, and as a result it's easily 200 pages before you have any real understanding of the dozens of words he's created. Things like zoku, exomemory, gogol, and gevolut are pretty abstract terms that defining only through context is difficult.
With all that said, The Quantum Thief is well paced. It has interesting characters and a compelling plot. Rajaniemi is a talented writer and for a first novel it's extremely tight. He tells the story in around 350 pages (trade paperback, Harry Potter sized type) which for an adult science fiction novel is pretty extraordinary. The story is self contained, but ultimately it's just a snapshot in time in a struggle for power in our future solar system. Rajaniemi is beginning a cycle of books here that will tell a larger story.
The Quantum Thief is one of the better debut novels I've read and I think it's brevity and crime fiction flavor will lend it some appeal to cross genre readers. I look forward to Rajaniemi's subsequent novels....more
In an effort to be totally upfront about what Kushiel's Dart is and isn't, let me get this out of way - there's a lot of sex. Some of it's pretty graphic. There's rape and torture and the main character enjoys both on some level. Too many reviews out there emphasize this. Yes there's sex and yes it's graphic, but for anyone with access to the internet you can find far worse in about 10 minutes of browsing around. Don't overlook Jacqueline Carey's novel simply because of some prudish sense of propriety. Now on to my review...
Last week over at westeros.org there was an interesting thread discussing bloat in fantasy novels. It was particularly appropriate as I was reading Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey - all 1000 pages of it. To say Carey's first novel is bloated would be a gross understatement. It begins with an incredibly tiresome first 400 pages or so, followed by a well done (mostly) 500, and then concluded with a morbidly boring last 100 of wrap up and setup for the next installment.
In the thread, I argued pretty vehemently that bloat is somewhat part and parcel to fantasy as a genre. To create a world from scratch, imbue it with life, and populate it with vibrant characters is not something easily accomplished without some weight of words. In the discussion I was using to bloat to mean length, but in truth bloat happens when something becomes long for reason beyond the necessity of story telling. Self-indulgence? Maybe. Longer books sell better? Maybe. Bad editing? Maybe. I'm not sure why Kushiel's Dart is bloated. It could all of those things. Without a doubt Carey's first 400 and last 100 pages could have been cut in half without a great deal of heartburn to the books conclusion.
Carey's protagonist is Phedre, a courtesan trained for sex in a culture where the motto is Love As Thou Wilt. Phedre as it turns out is also the first anguisette (read likes to get beat up) in three generations to be available for pay to play. She's bought by a disgraced nobleman named Delaunay who trains her to be a bedroom spy in his game of thrones (pardon the euphemism GRRM). Long (very) story short, Phedre finds herself in way over her head ending up at the heart of a conspiracy to overthrow the kingdom and plunge the entire civilized world into war. To stay spoiler free, I'm afraid to go into any more detail because none of the "in over her head" stuff starts until nearly halfway through the book when the plot actually starts going somewhere.
In fact, if this "in over her head" moment had occurred in the first 50 pages I'm almost sure the book would have retained its audience and likely attracted a whole lot more. The first 400 pages are self-indulgent. They are filled with narrowly focused world building, political machinations that only have tangential bearing on the overall plot, and copious amounts of sex. The only reason I made it to the good part of the book? The sex. It was well written and actually had compelling undertones about the nature of sexuality. I can't tell if the first four hundred pages were an excuse for Carey to be provocative with her sex scenes or whether she felt it was all actually necessary. In either case, by the time I got to the actual action (loose term) I was completely incapable of making a rational decision about whether or not it was any good. By comparison to Carey's first half, it was a tour de force and moved at a great clip until the closing chapters where things bogged down a bit.
It should be noted that Kushiel's Dart is told from Phedre's point of view in what feels like first person objective (shouldn't be possible?). Normally, I wouldn't mind (see my review of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin), but Carey litters the story with dozens of "if I'd only know then what I know now!" It felt contrived like when watching a slasher flick and someone asks, "why didn't the girl just call the cops?" Because there wouldn't be a movie, stupid! Kushiel's Dart carries some of that same frustration.
As an aside, I think part of the difficulty in reading such a lengthy novel is that for 1000 pages I saw only through Phedre's eyes. Most novels in the genre of this length are constantly moving in and out of different points of view. It gives readers a break from certain story lines and keeps things moving when one line stalls out. In Carey's novel that just isn't possible because of the first person choice. I'm not saying it was the wrong choice, but it may have had an impact as to why I felt finishing the book was such a chore.
I've been pretty negative up to this point and in some ways that's unfair. Kushiel's Dart isn't a bad book. In fact, Carey manages to make every sentence sound good and her dialog is natural. There is intricate plot with all kinds of political twists and turns that in many ways justify a long novel. Not 1000 pages mind you, but long. Her world is vibrant and lush and she does romance very well. The novel is positively brimming with romance - unrequited, too-requited, thrice-requited. You name a romance of choice and Kushiel's Dart is likely to deliver it to one degree or another and do it beautifully.
I'd be lying if I said this is my kind of novel. It's not. I don't think there's any doubt that the vast majority of Carey's readers are women and last my wife checked I'm a dude. That said, I enjoyed the romance and reading this novel has encouraged me to give others like it a try in the future. It has not however necessarily encouraged me to read more Jacqueline Carey who I fear wrote Kushiel's Dart as much for length as for impact....more
I'm so excited about Fuzzy Nation, Hugo Award winner John Scalzi's latest novel. While it is an excellent novel, most of my excitement stems from the fact that he's pushing the expected boundaries of genre fiction. Fuzzy Nation and others like it are breaking the standard tropes that have pigeonholed the genre for the last thirty years. Rather than another military adventure, Scalzi offers a modern court room drama set in distant future.
By his own admission, Scalzi wrote Fuzzy Nation as a work of fan fiction in honor of Hugo Nominated Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. It's a modern reimagining of Piper's original. In fact, to publish the novel, Scalzi had to seek approval from Piper's estate. Nation can't escape the fact it's a cover, to steal a term from the music industry. That said, it's definitely in the mold of Whitney Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You. It may not be better than original, but it's a hell of a lot more appealing to today's audience.
To anyone who has read Scalzi before, the style will be familiar. He tells a crisp story full of vibrant characters. Jack Holloway - a cynical mineral surveyor who uses his dog to detonate explosives - has discovered a once in a life time vein of gems on the planet Zara XXIII. He stands to make himself, and the company that employs him, billions in credits. Unfortunately, Holloway has also discovered a new species that may or may not be sentient calling into question humanity's right to exploit the planet.
Holloway, along with the entire cast of characters, is laced with sarcasm. Almost every sentence has an eye roll, or veiled undertone attached to it. While all the dialogue is done with skill, I found myself wondering how so many witty people wound up on the same planet. It almost became a little tiresome when the characters continue to be flip with matters of life and death. Despite that, it's engaging and at times laugh out loud funny.
Some might read Fuzzy Nation with an eye toward ethnicity and subsequently civil rights. Some of that is certainly present, but Scalzi's main thrust is morality. Throughout the novel Halloway and others are forced to confront ethical dilemmas. By the end Scalzi clearly trumpets ethical relativism or maybe more accurately what might be called ethical selectivity. By that I mean the ethical solution is not always the right one.
To me, Fuzzy Nation is a big success. It has a charm that tends to be nonexistent in genre fiction reminding me of something by Christopher Moore. And that's why I'm excited. Scalzi has stimulated my love of the "fantasy" by setting his tale in the future, but simultaneously he satisfies my need for well written wit. That's a trick that just isn't seen everyday. I hope this is a signal to publishers that author's can do the unexpected and people will buy it. Thumbs up to John Scalzi and double thumbs up to Tor Books....more
Sometimes a book's title says it all. Spellwright. Spell means to write in order the letters constituting a word. It also means a verbal formula considered as having magical force. Spell in these two cases is considered a homonym because they share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Wright or write or right or rite all mean something different but sound the same. They're called homophones. A wright is a person that constructs or repairs something. Write means to form (letters, words, or symbols) on a surface. Right means to be correct. And a rite is a religious ceremony. What am I driving at? I'll come back to that.
Blake Charlton's novel is about a young man named Nicodemus. He's an apprentice to the Grand Wizard Agwu Shannon, an aged and blind, but still powerful member of Starhaven's faculty. At this out of the way haven young men and women are tutored in the language of magic. They learn how to compose elegant prose and cast it into the world to effect change. Unfortunately, Nicodemus is a cacographer - any magical prose he touches immediately misspells. There was a time when Shannon, and others, thought Nicodemus was to be the halycon - the savior of magic - who was prophesied to defeat the Pandemonium. But such a powerful being could not be cacographic for the prophecy also speaks of another who will bring chaos and destroy the halycon.
So back to my opening paragraph, what was that all about? I'm sure it's obvious that cacogaphy in Charlton's world is a parallel to what we call dyslexia. To a dyslexic Charlton's title is something of a mean joke. What the hell does he mean? One who creates spells? One who spells correctly? One who writes down spells? Or is it about spelling as a rite which I think adequately describes the burden the written language can be to someone suffering from dyslexia. In this regard the novel's title is nothing short of genius. To a fantasy fan reading through the shelves the first definition is perfect. Oh, this book is about someone who puts spells together (read: Wizard). Cool. It is, but not really. It's about a lot more than that and after reading the book I realized the title says it all.
See, Nicodemus speaks every magical language he's ever been taught fluently. He should be, for all intents and purposes, one of the most powerful wizards in Starhaven except for the little fact that he has a hard time spelling things correctly. He's ridiculed by his peers and looked on as someone who should never be allowed near magic. Were it not for Shannon and his desire to help cacographers, Nicodemus and his fellow misspellers would have magical language censored from their minds and be sent on their way. In the eyes of the wizarding community at large, they are defective and beyond recovery. To a more radical sect, they are a threat to stability and shouldn't even be allowed to live.
Is it a perfect novel? No, although it is very good. There are some first time author hiccups here and there. The magic system is a bit esoteric and the ending is both overly simplified and a bit confusing. Still, reading Spellwright, I couldn't help but be touched. My wife is dyslexic. She was diagnosed when she was 13. This is late in life so far as these things go. When she was in 8th grade she told her teacher that she wanted to attend Ursuline Academy for high school, one of the more prestigious private schools in Dallas, Texas. Her teacher told her, "you'll never get in there, and even if you did, you'd never be able to keep up."
She got in and worked her ass off. She did well and went to college where she listened to text books on tape, following along with the written words (to give you an idea how much dedication that takes a 350 page novel takes around 12 hours to listen to). It was never easy. She graduated on time with a degree in International Relations. My wife is very smart, but reading and writing will always be, to some degree, difficult for her. She's very aware of the fact and a little bit self conscious about it. I find it all rather inspiring and it makes me proud to be her husband.
Not surprisingly, given the treatment he gives it, Spellwright's author Blake Charlton is also dyslexic. His bio on his website reads:
"I was saved from a severe disability by two things: an early clinical diagnosis of dyslexia, and fantasy and science fiction novels. It took most of my twenties to discover it, but my life’s goal is to give back to the two art forms that saved me."
My wife didn't have that same luck. She still made it. A lot of kids don't. Dyslexia, as a disability isn't something we can cure. There's no pill that makes the connection between eye and brain work better. But, by identifying it early and providing specialized education to young people we can make sure that kids don't have to suffer thinking they're stupid.
George R. R. Martin wrote in his most recent novel A Dance with Dragons:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.”
Reading is the greatest gift I've ever been given. I believe that Charlton's novel is helping spread that gift. From me, from my wife, from my daughter, and from every child and parent out there struggling to make sense of dyslexia - thank you Blake. You should be proud to have written Spellwright. I know I was proud to read it.
The sequel to Spellwright was released two weeks ago from Tor Books. Titled Spellbound, it continues the story of Nicodemus as he comes to grips with his disability and how it will or will not define him. I look forward to reading and reviewing it soon.
Sidenote: I would strongly suggest that anyone who has read this review or Charlton's novels visit http://www.learningally.org/. Formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. More than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the 65,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles in their collection. I can't thank them enough for the work they do. ...more
I had a bit of frustration with Lev AC Rosen's debut novel, All Men of Genius, and I recognize it may be a controversial one as it has nothing to do with his talent as a writer or the quality of his novel. In fact, the novel's voice is great, using third person omniscient that strikes a perfect balance of authentic Victorian and modern convention. The tagline on the dust jacket calling it inspired by Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is right on and I might add a dash of Charles Dicken's knack for character and setting. Even the plot is well executed, demonstrating the power of a straightforward story when populated by things the reader cares about.
Violet Adams is a brilliant young scientist barred from study at the world's greatest scientific institution by her gender. Determined to continue her studies, and prove that women deserve a place at the table, she disguises herself as her twin brother Ashton. Of course, keeping the secret of her sex isn't easy with her friend Jack’s constant pranking and the headmaster's (Duke Ernest Illryia) young ward, Cecily, developing feelings for Violet’s alter ego. Add in some blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and Violet’s burgeoning affection for the duke, and Rosen has a steampunk Victorian response to J.K Rowling's Harry Potter franchise (albeit more adult).
Where the novel raises an eyebrow, for me, is in the constant emphasis on sexuality and gender. Here's a run-down of some of the related plot devices. Violet is a woman dressed as a man. Violet's twin brother, Ashton, is gay. Professor Valentine likes to have sex with senior citizens. Duke Illryia is questioning. No one seems to have a sexual relationship with anyone their own age. Cecily has a thing for the cross-dressed Ashton (Violet). I could go on, but things might get spoilery.
Early on I found the treatment of Violet's cross dressing and Ashton's sexuality to be both refreshing and authentic. But, as the novel wore on I became overwhelmed, as I felt constantly assailed by the sexual proclivities of every character. I applaud the desire to put alternate lifestyles in the spotlight. However, I think it does a disservice when it feels like token offerings to inclusiveness, which too often seemed to be the case in Rosen's debut.
And yet, here I am talking about it. In pushing the envelope, then sealing another one and pushing it right behind the first, Rosen compels his readers to confront the issue. Despite my frustrations with it from a storytelling perspective, I can't help but applaud him for what he's trying to accomplish. All Men of Genius is a novel I would happily hand to my someday teenage daughter (she's two now). The message embedded in it is one of tolerance and acceptance, but also of demanding equality, making it one of the more important 2011 novels I've read -- especially considering its cosmetic appeal to younger readers.
Some might criticize the stiffness of the characters, an unfortunate side effect of Rosen's chosen narrative style. Other's might turn their nose up at the neat bow Rosen puts on everything. or the general acceptance of prostitution. To the latter point, some might call that an indictment of its appropriateness for a younger reader (and they might be right, as that, and several other items, are mature in nature). My response? It's Victorian! Reflected in everything from the narrative voice, to the novel's structure, to the mores of the time, Rosen never forgets it and embraces it with aplomb.
All Men of Genius is a novel I can recommend -- especially to younger readers or parents although others will find enjoyment as well. In an ever expanding world full of those alike and not, it's imperative that published works lead the way in engendering mutual understanding. My only caution is to let the ideas speak for themselves, overworking them only reveals an insecurity in their veracity (which I'm sure the author doesn't have). While I would have preferred more (any?) deconstruction, the novel is a wonderful homage to the source material of Shakespeare and Wilde. It's not clear if Rosen plans to continue Violet's story, but I'd certainly be interested if he is. If not, I'd be intrigued to see what he's capable of in a space unconstrained by Victorian virtue....more
I've read some crazy good debuts over the last twelve months, including two of the best novels I read last year. It's not the norm, however, for a debut author to spring forth like Athena, fully grown and ready to kick some ass. And Elspeth Cooper's (can we agree that Elspeth is a cool name?) Songs of the Earth is more the norm, a well conceived and well written novel that suffers from debut hiccups.
Cooper's protagonist is Gair, a holy-knight-in-training who's been exiled and branded by the Church for witchcraft. Starved and battered, he finds help from a mysterious man who can teach him to control the magical song in his mind. The man, Alderan, is a member of an ancient order of Guardians, charged with protecting the barrier between the world and something akin to Hell. What follows is the 'magical school' plot device that's so widely applied across the genre, and for the most part it's well done, although the focus remains more on Gair's romance with an older woman than education.
While Gair's journey is the primary story line, other plots are afoot, including Church politicking as Preceptor Ansel prepares for a coming conflict. Coming conflict I say? Can I provide more details? Well, not really, which caused some consternation. Maybe Cooper is being too subtle, or maybe I'm dense, but Ansel spends a great deal of time researching, plotting, and executing (maybe?) something. 460 pages later, it's not clear at all what that is. I might have a guess about the ultimate goal, but the methods he's laying out to accomplish them? I've got nothing.
For me, Ansel's sequences were far more compelling than Gair's. Populated by interesting characters with blurred morality, it's unfortunate they function more like an extended epilogue, as none of it felt relevant to the main arc. Of course, it whet my appetite for the next book, the obvious intent, but interspersing it throughout the novel slows the narrative, leading to a novel with inconsistent pace.
There is one other niggle that bears mentioning. A moment occurs about halfway through the novel where Gair demonstrates a capability with no groundwork to support it. It seemingly comes out of nowhere and somewhat impeaches what is in my mind a tremendous first half of a novel. In fact, had I written this review based solely on the preceding pages, I would be stringing together a series of superlatives. All of which goes to say, Cooper absolutely has the talent to succeed.
Despite some bumps in the road, I found Songs an enjoyable read. The characters are well drawn, some exceptionally so (Alden), and Cooper demonstrates a knack for believable dialogue. Her descriptive prose flows well especially in action sequences where her familiarity with swordplay is apparent. Also, some of the novel's most impressive moments come in the aforementioned romance. What could have come off awkward and stilted, always felt sweet and natural.
Given what I know about Cooper, and what she's shown in Songs of the Earth, I have a strong feeling the Wild Hunt series will be more well regarded as a whole, than the first installment on its own. Numerous fantasy series have started slow before catching fire. With a little more polish and experience, I can see Elspeth Cooper doing just that....more
I don't read a lot of graphic novels, not so much because I don't like them, but because I have no earthly idea how to pick them. I mean just because I like the art doesn't mean the writing is any good, and I'm really not that much for art. So when I won Tor's New York (Not at) Comic Con Giveaway I was excited to see several graphic novels included. The first one I noticed in the bunch was Dear Creature and boy am I glad I did.
Drawn entirely in black and white, Jonathan Case's graphic novel tells the story of Grue - a sea mutant with a predilection for human flesh. He's awkward, gangly, and carries three crabs around with him who act more like devils-on-his-shoulder than parasitic companions. Surprisingly he also possesses a poet's heart. Through pages of Shakespeare stuffed into soda bottles and cast into the sea, Grue has fallen in love. Dear Creature is a love story of the oddest type between a monster and an agoraphobic woman.
Like every graphic novel I've read and loved (Watchmen being the standard bearer of course), the highlight is the writing. Case is both hilarious, through his crusty crustaceans, and poignant, in Grue's wooing. There is also a brilliance coming from Grue's dialogue which is written entirely in iambic pentameter. For those without previous exposure to ol' Shakespeare's rhythmic writing style, Case went to the trouble of including a primer in the back that's laugh out loud funny and informative.
The art itself has a very pulp quality that conveys some noir sensibilities in its use of light and shadow, but also a certain flair that's identifiable to me as Western. Of course there's a mounted cop that has a thing for the local 'working girl', so I suppose the Western elements aren't all that inconspicuous. My one complaint is in choosing the black and white palette. While striking, some panels become difficult to follow especially in the under water scenes that lack the stark white contrast.
Nested within the larger arc, is a secondary story featuring the aforementioned cop and his 'working girl'. While the response to Grue's love of his human soulmate is (perhaps) warranted given his history of violent crime and outwardly monstrous appearance, this secondary story demonstrates humanity's capacity for closed mindedness. It also highlights an unwillingness to look beyond ourselves as the cop becomes persecutor and persecuted.
All told Dear Creature is wonderfully imagined. The writing is crisp and quirky, complimenting the story, and its art, perfectly. Although I'm a neophyte in the reading (and even more so in the reviewing) or graphic novels, I would strongly recommend this one to all fans of the medium....more
I love Brandon Sanderson. I've read everything he's written for the adult market, from his first novel Elantris to his printing press busting The Way of Kings. His finest work to date is the Mistborn trilogy which contains one of the best beginnings and endings ever done in fantasy. So, it is with great remorse that I must say his most recent Mistborn universe release, The Alloy of Law, isn't very good, or rather it's not nearly as good as everything else Sanderson has written.
Set some 300 years (about?) after the events of The Hero of Ages, Waxillum is a lawkeeper from the Roughs who happens to be a member of one of the richest families in Elendel. When his Uncle dies in an accident, Wax is called home to administer the family fortune (or what's left of it). Of course some trouble has followed him from the Roughs and he'll have to stop it with the help of his snarky partner, Wayne. Yes, you read that right - Wax and Wayne. If this paragraph sounds a bit lighthearted, then I nailed it. Much like in Warbreaker, Sanderson is testing his limits in humor and levity to varying degrees of success.
The novel starts with a prologue featuring Wax in the Roughs, six-shooter in hand. The tone in these opening scenes conjures up rolling tumbleweeds and Danny Glover saying, "I'm too old for this shit," Assuming Sanderson would allow Danny Glover to say shit (he wouldn't). While most of the rest of the novel feels more Victorian than Wild West, the plot items are recognizably Western. Train robberies, good guys and bad guys, a protagonist with a personal code of honor, all conjure up the whistling theme of Ennio Morricone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
That said, thematically Alloy of Law isn't a Western. The Western, as a genre, is about 'civilizing' the wilds, whether that's the natural element or the people that live there is inconsequential. None of that is present. Additionally, the Western world is organized around codes of honor and personal justice - not abstract law. Some of that is there, but only through Wax, and to a lesser degree Wayne, whom represent the ideals of the Roughs. For those in Elendel, where the entire narrative is housed, the social order is not only rigorous, it's set down and fundamentally abstract.
That sounds a bit like I'm being negative because Sanderson didn't deliver a Western. Not the case. I'm being negative because he didn't deliver substance. Alloy of Law is shallow. It has moments of entertainment - action packed sequences and witty back and forth. Of course, Sanderson excels with his world building and magic system concepts and applications. He shows how Scadrial has evolved since Vin and company triumphed over Ruin. Sazed (now Harmony) is not only mentioned, but present. All of that adds up to a rather accomplish piece of Mistborn fan fiction or a fun little story designed to be a pallette cleanser as much for the author himself as for his readers.
Given the beginning of the novel, and the flexibility to use the koloss and/or kandra (who are both functionally absent) to represent the 'indigent people', I saw many ways Sanderson could have engaged a deeper level with the novel as he does in nearly everything else he writes. Am I being unfair? Am I demanding a novel that Sanderson didn't want to write? Is this reader entitlement? Maybe. Probably. But expectations are a part of the game, and given Sanderson's past work I have an expectation of what I'm getting when I pick up a book with his name on the cover. For me, Alloy of Law under delivered, offering what was essentially an adventure short that lacked any of the thematic support necessary to sustain a novel.
Now, the real question... was I entertained? Yes! I enjoyed Alloy of Law. It interrupted my read of Never Knew Another (McDermott) and The Winds of Khalakovo (Beaulieu), two novels from Night Shade Books that are dense and full of nuance. Distracting me from these two titles was a surety as Sanderson's new novel is both bite sized and breakneck in its presentation. I would read it again, although not a second time and therein lies the rub. Visceral enjoyment is not enough, for the same reason that Independence Day is not a good film. Alloy of Law fails at a basic level to engage me as a reader beyond the words on the page.
In an interview with Nethspace, Sanderson was asked where Hoid was in the novel. His response was to say:
Hoid is in the book, though his name doesn’t appear. But the things happening here during this interim are not of deep interest to Hoid like the things happening in the original trilogy, so he is playing a much smaller role here than he was in the original trilogy.
Well, that's because they aren't that interesting. There's nothing epic here, in plot or in intent. It's just a guy named Wax and his buddy Wayne, fighting off a criminal who may or may not be part of something larger (admittedly the end of the novel hints strongly at the former). If Hoid isn't all that interested, why should I be? Alloy of Law is an aside for Brandon Sanderson, a break from his tireless schedule of his Stormlight Archive and Wheel of Time commitments. Unfortunately, that's exactly what it felt like when I read it....more