Continuing my reread of the Adept series. This one deals with some of the fallout of the previous book and introduces us to Adam's love interest. I wi...moreContinuing my reread of the Adept series. This one deals with some of the fallout of the previous book and introduces us to Adam's love interest. I wish we saw more of Ximena throughout the series. Also continues Kurtz's fascination with Hitler and the occcult. (less)
First book in the Rogue Angel series. Very Witchblade meets Tomb Raider/Relic Hunter, although Annja is far more modestly dressed than either of those...moreFirst book in the Rogue Angel series. Very Witchblade meets Tomb Raider/Relic Hunter, although Annja is far more modestly dressed than either of those two ladies. It's fluffy mindless entertainment with a fairly decent heroine. That she's nearly the only female character in the book is a little worrying.(less)
An Australian sf/fantasy publisher Twelfth Planet Press is releasing a series of collections by Australian writers. I picked up Tansy Rayner Roberts'...moreAn Australian sf/fantasy publisher Twelfth Planet Press is releasing a series of collections by Australian writers. I picked up Tansy Rayner Roberts' "Love and Romanpunk" on a recommendation, loved it to itty pieces, and subscribed to the full set on a whim. Deborah Biancotti's "Bad Power" deals with super powers, so it was logical as the comics/superhero fan that I am, I'd be drawn to read that one next. But this is not the shiny four colored extravaganza you're used to with comics, this is more the gritty twisted approach that typified that first season of "Heroes". These are stories are not just about people with powers but what the power does to them and how people react to those that have powers. My favorite character throughout the series is Detective Palmer and how she approaches the "crazy" cases and yet remains mostly unflappable. I would have liked to have seen more of the mysterious Grey Institute -- I was reminded of Anne McCaffrey's Parapsychic Institute for her Talents only a bit more dysfunctional. (less)
"Soon I Will be Invincible" is a super hero novel, yes, but it's also about high school and cliques and nerds versus jocks. It's about changing into s...more"Soon I Will be Invincible" is a super hero novel, yes, but it's also about high school and cliques and nerds versus jocks. It's about changing into someone new or simply finding out out who you always were to begin with.
Grossman's writing style tends to meander and info-dump all over the place too, so you're never quite sure where or when you are.
We get two points of view -- the hero (Fatale) and villain (Doctor Impossible). For a change, the hero is more the outsider. The villain knows the heroes better than anyone, so I suppose it's not that ludicrous. But this is why I tend to dislike first person povs. You wind up feeling like you're missing part of the story. It's hard to get a really good perspective on any of the Champions. You either get the cynical evil genius or the in-over-her-head new hero. Neither perspective is complete.
This is one of those "comfort books" that I frequently reread. I was little surprised to realize today that Bellwether is over ten years old. Some of...moreThis is one of those "comfort books" that I frequently reread. I was little surprised to realize today that Bellwether is over ten years old. Some of the trends and fads described do date it somewhat, but the big ones mentioned are the historical ones, like hair bobbing and the Hula Hoop. Almost everyone now has cell phones now. They were still enough of a novelty at the time of "Bellwether". Strangely very little else has changed. Corporate America is still changing policies and paperwork every other year in some attempt to stay ahead. Science may not have the Niebnitz award, but people are still discovering things in the damndest of ways. Barbie is still as popular as ever. If anything, frappucinos and lattes have taken up hold in the mainstream, rather than disappearing. The non-smoking bans have become more pronounced in recent years with whole cities banning them in public places. And sheep... are just sheep. What more can you say?
Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul is a slim but engrossing fantasy novella keyed on a unique magic system involving stamps. Forgers can rewrite a...moreBrandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul is a slim but engrossing fantasy novella keyed on a unique magic system involving stamps. Forgers can rewrite an object's past, transforming a simple vase into an ornate one instead. Resealers can heal the body to its former health, while Bloodsealers can track people through their blood.
Shai is a Forger, a con artist and thief. When Shai is caught in the act, she is offered an opportunity, instead of execution. Emperor Ashravan has been assassinated. While the resealers can heal his physical body, they cannot recover his mind. Shai is charged with the impossible task of Forging a new soul for the Emperor. Confined in a small room, Shai works against the clock to create the unthinkable all the while challenged and bribed by advisers that want to maintain their political status.
If one was gifted with artistic talent, why would one choose the life of art of forgery and crime instead? What is the nature of the soul and do all objects have them? Is the best way to fool someone through honesty? Those are some of the questions raised by Emperor's Soul.
Since it's a short novella, we don't delve too heavily into Shai's backstory. For a female character, it's a relief to have such an uncomplicated story. No one forced Shai into this life. She willingly sought out of the rigorous Forgery apprenticeship. She is calculating and quick to size up an opportunity. She's a thief and an unrepentant one. She loves the thrill of the life. But that she's created the ultimate out for herself in the form of that "normal" Essence Mark suggests she has considered another quieter life. Could she ever go through with it? Forgery and magic seem ingrained in her soul and psyche. Once in that life, it'd be hard to leave.
Gaotona is an Arbiter, a loyal advisor to Emperor Ashravan. He is presented as the disapproving grandfather type, both to Ashravan and Shai. He expects better of people. He sees true talent and artistry in what Shai does. He cannot understand why she wastes that as a Forgery. But his other role provides a stronger counterpoint to Shai. Forgery is seen as a kind of blasphemy and abomination. Gaotona's struggle to understand how Forgery works allows Sanderson to show readers the intricacies of his magic system, how it works and how it can't. His fellow arbiter Frava doesn't want to understand how it works; she's quite willing to eliminate Shai at the first opportunity if she can still achieve her ends.
Showing how Forgery works also allows the more intriguing questions about the soul. The work to rebuild Ashravan's soul is long and arduous, fraught with decisions. Why does someone like a certain color? Why would someone want to be an Emperor? But it's not just people. Even inanimate objects receive attention, providing some of the liveliest debates. Do objects have souls? How do they regard themselves? While locked in her room, Shai Forges her surroundings into more comfortable ones. She isn't changing their nature as much as allowing them to shine. Instead of being allowed to crumble, an object is Forged to be found and cared for properly. Her jailers see it as frivolous waste of precious time, but it also points out the differences in Shai's attitudes compared to them. They'd never considered the potential in these artifacts until she's Forged them.
In a way, Emperor's Soul reads very much like a bottle episode, because the majority of the novella takes place in the confines of Shai's room. People come and go, but Shai is stuck inside. Shai still shows how she can still manipulate people. She uncovers their weaknesses and secrets, even how to ultimately win over Gaotona in her escape.
Sanderson talks about the writing of the novella in the Writing Excuses podcast. The podcast includes some mild spoilers on some plot points. The biggest question mark for me was the scene near the end where Shai uses the Essence Marks to escape. That action scene felt very strange after pages of this scholarly and thoughtful fantasy story. What annoyed me a little was the stereotypical "every Asian character is a martial artist" issue. But I agreed in principle with Sanderson that with his setup, her escape could not be an easy one. I do wish Shai could have managed it in some other way, but it's a minor quibble.
Overall I enjoyed Brandon Sanderson's Emperor's Soul. I liked the unusual magic system and the questions it raised about art and the soul. Shai was a likeable character and I was rooting for her throughout. I'm still plowing through Elantris, so this was the first of Sanderson's works I've finished. (less)
Re-reading the whole series. I read most of it when it was first released. I enjoy the blend of folklore/history/and occult and the Scottish backdrop....moreRe-reading the whole series. I read most of it when it was first released. I enjoy the blend of folklore/history/and occult and the Scottish backdrop. (less)