An interesting and fun take on a post-apocalyptic world that has the feel of a dark comic-strip-based movie. The premise is that when some few people...moreAn interesting and fun take on a post-apocalyptic world that has the feel of a dark comic-strip-based movie. The premise is that when some few people spontaneously developed super powers, they took over the world as evil super-villains, while super heroes remain only a myth and a dream that people hope for . The reading feels quite cinematic, but there are two things that might keep this from being a major summer block buster:
1. The protagonist doesn’t have super powers,  2. There are TWO female characters instead of one 
I think this is an improvement over Sanderson’s previous works . Elantris was weak, but as a first novel that is forgivable. Some of his other works  get tied up in cumbersome magic systems  that kind of turn me off. Steelheart is different because we don’t get caught up in the details of the magic system. There are still limits and rules that are necessary to create conflict while fending off deus ex machina and magic-fiat, but the limits are different for the different villains, which adds variety, and they are well explained for the most part without breaking the action of the story. The reader doesn't spend time being schooled in the intricacies of a college level course of Spell Casting & Breaking 101.
 A preposition is a bad word to end sentences with.
 This seems to be something Sanderson likes to do in 2013. See also The Rithmatist
 There is a little video about this phenomenon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opM3T2... This is perhaps the one thing that Sanderson did better in Elantris than in all the other books  I've read by him. In Elantris there actually is a strong female character and she actually talks to other women. As far as I can remember, that is pretty much missing in Mystborn (one female that I remember, though she is the main character), The Rithmatist (one female, not the main character), and Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians (two females, not the main character, and they never talk to each other). Again, that's all from memory, so don't shoot me if I'm wrong.
 I’m not counting The Wheel of Time here, because that isn’t Sanderson’s magic system or setting.
 Sanderson has good reasons for his magic systems, and I don’t fault him for them. Do a google search on "Sanderson’s laws" and you’ll see what I’m talking about. However, I sometimes got tired of trying to remember all the rules in the Mystborn system for example. Steelheart handles it better.
 Did you notice the reference for this footnote is out of order?
 magic-fiat is my term for when a writer solves a problem by throwing in new magic or technology rather than by coming up with a more compelling story
Thirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedley tells the story in his own words of how he fell in the trap laid by a cult of evil librarians. This is a funny alte...moreThirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedley tells the story in his own words of how he fell in the trap laid by a cult of evil librarians. This is a funny alternate-reality fantasy that is probably best suited for pre-teens, but I think it can be enjoyable for adults as well. I was deeply disappointed by a certain twist … (view spoiler)[the big “reveal” at the end that Alcatraz’s social worker Ms. Fletcher, who assigns him to foster families, is both his mother and an evil librarian to boot. I can forgive the fact that it was thrown out as a nearly dead give-away when Alcatraz sees her foot prints next to his grandfathers under circumstances that make it obvious they go way back. I was bothered more by the fact that it is just too unbelievable that a a mother, even an evil librarian, would work as her own child’s social worker when there really is no explanation for why she couldn't have raised him herself. (hide spoiler)]
The narration is very conversational, and it stays in the character of a rather snarky 13-year-old boy. Some will find that annoying, but I enjoyed it.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is a very short story recommended to me by a friend about what could be called both the mother and father of all time travel paradoxes. I read it...moreThis is a very short story recommended to me by a friend about what could be called both the mother and father of all time travel paradoxes. I read it from this anthology (The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein).
I'm giving it 5 stars (for now), because it seems to have a sort of timeless quality about it. I was going to give it fewer, but when I compare it to other works of comparable length, 5 stars seems appropriate.(less)
Our story opens in the shadow of Elantris. Now, if you have a propensity for getting paper cuts or stubbing your toe, you don’t want to end up in Elan...moreOur story opens in the shadow of Elantris. Now, if you have a propensity for getting paper cuts or stubbing your toe, you don’t want to end up in Elantris. Elantrians were once a seemingly all-powerful group of mystical figures, practically worshipped by their countrymen for their powers, but suddenly turned into zombies who can neither die nor heal, living a life of pain and hunger that never goes away. A person might become an Elantrian and be banished to the city of Elantris, a fate worse than death, at any time.
Such is the fate of our main character, Prince Raoden [trumpets play heroically], who sadly is taken by the Shaod (that means he morphed into an Elantrian) at the beginning of our story. Our heroine, Princess Sarene [flute plays heroically], starts the story as a widow who has never actually had a wedding, bound by a nuptial contract that considers her marriage in force should her fiancé die prior to the wedding.
“Now you just wait one minute!” shouts Princess Sarene. “Raoden gets trumpets and I get a wimpy little FLUTE? Maybe around here, where women can prattle around and gossip all day, they might be satisfied with a flute, but where I come from women are LIBERATED! They learn to FENCE with SWORDS for EXERCISE. They even WEAR PANTS when they work out. I’m NOT taking NO flute for melodramatic effect!”
The narrator’s voice bellows from the sky. “My heck,” says Brandon Sanderson, LDS author of this fantasy novel. “What do you want, an electric guitar?”
“Hmmm, well, maybe electric violin? I mean, we do maintain SOME of the old traditional roles.”
“Fine,” Sanderson sighs.
[Cue electric violin.]
Mourning the loss of her wedding night, Princess Sarene throws herself full force into the local political scene, putting all her efforts into thwarting….
Hrathen, the evil priest! [French horns play the Wolf theme from Peter and the Wolf]
Hrathen is intent on CONVERTING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY TO A VIOLENT MILITARISTIC CULT IN THREE MONTHS. A reasonable goal, if I ever heard one. I mean really, convert the King and you can convert the country. Can’t convert the King? No problem. Usurp him.
[Raoden grabs the microphone. Trumpets start to play heroic theme but Raoden deftly signals them that their timing is inappropriate. A high pitch noise initially sounds like feedback from the microphone, but it turns out that it is actually all the women in the room simultaneously swooning.]
“STOP! STOP! STOP! First off, you’re forgetting about my banishment to Elantris, Sarene’s longing for my companionship even though we’ve never actually met, and you’re forgetting to mark the SPOILERS!”
Sanderson’s narrative voice speaks from the sky, “Sorry Raoden, but there’s no spoilers yet, this is all in the first three chapters. And I don’t want to give away what you do in Elantris.”
Raoden paused for a moment. “Oh, yeah. I thought you were going to talk about the good character development, in which case you’d have to talk about how (view spoiler)[ Hrathen seemed uber-evil to begin with, and actually for most of the story, but ended up having a complete trial of faith and turn around at the end (hide spoiler)], or about the bizarre love semi-triangle, (view spoiler)[when Hrathen started having feelings for Sarene. I mean, man that was weird (hide spoiler)].”
“Oh. Well, actually, I was going to leave that out. Mostly I was going to focus on you and Sarene.”
“That’s not a good move for this review. We were WAY too predictable. You have got to talk about the INTERESTING characters.”
“Wait a minute. You don’t sound like Raoden… Who is writing this anyway?”
“Not you. This reviewer doesn’t have nearly your talent. He’s making you and me talk with the same voice and style. Even Sarene sounded the same. You did much better writing this book. It was a little slow to start, but that is the result of building a new world. Maybe Sarene and I were a bit predictable and melodramatic (trumpets – quiet down! I can’t talk over your heroic theme), but it really picked up at the end.”
“Maybe so, but I hope I do better next time.”["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This little blurb was practically written on a napkin so that it could be sold at auction for charity. It appears to be unedited and takes only a few...moreThis little blurb was practically written on a napkin so that it could be sold at auction for charity. It appears to be unedited and takes only a few seconds to read; as such it is rather unsatisfying, raising more questions than answers. But cheers to Rowling for supporting charity in any case.(less)
A fun young adult novel that reads like a fast moving movie – which may be why it was made into a motion picture. It has some of the trappings of sci-...moreA fun young adult novel that reads like a fast moving movie – which may be why it was made into a motion picture. It has some of the trappings of sci-fi (aliens and spaceships), fantasy (super-powers and shape changing beasts) and young-adult fiction (puppy love and teenage angst).
As usual I was bothered by a few things. In case you were wondering, if you leave a truck in your garage for eight years without ever running it, it will NOT start without some real work. Also, the principal of the school reminded me of the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, even though I don't think that he was supposed to be that ridiculous. There were also some editing problems. (I always hesitate to mention editing because inevitably I’ll find an editing problem with my own review here, but there it is.)
When I read these YA novels I find myself perhaps being overly critical. I enjoy these books, but I never give them as many “stars” as other genres. I’m not sure that is entirely fair – should a young-adult novel that plays to its audience really be compared to the likes of Gone With the Wind? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. After all, of all the things I can say about a book, a numerical ranking doesn’t really rank among the more interesting. On the other hand, the number of stars is often the only thing that people look at.
I’m giving this one 3 stars. I’m not sure why. I liked it. It wasn’t great, but within the genre it was really pretty good. This probably means I should change some of the rankings on other similar books. We’ll see if I get around to it, or if I change my mind on this one instead. I will probably read at least one of the sequels.(less)
At a Q&A session preceding the release of A Memory of Light, one of the questions implied that Sanderson had become known as “The Magic System Guy...moreAt a Q&A session preceding the release of A Memory of Light, one of the questions implied that Sanderson had become known as “The Magic System Guy”. I think that moniker comes primarily from his debut novel Elantris and the Mistborn series, although there may be other contributing factors.
Mistborn is a fantasy story that is interesting and fun. It has a new and unique (at least as far as I know) magic system that is interesting primarily due to its limits and constraints. I can also see that Sanderson has improved in his story telling and characterization in his previous novel, Elantris. This is a big improvement, and I look forward to seeing much more from Sanderson, who has become an extremely prolific writer in the years since Mistborn was first published. (less)
A YA novel with magic and mythical creatures set in a modern context with a pair of adolescents as the reluctant heroes. Perhaps it targets the younge...moreA YA novel with magic and mythical creatures set in a modern context with a pair of adolescents as the reluctant heroes. Perhaps it targets the younger part of the YA audience: from the very title it leverages the ubiquitous fame of the Harry Potter series (remember Nicholas Flamel from the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone?) without incorporating any part of the Harry Potter universe (you won’t see any mention of muggles).
But if you ask me the characters were too shallow, the plot was a little thin for my taste. At least there was no attempt at a love triangle in the manner of Twilight and Hunger Games. (less)
The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and go, but this series never ends… UNTIL NOW!
After 23 years and 14 books, Brandon Sanderson brings to a close (...moreThe Wheel of Time turns and ages come and go, but this series never ends… UNTIL NOW!
After 23 years and 14 books, Brandon Sanderson brings to a close (with Robert Jordan’s original ending) this epic fantasy series. I think I started reading sometime after the third book came out and before the fourth, so I’ve been into this series about 20 years, with a rather long gap in the middle when I refused to read it anymore until the final book was written.
The series has certainly has its ups and downs, but Sanderson did a masterful job in the last three books of wrapping it up. It helps that he isn’t afraid to... (view spoiler)[kill off Egwene, who has been pretty much an infallible character throughout the series. Anyone that perfect in a work of fiction needs to die. (hide spoiler)]
This final book is full of battle scenes which could get a little monotonous. One chapter is nearly 200 pages on its own. But hey, what do you expect? It's the last battle, and they have been building up to it for 13 books!
I also think there are a few things that don’t make sense (view spoiler)[, for just one example, the idea that the “dragons” (cannons) can fire from underground through a small gateway, to me seems unrealistic for anything more than one or two cannons at a time, since the “gateways” are so limited in size (hide spoiler)]. Overall though I think it is a particularly well written ending to a very long (and at some points drawn out) series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)