This is my first exposure to Brandon Sanderson's writing, and I have to say... I wish I'd started with something else. Perhaps his Mistborn trilogy, o...moreThis is my first exposure to Brandon Sanderson's writing, and I have to say... I wish I'd started with something else. Perhaps his Mistborn trilogy, or his contributions to the Wheel of Time cycle (which I'll likely be reading next) or even the stand alone Elantris.
Anything else would have been better.
Why? Well; I've joined the excruciating wait for the next book in this series far too early. Sanderson is from all I can tell a solid worker and isn't looking likely to pull a George on us for which I cannot express my gratitude, but goodness. After the ending this book delivered, any wait for the next at all is just too long.
No, no. Not because he left us with some sort of jaw gnashing cliffhanger, but because even though it wound up of the events in this story rather masterfully, the promise of so much more to come is a siren call extraordinarily difficult to ignore. Sanderson has made a promise with this book; one that I believe he certainly has the capability to deliver upon.
It's not completely roses and rainbows though. Mostly for me it was elements of the writing style itself and it's being really quite picky of me, I realise. In some of the sequences dealing with the 'Lashings' for instance, the descriptions were just too bland for the action they were depicting. I don't want to beat on that too heavily because they clearly conveyed what was happening which is no small feat given what... well, what was happening, but nonetheless, it was jarring to me.
Did it detract from the story as a whole? Not at all. I managed to pick this up for a steal with a half price voucher for Whitcouls (a local book seller), but I'd buy it and reccomend it be bought even for full cost. That is, if you can stand the wait between books. ;)(less)
Writing this review more or less to serve as a review for the entire series (including the follow-up trilogy of Fool's Fate).
The books were amazing. T...moreWriting this review more or less to serve as a review for the entire series (including the follow-up trilogy of Fool's Fate).
The books were amazing. Thus the five stars, obviously.
Unfortunately it's been a wee while since I read them myself so a detailed review is likely just going to leave me open to making mistakes, but I'll try and give what impressions I can.
I remember when I first started reading, I found the first person perspective to be rather jarring. As I read through the prologue, I quite distinctly remember thinking, 'I hope this is just an introduction thing, and the rest of the story is in third...' and then being almost immediately disappointed when I turned to the first page of chapter 1 and discovered that no, truly, the entire thing was to be in first.
I'm glad I kept reading, however. I can't have known at the time just how much this character driven story was going to come to mean to me. Seeing the world through Fitz' eyes brought it all to life in a previously unimaginable way. Add to that the fantastically flawed yet still loveable characters, and it became an absolute page turner. Other reviews note that not much really happens in the book. I sort of agree, that is likely true. I remember several key events which I won't spoil, each was well done and obviously quite memorable.
But it is the characters which bring this place to life, and have you wondering why or why can't they just get along and make up you stupid ninnyheads! Normally conflict in a story is good, but with these characters you begin to really want everything to be alright for them.
My only real complaint is that at times, Fitz can come across as a bit of a whiny emo. Not that he doesn't always have good cause to, I might add, but I do recall a few instances where I just wanted to slap him out of it. However even in this I can say that it is something the character grows through, and he gets much, much better in this regard over time as the books progress.
Heartily reccomend both trilogies to anyone and everyone who loves a good character driven yarn, fantasy fan or not. Just talking about the books and more recently advising a friend to go read them has made me desperate to get my hands on copies again, to the point where a Christmas gift for myself this year may well be to buy myself a full set. :)(less)
Robin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a moment...moreRobin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a moments peace. This is a constant throughout the series and it is interesting to see the changes in Fitz’ reactions as his story progresses. Even as late as the early acts of Assassin’s Quest, he responds with the heat and impulsiveness of a child. Rash. Very, very, rash.
There is little regard for consequence of action or word, and more than once he is offered warning from those closest to him that soon must come a point where he cannot so quickly apologise it all away. Truthfully, Fitz may come across as a foolish character during these earlier sections, one that makes it such you cannot help but to throw up your hands and exclaim, ‘When will you learn?’
Not a unique response to a character. Poor writers often have their characters be ‘stupid’ to serve the purposes of the story. The worst writers have otherwise brilliant characters pull these stupendous feats of stupidity only at convenient times and then have them return to solving the fantasy equivalents of multi-variable calculus on the very next page. Such writing has surely made my teeth a few millimeters shorter over the years from the grinding.
Hobb’s approach to Fitz is much more believable. As mentioned, he is rash and impulsive rather than truly being denser than an old forest log. There is an internal consistency, so more often than not when you are throwing your hands up in the air over his decisions, it is born out of an exasperation for the character. For a wayward child you hope will one day begin to make better choices, but you can’t help but to fret and worry that they may never get the chance. Fitz is a character that you will come to care and worry about due to the power of Robin Hobb’s writing. You will want him to do better with his relationships and you will ache at some of the isolating decisions he sometimes makes.
As you may have gathered then, this is a character driven story through and through. Much of the enjoyment comes from seeing Fitz — and indeed other characters too, albeit through Fitz’ eyes — grow and develop as we go. Relationships are made important and the people are brought front-and-centre. Hobb will make you care for her characters and then punish you for it with the ordeals they go through. There are some truly harrowing moments where the pages flip with your heart riding up in your mouth.
Suffice to say, it is not always the lightest of reads. It is an emotionally bumpy ride that will bring you right in and have you feel it all.
Personally? I love this. It is one of the most engaging books (and series) I’ve ever read and thus is why I’ve rated it so highly. I do however also offer up a warning for those who prefer their books to be lighter and happier in nature. This one isn’t.
I must confess that the early to middle sections of this book do drag a little. It takes the whole ‘Hero’s Journey’ thing to a ludicrously literal level. Fitz treks an extremely long way and we feel every step of it. I don’t mean to suggest nothing happens during these stretches, just that perhaps the book could have been a stronger, tighter finish to this series if one or more of the interim stages of the journey had been cut. By this point we know the character quite well and so it all seemed a trifle unnecessary. I suppose to be fair though, that I should mention that we begin to see perhaps the first hints of the subtle changes to FitzChilvary’s way of thinking over and about things. It is from this portion of the book I took the above quote from. Still. I did feel it dragged, but on my first read years ago and again now, so I must mention it.
As a final point, I would differentiate Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy from other attempts at ‘grit’. In fact, despite the emotional roller-coaster agreeing to read this series embarks you upon, I’m not even entirely sure that characterizing the story as ‘gritty’ is accurate. Or rather, it is achieved in a natural feeling way. This is a dark time for the Farseer line and their people. Even so, there aren’t any incidences I can point to of people needlessly slain just to show the author is willing to be merciless. There really don’t seem to be any scenes that leap out at you as being present simply because the author has thought, ‘Ooer, that’d be edgy’.
All told, I would highly recommend a read through of this series. Go along with Fitz on his journey from bastard child to hero — even if he is incapable of viewing himself in that light. He is the catalyst, the changer. The means through which ends may be achieved. The pebble in the path of progress, able to turn that ever moving wheel aside even slightly toward one path or another.
Assassin’s Quest marked a satisfying — albeit bittersweet — ending to the Farseer Trilogy. This particular adventure is wrapped up in full, so while there is more to be found within the follow-up Tawny Man Trilogy, you could stop here and be at peace.
…Perhaps. More FitzChilvary Farseer? Who wouldn’t want that? ;)(less)
If I could give these books a 4.5 I would. They weren't quite perfect, but portions had be sitting up in bed raptly turning page after page.
Then I'd hit a portion not about the water walker and back out in the 'real' world and I'd sigh, my complaint the same as it typically is with Peter Hamilton's books: Bloat. Although I WILL say, it is markedly restrained in these books relative to his earlier books.
It's entirely possible, in fact, that at least this time around it was simply because I typically better like the 'fantasy' genre of writing that I was so engrossed in the Water walker's story and relatively Meh about the rest of it. In fact I'd go so far as to suggest this is likely.
Overall though, I do remember loving the books when I read them late last year/early this year, and then hotly anticipating the now released third book: The Evolutionary Void (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74...) which I haven't yet read, but aim to shortly, and will be doing a review of that book separately when I do. :)(less)
Not because I didn't enjoy it though, just because I've had rather limited reading time of late.
Each and every...moreA month to the day to finish this book.
Not because I didn't enjoy it though, just because I've had rather limited reading time of late.
Each and every moment of the book was enjoyable and action packed. In the end though, this felt both a strength and a weakness. With every moment keeping the tension high, there was nowhere else to go for the climax. There was no significant peaking in tension at the end of the book, it was a matter of trouble, trouble, trouble one moment and then 'oh, whoop, there we go, done', in another.
It is for that reason I rate the book as 'I really liked it' as opposed to 'amazing'.
I get that this is the last book of the trilogy and to be fair the prior two volumes were better paced from recollection, but when you're talking about a volume this large -- some 726 odd pages -- last book or no it needs to give the reader some breathing room if the climax is to mean anything.
Still. After that was over and done, I did like the resolutions given to each of the character arcs that had been woven into the story. They gave a wonderful sense of closure to the series without quite closing all room for future speculation on what they might get up to.
The book is well worth a read, the tension is kept high, there are some twists you might not see coming -- yet still seem plausable rather than ridiculous -- and the characters are likeable.
It's not quite the perfect book, but it's still a darned good one. (less)
Review from Reread: ------------------------ I’ve read this twice now, second time being quite recently as part of a Group Read which has the natural ab...moreReview from Reread: ------------------------ I’ve read this twice now, second time being quite recently as part of a Group Read which has the natural ability to make reading almost anything fun.
However this is a book that stands as an enjoyable and engrossing read in its own right. Sanderson manages to achieve a seemingly perfect blend of action, intrigue and character development.
In the context of a group read, we found plenty to speculate upon and discuss as we went through. We found — upon reflection, mostly — a great deal of extremely well written foreshadowing for the books many big reveals and twists so that even as you experienced that, ‘Oh snap!’ moment, it didn’t feel completely out of left field.
In fact, for one of the bigger events, there were threads linking it right back to extremely early sections of the book. So if you’re wanting something to really dig your teeth into, Mistborn: The Final Empire delivers.
This is not to say you require a degree in English Literature to appreciate the story however! Sanderson has such a way with writing that even the most action heavy sequences where Mistborn are fighting with all the powers of their Allomancy with metal flying in a storm, bodies pivoting around spires through the air and more, you can form a crystal clear image in your mind and follow it blow for blow.
Then when the fighting is done and they’re back picking up the pieces of their crew, you can see it change them. You can see the struggle to find courage in the face of what surely seems to be impossible odds. You can witness the transformation in Vin from untrusting and ill-used street kid to powerful woman struggling to trust someone yet so desperately wanting to be able.
If you’re a fan of fantasy already, or simply looking for a place to begin, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire comes highly recommended. For existing fans, Sanderson turns many of the tropes completely on their heads by asking a simple ‘What If?’ question. What if the hero lost, and evil won? How would this world look 1,000 years later? For those looking to get started, this is a well-written highly engrossing story which won’t do double duty as a doorstop and has a definite end point, being a trilogy rather than a gargantuan 12-books-and-counting-yay! experience.
Original Review: ------------------------ This isn't a perfect book, but it is still an amazing one, I perhaps would have felt more comfortable giving it 4.5 stars if that were an option.
A story of an empire gone wrong, an empire 1,000 years into a tyrannical rule after the heroes failed to bring about a change for good and a story of a heist taking place within said empire. At least, this is what it is if you were to believe the blurb. I must admit the heist part gave me pause. I wasn't quite sure I was prepared to spend the time to read a trilogy based on an 'Ocean's 11 goes Fantasy' . . . still. I had read Sanderon's Way of Kings and was blown away, so felt some trust was due.
There is so much more to this story. The characters within are well realised and grow in believable ways throughout the story through triumph and tradgedy. I'm glad I was able to put my doubts aside and read this, because it gripped me start to finish.
Twists and turns; some you can see coming, some you can't. Soaring highs and dipping lows, humour and sorrow, it's all here.
Despite being the first in a trilogy manages to end exceptionally well. If it had been a cliffhanger I likely could have forgiven it given I have the other two books in the house and will be diving into the next very shortly, yet, I'm impressed nonethless at Sanderson's ability to balance the need for an end here without closing all doors off to carry on.
I meant to write this review sooner but instead have been engrossed in book 3, Hero of the Ages.
This book was Sanderon's first sequel and I think it...moreI meant to write this review sooner but instead have been engrossed in book 3, Hero of the Ages.
This book was Sanderon's first sequel and I think it shows. It gets off to a shaky start and despite the high note I left off of from reading the first book (Mistborn) I was almost brought to not caring about the characters at all for the first 100 pages or so.
It takes a long time for this book to find it's feet, far too long. It was near page 200 before I began to regain any real sense of interest and read due to that rather than some sense of duty to the series or the hopes that Sanderson would at some point pull out the magic again that I'd come to expect from his books.
In case the 4 star rating doesn't give it away; despite this shaky start, the magic is recaptured and the book does find its feet.
I had no issue with the middle of this book as some people seem to during the siege itself. It's not the most action-packed of time-frames but enough is happening to not bore and the characters are once again growing in ways I can care about instead of just retreading the same ground as the first book over and over again as per the first 200 or so pages.
Even if you typically prefer a more action-packed book with high octane events going off all over the place, if you made it through book one, I'd recommend persevering toward the end of this book, as the events there are spectacular.
The lead in from book two to three, I might add, is also far, far better handled. I realise I'm not yet reviewing book three, but given how much of a let down the start of this book is, I thought it warranted mention. Sanderson seemed to learn from the errors and missteps of this book and corrected them in spades with the third.
This is going to sound like a very negative review. I have a lot to discuss that I didn't like about not only this book, but the series in general. I...moreThis is going to sound like a very negative review. I have a lot to discuss that I didn't like about not only this book, but the series in general. I don't have nearly so much to say about what I did like; but I urge you to bear in mind the rating I gave this book as you read. For all the failings this book (and series) have, it is still a very enjoyable read.
For instance, I mentioned it briefly in my 'updates' while reading this book, but Sanderson really did appear to learn from the troubles starting the second book (Well of Ascension) as this one got things moving in a much better way. It also didn't seem to insist on hand-holding the readers for half the book like the second did. This was much appreciated.
Some of the twists and turns in the story were magnificently executed.
In certain fight scenes, Sanderson once again manages to work his magic in order to have you really see the fight in your mind. Nothing quite rose to the level of Kelsier's fight with the Inquisitor in the first book in my opinion, but one or two parts came close. And Kelsier's Inquisitor fight was a fairly hefty bar to reach, in this regard.
For all that, the characterisation in this series is veryweak. You're given the barest scent of each characters personality. The lightest touch of their quirks. I didn't notice this quite so much during the first book, but certainly by the third I realised that these characters existed to further the story and nothing more. They were plot devices, ends to the story's means. Vin's love for Elend and vice versa was hard to buy into or care about. Cett and Breeze left me feeling as if so much more could have been done with them. I think perhaps Sazed and Spook were the only two who started to approach a sense of self.
The others seemed to represent ideas of a character, while not actually being a character.
This, more than anything else, is what stops this book from being a 5 for me and threatens reduction to a three. Characters are what drive a story for me. I have to want to care.
I didn't here; and yet somehow, for the most part, the story drew me along regardless.
If I had read the Mistborn trilogy before any of Sanderson's other work, I think I would've been... Well, not hesitant to read more per se, but at least in no hurry to go out and buy everything he's ever done, either. Because I read The Way of Kings first -- first book in bloody ages to get man-tears in my eyes! -- I know that Sanderson has grown a lot as an author since he set down Mistborn, and I'm eager to continue with him.
TWoK shows growth in other directions for Sanderson as well. Books often have themes. That's not a problem. I get that Sanderson is himself religious and thus these values to some extent are going to show through. Also not a problem. It becomes a problem when the book becomes a heavy-handed-all-pretence-of-subtlety-abandoned 'Hurrah Faith!' preaching session.
I love Sazed as a character; I do. But Sanderson very nearly ruined him for me with his constant 'struggle' and then subsequent 'rediscovery' of faith. It might be hard to understand what I mean if you haven't read it yourself, because this sounds like nitpicking I realise. I don't mind characters having a crisis of faith; well done it can be incredibly moving. Sazed's, however, was not well done. Rather than handled with a light touch and tact, a baseball bat is applied to your face instead.
In the end though; I did like the books. I would recommend them to be read; but wouldn't put them up on any kind of pedestal. These are early Sanderson works and I can tell he's matured in his craft a lot since these were written; which makes me incredibly curious how Elantris and Warbreaker -- earlier works still -- turned out, as I've yet to read those. I am made equally curious as to how much further Sanderson yet has to grow, and makes me even more impatient for future volumes of the Stormlight Archives (of which TWoK was the first).
A story of a man, telling the story of a boy, who became a legend. The three are all one and the same, author Patrick Rothfuss not content with leavin...moreA story of a man, telling the story of a boy, who became a legend. The three are all one and the same, author Patrick Rothfuss not content with leaving in his wake yet another fantasy story detailing on only the 'legend' went beyond and instead told a rather human story; without sacrificing the excitement of magic, fights for survival and the like.
Some complain of the slow nature of the book, and it is at the least fair to say that large portions of the book are set within one place, the University. Yet as with the complaints sometimes levied against Robyn Hobb's Farseer trilogy of not much happening, I don't think that a large number of 'big' events have to happen when you're dealing with a story as character driven as both stories are.
I personally found the entire story interesting from start to end, and it was all the more so because Rothfuss made me invested in the well being of Kvothe. Admittedly if he Rothfuss had failed in bringing me to care for the character -- or if you don't tend to care for character driven stories to begin with -- then, then I likely would have found the story as long as it was, dull.
I can't wait until the next book in the series is out, but I'm thankful I didn't read this edition too much sooner than I did. While the end was not of any bother to me, I think it was rather skillfully wrapped up, another complaint is it ending seemingly midstory. If you look at it purely from the view of the story Kvothe within the book was telling, perhaps so. The book as a whole however ended as neatly as it could.
It left me burning for more however, so March 2011 can't roll on fast enough!(less)