Sunday, November 23, 2014

BtBG Reader: The Way of Kings

Summer's always a big reading time for me, easily a dozen books or so in 3 months, and this year had a clear standout: Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings.

I was a little leery of picking up this book. On one hand, I thought he had brought a little needed energy to the end of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga, but on the other hand, I had picked up his Mistborn book and found it too plebian and derivative to read. It was hard to ignore all the glowing reviews though, and I eventually gave in and got it (I think it was on sale for like 2$ on Kindle at the time as well, so I wasn't risking much).

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Way of Kings was anything but the cookie-cutter fantasy I feared it would be. The world-building is fantastic - a war-torn world ravaged by unnatural storms that have the side-effect of charging the magical gems that help people survive, a complex ecology of flora and fauna that evolved in such a horrible environment, and a many-layered and appetizingly mysterious history. The characters all manage to be interesting without heavy-handed plot devices.

The books itself is nice, with something you almost never see any more - interior art! It makes me want to purchase the dead-tree version just for that. The interior art, other than maps, is usually a character's sketches and descriptions of the interesting locations, critters, and plant life of the world of storms, which further brings the setting to life. The cover art is by one of my favorites, Michael Whelan, who Sanderson apparently did some heavy lobbying to get.

Despite being over a thousand pages (I typically prefer my books in the 300-page range), I plowed through it in less than a week, and bought the sequel, Words of Radiance, before I was even finished, just to have in my library waiting. I can't recommend these enough, if you like your fantasy on the weirder side (Vance, Burroughs, etc), and less derivative of Tolkien (no elves, orcs, etc here!), do yourself a favor and pick this up.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting excited for Star Wars?

Despite my best intentions, I'm starting to feel a little excitement creep up on me for the forthcoming new chapter in the Star Wars saga. It's completely illogical, I know. It's hard not to be pessimistic - George Lucas has given up on the franchise, and many might argue he lost his "mojo" for it long before that. Star Wars is currently owned by Disney, the biggest entertainment juggernaut in the world, so there are likely to be financially-based compulsions behind the creation of the new trilogy that I can't even imagine. The director of the first installment, JJ Abrams, has kind of a mixed record with restarting franchises, at least in my opinion (I greatly enjoyed the first Star Trek reboot, not so much the second).

Nevertheless, I started to take a look around in those shadowier corners of the internet in which unsavory characters lurk with illicit offerings of "spoilers", and "leaks". And, deep down inside, that spark of excitement began to grow. I can't help myself. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, and any chance to relive a part of that magic, no matter how small... Well, I'm going to chase that feeling a little bit, keep a tiny bit of optimism in my shirt pocket just in case.

Some better (veracity not guaranteed, natch) Star Wars speculation can be found at these links:

What's YOUR opinion on the upcoming trilogy? Excited? Pessimistic?


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