October 24th, 2010


The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

One-line summary: A new epic fantasy series with some great worldbuilding, good characters, and I'll forgive the filler because at least there were no frakking elves.

So, Brandon Sanderson. The Next Big Thing in epic fantasy. He's finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and simultaneously kicking off his very own new ten (that's ten (10)) book series.

And dang, he has some fans. 5-star reviews outnumber all others put together, by a significant margin:


Goodreads: Average: 4.61. Mode: 5 stars.
Amazon: Average: 4.6. Mode: 5 stars.

This is a big-ass book, folks. An old-school doorstopper.

If you find the following summary is tl;dr, then don't bother reading the review, or the book.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

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Verdict: Sigh. I guess I might as well start reading A Song of Ice and Fire while I wait for The Stormlight Archive, Book Two. This is an epic fantasy series you can share with your future children, because they'll be old enough to read it by the time Sanderson finishes this sucker.
  • lutine

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For those who don't follow Neil Gaiman's blog, he's trying to start a tradition of exchanging gifts of spooky books for Hallowe'en. An excellent idea! To help get the ball rolling on this idea, I'm giving away a spooky book over at my blog! Winner gets to choose their poison, so to speak. ^.~ Head on over to enter!
Golden Hair

The Moonspinners

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

Nicola is on a vacation in the Greek countryside; she will be meeting her cousin at the inn at an obscure little village, but for now she is rambling through the wilds and the flowers, where she meets up with a Greek who acts belligerently, perhaps wisely, since she soon finds he is helping an injured English tourist.  Shortly thereafter, she works out that the tourist had been shot, and they confess that the tourist, Mark, and his younger brother Colin had witnessed a murder.  Mark had been shot, and Colin is gone.  Nicola helps, staying with Mark while the Greek, Lambis, goes down to their boat, but when Lambis returns, they urge her off,down to the village.

Where she finds things quickly hook up with their story.  She's been sent into the thick of it.  Her cousin Frances arrives, and they see what they can do.

The story unfolds, with windmills, wildflowers -- orchids and dittany and hawkweed -- graves, light-fishing, knives picked up at the wrong time, a cook who trained in London and scharos pots.

#84 Season of Ice by Diane Les Becquets

In late fall, Genesis's father heads out to Moosehead Lake and vanishes. A frantic search takes place with no results, and it is determined that he has perished beneath the frozen waters of the lake. Recovery is delayed until spring, and Genesis and her family must go on living without any concrete answers. But when she hears a rumor that her father is still alive, and has run away with another women, Genesis begins to ask more questions about her father's disappearance.

Season of Ice is a realistic work of young adult fiction that takes place in Maine. One of the things that impressed me the most about the novel is how accurate Les Becquets captures life in rural Maine. It's obvious from the small details she provides, from plastic on the windows in winter to front yards filled with broken down cars, that that author has a real life connection to the place. As someone who lives in Maine, I could make real life connections with a lot of details she provides. Another thing I really liked about this novel is it's protagonist Genesis. I admired her maturity, but also feel sympathetic towards her plight. Genesis has to grow up too fast due to events in her life. While reading, I often found myself wishing that she had more time just to be a seventeen-year-old girl. On occasion, the writing is surprisingly lovely. I found myself pausing to reread over certain passages several times.

Admittedly, there are a few issues I had with Season of Ice, but I'm willing to admit that this had a lot to do with my own expectations coming into the novel. One is due to the poor way in which the jacket blurb advertises the book. The blurb talks about how Genesis and her family must struggle in poverty as a result of not receiving any insurance money when her father's body is not recovered. I was a little disappointed when I discovered that this isn't really what the book is about. Instead it focuses on Genesis's quest to determine the truth behind her father's disappearance. Another thing that dragged my enjoyment down at times is the pacing. Season of Ice is a novel that emphasizes setting and characterization over plot, resulting in a book that is surprisingly slow paced for a young adult novel. Once I grew used to it, I found I enjoyed the calm pacing. I grew to love this story which, despite it's sad premise, feels very grounded in reality, and is free of any cheap thrills or melodrama.

Season of Ice was not what I expected, but I found that I grew to appreciate Genesis and her story. This beautifully written story should hold appeal to more patient young adults, and should appeal to adult readers as well.

Rating: four stars
Length: 277 pages
Source: Readfield Community Library
Similar Books: For other great works of realistic young adult fiction I recommend Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Looking for Alaska by John Green (my review), and Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Other books I've read by this author: this is my first

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