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Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Stormlight Archive

Recently my fantasy books have come from Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series.  I have read the three books that have been published out of the planned ten.  Brandon Sanderson really came to the forefront of the fantasy world when he stepped up to finish the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan died.  I can't speak to his work there, since I could not continue that series when Jordan's later books became unbearably tedious.  Now that I've read his original work, I can say that Sanderson is a great author.  He creates fantastically intricate worlds.  He has the universe developed to such an extent that he has appendices at the end of each of his novels providing meticulous charts laying out various facets that are completely unnecessary to the story.

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Sanderson's writing is generally fairly direct and to the point, as opposed to trying to use language that seems fancy or more sophisticated for no reason.  It's a matter of taste, but I prefer Sanderson's style.  That's not to say that the books are perfect.  There are times where they drag in details or are inaccessible because Sanderson gets too deep into the made up words from his universe and, ironically, takes the reader out of the story.  I will also warn people that the beginning of the first book is not immediately gripping.  To me it came across like I was reading a transcript of a tutorial at the beginning of a video game and was fairly slow after that.

The books also present fairly classic human issues with new twists.  Instead of skin color, the strict class hierarchy is based on eye color.  The society also has strict gender roles that very few people step out of, but they are very different than what exist in the real world.  As an example, the society is still very patriarchal, but it is completely unacceptable for men to know how to read or write, which generally leaves them completely dependent on women to get anything done.

The only reason I regret reading these books is that, in all likelihood, the series will not be done for two decades.  Generally speaking, I try to avoid starting fantasy series until they're finished since I've been burned by the series turning terrible (Wheel of Time) or grinding to a halt and being upstaged by a TV show (A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones to most of you)).  Even if this goes as well as can be reasonably expected, waiting twenty years is going to suck.  But I gave in to peer pressure, so here I am.

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