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Old 05-25-2016, 10:16 PM View Post #1 (Link) The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Dabs (Offline)
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Scotty's doing all the reviews, lately, so I figured I'd be the combo breaker.



So back in 2012 I read a book called Mistborn: The Final Empire. It was the first Brandon Sanderson book I'd ever read. Prior to that, I'd read two short stories (or maybe they were novellas?) featured on his website, and I really dug both of them. The Final Empire, however, really disappointed me. The world was nice, but I found the characters not all that great, the story fairly cliched--despite Sanderson pitching the series as a subversion or inversion of typical fantasy cliches--and I was left really, really disappointed.

About a year-and-a-half later I read another Sanderson book called The Way of Kings. I loved just about every last thing about it, and I was officially converted into a Sanderson fan. I've since read the sequel to Way of Kings, entitled Words of Radiance, which I also adored, along with his first novel, Elantris, which wasn't very good, and the first book of the second Mistborn series (yes, there are multiple Mistborn series) entitled Alloy of Law, which was enjoyable but not great.

I'd say my experience with Sanderson, as a writer, is mostly good. I haven't loved everything he's done, but when he gets it right, by god does he get it right.

So, here I am, four years after reading my first Sanderson book, and I find The Well of Ascension in Columbia's sci-fi library (really, more of a sci-fi closet with bookshelves). I was craving some epic fantasy, particularly the brand Brandon Sanderson writes, and I figured--hey, I thought the first book stunk, but I don't have to pay for this one, and I like his other writing, so why not? I could always return it if I hated it. Besides, he's basically expended most, if not all, fantasy cliches in the first book, so this one would likely be better.

I was right. The Well of Ascension is a better book. It is a much, much, much better book than The Final Empire, and in virtually every aspect.

The characters feel more realistic and complex. The plot is more intricate, the stakes feel higher (ironically--I won't spoil the first book, but really, you'd think it would have higher stakes considering what they're doing). Everything is given time to properly gestate and develop. The twists and turns feel like they've been properly built up to, instead of just thrown in there after a relatively slow 5-6 chapters. Most importantly, everything feels organic. Throughout the first book could feel Sanderson kind of guiding everything along, trying to nudge us hard so we would see the things he wanted us to see. I didn't get that sense from this book (or maybe I'm more open to authorial nudging now? I dunno, doesn't seem likely).

On top of the good storytelling, this book does something that really surprised me. It made me glad that I'd read the first book. I still don't like The Final Empire, but the way this second book treat the characters, adding new layers to them--even to the ones who didn't carry over from the first book--makes me view the first one in a bit of a different light.
Spoiler:
For those who've read the book, I'm specifically referring to Kelsier. I don't think Sanderson was hard enough on him in the first book, and now, in the second one, I think Vin, in particular, takes more note of how brutal and cruel and fanatical Kell could be.


For me, this book doesn't quite touch the heights of The Stormlight Archive (which is the series Way of Kings and Words of Radiance are from), but it's still great. What, to me, was a striking leap in quality for Sanderson, now seems plausible, if not inevitable.
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:46 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Georgy (Offline)
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Too much passion, David. I wonder if there's any danger that such admiration may evoke an impulse for imitating or, at least, that you are likely to have your own writings subjected to overwhelming influence of Sanderson?
   Scotty (whose combo breaker you vouchsafed to be) sounds more indifferently though with a sense of sympathy, more detached, but thoughtfully, more mature, as it were.
Don't take pouting position (like one of your protagonists), you are a big boy and you should not care too much about who writes what. I just expressed my superficial opinion on what you had posted here, okey?
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:34 AM View Post #3 (Link)
Georgy (Offline)
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I should admit that having said (written) all this I took on Sanderson's Alloy of Law, and it seemed to me really quite enjoyable (because I listened to A-Book which was excellently voiced by various actors and sounded resplendently.) I can't say whether this thing is great or not, but to my mind there are some great books which I found boring, and there are so called "second rank" books which are just enjoyable. I prefer to deal with second option.
So, Dabsy, your promotion of Sanderson works within certain limits
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:06 PM View Post #4 (Link)
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I'm having a little trouble parsing through your english, my friend. Are you saying that I'm a being a little to passionate in my love of Sanderson? I can't really apologize for that. lol
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:43 AM View Post #5 (Link)
Georgy (Offline)
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Originally Posted by Dabs View Post
I'm having a little trouble parsing through your english, my friend. Are you saying that I'm a being a little to passionate in my love of Sanderson? I can't really apologize for that. lol
That's absolutely right, sir. I'd rather think I should apologize for my English. But had you apoligized it would have been extremely funny
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"The point of poetic prose, in my opinion, is to illuminate a truth, make us see something that's there, but hidden."
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"I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let's create an America that works for all of us, not the handful on top." Senator B.Sanders
  
						Last edited by Georgy; 08-31-2016 at 04:07 PM.
					
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Old 11-17-2016, 08:56 AM View Post #6 (Link)
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Style of the plot sounds like an orator. This element helps this book to be in a place of reader's mind. Author has shown his passion for writing. This can not just be ignored to be mentioned.

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