The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Why I Read It: Started the series as part of a read along over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: If you’re into epic fantasy, this series is a must.

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates (2008)

Length: 796 pages

Series: Mistborn Book 2

Vin kicks even more ass!

This sequel picks up a year after Book 1, Mistborn: The Final Empire. Elend is king, but can he hold his crown with his even-handedness and high ideals? The Assembly he created to help rule Luthadel is constantly arguing. Meanwhile, multiple armies are marching to take Luthadel by force. Vin is Elend’s love, and his body guard. Many, many people would love to see Elend dead. Vin’s companions in the mist are quite an eclectic lot: assassins, her helpful kandra, some sort of mist creature, and another Mistborn with mysterious intentions.

With Kelsier gone, his remaining crew try to stay true to Vin in their own way – strengthening Luthadel’s defenses, intrigue, spying, and even returning to a besieged city. Sazed had wandered far in pursuit of his dream of teaching the Skaa about the world’s lost religions. However, he finds few willing, let along enthusiastic, students. Instead, he comes across tales of mist mysteriously appearing during the day and killing people. Kelsier’s brother Marsh appears on the scene and leads Sazed to an abandoned Steel Inquisitor tower, where they find few answers and only more questions. Sazed is convinced he must return to Luthdel, despite the imminent danger the city is in.

I believe this book was even better than Book 1. Book 1 set up several of the main characters and the world. In this addition to the series, Brandon Sanderson explores more of the world. For instance, we learn about Koloss society, Mistborn and Feruchemist abilities, and the complicated kandra. We also get more info on the legend of the Hero of Ages. This book was full of action, friendship, betrayal, hard choices, and a little bit of kissing.

What I Liked: The relationship between Elend and Vin was more real; kandra in a dog suit; Vin in everything she does; Zane as a crazy counterpoint to Vin; Elend’s growth in character; Sazed and Tindwyl.

What I Disliked: I found the sudden relationship between Breeze and Allrianne to be a bit forced plot wise.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Chupacabra and Warbreaker

Why I Read It: Read along hosted by Once Upon A Time

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Those into epic fantasy.

Publisher: Tor Fantasy (2010)

Length: 688 pages

This book was a play on plot twists. Brandon Sanderson has entertained me quite well once again. Siri and Vivenna are sisters, Princesses of Idris, a high mountain, sober town. Vivenna has known all her life that she was betrothed to the God King of Hallandren, a bustling city steeped in color and vice. However, the King of Idris cannot bear to send his eldest, and favorite, daughter. Siri is sent in her staid, much to the shock of all, including the untrained and ill-mannered Siri.

Vasher and his thought-projecting sentient sword Nightblood have a quest of their own, which no one is quite sure about for a good chunk of the book. (I loved guessing on his intentions). Denth and Tonk Fah are dark-humored mercenaries who meet Vivenna shortly after she makes her secret way to Hallandren to rescue her sister. Siri, in the mean time, has been learning to enjoy succulent fish dishes and wear fancy, flashy, sexy gowns. She befriends one of the pantheon of the Court, Lightsong. He has some of the best lines of the book, constantly irritating and making the other gods and royalty laugh. A good chunk of the pantheon and their priests are for war with Idris, which is seen as a rogue city defying the rightful rule of The God King. Oh, and they have some very lucrative mountain passes used for trading with other nations. Just in case you need a monetary reason to go to war.

In this tale, BioChroma plays a large role. The more Breaths a person has, the more objects a person can animate and command. This includes dead bodies, and hence Hallandren has an army of Lifeless – soldiers who do not need sleep, rest, food, or water. They feel no pain. Shudder. Yeah, Idris is in trouble. While Siri and Vivenna work in their separate ways to head off this war, Lightsong begins snooping around after a mysterious death of servant occurs at Mercystar’s palace. Vasher and Denth continue to circle each other, alternately aggravating and avoiding one another.

What I Liked: The BioChroma rules for this world; the dark humor of Denth and Tonk Fah; the God King’s secret; Lightsong’s banter with the curvaceous Blushweaver; Nightblood has some of the best lines; the lifeless squirrel!

What I Disliked: The first time reading it, it took me some time to grasp the rules of BioChroma.

Warbreaker Read Along Part V

I was pretty darn satisfied with that ending. Even the second time around.

This week’s questions, the final set, are from Amanda. Make sure to check out her site and our co-host Once Upon a Time to see what they made out of this ending.

1. There were a whole bunch of character revelations in this last section of the book. We now know who Warbreaker is, and what Blushweaver’s motivations are, and who was behind the war, and the intentions of several characters we suspected. How do you feel, now that everything’s out in the open?

I feel that all my major questions about the characters have been wrapped up while still leaving the story open for further exploration should Sanderson want to return to it. I especially like how the title Warbreaker can refer to not only the character with that name but to a number of the characters as they scrambled around trying to stop the war.

From my first read through, I can still remember being shocked by Bluefingers’ actions and surprised by the age of both Denth and Vasher and the source of contention between them.

2. At the beginning of our group read, I asked if you thought the Returned actually were divine. We saw Lightsong change his mind on his own divinity, and learned a bit more about the Returned. Has your answer about divinity changed, then, since the beginning of the book?

I am not really a believer in divinity to begin with, but for this book, I believe Lightsong met this story’s definition of divinity in the end. Vasher’s parting comments in the Epilogue were interesting because they so mirrored many of the doubts and internal arguments that Lightsong had throughout the novel.

3. Now that we’ve seen Nightblood in action, firsthand, and know more about its history, what do you think about it as an object? What are your thoughts about Vasher’s relationship with the sword?

Well, Vasher did a naughty thing bringing Nightblood into the world. On the other hand, he has been paying long penance keeping Nightblood out of trouble. I can see that Nightblood will always need a keeper, one of the noble variety preferably.

Nightblood did provide me with some good entertainment throughout the novel. In this section, I especially liked how it managed to get itself off a lake bottom and back to Vivenna and then Vasher.

4. Lastly, what are your final thoughts on Warbreaker? How did it compare to other books you’ve read, and to other Sanderson, if you’ve read more by him?

As a re-read, I caught myself catching a lot more of the subtler points. To me, that is one of the things that makes a book worth re-reading. While the humor of Tonk Fah and Denth was entertaining the first go around, I was keyed to pay more attention to it this time and pick up on some of the meanings behind the humor. Also, hints about Vasher’s identity and the history of Hallandren and Idris were sprinkled throughout the novel.

I have read 2 other Sanderson novels so far and I would put this equal to Mistborn in entertainment level but a little below The Way of Kings. All three have been excellent epic fantasies and I don’t hesitate to recommend them to folks who enjoy the genre.

Other Tidbits:

What happened to Lightsong’s squirrel?

Did anyone else find Blushweaver’s exit from the storyline abrupt?

It’s good to see that Vivenna will finally take a holiday. Perhaps Siri and Susebron will get a honeymoon.

I hope Llarimar will go back to his family now and not raise some Lightsong cult that goes on to be the foundation to some new religion of zealots 300 years down the road.

Brandon Sanderson has Deleted Scenes! over HERE on his site. Hooray!

Warbreaker Read Along Part IV

Heldig in one of her better moods.

Ha! What an interesting section of the book (Cpts. 35-49). Everything has changed, been turned upside down, and twisted inside out. I hope you all have enjoyed the revelations as much as I.

Make sure to check out Once Upon A Time, our hosts, to see what they make of these questions.

 

1) So, pretty much everything has been flipped up on its head in this section. Which particular revelation was the greatest shock to you and how has it impacted your view of the book as a whole?
The first time I read this book, the brutality of Denth and Tonk Fah really threw me. I had bought into their quirky, brusque mercenary personas and didn’t look past them. So when it was revealed that they were working for someone else and willing to torture Parlin to death, plus the dead animals, I was wickedly surprised. Did that scene remind anyone else of the scene at the end of The Village where they discover the remnants of several animals under the floor boards of the mentally handicapped kid? Spooky.
Of course, Sanderson can’t leave it at that. He followed one twisted plot point up with another through these chapters. I love how Vivenna has had to question everything and how Lightsong is becoming useful.
2) Vasher is perhaps one of those things who we’ve had flipped over on us. Turns out he may have once been a scholar, even! Vasher and Vivenna have quite the conversation about Awakening and Returned and skate across the topic of ‘Type 4’ Awakened Objects, which the story implies to be objects like Nightblood. Vasher is completely unwilling to discuss it any further – any guesses as to why?
I think Vasher was experimenting and made a big, bloody, animated mistake by bringing the sword Nightblood to life. He now serves out a penance by being it’s protector. At least Nightblood has a better, if darker, sense of humor than Vasher.
3) Siri’s conversation with Treledees perhaps indicated that for all the disregard he shows for Siri, that he may in fact still care for the God King. If true, does this clash with their idea of simply holding onto the Divine Breath until the return of another, or how could you see it being reconciled?
I don’t like or trust Treledees. I am not inclined to say he devoutly believes in the God King. Perhaps he believes in his own sanctity as protector of those mighty Breaths. That would click better with his inflated sense of self-worth and bullying attitude.
4) We’re so far through the book now, and the War has yet to come. Do you (still?) see it as inevitable, or do you think that it may yet be headed off?
Since this is a reread for me, I will say that the first time I read this book, at this point, I was still unsure whether or not there would be war. But the title seems built for a war breaker. So I had to wonder if this was going to be a story about heading off a war, or a story about several people trying to break up a war and failing. I was routing for Lightsong, Vivenna, Susebron, Siri, and Vasher at this point.
Other Tidbits:
Allmother actually seemed to be doing something for those who petitioned her. Why don’t more of the gods do this? You would think that some of them, like Lightsong, would find some satisfaction in this.
That squirrel is my hero. I need one. Where can I find ichor-alcohol to animate one? I already am pretty decent with needle and thread.
Vivenna + sword = [pick an injury]
Siri needs a bumpersitkcer: Good food leads to sex. Always. Be prepared.

 

The Hobbit Read Along – Coming Soon

I haven’t read The Hobbit in years so I decided to join Book Snobbery in a read along.

Here is the schedule for The Hobbit, but here is the link to their post which has info about even more Tolkein they will be reading this summer. I don’t know if I will be able to join in with all the fun this summer, but I can at least squish The Hobbit into my schedule.

June 23 – June 27 Chapters 1-5

June 27 – June 30 Chapters 6-12

June 30 – July 4/5 Chapters 13-19

 

And they made this cool badge-thingy that had me snort-laughing, so I just had to show you all here:

Courtesy of Book Snobbery

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Heldig and Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why I Read It: Participated in a read along over at My Awful Reviews.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Epic fantasy junkies!

Publisher: Tor Fantasy (2007)

Length: 672 pages

Series: Mistborn Book 1

Vin kicks ass.

It needed to be said up front.

This is another wonderful Brandon Sanderson world; it’s ashy and grey, there are Steel Inquisitors with metal protruding from their eye sockets, Allomancers rule the night with their ability to manipulate metal objects, and mistwraiths roam the lands between cities always hungry. Much of this story is seen through Vin’s eyes; she is a street thief and an Allomancer (though she doesn’t know that last to begin with). Kelsier runs a group of skilled individuals who want to overthrow the empire and he takes Vin under his wing. He has a suspicion that Vin is somewhat like himself – a Mistborn. Mistborns can manipulate all kinds of metal, whereas most Allomancers can only work with a pair of metals. And Kelsier could definitely use another Mistborn to help him with his plans.

This book was wicked fun from beginning to the end. The premise of a small rebel group wanting to overthrow the ruling regime probably seems simple, maybe even overused. However, it gets complicatedly good quick. Each character has a backstory, some of which we learn throughout the tale. Each has his and her own reasons for following Kelsier on his mad quest. The bad guys are not fumbling idiots either, but rather skilled, deadly, and mysterious. A side romance adds a few complications to the master plan, but played well for the reader.

What I Liked: The cloaks; the intrigue, on many levels; Sanderson creates rules for his world and sticks with them; Hoid; there were several twists I did not see coming.

What I Disliked: The initial romance was a little sudden, but I eventually settled into it.

Warbreaker Read Along Part III

It is very hard to get hyper Tanuki to pose for a pic. Bribery was used.

What a crazy week! So much happened in this week’s readings; even though it is a re-read for me, I am greatly enjoying the book and found it a little hard to stop.

This week’s reading included Chapters 24-34. Schedule over HERE.

Thanks once again to Once Upon A Time for keeping us all organized and Amanda over at Ramblings for this week’s questions.

The Questions:

1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned?

I think his subconscious is preparing him for big things. He has to believe in himself for what is to come. Once upon a time he did something heroic and bold and he needs that piece of himself again. It’s been buried all these years, waiting for the right moment to strike, like a hidden panther.

Or perhaps his servants will run out of grapes and he will have to peel them himself.

2. In this section, Vivenna has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward?

I think it was healthy for her to admit she was a hypocrite. Learning that ‘your people’ are gangsters and prostitutes and feel that they are better off in the slums of Hallendren rather than the empty slopes of Idris must have stung a bit. In some ways, Vivenna became a much more interesting person in this week’s reading- having to confront what she would do in a moment of terror. Perhaps now she will vary her daily dress a bit.

3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren’t Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we’ve had a few other different perspectives: Jewels’ vehement faith in the God King, the God King’s own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid’s collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now?

Most importantly, it was very good to see Hoid again. He turns up here and there in other Sanderson books.

Religion is an organized group of people who believe roughly the same thing. Hallendren definitely has it’s religion – with some of the Returned subscribing to it and others not. I really love how Sanderson weaves together all this religious turmoil into the story line. I think Lightsong is deeply disturbed by the religion surrounding him, because he does not believe himself worthy of such adoration and dedication, not to mention the breaths he must take from children each month.

Susebron has known nothing else. Siri is the first person he has had contact with that has been honest to his face about not believing in his divinity. While the priests that surround him use religion as a tool to maintain power, they have always reinforced his belief in his divinity.

The only way I can think to relate to this is by looking at my mundane life and imagining someone telling me, very seriously, that I am divine. Huh? You must be a little nuts. Go put the harp away. No, we don’t need choir music. OK, leave the candles if you must, I wanted to read anyway.

4. Denth says, “Every man is a hero in his own story.” What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher’s apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri’s different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods’ court?

Siri is making the best of an impossible situation. She wasn’t trained for this position, she was ordered to it last minute, and when she gets there, it is not as advertised. I think she is doing remarkably well. It is a good thing she is flexible.

Vivenna started off as pretty inflexible and it was her stubbornness and idea of ‘Right’ that got her this far. But this week, we saw a lot of her believes challenged. I am expecting this to lead to personal growth on her part.

Denth and Vasher. this is a a re-read for me, so I won’t say too much. So far, we have spent very little time inside eithers’ head. We’ve heard more chat from Denth and how he has taken pains to protect Vivenna. On Vasher’s side, we have seen a lot of threatening postures, a few deaths/injuries, and several occasions where he goes out of his way not to kill. So far, they are both suspicious to me.

Other Tidbits:

Hoid’s storytelling performance with the various thing she pulled out of his pockets was very cool.

Hopefinder and Blushweaver: That was a very entertaining conversation, with all the back and forth.

Do you think Clod has any of his personality left? It was pretty amazing how the Lifeless retained such mobility and fighting skill.

Sooner or later, Siri will have to explain to Susebron exactly why she bounces on the bed, making moaning noises. I find it entertaining how she is in the awkward position of sooner or later explaining the mechanics of reproduction.

Warbreaker Read Along I

Warbreaker Read Along II

The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Why I Read It: Loved Jim Butcher’s other series, The Dresden Files.

Where I Got It: The Library

Who I Recommend This To: People into epic fantasy with strong world-building and character development.

Narrator: Kate Reading

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2008)

Length: 16 CDs

Series: Book 1 of The Codex Alera

This was such a fun book. As a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, this was quite a different pace but every bit as good. Tavi is a teenager, a shepherd, and lacking in judgement when it comes to women. He also has no furies of his own, a bit of an oddity in a world where everyone has at least one fury they can call their own. Furies are the spirits of various natural elements of the world of Alera – water furies, fire furies, earth furies, etc. Calderon has some of the strongest furies, and hence some of the strongest furycrafters, in all of Alera.

The Alerans are not alone in this world, but their last confrontation with the Marat was nearly 15 years ago. So when Tavi and his Uncle Bernard go out to find some lost sheep, the last thing they expect is to fend off is a Marat warrior and his deadly birdbeasts. This external foe coupled with internal power struggles puts Alera in a precarious position. Amara in a Cursor, which is not just someone who delivers the Empire’s mail, but can also serve as information gatherer. She is also wicked good with her wind fury, decent with a blade, and has some of the best lines in the book. Unfortunately, she is up against a foe who knows all her strengths and weaknesses.

Butcher wove together a masterful tale that grabs a hold of you right away and never lets go. The characters are introduced simply and gain in depth as the story unfolds; I even fell in love with some of the bad guys, hoping they wouldn’t die before I had learned all their secrets. The magical rules governing furycrafting are well laid out and the author doesn’t stray from them for ease of moving the plot along. The Marat make an intriguing external force upon the Empire, with their own code of honor and culture.

Kate Reading surpassed my expectations. I had listened to other narrations by her and had found her speech pattern halting and a little unsettling. I am very happy to say that she performed this book beautifully, with a notable range for male and female characters. I especially loved her rendition of Odiana. This performance not only puts her back on my Listen To List, but also in the top 20.

What I Liked: The story begins and ends with sheep; the Marat are so alien to the Alerans; the side romance of Amara; Amara’s word duel with a cocky knight; the bad guys are complex; the good guys are complex; everyone has secrets and a past.

What I Disliked:  I took far too long to pick up this book.