“Arcanum Unbounded” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2016)


If you’re any sort of epic fantasy fan, then by now you know full well who bestselling author Brandon Sanderson is. You may know him as the author who finished the long-spanning Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan; or the creator of the fantastic Mistborn series; or perhaps you know him as the great mind behind his ongoing epic Stormlight Archive series. As a young adult reader, you may have also discovered him through some of his YA titles like The Rithmatist or the Reckoners trilogy, or perhaps even his Alcatraz series.

In case you haven’t realized, the guy can write. What you may not know is that all his books and stories are intrinsically linked together in his Cosmere universe. I know. Woah! Just when you think the guy can’t astound you more, he does. Sanderson has mentioned and hinted at this over the years of his climbing to stardom and bestseller status, and now readers get their first full insight into this galaxy of wonders, and of course, it’s a heavy tome weighing in at 672 pages, in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection.

The book collects a good amount of Sanderson’s short fiction. Of course, one can’t really consider these short stories, because when it comes to writing, the word means little to Sanderson unless he’s referring to a character’s stature. Each novella and novelette features an introduction by one of Sanderson’s knowledgeable characters about what they know about this particular planet and system and how this affects those who live on the world or worlds within it.

The collection features nine tales, including an Elantris novella, a Mistborn story and novella that brings back an old beloved character. It features the first chapter for what became the script to his graphic novel, White Sands, as well as a sample of the great artwork. Included is also his novelette “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” which first appeared in the George R. R. Martin’s and Gardner Dozois’ anthology Dangerous Women, which features one of the strongest and most impressive female protagonists ever, and is one of Sanderson’s best stories. Period. Arcanum Unbounded also has a very nice and very long novella from his Stormlight Archive called “Edgedancer.” The book showcases impressive artwork of the planets and star systems, and is of course beautifully designed and executed, as is any high-class work from Tor books.

Originally written on January 4, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Arcanum Unbounded from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Bands of Mourning” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2016)


The adventures of twinborn Waxillium Ladrian continue in The Bands of Mourning, who possess both Feruchemical and Allomantic abilities. The second book in the “second trilogy” of the Mistborn novels focuses on the legend of the “bands of mourning,” mythical metalminds once owned by the Lord Ruler that have been lost to history and time that grant the wearer ability to control all the Allomantic powers that the Lord Ruler was able to possess.

A kandra researcher – a species of creature that can live millennia by absorbing the bones of dead things (be they animal or human) and take on the form of that being – has returned to Elendel from its travels insane having lost its Allomantic spike and has clearly been attacked. But it also possesses drawings that supposedly depict the Bands of Mourning as well as writings in an unknown language. Wax is hired along with his “gang” of unusual characters including his fiancee to travel to the distant city of New Seran to investigate what happened to the kandra and possibly discover any validity to the drawings and writings.

While the previous book, Shadows of Self, kept the story relatively short and simple, The Bands of Mourning reveals more of the complex world and history that readers have come to expect with Sanderson’s epic fantasy. Sanderson mixes addictive action scenes with fascinating history, along with healthy doses of humor and hijinks, for a very entertaining read.

Originally written on March 4, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Bands of Mourning from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Shadows of Self” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2015)


Brandon Sanderson really set the stage with his Mistborn trilogy that showed readers he truly knows how to spin a complex, detailed and fascinating yarn with some great magic and action. He’s also two books into his projected 10-book Stormlight Archive epic fantasy series. So readers wouldn’t expect Sanderson to return to his Mistborn world since he has lots of other stories to tell. But then again, if you know Sanderson at all, you’ll know he never likes saying goodbye to a world he created and is always willing to return to it, just not in the same time.

Enter Alloy of Law, his standalone novel from 2011, and the first of the new trilogy, Shadows of Self, coming October 6th. He’s back in the Mistborn world a couple centuries further along in the future. If the first trilogy was set in a medieval fantasy period, the new trilogy is late 19th century with a healthy dose of the wild west. Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian has spent his time in the Roughs rounding up outlaws and as a “twinborn” is using both his Allomantic and Feruchemical abilities: he can push and pull on metals, but can also become lighter and heavier at will.

Now he’s back in the metropolis of Elendel, Lord of House Ladrian, and can see the city is in turmoil as the nobility continues to become richer and fatter off the backs of the poor and downtrodden who are becoming angry and riotous. Then everything goes to hell when a strange intruder assassinates a number of important and purportedly corrupt nobility and it seems to be a creature from an earlier time. With the help of his close friend and sort of sidekick Wayne (think Badger from Firefly) who can create speed bubbles where he can speed up time, and Marasi who is working as researcher and investigator for the police department and is sister to Wax’s wife to be, she can also slow down time in her speed bubble; they need to find out who’s behind the assassinations before anyone else gets hurt.

Sanderson has clearly had too much fun updating his “fantasy world” with things like guns, electricity and motorcars and lots of other technology reflecting our late 19th century period that are seen as an abomination by many in this world while there are those who can also perform Allomantic and Feruchemical magic. Even though the book is shorter – under 400 pages – than the books of the first trilogy, and the story isn’t quite as complex, he balances this out with some great shootout action scenes that will keep you glued to the page.

And the really great news is that the second book in the trilogy, Bands of Mourning, is coming out January 2016, just a handful of months away!

Originally written on September 17, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Shadows of Self from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Alloy of Law” by Brandon Sanderson (TOR, 2011)

Alloy of Law
starstarstarstar

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson is back with his 336-page “novella.”  In between lengthy, epic fantasy projects, Sanderson likes to have fun with some short pieces.  The Alloy of Law is an example of one of those once he was done with The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight before he started working on the final Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light.  In the acknowledgements he talks about the potential to write two more trilogies set within this world, each trilogy set further in the future from the original Mistborn trilogy.  The Alloy of Law is a shorter work set in the time of this proposed second trilogy.

Three hundred years have passed and the planet of Scandrial is now turning into a modern place with railroads and electric lighting in the homes of the wealthy.  Waxillium Ladrian is called back to his old city of Elendel to take the mantle left by the death of his uncle, living the city life and looking for a potential wife.  As he tries to turn away from his rebel, gun-toting days, a series of strange train cargo thefts and kidnappings pulls him back into action.  Wax will need Allomantic powers, with his ability to Push on metals; he’s also a Twinborn, with the Feruchemical ability to make himself lighter or heavier at will.

While Sanderson perhaps should’ve gone with a shorter name for his main character, or stuck with Wax as the official nickname – seeing twenty Waxilliums on the page gets a little annoying – he does what he did best with the Mistborn books, using his magic system skillfully and telling a great adventure story.  Alloy of Law is definitely set in the time of a steampunk type world that fans will immediately latch on to.

Originally written on December 1, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Alloy of Law from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2009)

Warbreakerstarstarstar

While just about everyone is hanging around and waiting for The Gathering Storm (due out November 3rd), first in the concluding books of the Wheel of Time series being written by Brandon Sanderson; readers might like to try out one of Sanderson’s first books that has been available for free as an ebook on his website for some time.  It is more in line with his first book, Elantris, than his fantastic Mistborn trilogy, Wheel of Time and Sanderson fans will find plenty to occupy themselves in Warbreaker.

Sanderson delivers another unique magic system all about color and breaths.  Breaths can be bought and ingested, and with each increasing number of breaths, one has more power to do things like bring inanimate objects to life and even create a zombie-type being from the dead.  There is the royal house where all royalty possess many breaths and show this in their ability to glow and whose hair changes color to fit their moods and emotions.  Then there is the land of the gods and those gods who have returned from the dead.  Warbreaker is a complex world that has a lot of detail to offer the reader which, while not one of Sanderson’s best works, nevertheless will delight fans and entertain them until November rolls around.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 25th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Brandon Sanderson check out BookBanter Episode 2.

“The Hero of Ages: Mistborn Book 3” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2008)

Hero of Agesstarstarstarstar

In Sanderson’s thrilling and resounding conclusion to his Mistborn trilogy, he doesn’t hold back, skillfully bringing all the different pieces, sub-plots, and characters together in a fitting end to the series.  While Sanderson has admitted that he may return to the mistborn world one day, it will be set hundreds of years in the future or past.  Nevertheless The Hero of Ages weighs in at almost six hundred pages and offers a very satisfying finish for its complex and powerful characters.

The Well of Ascension has been found by the supposed Hero of Ages, Vin, and the power has been released, except it is an evil spirit, Ruin, who seeks to end the world with the help of its deadly inquisitors.  The ash from the ashmount is falling thicker and stronger, choking the lands, preventing life from growing or surviving, while the great volcanoes are beginning to thunder to life, and the mists continue to terrify everyone, leaving some dead, others deathly ill, perpetuating the mystery.

Elend Venture, now emperor of the realm has two kingdoms to ally with in preparation for the end and the oncoming battle.  Leaving with Vin, he heads to Fadrex City which was formerly Cett’s kingdom, but is now under the control of the obligator Lord Yomen, along with his army of koloss.  Spook, Ham, Breeze and others head for Urteau under the control of the maniacal Quellion.  But Ruin is somehow able to control both Yomen and Quellion, as well as stealing control over the koloss, outweighing the odds against Emperor Venture and his people.

Then there are the mysterious kandra race who are in a crisis of faith, for their sole existence is based upon the Contract which was written by the Lord Ruler, who is no longer: does the Contract therefore no longer apply?  There is the trial of TenSoon who has slain one of their own.  The First Generation of kandra sit silent and undecided, while the later generations are anxious and impatient, unsure whether to adhere to the Contract or rebel.

Finally there is the great Sazed, the scholar who has lost his faith, having researched every religion but one and finding nothing but lies and obfuscation.  It is with this last religion, the religion of his Terris people that is somehow tied to that of the kandra, that he holds on with a sliver of hope, seeking some final answers to the meaning behind the world, its gods, its peoples.

In The Hero of Ages, Sanderson ratchets everything up to its highest point, with the end times approaching and all hope dwindling.  The reader is hooked to the very last page, unsure of what will happen, who will survive, and wondering if this might really be the end of everything?

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on November 28th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Brandon Sanderson check out BookBanter Episode 2.

“The Well of Ascension: Mistborn Book 2” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2007)

Well of Ascensionstarstarstarstar

In the riveting sequel to The Final Empire, Sanderson doesn’t hold back, continuing on from where he left off: the Lord Ruler is gone, but this was just the first mighty battle in the ongoing war.  In The Well of Ascension times are still hard for many, even though the skaa have been freed and Elend is now king of Luthadel and the surrounding territories.  The nobles must now learn to live in a democratic society where they cannot have slaves.  It is a different world for many.

Before the dust even has time to settle, King Elend faces problems from various fronts: there is dissension in his democratically elected cabinet who wish to return to the old ways; then there are three armies marching toward Luthadel.  Before our main characters can decide what to do, they find themselves under siege from two massive fronts.  One is controlled by Lord Straff Venture, Elend’s father who wants his son to hand over his kingdom to him, no questions asked.  Then there is Lord Cett looking to seize control of Luthadel with his own substantial army.  Elend finds himself in a unique position where he can ally with one army and therefore be able to overthrow the other.  The question is who to ally with?

As he contemplates this a third army arrives, of koloss.  These are tall 9-15 feet creatures that vary in size but are terrifying to humans.  Originally created by Lord Ruler for his army, their skin is extremely wrinkled and hangs off them in places like loose clothing while there are great tears in the skin and yet the koloss ignore this.  But their red, blood-rimmed eyes strike terror in all who view them.  They may seem dumb and slow, but in battle they are fierce and destructive, and it’s unknown whether they may lose control at any second and begin rampaging into the city of Luthadel.

Then there is Sazed, a loyal member of the group who is a Terrisman, a special person with the ability to store thoughts, memories, and knowledge in metal that is worn in the form of rings or armbands.  Stored in these armbands are also other abilities such as great strength and speed.  But in Sanderson’s world, it’s all about balance, as the energy stored in each armband is finite, and in some cases can take many years to be stored up, but can be used and extinguished in a matter of minutes.  Sazed is a scholar and knows much is not right with the world.  Somehow the mists that are feared by many for a long time throughout the realm begin killing people and even wiping out whole villages.  There is the Deepness, a mythological force that was supposedly stopped when the Lord Ruler came to power, but is not fully understood and may bring terrible things to pass.  Sazed must also find the correct location for The Well of Ascension, for it is here that the Hero of Ages – who he believes Vin to be – will release the power and save the world.

Then there is the OreSeur, a kandra, an ancient race who are able to absorb the bones of a dead person or animal and take that form and appear almost identical to them.  OreSeur is Lord Straff’s kandra, and is sent to spy on Vin, but it’s also discovered that there’s another kandra somewhere within Luthadel who, with the kandra abilities, could literally be anybody.

Finally there is the supposed Hero of Ages, Vin, who isn’t sure what she is, but knows she is one of the most powerful people in existence, but must use her power wisely and not kill recklessly.  She befriends another allomancer, Zane, who seems very familiar, and she becomes close to him, for they have so much in common, and yet he is the allomancer for Lord Straff and therefore an enemy.

Sanderson continues the complexity of the world, with many moral and sociological questions coming into play, as well as adding new plots and subplots.  While it may seem a little overbearing, he skillfully keeps everything organized and separate and maintains the reader’s interest throughout.  It is a sequel worthy of its name, as The Well of Ascension keeps the pace going from the first book, making the reader hunger for more at the last page.  The trilogy is concluded in The Hero of Ages.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on November 24th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Brandon Sanderson check out BookBanter Episode 2.