Finals are upon me. I took one yesterday, and the other three are lurking at the end of the week, waiting for me. On top of that, there’s a ten page paper due on Thursday, but that’s all about Shakespeare, race, and gender–juicy stuff for a literary nerd like yours truly. So, to distract myself from all this, let’s take a look at some fantasy novels that are begging me to read them.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson, fantasy’s newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts action that begins in Mistborn.
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.
Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.
Readers of Elantris thought they’d discovered someone special in Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn proves they were right.
The other day, I stumbled across this wonderful piece of artwork. The artist mentioned, on a different website, that not only were the Mistborn books marvelous, but the female lead was absolutely amazing. I went to go add the first novel, The Final Empire, to my reading list only to find that I’d already put it there a long time ago. Good one, me!
Fyrefly at her eponymous Book Blog absolutely adored it, giving it five stars out of five, although she did note that Sanderson’s supporting characters can be a little less developed than the main cast. Aidan Moher at A Dribble of Ink enjoyed it, but felt the cast could be uneven and a little unbelievable, and that there wasn’t nearly enough tension. Reviews tend to be hit or miss with this one–I’m hoping it’s a hit.
The Final Empire was published on July 25, 2006.
Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
“What is it?” John asked.
The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow.
“It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose.”
An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.
Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.
An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.
I was heartlessly spoiled for the big surprise at the end by io9, so I’m not going to link you innocent things to the article where I ran across it. I can only hope I forget it by the time I read it. Still–a World War I fantasy where all the mystical realms exist? And the surprise I was ruined for is just as enticing.
The fabulous Nymeth from Things Mean a Lot enjoyed it, but didn’t like how one female character was treated towards the end, and felt the language was a bit too old-fashioned for World War I. Chris from Stuff As Dreams are Made On absolutely loved it, though, especially praising Owen’s gorgeous illustrations. Sounds like it’s at least worth a shot!
Here There Be Dragons was released September 26, 2006.