As a friend (hi, Amy!) so astutely observed Wednesday, I have not blogged at all this month. I may or may not have a valid excuse. On June 20, Jordan left for Canada for a reverse-engineering conference. I was originally supposed to go with him, but funny things happened with employer budgets and plans, and I ended up staying home while he went. To keep myself occupied, I started reading a book that I’d borrowed from Nick and Bre and found myself instantly hooked. Jordan was gone until the 24th, and I spent nearly all of my free time devouring the book’s 650 pages. I think I finished it before Jordan returned.
The problem with this book is that it’s only the first of a trilogy that was obviously designed to be one continuous story. And since my dear friends have all three books, I informed Bre that I needed them to bring the other two when they came for our Fourth of July cookout.
Jordan’s parents also came to our cookout, staying for the weekend. So Jordan’s mom and I spent some quality mother-in-law/daughter-in-law time together in the living room, reading, while Jordan and his dad put up new drywall in what will eventually be our study. I tell myself we were being productive too, because rest is necessary, right?
I finally finished the third book yesterday, and I think it’s a testament to the author’s power as a writer that I read all 2100+ pages in under a month. Or maybe I was just desperate for something to read. In any case, I highly recommend them.
I don’t want to spoil the books for anyone who wants to read them, so I’ll keep my summary to a minimum. Mistborn is the first of a fantasy trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, continuing in The Well of Ascension, and concluding with The Hero of the Ages. The novels are set in a place called The Final Empire, where the sky and sun are red and ash falls more commonly than rain. The Lord Ruler, emperor and god-incarnate, became god and king when he defeated a mysterious evil known only as “The Deepness.” The universe’s system of magic, Allomancy, allows those who are born with its abilities (and have subsequently “Snapped” into the ability to utilize their power) to swallow and then “burn” within themselves specific metals to access the metals’ magical properties. This power supposedly belongs only to the nobility and not to the lesser skaa peasants.
Considering Sanderson is a practicing Mormon, it is not surprising that religion factors heavily into the novels. I read the author’s bio before starting the book, saw he taught creative writing at Brigham Young University, and spent the entire time reading the novels trying to guess if his religious beliefs aligned with those of the university. (According to his website, they do.) His approach to religion I found rather unexpected for a Mormon, however–there is a definite duality to the god(s) of his universe, which was created by the opposing forces Ruin and Preservation. Men become gods, and gods become weak and die. All religions contribute to humanity’s understanding of truth.
Although the religious aspects were rather puzzling at times, from a pure storytelling perspective, I was hooked. The truth is, fantasy is probably my favorite genre, but beyond my personal proclivity, Sanderson is an exceptional writer. His descriptions are vivid without being excessive, his characters are alive and developing, and his approach to storytelling tells you just enough to leave you wanting more but not enough that you can ever be quite sure what’s going to happen next. The endings to both The Well of Ascension and The Hero of the Ages caught me completely by surprise, although I felt like Sanderson gave away more throughout the final book than he did in the first two.
After I finished the books, I discovered Sanderson has extensive chapter-by-chapter annotations to each book available on his website. I think I just might have to read through a second time with annotations in hand!
How about you–what do you like to read (if you’re a reader)? Have you read any of Sanderson’s novels? If you have or end up doing so, I’d love to know what you think!