The Curse of Hype: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson Review

Final Empire

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

***

The annoying thing about going into a book series like this is the standard it’s held up to. I’ve heard people hail Brandon Sanderson as the greatest fantasy author of all time with the Mistborn Series being on par with Lord of the Rings…

It was good, I liked it, but I think I would have liked it more if I’d gone in without any expectations. Right off the bat the book is amazingly involving and engrossing, I mean who isn’t immediately invested in a plot about freeing slaves. But it is a long book, of course, it’s a fantasy epic, but it does make it a quite intimidating read. I’m an incredibly slow reader at the best of times so I had to really push myself to read it.

Also, while I’ve been told again and again this is the best fantasy series some people have read, it’s not that fantastical. It is a low fantasy, a very low fantasy indeed, it’s more about politics and the first half definitely feels like ocean’s 11.

Something I found refreshing was the book wasn’t too heavily invested in the emotional struggles of the characters, not in the way the YA books I usually read commonly are. I know it can be done well, but by God it is done way too often, my poor heart can’t take it. So, this book was a breath of fresh air, focusing more on house politics and devious plans with twists and turns than a ‘heart-breaking’ love triangle. That is not to say there weren’t emotional stakes, it just doesn’t feel like the emotional state of the characters is the most important thing in the world. These characters are definitely more rounded and stable than the people I usually read about which makes them instantly ten times more likeable.

I do have to say I find all the fight scenes really confusing, I have no idea what’s going on, but I think that’s because the magic system loves its rules and I just think if it held back slightly, it would be easier to see what is happening.

 

“How do you ‘accidentally’ kill a noble man in his own mansion?”
“With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest…”

~Just casual murder and fun things like that

 

WORLDBUILDING AND SO MUCH LORE

From page one it opens up the wider world bursting with life, class, politics and mythos, it really keeps you hooked but mostly (we’ll get back to it) it doesn’t bog you down in worldbuilding. It’s given to the reader on a more need to know basis, so while you’re never really confused it is obvious there’s a lot more to this world than you know, which I like, its spread out rather than dumping it on you all at once.

At first I liked the magic system as it felt very straight forward, all the rules were explained and grounded. But as I continued to read, and more rules and philosophies were attached to it, I wished the reader could be left to fill in some of the gaps themselves. It’s too much science for my fantasy tastes.

Now, most of the book is fine when it comes to exposition, except for the ending. I get it had to be done to make the end reveal work, but it just felt like it was page upon page of people explained new information to each other with too little time to actually do it naturally and in the end, it just exhausted me.

 

“You should try not to talk so much, friend. You’ll sound far less stupid that way.”

~I intend to use this in my everyday life

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS

What this book does so amazingly well is its characters. The main characters, Vin and Keliser are easily empathetic without even trying because they let you into their lives immediately and the authors knows their flaws, rather than trying to hide them as if they are perfect people. This means I let a lot slide that normally irritates me.

I usually have a lot of issues against main characters who are without reason are extremely powerful, but with Vin, who ticks this red flag, it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s because Vin is very paranoid and hurt by past experiences, like actually hurt rather than the atheistic hurt most main characters are labelled with. Here. there are actual stakes and consequences if Vin messes up. People, both she and I care about, can and do get hurt.

Again, another cliché I hate, the star-crossed lovers, is done well here. For starters they don’t immediately fall in love with each other, like the other is the most important thing in the world, it’s more that they get along. Plus I like the love interest, Elend is snarky and an active character, rather than just a pretty face.

But no one is pretending the other main character, Keliser, is perfect either. In fact he’s worse, and the characters know it, they even openly discuss it. He is horribly stubborn to hate the nobility, just as much as the nobility hate the skaa and he’s proved wrong, which I loved because I was calling him out the entire book!

The rest of the team is great, they are unique and eccentric making it easy to hear their distinct voices. Spooks is also adorable, I just want to say it, he’s very sweet.

 

“And Vin liked solitude. When you’re alone, no one can betray you”

~Oh my sweet child, you need a hug

THE ENDING I KNEW WAS COMING

Annoyingly I knew where the book was going because, (without giving it away), the thing that should happen in Act 3 started in the beginning of Act 1. It worried me greatly and I called it, I knew what was coming, but once again it didn’t irritate me. It wasn’t because of any betrayal or anything to tear at the heart, it happened because of human error and I prefer to not have to roll my eyes when Evil McEvilson finally betrays them.

Rating: 4 stars

I can’t wait to read the next one!

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Not Going Out

“Hey, I was thinking of going out drinking with the gals. You free?”

She looked to her thick blankets and fluffed up pillow waiting with her woolly pyjamas.

“Afraid not…my sister has just died and I’m still processing it.”

Bed

Art of Small Talk

“Why are you so obsessed with the weather?”

George huffed and fiddled with the newspaper across his lap. Sam had finally agreed to come on holiday. Actually, Sam had agreed for the first time since he had moved in, to go outside.

Sam looked normal. That was all George could say with certainty. He looked like the most generic human out there, and to different people, that could mean different things. He could appear as a kindly old lady or a beret wearing hipster. Sam to George had looked like a red-haired and freckled boy when they first met, sixty years ago. He had kept his red features through their lives, though he had jumped in age and height as George had grown up.

Because Sam wasn’t human. He didn’t really know what Sam was. When Sam had first tried to explain what he was George had assumed that when he said ‘I’m not human’ he had been referring to his homosexuality. That night had involved George hugging him tightly while Sam fumbled through explanations that never went anywhere. After that Sam seemed too embarrassed to try and talk about it again and their lives continued with the knowledge sometimes, Sam ate plastic and random strangers would think they knew him. It was why he preferred to be inside with George, Sam didn’t have to hide in front of him. But the holiday was for George and they, (or maybe just George), weren’t getting any younger.

“People are not obsessed with the weather its just…a conversation starter. You know, everyone knows what the weather is…most of the time.”

Sam slapped George’s thigh.

“Did we ever talk about the weather?”

“No, but we were children, that’s different. Its…small talk.”

“I thought that was whispering.”

“No, no, its what conversation starters are called, asking about the weather or current world events.”

“Ah.” Sam stared across the pool. “LOVELY WEATHER WE’RE HAVING.”

The woman in the deck chair across from them jumped, though George found it surprisingly unsurprising.

“No,” he said quietly, “that’s…not quite right.”

“Why not?”

“Well, you usually ask people who are close by, also you don’t normally ask about the weather…inside.”

“Well what else do you talk about if not the weather. You know I have no idea about the news.”

George sighed and stood up ready to swim.

“Well you usually talk about stuff you have in common. Now,” he kissed Sam’s forehead, “don’t get into trouble.”

He dived in and did about two lengths before there was a loud scream and a splash. A woman was now flailing fully-clothed in the pool. He swam over as fast as he could.

“Are you alright?” he said, hooking his arms under hers.

The spluttering woman gladly accepted his help as he swam her to the edge of the pool. But his heart sunk as he realised Sam was crouched where the woman had fallen in.

‘Pushed,’ he corrected himself, ‘pushed.’

“You and my husband are both soaked in water, how do you feel about that?”

George definitely deserved a spa weekend alone.

Beach

Steam House by Jules Verne: Review

This story is dated a few years after the Indian Mutiny. A party of men travel many miles in a wonderful moving house, drawn by a marvellous steam elephant. Their many adventures, and the doings of Nana Sahib, the fiend of the Mutiny and his final overthrow, are very exciting.’

Introduction

The older the book, the more benefit of the doubt I give it. And for a book published originally in 1880, I give this book a lot of doubt. This is a LONG book, mostly made up of travelling through India without any tension or captivating motive. But…it’s not supposed to be. The author in 1880 wasn’t trying to write a book to fit into the expectation of the modern-day.

But that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. I’m a modern-day kind of gal and I like my plots thrilling and emotional. And for a book written in first person (the closest kind of POV) there is no emotion or thought really throughout the book, much less a plot. Sure, there is a giant mechanical elephant, but it’s only used as shorthand for getting around India. But…that’s what the author set out to do. So, I can’t be angry at the author succeeding in what they wished to do but it doesn’t mean I like it.

Not really a story

If this is meant as a guide to 19th century India, then it is amazing at its job. There’s no real plot, not really, and scenes happen without reason, though it doesn’t feel jarring or unnecessary as it is just what happens in this slice of life. It loves its description and, in a book this big it makes it drag. That is not to say it isn’t gripping, I suddenly want to know about the smallest details of how to build mechanical elephants (I mean who wouldn’t?). It is more of a tour around 19th century India which is interesting, I like reading about India, it’s mountains, it’s animals just not for 700 pages.

Between the four wheels are all the machinery of cylinders, pistons, feed-pump, etc, covered by the body of the boiler.’

~I now know how to build my own elephant

A look back at the history of writing

What’s REALLY interesting about a book like this is the language used for the time. It was written while India was still under British rule and when reading for leisure wasn’t a mainstream or even commonplace occurrence. The language is slightly inaccessible and with huge paragraphs and an old-fashioned terminology, it isn’t a completely easy read by any means. It also refuses to hold your hand when it comes to the history and geography. The writing is slightly overdramatic in the way that Victorian Upper-Class men are often associated with.

Footnote: The translators beg to say that they are not responsible for any of the facts or sentiments contained in this account of the mutiny’

~Disclaimers haven’t changed much in 150 years

It’s the little grammatical and word differences that really excite me, (oh how boring I am):

“Fox! get all the guns, rifles and revolvers in good order!”

“But to-morrow it will be daylight again.”

It’s also really meta, in a way books just can’t be anymore, the author literally starts talking to the reader at several points:

We will leave them [the characters] for a time in their winter-quarters and devote a few pages to some other characters who have appeared in our story.

‘Now for a few words about the fort of Allahabad, which is well worth a visit.’

~Am I on Trip Advisor?

My Lovely but Dangerously Flirty Wife

SniperIt’s grey overhead and up here the wind is strong and howling, making the building move beneath me. The cold has turned my face red and raw. The one thing you learn in this profession is that thick clothes are everything.

Looking through a scope for hours requires a level of comfort. Both the comfort of three million pounds if I just lie fucking still, but also the comfort of padded knees. I’ve been here for four hours going on five, but I’ve waited longer.

It doesn’t take long, all I know about my target is that they are meeting with my client’s wife today. She’s meant to be left unharmed, (hopefully having learnt her lesson). She comes out of the fancy restaurant across the street, wearing a wide brim hat and sunglasses despite the overcast day.

The target has an arm over her shoulders and a smile dripping with poison as the wife laughs at whatever the target has just said. I know its probably funny as I’ve heard enough dry wit from that mouth. It’s my wife.

“Shit,” I mutter. I still look through the scope at them, but my hand is far from the trigger.

Well. This is going to be an interesting conversation with May when I get home.

My window of opportunity closes quickly, though the five seconds for them to cross the road would have been plenty of time to take a shot. When they are almost directly beneath me, I look away from the scope, taking a shaky sigh. I have to get down there to warn her. I begin to dismantle my gun when something catches my eye.

There’s a glint from the roof of the building across. Shit. People just don’t put enough trust in hired assassins these days. It was a two-storey building, hardly worth the sniper rifle they have, but who am I to talk on my three-storey building. They have a clear shot and could be lining up sights as I randomly narrate this to myself. I settle back down, fumbling to reassemble the gun but my fingers shake, and I swear so loudly that it echoes into the leaden clouds. Not enough time. Well fuck, sometimes we have to take risks for love.

I draw my handgun from my belt and shoot down at the roof. The people on the street began to scream and the sniper on the opposite building rolls over, hiding as best he could. But of course, the bullets were coming from above not below. My handgun’s accuracy is shit and it takes the full round to get a hit to down him. It’s no double tap, but he ain’t pulling any triggers with a hand half blown off. He’s screaming and so are the people below. I lean over, May is still there, sheltering her lady-friend beside a van.

I throw the gun away, it’s useless now anyway. Six finger Harry (named before he lost three more fingers) hated working with partners. “When there’s two of you, there’s just enough people to shoot you both dead. Best to go with three.”

Perhaps the client had the same idea.

I looked down the street carefully and then I lean down again to check over the edge. Everyone on the street is either running away or hiding. Except for one man. Speak of the devil: Six Finger Harry is coming to kill my wife.

“Shit,” I say again because I know what I have to do.

I swing my legs over the edge and jump down as Six Finger Harry runs underneath. I land with a crunch. At first, I think it’s my leg as pain shoots through it from the bad landing. But then I realise it’s Six Fingers Harry from the way his spine is bent backwards.

May opens and closes her mouth in shock as I wiggle a finger in her face.

“We’re going to talk about this later.”

I take out my phone and walk away as it rings.

“Hello?”

“The targets down, I’m coming for my money.”

***

I step into the car, my client isn’t even looking at me, instead out the window, a suitcase across his lap.

“Is she dead?”

“My target? He’s about to be.”

My handgun is out and pressed against the client’s head before he realises. In fact, he even jumps a second later. Frankly I am doing the client a favour if his reflexes are that bad.

“Please! No, no, please! I’ll give you anything!”

“You sent me to murder my fiancée. Bad idea.”

“She fucked my wife.”

“So? I’m sure your wife enjoyed it, she’s a lovely woman!”

“You’re insane.”

“Maybe.”

He pulled the trigger and brain matter splattered across the windscreen. I sigh and get back out of the car. I pause and pull the door back open taking the suitcase with me.