I’m going to Kill a Fictional Character! Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson Review

Bands of Mourning

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

***

I feel like I’ve come to an end of an era and have come to realise how terribly anti-climactic it was. An awful sentence to start a review for a book I know I’m going to give 4 stars but finishing this and knowing I have to wait for the next one just feels exasperating. How dare Sanderson not have everything written up already!?

‘“Go,” Marasi said. “Do what you do best, Waxillium Ladrian.”

“Which is what? Break things?”

“Break things,” Marasi said, “with style.”’

 

Let’s talk about Wayne

I will be blunt, I did not like the beginning (I swear I do overall like this book). To talk about the beginning, we need to talk about Wayne. Wayne is Wax’s sidekick…comic sidekick. He has been weirdly harmless for the last two books if slightly on the annoying side. But in Bands of Mourning he actually tries to derail the story. I nearly stopped reading three chapters in because of him!

He’s mad but mad characters require some understandability. You need to empathise with them on some level and I just can’t with Wayne. You have no idea how many times I kept screaming at the book: STOP STEALING THINGS! He’s just mad, MAD! And I’ve had enough of him and just wanted to shake his shoulders for ruining the book.

 

And all the rest of it!

However as the book continued I definitely started to like it more. In this book, unlike the previous, things move forward, rather than backwards. Steris joins our merry band, which I love given she is absolutely my favourite character and I’m glad for all the time we get to spend with her.

‘“What the hell is in this?”

“Other than steel?” Steris asked. “Cod-liver oil.”

He looked at her, gaping.

“Whiskey is bad for you, Lord Waxillium. A wife must look out for her husband’s health.”’

I did, towards the end, genuinely worry it was going to just be a repeat of Hero of Ages and I was ready for a screaming, ranting review but in the end, Sanderson can still surprise me. The last book, Shadow of Self and for good chunk of this book I felt angry and disappointed because I felt like it was just repeating what had come before it. However the ending was smackgobbingly good. I still believe there are too many twists, now more than ever because we’re in a more down-to-earth world, but the ending had me hooked. I’m so irritated I now have to wait like a peasant for the final book: The Lost Metal.

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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!

Learning To Trust A Series Again: Prodigy by Marie Lu Review

Prodigy.png

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them, or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

***

PREVIOUS BETRAYAL OF LEGEND

If you have read my review of Legend, the first book in this series you’ll know I had…less than stellar things to say about it. To say I’d rather roast my left leg while its still attached to my hip than read Legend is an understatement. So, as expected I went into this book wanting to hate it.

But, despite my wariness, it disappeared almost immediately and I fell in love with it.

The plot kicked in straight from the get-go and we finally leave the grey buildings and dark alleys of the first book behind and step into the wider and more colourful world of the Republic and the Colonies. The plot actually surprised me, with dramatic twists and violent turns, which is shocking coming out of Legend, the driest and simplest YA plot template that anyone could follow.

It’s a lot cleverer than I could give it credit. For a 2013 book its message about government-controlled news and media is strange to look at through the eyes of modern day with all the ‘fake news’ that surrounds politics. It would even seem almost preachy if published today.

However, it’s not without its issues: there is no real distinction between Day’s and June’s voices in the chapters, so it’s easy to be confused, especially when they are together. Also, it does not hold your hand in terms of returning characters from Legend, half of which I still, even after reading Prodigy, have no clue who they are.

But damn was it good! It had me on the edge of my seat, face pressed against the page, I was so invested. I can’t wait to read the next one!

“(A)ll it takes is one generation to brainwash a population and convince them that reality doesn’t exist.”

~FAKE NEWS, ABSOLUTELY FAKE NEWS

 

LOVE THE MAIN TWO, THE REST NOT SO MUCH

I came to love our two protagonists so much. I love how head over heels they are for each other, it’s adorable despite the half-assed love triangle we’ll get to later. I hated them in the first book because they just fell in love for no reason and while that still is the case, the gap between the books made it seem less jarring.

I genuinely felt for them when they were in danger, (my heart was ripped out of my ribcage at one point, it was so intense)! But I didn’t feel any attachment to any other character, I don’t care about Day’s little brother nor about Tess.

“We’re in this together, right?” he whispers. “You and me? You want to be here, yeah?” There’s guilt in his questions. “Yes,” I reply. “I chose this.” Day pulls me close enough for our noses to touch. “I love you.”

~You two are so CUTE

 

THE TENSION AND UNPREDICTCALITY

The black and white characters of the first book become greyed in this one. There is a lot more complexity to the majority of them that it makes them feel like real people. And it is not a lie to say I couldn’t see where the book was going.

My initial thought for the first half of the book was that the two main characters would be unable to communicate (even if it was contrived reasoning) and once again find themselves fighting against each other despite apparently being in love. However, I’m glad to say this didn’t happen. While yes, the first half of the book Day and June find their ideals at odds, it feels warranted and I completely understand each characters reasonings.

It was at the point the book took its turn from the predictable, I realised I was enthralled by it. It was no cookie cutter plot that I could guess the outcome of. I had no idea where it was going. And my dream came true: they finally had a sit down and talked about everything. There was actual communication people! Too many books rely on characters just not talking and instead of that, they’ve actual that a discuss, taken the hard route with everyone as the enemy and that is a more interesting story than anything else.

 

DAMN LOVE TRIANGLE

But unfortunately, the book cannot run away from the bloody love triangle. I’m glad there is no ‘will they-won’t they’ plot line, as it’s in too many YA books. But it’s like Day and June are the most beautiful and ethereal people in the whole world. Why does everyone keep falling for them?

And Tess…why?? Seriously I hate love conflicts, because Tess would be making some good points about June if she didn’t appear to be madly in love with Day. Just STOP IT!! Tess is a good character and is just treated as a half-hearted love interest, its disappointing because there was no indication of this in the first book.

 

THE ENDING: SO CLOSE YET SO FAR

Overall, I loved this book…

…And then the ending happened…

Just why? The ending has a sad twist anyway, but they COULDN’T COMMUNICATE. LAST FIVE MINUTES AND THEY COULDN’T TALK. Honestly it was such a let-down and I WON’T STAND FOR IT. I’ll still read the next one because I love these characters and want to see where they go, but just at the last hurdle it had to annoy me.

 

“He is beauty, inside and out.
He is the silver lining in a world of darkness.
He is my light.”

~You deserve better after that, June