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.

Advertisements

Trundle, Trundle: Shadow of Self by Brandon Sanderson Review

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

***

Shadow of Self

I must start by saying this review will be quite short. Is it because I’m lazy?…Probably, it’s been a busy week! But I also don’t feel like much can be said about Shadow of Self. I do believe that Law of Alloy, the previous book in the series, is one of my favourite books and definitely the best of the Mistborn series. So this book did have a lot to live up to.

‘“You need to stay where I know you’re safe. No arguments. I’m sorry.”

“Wayne,” Wax said, walking past. “Stop talking to your hat and get over here.”

But instead it appears Brandon Sanderson has also realised what works and has stuck with it. This will be short because there’s nothing new to say here. This book is a lot slower than the ones previously. Not that I don’t mind, this world is a comfortable one to settle into for me and just enjoy the view trundle by. But that is only because of the goodwill I feel to the four books prior, this wouldn’t be a good book to dive into as a new reader.

Also we are once again returning to the world of fantasy and moving away from the western crime world of Law of Alloy. I did enjoy the first three Mistborn books and their grand fantasy epic, but I just loved what Law of Alloy did with the world. There are A LOT of call backs to the first three books. Characters come back into the picture and events look very similar to those set 300 years ago. It feels like a repeat of things that I like but a repeat none the less.

Wax felt a sweeping wave of relief. He hadn’t lost his quarry – he’d simply been led into a trap!

Wait.

Of course there are other things to talk about, the ending made my heart break and the characters are loveable (Steris is now my baby and NO ONE CAN HURT HER). But without anything new in terms of plot, I feel no drive to talk about such things because I say it with every review. Sanderson is good at what he does and I may have already read his best.

We’ll have to see.

 

Everything is DIFFERENT Now! Law of Alloy by Brandon Sanderson Review

Law of Alloy

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

***

Introduction

I was vaguely aware when starting this series that at some point it would skip ahead 300 years. Still it’s hard to start a book without Vin. In fact it’s hard to start it at all knowing everyone I’ve grown horribly attached to is dead. It feels dodgy that this is considered a sequel at all to Hero of Ages, it is set within the same universe, but is in no way the same story. But it is the same writing, with the same down to earth, very dry humour and it definitely shows more in this book given the world isn’t ending anymore.

 

‘She sniffed. “I had some modest help from you.”

“It might be said that I had modest help from myself, technically.”

“The voices whispering to you as result of sleep deprivation do not count, my lord.”’

 

The Setting Changes

I’ve never read a Western but as a film genre it’s one I like. There’s something comforting about following a man on a horse who drinks whiskey like water and will eventually ride off into the sunset…BOY was I wrong. More on the western front than the sunset one. It reals back the pain factor that I’ve enjoyed in the other books but given how God damn funny this book was, I’ll let it pass.  And although it does start out as a western, this is more a steam punk mystery than a fantasy epic or western. I think Brandon Sanderson writes a lot better in a more realistic genre. I certainly understand what’s going on a lot more in his action scenes.

 

‘Wax cocked his gun softly, then drew a little vial out of his mist-coat and pulled the cork with his teeth. He downed the whiskey and steel in one shot restoring his reserves.’

 

The Character Changes

Wax is funny but also really traumatised, (my favourite kind of main character). I like him because I understand his dilemma, he wants to be one man but knows he must be another. He’s also in essence lost his ability to fight as he can’t face another battle, it’s something he really struggles with and you can sense that conflict all throughout the book.

Marasi also isn’t Vin. They couldn’t be further apart: Marasi is a timid uni student and Vin is a decomposing body right now. There is an easy path to find what works and just keep hammering at that. It would have been easy for this book to be just Final Empire but set in the future. Instead it’s a completely different story. Marking them against one another would be cheating given how different they are but Alloy of Law is a great book on its own merit.

 

‘“Why do they call it research if I’ve only done it this one time?”

“Because I’ll bet you had to look things up twice.”’

 

The Medium Changes

I want to talk about something not story related but book related. This is the first physical book I’ve read in a long time. If you follow me on Instagram (follow me on Instagram) you’ll know I mostly read on a Kindle. But it’s an absolute joy to hold a book in my hands and I stormed through this as it’s a joy to turn and fold real pages. Now I’m stuck between reading as I wish and pleasing my in-laws by using the kindle they bought me.

 

Pain is all I know at this point: Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson Review

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world

***

hero of ages

I must confess at the time of writing this review I have yet to finish Hero of Ages though I do very much intend to, I feel so comfortable in this series, it’s like slipping into a warm bath at this point, even if it is a warm bath of PAIN, but my schedule doesn’t care about any of that. I will assume that there is a twist coming up that will no doubt make everything even worse for our characters, more so than it already is. Because these books are definitely an exercise in trying to make people go through the worse possible situations, trying to get them to crack. However the reading experience of each book has just kept getting better: Final Empire was great, Well of Ascension was brilliant, Hero of Ages was amazing, (maybe I’m just a sadist).

It’s strange that I’m always surprised by how much the books keep expanding, like new cities with new politics, the kandras, the koloss, everything has a deep lore that we have barely scratched the surface of. This book broke my heart, if you have read any of my previous reviews of this series you may be able to guess why. A part of me really wants to give this book a one star review because of this. However I feel I must give this book a five star review for being so good at breaking my heart.

OH THE PAIN OF IT ALL

I’m going to start sounding like a wind up doll: once again this book just does terrible things to these beloved characters. There is an overwhelming sense of doom from the prologue to the end and its unnerving to start a book that practically screams that it won’t end happily. And I do love these characters at this point and I will be very sad when this is all said and done. I enjoy how easily empathic all the characters are, of course I don’t agree with all of them (and some of them just need to pull it TOGETHER) but Sanderson makes them all very human, which makes it easier, maybe not to agree with them but at least understand them. They all need a ruddy hug and instead they are just punch further into the ground, with everything they have ever worked on being warped and twisted by an invincible villain. All the characters have matured and sobered, just like the description of the land around them – bleak and dying.

Of course at this point it isn’t unexpected there is going to be a twist or two, though usually I’m hard pressed to figure it out, (I still have no idea how this will end). But I did work out a couple of things in this book, long before I think I was supposed to. there’s a certain fun in having the rug being pulled from under your feet with a twist, knowing the rug is going to be pulled is just childish and annoying. But I may have just guessed by chance because I found myself paranoid of EVERYONE in this book, when the enemy can subtly nudge your emotions and thoughts, how can you even trust yourself? There are (however brief) moments of levity in the book, allowing the reader a chance to breathe, and believe me they are necessary.

MY PROBLEMS WITH VILLAINS (VERUS ANTAGONISTS)

I don’t like the term villain. Most ‘villains’ are antagonists. They are not forces of pure evil and the epitome of horror. And those that are, are usually terribly unrealistic because it’s impossible to be someone who is pure evil. Evil is a force rather than a personality trait. Which is why Ruin is so horrifying. It’s just gruesome and powerful and without mercy, of course how do you find mercy in a force? And when that force of pure evil is put in a human form, that’s when you get a great villain.

Just Pain in a Book: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson Review

well of ascension

Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

***

When I review books, I like to make notes as I go so I don’t forget anything that comes to mind. One of my early notes was a simple prediction: ‘this isn’t going to end well.’ And quite frankly that summarises my entire feelings towards Well of Ascension. That is not to say it wasn’t a brilliant reading, in some ways much better than the first book. Actually one of the problems I had with this book is the fact I didn’t get to write many notes because I was so busy just being glued to my kindle, telling myself, one more chapter, one more chapter.

From page one, we are back to the races, set a year after Keliser’s and the Lord Ruler’s deaths with Elend as King. And for a while I was worried this sequel was going to be a straight forward fantasy, (not that I would have really minded), but it becomes clear that Well of Ascension doesn’t forget its roots and we get back to the cunning politics and devious people. Because really that is what Final Empire was about, it had fantasy elements but it was about politics and rebellions with magic just happening to also exist. Which is what this book is too, it may well include the end of days but its really about how the Kingdom will survive.

While W of A carries over the same elements of Final Empire, it is not the same book and definitely feels like a continuation rather than a repeat. There are new character interactions that obviously, given the society in Final Empire, could never have interacted and it’s great to see these people bounce off each other in a way we’ve never seen before.

But the best thing about this book is definitely the fact I had no idea where it was headed. Usually I have a vague idea about how a book will end and where the characters are going, (I did with Final Empire), but honestly, all of my predictions were horribly wrong. In a good way though, I probably don’t read enough outside the YA genre to have read enough books with an unhappy ending. But to me it felt bold, how many bad things just keep battering our main characters down. And then when you think it’s all going swell-OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT MORE BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

‘Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.’

~Ah the story of my life

The Good

Like I said, the book feels like a continuation and the characters feel the same, Vin especially. She is still very insecure after her life on the streets but she’s maturing and learning still, which is great (mostly) to read about. She, along with the rest of the crew are bitter for Kel’s death, still feeling its effects a year on and even though he is dead, what he did is never forgotten both the good and bad, given he’s left this horrible mess for them to fix. Yeah the Lord Ruler was evil but there was infrastructure and patrols to police bandits and now all of that is gone and it’s Kel’s fault.

The chapters are shorter which I’m grateful for, I prefer being able to have the option to read in smaller chunks.

The villains are perfect, we have quite a few and we’ll talk about Zane later but both Lord Cett and Straff are excellent in different ways. Straff is just a dick and unforgivably evil, it makes him easy to hate and I like that, I’ve read about too many complicated villains with a soul, it’s refreshing to see a straight forward bad guy. Cett definitely takes a more active antagonist role and is actually really fun to hear talk, he’s very blunt and doesn’t have any illusions about himself. I wish we had more time with the council Elend sets up, there are clearly enemies and internal battles going on there that we don’t get to see, but what we do see I like.

Anything else…oh yes, Spook continues to be the best character ever.

‘”I killed their God,” Vin said quietly […]

“I helped too,” Spook said, “I even got my nickname from Kelsier himself! But nobody cares about poor little Spook.”’

~Never change Spook, never change

The Bad

Once again, I had no idea what the hell was going on in any of the fight scenes. And given this book is like two thirds fighting and death, it becomes tiring and I end up glazing over swaths of chapters.

But that really doesn’t matter compared to ZANE. Let me take you on my journey with Zane. Almost immediately I had the niggling sensation of a love triangle between him, Vin and Elend. And I thought Vin would be better than that…BOY WAS I WRONG. I just couldn’t work out why Vin liked Zane AT ALL, he clearly is evil. And yet I had to sit through Vin pining between Zane and Elend, while Elend just sat there telling her he supported her no matter what…you’re a bitch Vin. Seriously, Elend, THE PERFECT MAN, is right there and Vin seems unable to communicate any of her thoughts to him in a way that makes Vin seem so stupid despite how wary and clever she is in the rest of the book. Also, without spoiling anything, the twist with Zane is just jarring and clearly done for shock value. But in the end all of this is for the good, Vin and Elend come out of it stronger than ever before, and after thinking about it, I enjoyed the turmoil Vin went through for the outcome.

‘He found insanity no excuse, however, for irrational behavior.’

~Tell that to Vin, Zane

And the Ugly

So as I started in this review, this book isn’t one I’d describe as happy and the pain I went through for these characters is both horrifying and amazing. I love watching characters not succeed, or rather I prefer my books with high conflict and stakes. This isn’t the kind of book where the characters can avoid every shot thrown at them. But still the amount of characters who die or are severely changed by what happens shocks me. Literally ‘had to put down the book and walk away’ shocked. But everyone who dies, dies for a reason, no one is made just to be killed like so many often are. Even those who live on with the terrible consequences, it’s all for the sake of character development, even if it kills me a little inside.

(At least Spook doesn’t die, that’s all that matters).

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!