Sanderson. Where to start then?

Ryan W. Mueller

Journeyed there and back again
#41
I actually thought The Hero of Ages was on par with The Final Empire. The Well of Ascension was a slight step below them (9/10 instead of 9.5/10). I absolutely loved The Alloy of Law. It's different in tone from the earlier Mistborn books. There's a lot more humor.

If you're fine with YA, Steelheart and The Rithmatist are also great reads. And don't worry. They aren't about cheesy love triangles. They read like Sanderson, just with younger characters.

There's also his comedic middle grade fantasy series: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. I thought it was hilarious, but the sense of humor isn't for everyone.
 

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
#42
Mistborn actually gets worse (or "less good") with each next book, at least for me. I loved The Final Empire and enjoyed the next two as well, but they were definitely on a downward spiral.
I completely agree with you. I thought the first one was very strong (9.5/10) and the second one was still very good. The second book started of very strong and ended at a very high level as well, but in between it wasn't as good as the first one. I liked the politicking, and there still were some of those awesome mistborn fighthing scenes but it also missed "something" in comparison to the first (probably Kelsier ;)). Overall still a very good read (9/10).

The third one however was still good but never reached the level of the first two. Again a good start and I liked the ending a lot as well (very satisfying), but in between it was sometimes a slog to get through. I rated it 8/10
 

ExTended

Journeyed there and back again
#43
I don't remember having problems with the lack of sex in Mistborn when I've read it few years ago. I actually thought it's implied that Vyn and Eland are doing it, behind scenes. She was certainly physically attracted to his half-brother If I remember right, so it was a natural assumption for me that she is or is going to be physical with Eland. Also the theme about nobles using the skaa as sex-slaves... I mean it's not like there isn't sex in the books, but it's just more concealed than with some other authors.

That being said I need to defy you on your sexless argument for the Sanderson`s works. WoT spoilers incomming btw:
I remember that Perryn and Faile did it in The Gathering Storm or The Tower of Midnight.
And later in A Memory of Light Mat and Tuon did it as well.

Over-all I don't mind the inclusion or exclusion of the sex theme in some books, as long as it doesn't break the flow of the story for me. I suppose everyone needs different proportions from different kind of ingredients, in order to feel it true and real.

I've read only Mistbrong and WoT 12-14 from Sanderson, so I may be in for a unpleasant surprise about how his other characters relate to each other, but so far I think he is somewhere in the middle between the two extremes.
 

Annomander Matt

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#44
If I was going to start tackling my first Sanderson novel and be committed to reading them all (no matter what I thought of them), I'd start with Elantris and then Warbreaker. I loved Elantris personally, but thought Warbreaker was just decent (not enough of the characters grabbed me, which is something that doesn't usually happen with Sanderson for me - I usually love his characters). Either way, those novels give insight into the uniqueness of Sanderson magic systems. Mistborn would be next and was a solid 9/10 for me. The first book was amazing, the second had a different feel but was still really good, and the third book had a part that annoyed me (Sayed's depression), but the climax was still one of the most satisfying conclusions I've read. I'd read all the Cosmere novellas after that before taking on the big dog. Stormlight is on another level of world building and I personally haven't seen it's match in that department other than Malazan or WOT (probably not a coincidence those series spanned millions of words). I expect great things from this series.

As for sex in his novels (and in novels in general), a couple thoughts. Firstly, and I don't want this taken the wrong way, but isn't Sanderson from Utah? I don't want to stereotype, but I've always assumed he was Mormon and that has explained his lack of explicit sex to me. Personally, I'm OK with the implied sex in Mistborn (and I definitely think it was implied by Vin and Elend sharing a bed). As others have noted, I've never needed a graphic sex scene to convey two characters' feelings for each other. Sex scenes need to be carefully done IMO to not seem gratuitous.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#45
Since my last post in this thread I actually bothered to re-read Mistborn and then I read the next two books. As I had both of them already, I guess I previously gave up during the 3rd, not during the 2nd as I stated in my last post.

The magic system and world-building are great throughout the series, so the 2nd and 3rd greatly benefit from what the first book set into motion. However, only the first book has an actual narrative arc. The 2nd and 3rd books meander through minor conflicts that are ultimately irrelevant. The only consequential events in the 2nd and 3rd books happen at the very end of each, but very little of what led up to those events was actually necessary.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#47
Well almost every top fantasy novel has an actual plot, but these don't.
Every important event that moved them from the death of Lord Ruler to the death of Ruin and the ascension of Sazed was little more than Sanderson unveiling additional rules and details of the magic system or world to us. World-building and plot are not the same thing.
If it weren't for that, I'm sure I'd find them to be great. The characters and the writing, and of course the world-building, are all very impressive. I thought the ending was very clever. But I'd still prefer that there'd been a plot.

And I'll add that these are the only Sanderson books that I feel this way about. I've read everything else, and I loved it all.
 

Maxal

Drinks Elfbark tea with FitzChivalry
#48
Well almost every top fantasy novel has an actual plot, but these don't.
Every important event that moved them from the death of Lord Ruler to the death of Ruin and the ascension of Sazed was little more than Sanderson unveiling additional rules and details of the magic system or world to us. World-building and plot are not the same thing.
If it weren't for that, I'm sure I'd find them to be great. The characters and the writing, and of course the world-building, are all very impressive. I thought the ending was very clever. But I'd still prefer that there'd been a plot.

And I'll add that these are the only Sanderson books that I feel this way about. I've read everything else, and I loved it all.
I had never considered if Mistborn has a plot or not, it seemed as if it did: destroy the bad guy. I liked the series, but I tend to think it is, on average, slightly over-rated. The magic system is interesting, but the world-building is not extensive, neither is character development. We always browse on the surface without going into any depth, but that may be because we are talking trilogy and not tetra-logy.

Still, it is still a good series: it just lacks the epicness of a Stormlight Archive. I guess I am more an epic fantasy kind of person as I realize I have the same critics to address to most more modest work of fiction.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#49
I had never considered if Mistborn has a plot or not, it seemed as if it did: destroy the bad guy.
That's true for the first book. When the 'bad guy' stops being Lord Ruler and starts being Ruin, very little of what happens in the books matters at all in terms of defeating Ruin. Elrend and Vin spend the 2nd book trying to hold onto the capital, which they give up in the 3rd book anyways. Elrend being emperor makes no difference to stopping Ruin. Neither do the writings on the metal slabs that Lord Ruler left hidden. Similarly, looking for the Atium didn't matter at all. It only almost mattered because Lord Ruler had been stockpiling it rather than using it all, despite knowing how dangerous a stockpile of it is. The only things that mattered: 1) Vin pulls out her earring, enabling her to confront Ruin, and 2) Sazed realizes that he is the Hero of Ages.
 

Ryan W. Mueller

Journeyed there and back again
#50
I think Sanderson avoids sex scenes for the same reason I avoid them in my writing. I simply don't feel I could write them well enough. That's part of being a writer. You have to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, you should work on your weaknesses, but if you don't feel they're good enough to include in the book, you shouldn't include them. You should find a way around them.
 

Griffin

Journeyed there and back again
#51
Sanderson posted an interesting exposé on his Mistborn work here.

For those to lazy to click the link:
Shadows of Self is out today in hardcover in the UK, and I’m touring the UK this week and next. I talked in a previous postabout the book release, and will point you toward that one if you’ve not read much of the Mistborn series. (Or if you’re not interested in the writing side of why I make the decisions I do.)

However, for those who want to dig deeper into what’s going on here, I wanted to talk about the Mistborn series as a whole. As I was developing the Cosmere, I knew I wanted a few threads to span the entire mega-sequence, which was going to cover thousands of years. For this reason, I built into the outline a couple of “core” series.

One of these is the Stormlight Archive, where we have the Heralds who span ages, and which I eventually decided to break into two distinct arcs. Other series touch on the idea of long-standing characters. Dragonsteel, for example, will be kind of a bookend series. We’ll get novels on Hoid’s origins, then jump all the way to the end and get novels from his viewpoint late in the entire Cosmere sequence.

With Mistborn, I wanted to do something different. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a fantasy world that changed, that grew updated and modernized. One of my personal mandates as a lover of the epic fantasy genre is to try to take what has been done before and push the stories in directions I think the genre hasn’t looked at often enough.

I pitched Mistorn as a series of trilogies, which many of you probably already know. Each series was to cover a different era in the world (Scadrial), and each was to be about different characters—starting with an epic fantasy trilogy, expanding eventually into a space opera science fiction series. The magic would be the common thread here, rather than specific characters.

There was a greater purpose to this, more than just wanting a fantasy world that modernized. The point was to actually show the passage of time in the universe, and to make you, the reader, feel the weight of that passage.

Some of the Cosmere characters, like Hoid, are functionally immortal—in that, at least, they don’t age and are rather difficult to kill. I felt that when readers approached a grand epic where none of the characters changed, the experience would be lacking something. I could tell you things were changing, but if there were always the same characters, it wouldn’t feel like the universe was aging.

I think you get this problem already in some big epic series. (More on that below.) Here, I wanted the Cosmere to evoke a sense of moving through eras. There will be some continuing threads. (A few characters from Mistborn will be weaved through the entire thing.) However, to make this all work, I decided I needed to do something daring—I needed to reboot the Mistborn world periodically with new characters and new settings.

As a warning to writers out there, this is usually considered a publishing faux pas. Readers like continuing characters, and creating breaks as I have done (and will continue to do) often undermines sales. Readers naturally feel a momentum in finishing a series, and if you give them a break point—with everything wrapped up—the push to get out the door and read the next book isn’t there.

However, while that’s the rule of thumb in publishing, I worry it has led to poor artistic decisions in some series. When series get very long, a weird thing seems to happen in reader brains. While they want to read about their familiar characters, they’ve sometimes started to feel annoyed by them—and are really just reading to find out what happens to them in the end.

While we love continuing characters, we also seem to get fatigued with them. (Unless the author does some clever things, like how Jim Butcher has handled Dresden.)

The Mistborn reboots are one method I’m using to combat this. Reader reactions, through both reviews and sales of my first reboot, have so far been positive—but I know my publisher is very concerned about this strategy.

I’m confident nonetheless that it is best for the long-term health of Mistborn.

So how does Shadows of Self fit into this entire framework? Well, The Alloy of Law was (kind of) an accident. It wasn’t planned to be part of the original sequence of Mistborn sub-series, but it’s also an excellent example of why you shouldn’t feel too married to an outline.

As I was working on Stormlight, I realized that it was going to be a long time (perhaps ten years) between The Hero of Ages and my ability to get back to the Mistborn world to do the first of the “second” series. I sat down to write a short story as a means of offering a stop-gap, but was disappointed with it.

That’s when I took a step back and asked myself how I really wanted to approach all of this. What I decided upon was that I wanted a new Mistborn series that acted as a counterpoint to Stormlight. Something for Mistborn fans that pulled out some of the core concepts of the series (Allomantic action, heist stories) and mashed them with another genre—as opposed to epic fantasy—to produce something that would be faster-paced than Stormlight, and also tighter in focus.

That way, I could alternate big epics and tight, action character stories. I could keep Mistborn alive in people’s minds while I labored on Stormlight.

The Alloy of Law was the result, an experiment in a second-era Mistborn series between the first two planned trilogies. The first book wasn’t truly accidental, then, nor did it come from a short story. (I’ve seen both reported, and have tacitly perpetuated the idea, as it’s easier than explaining the entire process.) I chose early 20th century because it’s a time period I find fascinating, and was intrigued by the idea of the little-city lawman pulled into big-city politics.

Alloy wasn’t an accident, but it was an experiment. I wasn’t certain how readers would respond to not only a soft reboot like this, but also one that changed tone (from epic to focused). Was it too much?

The results have been fantastic, I’m happy to report. The Alloy of Law is consistently the bestselling book in my backlists, barring the original trilogy or Stormlight books. Fan reaction in person was enthusiastic.

So I sat down and plotted a proper trilogy with Wax and Wayne. That trilogy starts withShadows of Self. It connects to The Alloy of Law directly, but is more intentional in where it is taking the characters, pointed toward a three-book arc. (The Bands of Mourning, the second of the arc, comes out in January. The final book of the arc hasn’t been written yet; I’ll dig into that after Stormlight 3 is done.)

You can see why this is sometimes hard to explain. What is Shadows of Self? It’s the start of a trilogy within a series that comes after a one-off with the same characters that was in turn a sequel to an original trilogy with different characters.

But I promise that it is awesome.

Hopefully this digging into my own writing psychology has been useful (or at least interesting) for you readers and writers out there. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Shadows of Self!
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#52
So. Possible rant incoming, we'll see how quickly and he bile evaporates. Plus probable spoilers.

First, a declaration. I hold no malice to Mr s for not making the interview we had planned. His schedule is gruelling and he looked quite tired. I say that in case anyone suspects sour grapes.

Okay. Primal scream therapy. ArrrrggGggGghhhhhhGghhhhGgghhh.

What in the name of fuck happened? I was enjoying the most born series, the first book at least. It was a heist adventure, complex magic system. Then I start reading the second one with a smile. Gradually the muttering started.
"That makes no sense...". " hold on, you just said..."
Major issue 1: vin. She's supposed to have been overcome the worst of her trust issues and is enjoying empowerment. Then she's suddenly this weapon. At least half her training was about being something Other than a weapon. But she's obsessed with killing now. Do what?
And she's paranoid, oh dear holy Mormon God do we hear about the paranoia. She's so paranoid in fact that she readily goes against every street learnt instinct and trusts the most obviously evil bastard she can find. IT MAKES NO SENSE! Her motivations are contradictory and seem to be painted on to her to further the plot, such as it is. Aside from this total breakdown of established character she also gets right on my perky nipples because of...

gripe 2: The sodding introspection. Pages of it. Do I love him? Am I king? Am I weapon? Am I dancer? They're all at it. Having painted his characters with dodgy motivations the B man decides to pad them out a bit with some angst. Like a kid with crazy glue who just doesn't know when to stop he keeps slapping it on. Am I a keeper? Am I a teacher? Am I rebel? Am I a philosopher? Am I a fighter? Am I an annoying whiney unbelievable self obbssessed parody of a human being (or kolos)?
Seriously, I haven't waded through that much semi intellectual waffle since I forced my self to read the Twilight series in the name of social awareness. It didn't just bore me, it turned me against every character that I had previously enjoyed and completely banjaxed my involvement and in the plot. A plot which was so much weaker than book one because of...

Gripe 3: Brandon's decision that he wanted to be taken more seriously as an author. I can only guess that was the reason for getting all political and internal in this one. He was writing good pop fantasy, but this - this was like some sort of acoustic solo album from avboy band heartthrob who has bought into his entourage's hype and wants to show his worth as a serious song writer. In other words, it was misjudged and slightly painful to experience. He should have stuck to what he was doing, which includes...

gripe 4: the famous magic system. How can a coin push someone when it's cutting into them as its in flesh which would stop the.. Oh ffs I can't even be bothered any more. Guess we know how long he bile takes to turn to mist.

This is the first book I've found from being on bfb that I'm going to give up on.

Where to start with Brandon Sanderson? Don't bother I'd say....

Thoroughly disappointed.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#53
Have you read the rest of his books? You shouldn't judge an author solely based on his weakest work.
 
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ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#54
I also thought Mistborn was uneven - I absolutely loved the first book but not so much the second - as you put it, way too much introspection. Some people here have taken a dislike to Sazed but personally, I wanted to chop off Elend's head with a Katana. He just annoyed the hell out of me.

If it helps, I thought the third book was better than the second and that the trilogy on the whole was enjoyable, but I agree that the first book was the best of them.

this was like some sort of acoustic solo album from avboy band heartthrob who has bought into his entourage's hype and wants to show his worth as a serious song writer.
Without commenting on Sanderson himself, love that metaphor. :)
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#55
You shouldn't judge an author solely based on his weakest work.
Absolutely. But this wasn't supposed to be his weakest. The invective is spent so I feel no need to really offer more reasons why I'm going to give up on it. Suffice to say it just isn't flipping my switch. I would be very wary about returning to any author who had evoked a similar reaction from me, never say never and all that, but for now: Naaahhhhhhh. I'm going to go read something else.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#56
I also felt the second book was a train wreck, and the 3rd was bad as well, if not entirely to the same extent. I couldn't finish them the first time I tried, and it took me a few years to summon up the strength to force myself through them. They reminded me of the middle books of WoT; there's this beautifully built world, but nothing important happens with the plot and the characters spend hundreds of pages stuck over whiny emotional conflicts that I really didn't care about. Vin : trust :: Rand : strength :: Sazed : religion :: Elend : so forgettable that I forgot what.

It's strange, though, because I enjoyed everything else he's written. Warbreaker, Elantris, Reckoners, Stormlight, etc. are all worth reading. I certainly would not read another book about Elend or Vin, but I'll probably even try Shadows of Self. Since it's set distantly in the future, all of the stuff I couldn't stand should be gone.
 
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Ryan W. Mueller

Journeyed there and back again
#57
Hmm, I didn't have any major issues with the second Mistborn book. I thought it was the weakest of the trilogy, but that made it a 9/10 instead of a 9.5/10. A quick look at its average score on Goodreads indicates that it is the weakest book, but it's also got a 4.33 average rating, which means most readers have really enjoyed it.
 

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
#58
I loved the whole trilogy but thought that each book became weaker as the serie progressed (with each book still being very good). I preferred the second over the third because the contemplation was less than in the third book. It did have some slow moments but it still had some very good fighting scenes with Mistborn/Mistings, more than the third had. I also really liked the ending of the second:

I really loved the whole battle scene in Luthadel. I was about to give the book a 4 star rating but lifted it to 5 because of this and everything what happened afterwards

I thought there wasn't happening that much in the third as in the previous two, and Sazed started to become very annoying as the story progressed
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#59
I loved the whole trilogy but thought that each book became weaker as the serie progressed (with each book still being very good). I preferred the second over the third because the contemplation was less than in the third book. It did have some slow moments but it still had some very good fighting scenes with Mistborn/Mistings, more than the third had. I also really liked the ending of the second:

I really loved the whole battle scene in Luthadel. I was about to give the book a 4 star rating but lifted it to 5 because of this and everything what happened afterwards

I thought there wasn't happening that much in the third as in the previous two, and Sazed started to become very annoying as the story progressed
I agree with you. Sazed was really irritating in the third book. I enjoyed the series as a whole, bit the introspection annoyed me at times.