Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Well of Ascension

This is the third of the Brandon Sanderson books of Christmas. It is also the second of an incomplete trilogy , following Mistborn.
I really liked Mistborn, and it could almost stand by itself, but this was was a typical middle book. It ended on a tense note and then you have to wait for a year to get the next one. That is the worst thing about reading an author who is still writing. At least if I get into Jane Austen or someone like that there is no suspense, I know all she has written and don't have to expect more.
I liked Mistborn better than this one. There was a good tight plot and this one, some good things happened, but it wasn't as focused and seemed much more of a segue into the last book. Which of course doesn't come out until October. Though an October release is good in that I can get the hardback for my birthday.
He did do very good in continuing to expand his characters. They get married and it doesn't make them become one dimensional , like happens in other things I've read. Being married completes them, not hampers. It is nice when someone can write without using the same gender stereotypes. It seems that authors are aware of some, but each author picks which ones to avoid (sometimes very obviously) and others still show up. Maybe because they don't realize it is a stereotype, or something.
There were some really good surprises and a tense ending. He is not afraid to kill off major characters either, which I find refreshing. Having a major battle in which no one that you know gets killed has always seemed artificial to me, I guess to him to. I also like that this is a continuation of the parts of the story they don't tell you in regular fantasy. So you defeated the Dark Lord: then what? The political system falls apart, minor minions start battling for their own little chunks of the pie and chaos is everywhere. That seems much more realistic (if that word is appropriate to fantasy) that the "We kill the Dark Lord and everyone lives in freedom and justice forever". What about all the people who were doing just fine under the Dark Lord's rule, there have to be some. They won't be happy, and all the people who loose their homes in the fighting, and the breakdown of services, like food and water, what happens then? It is a lot more complicated than a lot of books account for. Of course, escapist fantasy doesn't deal with those things on purpose, but it is satisfying to read something that does take those issues into account.

The Well of Ascension. Brandon Sanderson. Tor. 2007

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