Sunday, October 27, 2019

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson


In my opinion, Brandon Sanderson is one of the best fantasy world-builders out there today. The magic system here is unique (as in seeming all Sanderson's oeuvre): everyone has a "BioChromatic Breath," a single bit of magic capability, and that Breath can be given to others. If one accumulates enough Breath various powers are granted, from perfect pitch to agelessness to animating normally inanimate objects (such as rope and cloth). Magic also requires color; the more difficult and powerful the spell the more color is drained from nearby objects—prisoners with enough Breath are kept in dull grey cells preventing any sorcery.

Coupled with this fascinating wizarding system is a story of pending war between neighboring lands and intrigue galore. Sanderson does an excellent job of hiding the twists in plain sight and disguising who the heroes and villains actually are. Throw in assassins, gods that live amongst the people, a talking sword, and a healthy dose of humor and you have Warbreaker, the nearly perfect fantasy novel.

First Sentence:
There were great advantages to being unimportant.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Darwin Elevator, by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle, #1)

Not quite 300 years in the future, Earth is visited by a mysterious alien ship that doesn't make contact or communicate, but builds an advanced space elevator over Darwin, Australia and then goes quiet. Eleven years later a worldwide pandemic strikes that either kills humans outright or transforms them into a violent feral state, save for a 4km radius right around the alien elevator. Almost five years after that, the elevator begins to fail...

I was skeptical when starting this novel; despite the fantastic premise it seemed like the characters were going to be shallow and clearly divided into "good" and "evil." While that is more true than it isn't, I found myself liking the leads quite a bit. Hough has a tendency to kill off these people as well, which coupled with the brisk pace of the plot creates quite a bit of suspense. The ending promises a bit of status quo to stretch until the next book in the series, but the whereabouts of several figures are left murky. Fun book, and I am looking forward to the next installment!

First Sentence:
Blood streamed down the inside of the tiny vial and pooled at the bottom.

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