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Maikel's Blog

Occasional ramble about books I've read

Ich lese gerade

Die Sieben Töchter Evas
Bryan Sykes
Iron Master
Patrick Tilley
War and Peace
Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude, Leo Tolstoy
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
The Troupe
Robert Jackson Bennett
The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes, #1)
Richard K. Morgan
Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book Of The Fallen #9)
Steven Erikson

The Strike At Shayol Ghul (Wheel of Time, #0.1)

The Strike At Shayol Ghul (Wheel of Time, #0.1) - Robert Jordan A nice piece of history that fits well into the world of The Wheel of Time. As an historical account it is nice but not really necessary. As I love WoT I enjoyed reading this bit but unless you're a fan of the books I suppose it wouldn't interest you nor do you need it to fully comprehend what's happening in the main series.

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) - Brandon Sanderson After reading the first Book of the Mistborn Series, The Well of Ascension progressed a bit too slowly for my liking, especially in the beginning. Generally it's possible to say that in the first third nothing noteworthy happens, the second third then picks up on pace and the third is actually really nice.

The first part focuses mainly on character and relationship development, especially Vin-Elend, Vin-Kandra, Elend-Assembly, Elend-Crew.
While this is not a bad thing itself I felt like reading a coming of age/ young adult novel most of the time, especially when reading from Vin's point of view and often I felt like slapping her and telling her to just grow the f*** up. This part just stretched out for too long, making it considerably boring to read (except for her relationship with the Kandra, which I really enjoyed).

During the second part (yeah action!), I found myself thinking that Vin is just too much of an uber-character. She's not just the super-allomancer in not only one but pretty much every metal, she's also very intelligent oh and looks breathtakingly beautiful in a dress. Yeah well I didn't find it very believable. Her super-strength when it comes to Allomancy also stopped me worrying about her well being after a while. I mean... she'll survive anyway so why worry about it?

The book would have been indeed boring if it weren't for a couple of twists in the storyline that were not predictable, especially the ending. So it's worth fighting your way through folks.

A couple of things I really liked:
- the introduction of the Koloss. I really liked the concept of them literally growing out of their skin. Just showed again that Sanderson is indeed very good at world building!
- background knowledge about the Kandra through the conversations of it with Vin.
- introduction of Tindwyl, don't ask why I just liked her character for some reason
- the end (excluding what happens to Elend)

So all in all it's an okay book with some really nice twists which make it enjoyable to read and an ending that's worth the effort of reading the first bit. Definitely recommendable to those who read the first Mistborn book and liked it. If you found the first one to be rather okay or worse, well I wouldn't bother reading the second one.

Why the ending bothered me:
Alright so I just got over the shock that Vin by doing what seemed to be right actually did the very opposite. Very clever big bad thing hidden in the Well! Yeah and what happens then? Vin just gave up her beloved Elend to do what's right - a really noble gesture. But the whole concept is ruined when suddenly (hurrah) he's an Allomancer too! Great, so after probably all Mistborn of the Central Dominance are dead we have not only Vin, who's already too strong to feel real but also Elend. If Sanderson doesn't come up with something to counter those too, I'm afraid the third book will be a boring read indeed. So far I could at least worry a bit about Elend - although I didn't actually expect any of the really important characters to die - now I don't even have to do that anymore.
Dear Mr. Sanderson: just let some of your main characters die eventually. Life isn't fair and the survival of these characters just steals so much credibility!
Well just my humble opinion
Keine Macht den Doofen!: Eine Streitschrift - Michael Schmidt-Salomon Schmidt-Salomon zeigt einige interessante (und für mich neue) Dinge auf, die momentan auf der Welt falsch laufen. An sich eine gute Idee um andere zum Denken und Diskutieren anzuregen, jedoch wurde das Ganze durch seine Wortwahl ein wenig in's Lächerliche gezogen. Spätestens nachdem jeglichem kritisierten Begriff ein -iotie angehängt wurde, konnte ich das Buch nicht mehr lesen und es sonderlich ernst nehmen noch (nach einer Weile) ohne genervt zu sein.

Daher: einige interessante Dinge aber schrecklicher Schreibstil (wobei das auch an dem Genre Streitschrift liegen kann).
Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson Well I have to say this book was a really pleasant read (not that I'd have expected anything else by Sanderson).
It's a pretty typical fantasy book with a couple of twists that at least I did not see coming which makes it interesting and hard to put down. There are plenty of lovable characters with enough depth to make them believable (though they could have been equipped with a couple more quirks to make them work perfectly for me), leaving us with a book that is hard to put down.
If you liked other Sanderson books you will probably enjoy this one as well. Same is true for readers new to fantasy. Those who are hoping for something on the scale of [b:The Malazan Book of the Fallen|55401|Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316126263s/55401.jpg|3898716], however, will probably be disappointed.

Bear with me this is one of my first attempt of writing a critique, might not be perfectly coherent.

There are many things about this book that make it special and others that are unfortunately quite generic for a fantasy book or just not as well crafted as the rest of the story. I'll start with latter:

- Vin: well here we have the street urchin (fantasy authors just love them, don't they?), who later turns out to have some great amount of power. I don't really like this stereotype of a hero who doesn't only have more power than the normal, boring person but no exceeds every one else (many of them having superpowers already) again. But yeah I can live with that after all we don't want our hero to die (at least not right away). What also bothers me about her is that she changes so quickly. One week she's the girl from the street, hiding in corners, and speaking to no-one and almost in record time she comes to enjoy her fancy dress parties, while at the same time becoming an expert in high politics, fooling people who've been playing this game all their lives. But yeah... she's just special.
Bothering me even a bit more was that the only critical voice within her was that of her brother. For a girl that seems to be really intelligent (in addition to being very powerful), she does rely a bit to heavily on his commentary from beyond the grave but who am I to judge what a decade of being abused does to you. Still I think Sanderson could have found a more elegant way to represent her conscious, old brother whispering in ears seems just a bit too much of the easy way for me.

- Elend: First of all I have to say I love his name (Elend = misery in German), seems to be fitting especially in the beginning when he's being negative all the time. But by the end of the book he turns out to be too bright a noble hearted hero. I don't really buy that you can grow up in a completely corrupted environment without gaining at least some traits. But this is just the first book, who knows what will happen to him later on.

- Introduction of the mist wraith: while the first encounter with them seems a bit forced on the side of the author I liked the idea of them being able to "age" and become more self conscious and even intelligent. That they will be important is pretty straight forward when we first hear of them. After all: why else introduce them? The implementation of kandra worked better for me as it was just dropped into the context and nobody comments on it. Made me wonder what the heck Renoux is!

Moving on to the things I really like (yeah I know my dislike list isn't particularly extensive, I'm easily pleased).

- The magic system! I mean seriously it is very innovative. I've read quite a bit of fantasy and I have to say this is different.

- Mist and ashes: really they are just cool. I don't know why I like the idea (well at least the mist, I wouldn't like ash raining down on you but the concept is pretty cool). It's probably because it makes everything even more mystical. Imagine all the stuff that could be hidden!

- The ashes bring me right to the next point, which is why this world works even though there's nothing in it. I mean besides mist, ash, people and the occasional mist wraith. Well I guess a world that has ash raining down on it every second day can't have a healthy wildlife population. So while in the beginning I felt it was a bit too barren it did make sense when I started using my brain.

- The continuous theme of a power struggle: I like how this is present throughout the book. We seem to have it in the "Hero of the ages" or at least it's that's what one is lead to believe almost the entire book, updating his journal while trying to fulfill all the hopes the people of the world seem to have in him. And in the end he fails and becomes the evil "Lord Ruler" - which of course he doesn't but it seemed plausible. People do bad things when they have too much power. And the same problem seems to be affecting Kelsier:

"You fight for what is just, men! You fight for me."
"No, Ham [...] I lied to my army."

and also other instances but I'm too lazy to write them all down. I have to say I was expecting this book to end with Kelsier as the new Lord Ruler.
Ham also seems to be struggling with the power invested in him as the leader as the army and is very reluctant to let go, when told so by Kelsier. And of course Vin who becomes quite attached to being a noble woman but of course never too much.
Anyway enough rambling - I liked this bit.

- Kelsier's death: okay I really didn't see this coming. The book progressed so nicely along how a typical fairytale with a bit of gore is supposed to be but I was expecting something more... conventional. The more Kelsier's death rattled me. In a good way. Main characters just sometimes have to die and this gave the plot a whole new twist. After all it was Kelsier who had done all the planning so far, it was nice to see the other characters taking some initiative (but not too much) themselves. (Except for when Vin heads into the Lord Ruler's lair. That was just the typical moment when I'd love to shake a character and smack him or her on the head for this foolishness. Luckily all went well in this case... kind of).

Aaand the ending before the epilogue. There's different ways of being slowly introduced to be expecting a second part of a story. Most of the times the villain walks away, badly hurt but you can just tell that he'll survive and our heroes have to fight him again. Not here though. We won! Oh no hang on did we? Or should we trust the last words of the Lord Ruler that "by killing him, we have doomed ourselves?" and what is this abyss (which's name I just forgot - it's late)?!
And who the heck is Bendal and what happened to him after he chased Vin's brother?

A couple of questions that hopefully will be answered in the next book but not so many to be left totally clueless.
The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson It took me a couple of pages to appreciate this book but how appreciated it in the end!
This first book promises a lot for what is to come - I sincerely hope Sanderson will invent some kind of fast-writing device so we don't have to wait for the other books much longer.

About the story itself:
The characters and the world Roshar are very nicely crafted and detailed without getting into too much of detail, keeping the number of main characters low but allowing to render them so much more nicely than Sanderson could otherwise (at least if you compare it with books with an enormous amount of characters such as [b:The Malazan Book of the Fallen|55401|Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316126263s/55401.jpg|3898716]). The world Roshar faintly reminded me of [a:Peter V. Brett|1405152|Peter V. Brett|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1265682778p2/1405152.jpg]'s Daylight War and a bit of [a:Robert Jordan|6252|Robert Jordan|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1175475715p2/6252.jpg]'s [b:The Wheel of Time|228665|The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)|Robert Jordan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337818095s/228665.jpg|2008238] (well latter's influence is quite easily explained after all Sanderson finished writing this series of books) but the further I got reading the more I realized that it's not just a mixture of other books but has an underlying system of it's own right.
There is enough of bad stuff happening to likable characters to make it realistic but luckily Sanderson doesn't kill his characters off as [a:George R.R. Martin|346732|George R.R. Martin|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1351944410p2/346732.jpg] does, as I grew rather attached to many of them.

You don't really know too much about the characters at first and gradually find out more and more about what drives them to do what they do via flashbacks. The same is true for entire Roshar as well. While many seem to know that there is some distant (?) danger only few have more concrete ideas and even those are being developed as the book goes on, granting you more and more knowledge as you go on but never more than the characters have combined. This really made me read on because I was constantly hoping that one of them would make another revelation that might explain some of the confusing ways Roshar worked.

The only critique I might have is that a certain ability sets some characters a bit far above the regular citizen or soldiers making them nearly invincible but who knows what will eventually be thrown against them. The last chapter certainly offers a very promising cliff hanger.

Phew it's rather hard to write a review without spoilers, anyway I'd recommend this book to anyone who has a liking for high fantasy or even to those new to the genre. I spent 10 hours reading until I was too tired to hold my kindle anymore and if that isn't an indicator for a good book I don't know what is!