As I’ve mentioned, I felt the need to re-read the Wheel of Time. I’ve also mentioned that Perrin is my favorite character.
Today, I thought I’d share with you the moment that happened. It’s not a big moment. It’s not anything that happens in Book 4, where Perrin truly shines. Instead, it’s this silly little quote tucked in the middle of Chapter 31 of The Great Hunt.
This was before people knew the big secret Rand had (I try to avoid spoilers when I can). Perrin and Mat knew, as did Verin. Verin was making a pointed comment at Rand.
“Perrin realized he was staring too, ‘Well, he did not fly,’ he said. ‘I don’t see any wings. Maybe he has more important things to tell us.'”
You see, this was a great divide for me. I actually hated Mat all the way through perhaps Book 5 or even a bit later. Mat was a fool, and he was hurtful to Rand when he needed a friend most. Perrin was clearly stricken, but there he was in this moment when everyone was making someone who was keeping the biggest, worst secret anyone could ever keep, and Perrin chose to be a faithful friend.
That was it. There were other cool things, and he has much bigger and more wonderful moments, but that little part right there was the part that made me look at him and see what a true friend is like.
I know it’s a bit silly, but I have my reasons.
I got picked on a lot as a kid. I probably deserved it if I’m being honest (well, no child deserves to be picked on, but if any child did, it would have been me). I can remember just wanting someone to stand up for me. I just wanted to be seen and feel valued. That moment even after all these years, resonates with me strongly in how much it means to stand up for someone.
What about you? What was the moment your favorite Wheel of Time character became your favorite.
Spoiler free summary: In Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson, Spensa is trapped in the Nowhere, which, as it turns out, is somewhere. It’s a strange place composed of various fragments from various planets. Spensa must travel a path that will help her unlock her powers, but each step forward brings her closer to the Delvers she’s trying to defeat.
Character: Spensa and M-Bot have always been a cute duo. This book takes their relationship with readers to a new level. There is one particular scene in this book that down-right forced a tear (just one mind you) from my eye. It’s one of those horrific moments where you realize what’s about to happen, but you’re helpless to do anything about it. We meet other characters who are equally charming. These characters are why the series is so strong, but it’s not what make the book special.
Exposition: For a third book in a series, this book doesn’t have the inordinate amount of exposition one would expect. Given how much I read in that universe before this book came out (see my previous reviews on Sunreach and ReDawn), I think I just kind of mentally skimmed over it. Given the worldbuilding, there is a lot of dialogue-based exposition, but it’s spaced out in a manner that keeps the pace moving.
Worldbuilding: This is what sets this book above others. This book reveals not just a more expansive universe, but also a historical aspect that’s really intriguing. For me, just this worldbuilding wouldn’t have been enough. To be blunt, the plot line is essentially a travelogue through the history of this universe. So while interesting, it’s not compelling to me. However, this connected with compelling characters (and a few other bits of mystery) really flesh out what would otherwise have been a flat (if still enjoyable) read.
Dialogue: Sanderson reminds me of Koontz in how his dialogue can seem witty and fun. It’s a style I try to emulate. This only happens when the characters are well established. Spensa’s relationship with M-Bot remind me a lot of Buffy’s relationship with Xander. I’m not really sure why, but it does. There’s a element of innocence mixed with admiration (though not romantic in this case) that I find lovely. The playfulness is charming, too. That tear moment I mentioned above, that was in dialogue. It all came together well. Yes, the inevitable “teacher” shows up, and that individual has to give all the expositional data on how the Nowhere works, but it’s still presented in a charming fashion.
Description: While I was happy with the description in the story, I think, perhaps, hard scifi fans might be disappointed. It’s a balance I don’t worry over too much, but it exists. I saw what I needed to see. Sanderson unlocked my imagination and let it do the rest. I feel like scifi fans want more. They want to see what the author sees, where as I just want to see enough to let my mind do the rest of the work. I’ll probably blog about that in the future. Regardless, I was happy.
Overall: This book is equally underrated as Redawn is. I’m honestly hard pressed to put one above the other, but I’d give this book a slight edge. This series is better than the average YA book series out there. It’s fresher than the Divergents and Hunger Games, and also less dark even though it’s still dystopian and still has some deep content to consider. Frankly, I still think this series should get some Hugo consideration.
Spoiler free summary: In Redawn by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, Even as the Galactic Superiority offers peace and placation, the last remaining humans receive a warning in the form of Alanik, the alien who crash landed on Detritus to warn Spensa of the coming threat. She’s woken up, and now she wants to defend her own home, and that will require a different alliance. Secrets are revealed, and everything will change before this battle for Redawn is finished.
Character: The characters and their arcs are the main reasons why this book is surprisingly wonderful. I don’t mean that I didn’t expect it to be fun or good. I just didn’t expect it to be this good. Jorgen absolutely steals the show. The weird part is that the story is told from Alanik’s point of view, an there are times when I feel like I’m reading her summary of Jorgen’s story, and that is awkward. Alanik’s arc is far less interesting than the things going on around her.
Exposition: Other than the necessary reviews that happen with any book in a series, this book is pretty seamless. Honestly, this book flew by for me. It’s probably my second favorite book in the saga (Cytonic was cool for a few reasons). So any time the pages fly, I know it wasn’t bogged down by needless data dumps.
Worldbuilding: We see a new planet and a new culture here. There are some interesting cultural elements in Redawn that I enjoyed. I liked the scope this story created. We’re starting to see the greater universe of this story, and when that’s combined with compelling characters, the story is exponentially better.
Dialogue: One of the biggest character and plot points actually happen as a result of dialogue. Honestly, if one wanted to study up on how to use dialogue to develop character and plot, this book (heck now that I think of it, there are two) is a great case study. The impact moment occurs during the plot. A big turning point. (Now I’ve thought of three!) This book really is packed full of beautiful moments (both good and bad) that work well because of how the dialogue worked.
Description: The description here worked just fine for me. I wonder how fans of hard science fiction would feel about it. Most of the historically best-selling science fiction novels I’ve read have an amount of description and details that annoy me (but not too much). The books I hated are the ones that just annoy me to no end and seem to freeze the plot. This book never comes close to freezing the plot. I’d say there’s probably more description than an average Sanderson novella, but given the amount of new characters and locations we see, it makes sense.
Overall: This book is severely underrated. Yes, it’s a YA novella, but man is it compelling. It exemplifies that a book doesn’t have to be large to be great. If I were a voter, I would actually strongly consider nominating this book on its own for a Hugo in the category. I don’t think it would hold up. Frankly, most Hugo winners are more … contemplative than narrative, but I think this book is fantastic despite what it is (not “for what it is”).
Thanks for reading,
p.s. I worked very hard to get an image of Janci, but whatever is going on, I can’t seem to save her image.
Whenever I’m struggling to think of things to write in this blog, there’s always a top five list I can do. This time, I thought it’d be fun to share the top five authors who’ve influenced my work.
#5) Stephen King: I’m of two minds here. This is in no way an endorsement of his content. Quite frankly some of his books go to places I’d never want to visit nor would invite others to go. But I’d be lying if I denied his influence on me. This is because of his book On Writing. That book is, in my opinion, the greatest call to action book an author could have. King’s book taught me about the momentum of writing and the importance of consistent reading. It was his book that led me to start writing every night, and ultimately led to the completion of my first (and therefore all) subsequent books.
#4) James Patterson: This may seem a bit odd since I so rarely mention him or his work, but it’s undeniable. I had been a huge fan of the Women’s Murder Club series before I think Book 11, which I feel drastically hindered the main character in the series. However, the pacing of his stories stuck with me, which is why I endeavor to have quick, hard-hitting chapters through the bulk of any of my books.
#3) Dean Koontz: I pretty much read a ton of Dean Koontz, and I love Odd Thomas. If someone were to make the accusation of Bob Drifter was only a little more than an Odd Thomas ripoff, I’d probably just thank them. Dean as cleverly adorable dialogue and charming characters. From him I learned how powerful a sympathetic character was.
#2) Robert Jordan: The Wheel of Time is my second favorite series of all time. One day, I hope people are theorizing about my books the same way that my brother and I spent hours talking about certain aspects of the Prophecies of the Dragon. I’m still trying to diagnose and understand how he worked his worldbuilding and foreshadowing to such a refined degree. I’ve tried it a few times (and maybe not in the stories you think), but I think I have some more to learn before I can make a true attempt (though that’s coming.)
Honorable Mentions: So obviously if Dragon Riders of Pern is my favorite series of all time, Anne McCaffrey would be high on my list, and if this were a list of my favorite authors of all time, she’d be on it. However, what she did best (her worldbuilding) is something I aspire to, but it’s just not a skill I think I have at the moment. Also, Leo Tolstoy is among my favorite authors. I don’t know if I can call him my favorite anymore, but he holds a special place in my heart. However, like McCaffrey, as much as I love his writing, I just don’t know that he impacted my writing as much as those on this list.
#1) Brandon Sanderson: This certainly hasn’t been a secret I’ve kept, though I’m not certain I’ve proclaimed this as overtly as I am here. No author or person has inspired me or impacted me more on any level. Write About Dragons is pretty much the foundation on which I built my workflow as an author. Writing Excuses gave the discovery writer in me focus. I honestly wish I had (or took the time) to listen to it. But if I’m listening to anything, it’s probably an audio book. It was Brandon of encouraged me (personally during an event) to put my work out there even if I had to do so by self publishing. I’ve met him a few times, and I don’t know that he’ll ever truly understand just how wonderful and motivating he’s been in my life as an author and a fan of fiction. Top that off with his prolific determination, and it’s easy to call him the most impactful author to my career.
So there you have it. If you’re a writer, how does my list compare to yours?
Spoiler free summary: In Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, FM and Jorgen must work together to understand the Taynix and how they are able to do the amazing things they do, but the Galactic Superiority is working that much harder to eradicate humanity before they have that chance.
Character: The book takes advantage of the relationship readers probably have with these characters already. I think people just picking up this book might not really connect because they don’t have the same history. They’re not bad or boring at all, but the bulk of my sympathy for these characters was developed in the first Skyward Flight book. What I appreciate is that these characters grow. We see them evolve from that book. It’s not just more of FM or more of Jorgen, it’s a true continuation of their development as characters, development we wouldn’t have had without these novellas.
Exposition: Given that this novella is a side project from a larger series, there are several points where information dumps are just plain necessary. While they do exist in this story, they occur at proper times and in the proper amount. It’s sort of like being forced to eat your vegetables during your meal. It’s probably not your favorite it part, but it really does balance everything out.
Worldbuilding: I’d say the bulk of this book itself is based on worldbuilding. It’s like a giant demonstration on how the magic system of this world works. Normally, that would annoy me. What makes it work is we get character development and progression woven in with all the technical fine points. I don’t know if the most stout fans of hard scienc fiction would enjoy this. I don’t know that the most stout fans of epic fantasy would like this. They might. But what I do know is that fans of both worldbuilding and character development will enjoy it.
Dialogue: This felt like a typical Sanderson novel. A little wit, a little snark, a dash of off hand punchlines, and we have ourselves an entertaining story. I read Chasing the Skip by Patterson a long while back, and she had that same flavor. It’s not surprising given their professional relationship. I saw a few v-logs about this series, and some people were down on this series because it wasn’t an exclusive Sanderson story. I don’t really feel that way. This was fun. I blasted through it and the rest of the series quickly. That speaks well of it, and the dialogue is one reason it was so easy to read.
Description: I honestly think I could have had a bit more here. I’ve seen Brandon show pictures of Doomslug, but the writing (and name) feel a bit off to me. Now there is enough of it for me to get a better picture, but for half the saga, I’ve been thinking a Taynix as something that might fit in your hand (you know, like a slug), but I think one was described as roughly the size of a loaf of bread (I think). So the visuals could be a bit stronger here, especially since we’re looking at creatures that don’t exist. However, this didn’t bother me as much as it might others. I don’t honestly care what stuff looks like, so I tend to glaze over description anyway. But as I think back, I realize it’s a bit hard for me to picture some of the elements of this story.
Overall: This was a pretty nice little story. I’m glad I stuck with it, because the others are so much better, but this one sort of tops out at “not bad.” The characters are sympathetic, and the magic system is interesting. I made the effort to listen to this story (audiobook) because I was already invested in the saga as a whole. I don’t think it would do well as an introduction to the series, but I do think it’s a fantastic side story in a very underrated saga.
Thanks for reading,
p.s. I worked very hard to get an image of Janci, but whatever is going on, I can’t seem to save her image.
So in my effort to soak in more tidbits regarding Stormlight, I always re-read the series after I finish the newest book.
This means that after I finished my first read, I started over, and Rhythm of War marks the end of that sequence of re-reads.
As always, I try to use these subsequent reviews to focus on different things since you already have a normal review.
Reaction 1: Adolin might be my new favorite character. His arc is so endearing. Sanderson could take him to darker places, places other authors might have gone. I genuinely love pretty much everything about him. With every book, I love him more. Honestly, if Stormlight were nothing but Adolin’s arc, it might not work because of how much set up he required. Remember he was just a doubting prince early on. But man has he developed.
Reaction 2: Kaladin is back (I think). His arc took a lot longer than I’d have liked, but I feel like he’s back to being the hero I fell in love with in Book 2. With a main character, one needs multiple arcs, but with these arc exhibiting similar symptoms, even though the challenges are very different, they feel redundant. Still, he’s found his feet, and I’m happy for it. Also, best. Hoid. Motivational. Story. Ever.
Reaction 3: Still not really a fan of Shallan. So I don’t hate her like I did in Book 1, but I’m still more or less annoyed when I read her arc. It’s interesting. It has some beautiful moments. But I don’t think she has a lot in the way of redeeming qualities. I actually think she took a step back from the previous book. Her arc (at least as it ends in this book) is satisfying, but I keep finding myself wanting to skip it. I’m pretty sure eighty percent of the reason I read her arc is because Adolin is involved. For the record, I’ve been Team Adolin from Book 1.
So those are three things I figured I’d share with you all this time around. If you haven’t picked up Stormlight, you’re missing out. It’s not in my top five, but it could grow there. (Top three is pretty much set for life, but you never know. I might eat those words). It’s still very good.
What I remember is this is the book that (for me) confirms that Dalinar’s arc is one of the better arcs in fantasy fiction. I think what I come away with most is that if you are (or possibly were before this book) a fan of Kaladin’s this book might have rubbed you the wrong way. This relies on something I can appreciate in that it relies on an understanding of PTSD and how Mr. Sanderson conveyed that. If you understand that problem, then the debate is how it was conveyed, and while I do understand the condition to a degree, I think the problem is how the condition was conveyed depends how familiar one is with the actual condition.
That’s an interesting study in and of itself. I feel that this conversation is debatable. I wish it was conveyed better, and I wish there was more effort to address Kaladin’s abilities, which make it much harder for a casual reader to buy off on because it can be pretty hard to understand what Kaladin was actually going through. I personally feel it was accurately conveyed, but only to the degree I mentioned above. Now that’s awesome in the effort Sanderson obviously put forth to treat the condition with dignity, and I appreciate that. However, if I were a bug in Sanderson’s ear, I might have asked that he create the circumstances to make it more difficult for a Windrunner.
I would also argue that the degree to which I was disappointed in Kaladin’s arc was at most equal (if not less than) the degree to which I loved Dalinar’s arc.
Watching Dalinar grow from beginning to end would have created a far more complex situation than letting us get to know the man he is before we see the man he was, and that’s something some authors need to consider. A lot of writers (especially new ones) are very linear, and while that might really work in most situations, to get locked into a certain formula cuts one off from opportunities that might be even better.
Ultimately I feel this book is polarizing and depends on where fans of the series weigh their love of Dalinar in comparison to their love of Kaladin. Thankfully, the next volume brings all that back together.
So just a few days ago, I started reading New Spring by Robert Jordan with the intent to go all the way through the Wheel of Time.
First: It’s my second favorite series ever (Dragonriders of Pern). It’s one of only three series I’ve read multiple times (five if you count Mistborn and Stormlight separately, but I see them as one Cosmere saga). I realized that so many of the plot points had fallen out of my mind, and I don’t want that series to fade from memory. This is the beauty of books.
Second: It’s perfectly OK if you appreciate the Amazon series. I don’t. I think that series took pretty much everything I loved about Wheel of Time and perverted it by Episode Three or Four. Such an unfortunate tragedy demands I go back to the story that I love depicting the characters I love in the manner I came to love them for. Perhaps I’m being harsh. It’s better to say that I’m not of the opinion are for fans of the series. I then wonder why it was made, but the truth is obvious. This show is for people who didn’t read it. This is for a new audience. If you’re a fan of the show, and you’ve read the books, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Yes, I feel very strongly, but I’m willing to hear dissenting opinions.
So I’ll be listening to the audiobooks while driving to work and enjoying a story I’ve loved for nearly a decade now, and I’m relatively new to the fandom. I wanted to share this because I don’t actually re-read a lot of books. I tend to do this for ongoing series that force me to wait for the next installment (though I don’t expect I’ll do that for the Kingkiller Chronicles). I have to love to a powerful degree for a book if I’m going to read it multiple times.
This is more true for Wheel of Time. There’s so much depth and so many characters. I’ve read this series at least five times (and that’s a very low estimate). Each time I read it, I notice something I missed, so it feels fresh and wonderful to me. I don’t think I’ll ever absorb this series fully, but I’m going to enjoy trying.
So check back on the blog for the reviews. I don’t want you to think they’ll come quickly. I read every day, but it takes me a good long while to get through a book these days. Still, I’ll keep you up to date and maybe share something from time to time.
If you’ve followed my blog for more than a year, then you’ll know that each year around January, I briefly go over the three best books I’ve read in 2021. Now, these might not be top books of the year as a whole, but they are the best of what I read in that twelve-month period.
According to my Goodreads profile, I read at least 44 books in 2021. I have to say at least because I read a ton of manga, and not all of it is registered in Goodreads. I also read a few books more than once, which counts in my opinion. Now I get that manga are short, but it sure feels good to have a high number on the page. In my defense, I read relentlessly. But I read the Bible mostly, and that’s not the sort of book you read in a day. Then there is my love of epic fantasy, which isn’t as long or demanding as the Bible, but those books are thick!
So today I looked at my Goodreads page and put in a lot of thought. To be honest, it wasn’t very hard to identify the top three, but it was very difficult to rank those in an order I thought I could stand behind. Still, I did my best! Here’s my list.
#3 Demon Slayer by Koytoharu Gotouge: I’ve rewatched Dragonball and started watching Baruto again. I’ve rewatched some episodes of Bleach, and it hasn’t been that long since I finished Naruto for the second time. I believe this, and you can @me all you want: Demon Slayer is the best manga ever.
Why number three? I’ll explain more in future numbers, but it’s not because it isn’t a good story. The characters are so charming, sympathetic, and proactive. The action is awesome. The plot is complete AND concise (key point for the “best manga ever” argument). You can find my review for Volume 23 right here.
#2 Devotions from Psalms and Proverbs by C.H. Spurgeon: This is where things get a little hard to explain. So there are great, amazing stories. Stories you might read again and again, but not every day. Two of my top three reads were books I’d read more than once (including this one.) When I last reviewed this book, I felt bad because it was hard to focus. Then I realized something, I just love this book because it’s like a series of little pick-me-ups. I listen to it when I need help falling asleep. I listen to it when I don’t know what other Christian books to read next. This is the sort of book one keeps on a nightstand and picks up when he needs to be picked up. I came very close to putting this as number one for that reason. So because I couldn’t figure out where to put it, I put it here in the middle. For those of you who are Christian, I really think you should try this out. It’s a great book for perspective, encouragement, rebuke, conviction, and hope. Sure, the Bible is the best source for all of those things, but hearing Spurgeon speak about Psalms and Proverbs is pretty darn good, and a tad bit less overwhelming.
#1 Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: I promise you that every year I read this book, it will likely be my favorite book. Believe it or not, this is the first time it appears on any of my lists since I started back in 2016, but that’s because there was another Stormlight book on the list, and I felt like it would be cheating to put two on a yearly list. Also, it takes me a long time to get through all the books in that series. There may be a rival or two (for instance, I intent to read the entire Wheel of Time saga here in a while (got a few Sanderson and Dresden books to get through first). Here is the most recent review or reaction I posted about it. I think this book is still the standard by which the Stormlight Archives will be measured. This is where all the best of each character is on display, and while I hold out hope that Book 5 will surpass it, I acknowledge that it has some big shoes to fill.
So that’s my list. Do you have one for the year? Let me know in the comments below. If it’s a post, I’d be happy to reblog it and share it for you. Until then . . .
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