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A World Without Heroes

Brandon Mull

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A World Without Heroes was a good book. Two teens from Earth, Jason and Rachel, enter the world of Lyrian and are thrust into a quest to find six syllables of an ancient word of the language of creation. When this word is spoken in the presence of the dark wizard Maldor, who rules much of Lyrian, it will destroy him and end his evil reign.

Jason was an excellent main character. He’s a typical high schooler who likes baseball and anatomy. (Maybe that last part isn’t so typical, but hey.) Though a bit confused by his entrance into Lyrian, Jason adapts to the new world well. The part which demonstrates this best (and my personal favourite part of the book) was when he enters Lyrian high society and pulls it off. The character arc was one of reinforcement rather than redemption, and I enjoyed seeing Jason strengthen as a heroic character over the course of this book—even when he faced the consequences of his heroic choices.

Rachel was a strong supporting character, brave and assertive. A note of warning: The way Rachel has been homeschooled is by no means the typical homeschooling experience. I myself am a homeschooler, and although I smirked at some of the descriptions of her life, no homeschooler I know goes on field trips around the world.

The villain, Maldor, was one unlike I’ve ever seen before. Sure, he’s a dark wizard and a dark lord, but not the typical cackling, evil tyrant. An evil tyrant, yes, but not a cackling one. What I found most compelling about Maldor was the way he controls the world of Lyrian—by withholding knowledge. Maps are forbidden, travel is discouraged, punishment is quick and ruthless. Yet he respects his enemies and, instead of destroying them, offers them pleasure and neutrality in the Eternal Feast. And, of course, a certain revelation Maldor brought up close to the end—perhaps The Plot Twist of the book—is another example of the complex character he is.

We saw several supporting characters come and go. Ferrin and his abilities as a displacer—being able to detach his body parts—were hilarious, and I truly enjoyed every scene of his. (I’ve imagined such abilities before, but I’ve seen very few stories which utilise displacing abilities.) I also enjoyed Jasher, Drake and the Blind King.

The lack of profanity and sexual content was refreshing. In addition, the main theme—the true nature of heroes—was one I enjoyed reading very much. Mull could improve in some areas on wordsmithing, foreshadowing and connectivity—the subtleties of writing, basically—but he is by no means a bad author, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Beyonders series and Mull’s other books.

Recommended.

Other books I’ve read or want to read:

 


Have you read any of these books? What else have you been reading lately?

Matthew

(For those interested, there are no news on Number 11. Mum and Dad have been in and out of the city—they’re out there now for an appointment—but the baby hasn’t started coming yet.)

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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Book Reviews, Books

 

Reading

It’s time for another post on books! Thus far I’ve read 13 books in April, including the three books I mentioned in my last post (The End of All Things, Songkeeper and Oakleaf Bearers). In the Ranger’s Apprentice series I’ve finished Erak’s Ransom and am now awaiting The Kings of Clonmel at my local ebook library, which should be available again in two days’ time.

Today I’m reviewing four books: Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Kinsman Chronicles and Songkeeper.

Darkness Reigns, The Heir War, & The End of All Things

Jill Williamson

The gods are angry.

Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers–everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son, Prince Wilek, thinks his father’s superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful First Arm of Armania.

When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?

Williamson is excellent at worldbuilding and character motivation. Her world is fresh and tangible, her characters distinct and well-developed. Wilek is probably my favourite so far. Each character has a part to play in the story and a sense of closure at the end, and the character growth is very well done. One remarkable character arc was that of Oli Agoros, who regrets the life he’s chosen and the master he’s chosen to serve. At the end of the book he makes a decision to stop being controlled, and although it doesn’t solve every problem in his life, it’s a step in the right direction. I hope to see him grow in the next six parts of the Kinsman Chronicles.

The thematic conflict was well resolved. In Chapter 1, we see the superstitious Rosâr Echad sacrifice a criminal to the god Barthos in the Grey, which I believe is the same thing as Darkness in Williamson’s other series from this world, Blood of Kings. In the climax, Wilek is victorious over this. There are so many story threads from the first chapter resolved in the climax that I can just sit back and marvel. Excellently done, Jill Williamson.

The post-climax events of The End of All Things felt drawn out. After the climax, there is a lot to tie up, and the end of the book lacks the stakes that were resolved in the climax. Granted, this is written as one very long book, and there are smaller stakes at hand, but I still felt the end could have been clearer. On content, one of the villains is trying to seduce the main character so that their baby can fulfil an ancient prophecy, so I would recommend an older target audience for this series. 15+ or something. (As it was with the other series of Williamson’s I reviewed, Blood of Kings.) There is nothing in the books I found gratuitous, but be warned that there is a small amount of sexual content.

I would recommend this book to people of an appropriate age and maturity. As a token of how much I like this series, I’ve already preordered Parts 4, 5 and 6: Kingdom at SeaMaelstrom, and Voices of Blood.

Songkeeper

Gillian Bronte Adams

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War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street–wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

Songkeeper is an emotional book. Infused within its pages are hope and despair, joy and sorrow, horror and wonder. Her character development resonates. Her wordcraft is fine-tuned, melodious, evocative. Adams hits the perfect pitch of emotions in this book and ends on a note of quiet awe and longing.

The story was shorter than many other books in its genre, but Adams manages to develop her cast of characters well in that time. Amos, Birdie, Gundhrold, Ky, Cade—the characters we know and love from the last book—return. (And Meli. Yes. We saw more of Meli!) Adams introduces new characters. Migdon, who was remarkably well done from the very beginning. Sym, a strong and loyal young warrior. Inali, a young warrior-artist who has suffered so much. As the story goes on, we see more of where Inali has come from, and everything he does is so poignant, so relatable, so human. I hope to see him again in the third book.

We got to see the Takhran in this book, which I liked. There are many main villains who stand back and let their minions conquer the world for them. The Takhran doesn’t stand back—he stands out. He has an active plan and is following it. He takes precautions against the people he knows to be dangerous. And despite all his evil deeds and goals, the Takhran is portrayed as a person. Not as an inhuman force of evil, but a very human villain. Sociopathic in that he shows no conscience, but still human.

A few minor spoilers around the climax in this paragraph. Probably the largest issue I have with the book is the lack of closure. Songkeeper brings up a lot of questions and answers few of them. From the start we know that the Song has fallen silent, but the book refuses to explain why. The climax felt anticlimactic in that Birdie accomplishes nothing significant. A climax is where the story goal is completed, but in Songkeeper it’s almost as though Birdie fails her mission. She reaches where she needs to go and attempts what she needs to do, but the villain’s power is too much and she fails. I get that it’s the second book in what I expect will be a trilogy, which means Adams can begin at a low place in the third book and work up to a final victory, but still I felt the climax could have been improved here.

I have one quibble about the covers in this series. The font used for the Orphan’s Song cover is not the same as the one used for Songkeeper. I am a graphic designer and a perfectionist. I notice. I agonise. I hope the third book will use the same font as either one of them. *silent pleading*

Just a funny story about the Songkeeper Chronicles: A few years ago I planned a series called the Song Chronicles. Very similar in structure to Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper’s Curse of the Spider King, the series focused around a girl known as the Keeper of Songs in her home world. It had dinosaur people, language and song magic, and an ancient group of warriors called Blademasters who found and trained the Keeper of Songs to fight evil. Very much like the Berinfell Prophecies down to the unfolding claws of Drefids. I gave those to the dinosaur people…yeah.

Also, the last scene of Songkeeper has strong similarities to the end of The Teller’s Apprentice, the project I’ve been working on for the past year. The scenic structure is practically identical in both, although mine is much more drawn out.


Have you read these books? Tell me what you thought of them!

What other books have you been reading recently?

Matthew

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Book Reviews, Books

 

Best Books of 2016 (So Far)

December last year I discovered the revolutionary idea that I can in fact buy books on my Kindle account for cheap prices. Being a miserly sort of person when money is concerned…I haven’t done that much. I used to let my mum buy the books and wait eagerly for them to arrive in the mail…ah, those were good times. But times are changing, as times are wont to do. I have an iPad and a smartphone with which I can carry a bunch of books wherever I go.

Granted, I prefer to read a real book, a flesh-and-blood (well…paper-and-ink) book with real pages rather than text on a backlit touchscreen. Still, I find there are advantages to reading on my phone and its small screen. There isn’t much text on each page, and because of this I read slower. I read every word. I don’t skim like I am prone to do, and I guess I enjoy the book more that way.

Enough about my reading habits. Here are the best books I’ve read so far in 2016.

Orphan’s Song

Gillian Bronte Adams

Who Will Keep the Song Alive?

Every generation has a Songkeeper – one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.

When Birdie’s song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.

Ky is a streetwise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive . . . and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira. (Goodreads description)

Orphan’s Song is the most recent book I bought, but the one that takes first place for me. The prose itself captures the quality of a song—melodious, lyrical, wrought with the loving care and concern of a master wordsmith. Adams’s characterisation is deep and multisided—no one is who they appear to be at face value. One minor character I noticed in particular—Madame, Birdie’s stern and harsh mistress. That kind of character I’ve seen before, but Adams also shows Madame’s tender side with her husband and sons. Even though I dislike Madame as a person, I love her as a character, because Adams captures her humanity perfectly. So it is with the rest of the characters…Birdie, Amos, Ky, Cade, even the antagonists Carhartan and Hendryk.

The story contains common tropes such as an abandoned infant who turns out to be someone special, but I thought Adams used this well-worn plot very well. Her characters and prose make the plot sing, and while it’s still a common trope, Adams’s version of this common trope is one I heartily recommend. Many of the plot twists I guessed before the author revealed them, but only a few authors have been able to spring surprises on me recently. There are two POV characters in this story: Birdie and Ky. I have to say I liked Ky’s story better. The rawness, the intensity, the struggle for life itself, Ky’s victory over the mantra pounded into him that everyone has to “look out for themselves”…this was done so beautifully. (And is there anyone else out there who wants to see more—much more—of Meli?)

What struck me about the story was its brevity. Oh, I’ve heard the quote by Brandon Sanderson. “I’m a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.” Haha. I myself most strongly agree. But Orphan’s Song was not like this. It was a short book. Not a short story, but a short book. And what really struck me was how well Adams told her story in the shortest amount of words possible. A wordsmith creates, but a wordsmith also excises a story’s flab with a knife sharper than a surgeon’s. Adams did this very well. I know that for my stories I need to work on cutting words to get to the heart in a similar manner.

Overall, this is one author I’m going to follow. This book I highly recommend. Its sequel, Songkeeper, comes out in April.

Blood of Kings

Jill Williamson

Half of the kingdom is shrouded in Darkness. On the side that still sees the sun, two young adults struggle to understand the magical abilities thrust upon them.

It’s called bloodvoicing. Some say it’s a gift. One of the newly “gifted” wish it had never come.

Jill Williamson’s award-winning epic fantasy series, Blood of Kings, tells the story of Achan, an orphan who’s been a stray all his life. When an enigmatic knight offers to train Achan for the Kingsguard, he readily accepts. But his new skills with the sword do not prepare him for the battle raging between the voices in his head.

Vrell Sparrow is not who she seems. She masquerades as a boy to avoid marriage to a powerful prince who seeks to exploit her. But Vrell feels called to help a young squire who recently discovered his bloodvoicing gift, even if doing so puts her in the path of her enemy.

While Achan learns to use his new ability, Vrell struggles to shut hers down. All the voices strive to learn Achan and Vrell’s true identities—and a different kind of voice is calling them both to adventure, romance and a truth that just might push back Darkness for good. (Amazon.com description)

Having read Jill Williamson’s posts on the Go Teen Writers blogs for a long time now, I felt as if I already knew her style and story before I read these books. I’d seen the outline for By Darkness Hid before reading the book, and I’d read a lot about these characters and this story…but still, reading them for the first time was not disappointing. I loved seeing what I’d already heard come to life in these stories and find out what really happened along the way. Williamson’s worldbuilding is—as would be expected given her repeated posts on the subject at Go Teen Writers—superb. The depth she’s put into each part of her world is incredible, and the reactions of the POV characters are done very well. Sitna, for example, the place in which Achan’s story begins, feels so real, so familiar…we’re experiencing Achan’s home through his eyes.

What struck me in this series is the convergence in the storylines of the two POV characters, even when Achan and Vrell are acting completely independent of one another. An example early of this is when Achan hears the gossip among serving women about Lord Nathak, lord of Sitna Manor, and how his proposal for marriage has been rejected again by the Duchess of Carm. That same duchess and her continual rejections of Nathak play a large role in Vrell’s story. This convergence also sets the stage for plot events later in the story. I really enjoyed seeing how Williamson worked these plot events into the story.

Not everything about the series I liked. The intensity of the romantic material in To Darkness Fled and From Darkness Won was what I disliked most. The mistakes of the main characters are dealt with in an excellent way by the end of the series, but there were parts especially in the second and third books which I felt were not my kind of story. Like Mistborn: The Final Empire, which I reviewed recently, I’d say the appropriate target audience would be 15+. Still, despite the flaws, I would still recommend this series to people of an appropriate age and maturity.

The Reapers Trilogy

Bryan Davis

Reapers is a dystopian tale with a supernatural twist. Taking place in a futuristic, urban setting, this first book in a planned trilogy will appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and similar fast–paced stories for young adults. Along with a blend of real life and imagination, it delivers action, danger, and suspense through the adventures of three teenagers—Phoenix, Singapore, and Shanghai—Reapers who collect the souls of the dying or already dead and transport them to the Gateway where they will travel to their final destination … or so they are told. (Goodreads description)

(Okay. I’m cheating. I read this series in December 2015. So it shouldn’t really be in this blog post.) I admit that when I first heard that Bryan Davis was writing a series about ghosts, I was reluctant to read this series. I mean…he’s always written weird things, but ghosts? Reapers? Death? I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this series very much. Reapers is probably his fastest-paced book yet—Davis’s skill grows with every book he publishes, which is something to aspire to.

The strong point of this series is Davis’s mastery of character motivation and how it drives the plot. The heroes are active in working against the villains even when the villains think the heroes are working for them. To power along the story Davis uses unique plot twists—who would expect the main character to explain his plan to the villain?—and crippling dilemmas—how do you choose between friends?—and does not let the characters off the hook because of their choices, which makes the emotional impacts heartrending. If you’re the type of person who cries over books, then weigh carefully whether you want to read this series.

As would be expected, death takes a front and centre role in this series. Davis mitigates the violence by using sonic guns, which do not draw blood, but still the sheer amount of death is not something that can be taken easily. Near the start of Reapers a group of criminals and rebels are executed on-screen, and a death camp plays a large part in the first book. The death and despair contributes to darken the mood of this book. In fact, I attributed a colour scheme to the mood: Dry, dead yellow. And black.

One thing I found irritating was that Davis did not explain what an Owl was until the second book. I mean, I can understand his conviction to have his characters explain nothing they have no motivation to explain, but surely he could have slipped in a description of what an Owl could do sometime earlier? Motivate someone to explain? Have a less informed character ask what an Owl was?

Despite the darkness and death, I enjoyed the books very much. In fact, I stayed up reading Beyond the Gateway late into the night, something which I’ve done rarely in the past few months. (The only other book I can think of where I did this recently was with The Bands of Mourning.) And the last sentence of Beyond the Gateway…man. That adrenaline rush took some getting over.

The Bands of Mourning

Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

Like Beyond the Gateway, I stayed up late to finish this book and actually leapt up and exclaimed variations of, “I knew it!” at the ending. (Read the book if you want to find out what I’m referring to.) In The Bands of Mourning Brandon Sanderson answers some of the questions we’ve been waiting to hear throughout the Wax & Wayne series, but…well…raises a few more. A few more major questions, that is. I mean, seriously? With one book left to go in this series, how is Sanderson going to wrap up all these plot threads in just one book?

But I’m writing a review, not a fangirl statement. Each of the major characters has grown in some way in each of the Wax & Wayne books, and The Bands of Mourning is no exception. In fact, the character arcs in this book are some of the most well done I’ve seen. With the tragedy of the book before this, Shadows of Self, Wax has hardened himself, and with his characteristic stubbornness it’s as if nothing short of death would make him change his viewpoint on the matter. Steris was, without a doubt, at the most compelling she’s ever been in this series. I loved seeing her interact with Wax, Wayne, Marasi and MeLaan as a more major character in The Bands of Mourning. Marasi has grown a lot since the first Wax & Wayne book, The Alloy of Law, and this book vividly shows how much she’s progressed. Edwarn Ladrian, Wax’s nemesis throughout this series, is in fine form. I must say I’ve never seen one of Brandon Sanderson’s villains so well done as Edwarn in this book. I loved being able to see Wax’s sister Telsin for the first time in three books. And finally, Wayne. Truth be told, Wayne is not my favourite character. Oh, I admit, he’s amusing and interesting to watch and the series wouldn’t be the same without him, but certain things he does in the first half of this book are…not the kind of thing I want to read. Nonetheless, his decision and character growth at the climax was very powerful and is one of the parts I remember most vividly.

As is typical of a Sanderson book, The Bands of Mourning is stacked with unpredictable plot twists, gobsmacking reveals, and an ever-deepening sense of the world of Scadrial. There are a few intriguing new reveals about the magic systems of Allomancy and Feruchemy, which in part drive the story. Due to the nature of the plot, there is more history involved in this story than the other Wax & Wayne books, and let me just say…you have no idea of the truth of Scadrial’s history if you haven’t read The Bands of Mourning.

This book has the most mature content out of all the Sanderson books I’ve read. (I haven’t read Warbreaker. I think it would have more.) There’s a lot of swearing, and while I understand why people can have the motive to swear, I dislike reading it and listening to it. There is also some sexual content in this book—not dwelled upon or shown in any graphic detail, but Sanderson could easily lighten up on this without damage done to the plot. I was also disappointed that Trell only got a few brief mentions…we still haven’t learned what Bleeder was up to in the last book. Here’s hoping there’ll be some of that in The Lost Metal.


 

An honourable mention goes to the Goldstone Wood series, especially HeartlessShadow Hand and Golden Daughter, my three favourites from that series. I couldn’t include them because I bought them in December last year instead of 2016. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Put down the finger you’re pointing at Reapers. I’m allowed to be inconsistent on my own blog from time to time.) I’m hoping to read two books in particular soon: Calamity and Songkeeper. Whether you’ll see them in a review on this blog is yet to be confirmed.

What have been your favourite books in 2016 so far?

Matthew

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Book Reviews, Books

 

Book Review: The Final Empire

For a thousand years the ash fell.

For a thousand years the skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow hope survives.

A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unlikely heroine, a skaa street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy: the power of a Mistborn.

(from the back cover)


The first time I read The Final Empire I sped through. This time I read more slowly, more actively. I considered the plot events and character growth, tried to form a logical progression of the story in my mind, dissected the theme. I saw more of the author’s skill reading this way. With my book review, I’ll be going through three layers: the Crust, the Mantle, and the Core.

The Crust: Prose, Grammar, Aesthetics
4/5: A few mistakes which distracted me, but nothing too serious.

I admit that The Final Empire could have done with a little more proofreading. In the prologue the POV character’s name is misspelled once; there are also a few random capitalisations and missing punctuation marks throughout the book. Nothing horrendous, but still mistakes I noticed. Beyond grammar, the author used a few adverbs (notably maladroitly) that I couldn’t visualise. When I read, a written story becomes a movie in my mind; this means that if an author uses a word I can’t visualise, the movie of my mind’s eye blacks out momentarily in the middle of a scene. Who wants that to happen during a movie?

The text was single-spaced. The Final Empire is a long book even with single spacing, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more white space. The font also seemed a bit mundane. I know, why am I criticising the aesthetics? The author didn’t lay out the book. Okay. I loved the Allomantic symbols on each chapter heading. And the epigrams. The epigrams were awesome. Dropping hints from page one, packed with feeling. But I’ll leave that for the Mantle.

The Mantle: Ideas, Worldbuilding, Character, Plot, Theme
5/5: I didn’t devour this story—it devoured me, kept me there until The End, and sent me out looking for more.

Aesthetics aside, I loved the story. The Final Empire had a real sense of logical progression—the plot flowed from the characters and their plans and goals. This time around I made an effort to understand the plot, and I really liked what I understood. I am a logical person. I am a writer myself. The Final Empire carried the plot forwards with each scene, juggling a wide variety of pieces and tying them up well at the end. There is a strong sense of closure at the end of the story, which I found very appropriate, but also several unanswered questions, hints of approaching doom, and implications for the rest of the world because of the actions of the characters.

The magic system of Allomancy is unique and well thought out, and it’s not just a big chunk of otherness dropped on this world—Allomancy has affected the world and culture in deep and meaningful ways. Some Allomancers can Push or Pull on metals, which means the ruling class rarely wear metals on their person in case they’re attacked by Allomancers. This and many other cultural effects of Allomancy show how much time and thought the author has invested into his world.

I really enjoyed the characters, especially Kelsier. Marsh, Sazed and Spook are three others I really enjoyed this time around. Kelsier, one of the two POV characters, is arrogant and sometimes psychopathic but passionate and compassionate nonetheless. Marsh is stern. Very stern, but you see his heart throughout the book. I like him. Sazed’s humility and sacrifice are inspiring. Spook amuses me, especially during his interactions with Vin, the main POV character. Speaking of Vin…I never really got a sense of who she was as a person. Maybe it’s because she herself was trying to figure out who she really was, as she played opposing roles as skaa thief and ball-going noblewoman over the course of the book, but I found her a bit lacking. I look forward to seeing her improve in future books in this series.

The Lord Ruler was the antagonist of this book. The most powerful Allomancer in all history, the Lord Ruler is worshipped as the god of the Final Empire, having lived for a thousand years after facing and defeating the Deepness, a force of ruin that ravaged the world before the Lord Ruler rose. He can do things with Allomancy no one else could ever dream of doing. (At one point in the book, someone impales him with two spears. He doesn’t even react.) How do you beat an immortal, invincible being more powerful than anyone else in all history? The characters ask that question, and so does the reader. The reasons for the Lord Ruler’s power are hinted at and slowly revealed near the end of the book, which I thought the author did very well.

A few notes of warning: In this world, there are less than noble things mentioned and discussed. The ruling class makes frequent use of brothels. One ethnicity of people is enslaved to breeding programs and emasculation because of the Lord Ruler’s secret fears. Members of the oppressed class are treated like animals; in one scene, a boy is murdered just for begging. The Lord Ruler holds mass executions and forces people to watch. Creatures known as Inquisitors go around with metal spikes pounded through their eyes and poking out the back of their skulls. The most disturbing scene to me was in the Lord Ruler’s prisons where a non-POV character was imprisoned without his clothes, but that is the only example where something like this occurred. Violence is shown on-screen; promiscuity is not, and for that I respect the author’s self-restraint.

The Core: Meaning, Theme, Truth
4/5: A good message but lacking a bit.

The first time reading The Final Empire, I found no strong theme. This time I paid more attention and gave more thought, and I found the author’s theme. “Love even when betrayed.” Vin’s character arc demonstrates the theme very well. At the beginning of the book, she trusts nothing and no one, especially not the smiling, seemingly insane Kelsier. Over time, she accepts her place in Kelsier’s crew and grows to trust her friends. Vin eventually masquerades as a noblewoman to listen for rumours about Kelsier’s rebellion and meets at a ball a nobleman named Elend, who she feels an odd connection to. The relationship between Vin and Elend grows into trust…until even Elend betrays Vin by admitting that his house is more important to him than his relationship with her. This betrayal shakes Vin’s belief in trust. Shortly afterwards, Vin learns that Elend is being hunted by assassins, and despite her pain she realises that her love for Elend is stronger than the pain of his betrayal. This and her efforts to save him are the climax of her character arc.

I admit I would have liked Vin’s character arc to climax in the plot climax as she fights the Lord Ruler. In the end it’s not her love that wins the battle; it’s her intelligence and Allomantic strength. I can’t help but feel that if intelligence and strength are the attributes that win the battle, why was the theme love?

Summary: Enjoyed the book, but saw untapped potential.
Overall Rating:
 4.3 out of 5
Recommended: Yes
Age Range: 15 and up

Matthew

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Books

 

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