Ahoy there me mateys!
Broadside No. 3 – Brandon Sanderson
Welcome to the third broadside – the Brandon Sanderson edition. I have read over 13 of his novels and have more on me shelf waiting patiently (I’m behind). Mr. Sanderson’s books usually have the same three things no matter which ones ye read – awesome character development, awesome world building, and awesome magic systems. Though all his series seem to have a different feel and, for lack of a better word, texture. Among the books I have enjoyed here are me favorites:
Please note: all plot synopsis etc. come from Sanderson’s website because frankly he can tell you about his novels better than I can.
- Elantris series
The first book in the series (elantris) was the author’s first novel and was originally written as a standalone. I read this novel. Loved it. Gave it away for another person to love (what was I thinking?). Got grumpy at myself and bought another copy. I learned to not make the mistake of ever giving up one of his novels again. I like to re-read them periodically. They make me happy. Anyways . . .
Sanderson has this to say about the novel:
Tor classifies this book as an epic fantasy. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case. There is no quest in this book, nor is it about the end of the world. It takes place (as many of my books do) in one city, and is a mixture of political intrigue, interesting magic, and character dynamics.
The setting is the city of Elantris and the surrounding suburbs. There’s a force in Arelon known as the Dor that randomly chooses people and grants them divine powers. Elantris was once the city of the gods, where anyone who was ‘chosen’ went to live. Ten years ago, the Elantrians lost their powers and caught a terrible disease instead. From that point on, Elantris became a prison city/contamination zone for any who caught that disease, for the Dor continues to choose people and curse them.
The book follows the experiences of three people as they interact with the people of Elantris. Raoden, a prince, catches the disease in chapter one and is thrown into the city by his own father. Sarene, Raoden’s sight-unseen fiancee from a political treaty, arrives in the city and gets involved in schemes, troubles, and politics involving Elantris. Hrathen, a priest and missionary, is sent to convert the people of Arelon, and is told that if he fails, the people of the country will need to be killed instead. The three stories intertwine as the truth of what happened to Elantris, and its inhabitants, ten years ago is unearthed.
There is a second book in the series (the emperor’s soul) that won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella and no joke was simply perfect in my mind. I adored it. Though strangely I do not seem to own this one. Sad. Must remedy.
- Mistborn series
There are currently six books in this series. They feature an awesome form of magic called Allomancy. Mr. Sanderson has apparently planned Mistborn to be a “continuum series” that shows off Allomancy in different time periods. At this time that means 4 distinct trilogies set in the same world. Two of them are complete. The first trilogy was my favorite but I do enjoy them all.
To set you up for this universe, the author has this to say about the first novel in this series:
A thousand years ago, the prophesied hero from lore rose up to overthrow a great and terrible evil. Only, he lost, and the Dark Lord took over and has been ruling with an iron fist for a thousand years. Ash falls from the sky in this barren land, and mists come every night, deep and mysterious. In this setting, a gang of thieves decides that the prophecies were all lies and that they can’t trust in some fabled hero to save them. They decide to take matters into their own hands, and plan a daring heist of the dark lord himself, planning to use the emperor’s own wealth to bribe his armies away from him and take over the empire . . .
During development, the story moved further and further away from the heist. It’s still there, don’t worry, but it’s more of a backdrop now. Instead, the book focuses on Vin, a young girl who gets recruited into the team. Beaten down by a life on the streets, Vin doesn’t realize that she has the power of a Mistborn (the magic in this book, which many say is its prime selling point.) Her dynamic with Kelsier, the charismatic leader of the gang of thieves, is really what drives this novel.
The book has a little of everything for everyone. Romance, lots of action, a wiz-bang cool magic system, dark lords running amok, great visuals, and character tension. And that’s just book one.
- Rithmatist series
There is currently only one book in this series (the rithmatist) but again it’s brilliant. Technically it is a young adult novel. The world is a version of the United States and it is being overcome by evil creatures called chalklings. Rithmatists are the humanity’s magical defense against them. The main characters are Joel and Melody, and I love their story. Of course, the novel is way more complicated than that but I don’t want to ruin the magic of reading it.
From the back cover:
Lilly set the tip of the chalk against the ground and began to draw a circle around herself. Her hand shook so much that the line was uneven. Professor Fitch would have been quite displeased to see such a sloppy Line of Warding.
Lilly snapped her head up, looking down the hallway at the door leading to the street. A shadow moved beyond the door’s clouded window plate.
The door rattled.
“Oh, Master,” she found herself whispering. “Please . . . please . . . ”
The door burst open. A figure stood framed in moonlight, a bowler on his head, a short cape covering his shoulders and coming down to his waist.
The things flooded into the room around him. Angry, squirming over floor, walls, ceiling. Their bone-white bodies almost seeming to glow in the moonlight.
Each was as flat as a piece of paper.
Each was made of chalk.
And each was terrible.
- Reckoners series
This is a young adult series with comic book type characters. I loved it. My nephew loved it too. In fact, he lent me all the books to read. Now I am not a major comic book person, but I liked this take on things. The protagonist of the novel, David, is silly and funny and cannot use a metaphor to save his life. This is one of Sanderson’s fluffier series but I rather enjoyed it.
The website has this to say about the plot:
There are no heroes.
Every single person who manifested powers—we call them Epics—turned out to be evil.
Here, in the city once known as Chicago, an extraordinarily powerful Epic declared himself Emperor. Steelheart has the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, no explosion can burn him. He is invincible.
It has been ten years. We live our lives as best we can. Nobody fights back . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans who spend their lives studying powerful Epics, finding their weaknesses, then assassinating them.
My name is David Charleston. I’m not one of the Reckoners, but I intend to join them. I have something they need. Something precious, something incredible. Not an object, but an experience. I know his secret.
I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.
- Stormlight Archive series
This is a monster of a series that currently contains two novels. Ye like Epic fantasy? Then this series is for ye. Just be aware that it is a commitment. The author currently plans 10 novels. The mass market paperback of the first book is 1280 pages. Book two is 1328. So worth reading in my opinion but I know that large books can scare people off. Do not be afraid.
From the cover flap of the first book (though even this doesn’t really do it justice):
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by overpowering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under the eminent scholar and notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of more than ten years of planning, writing, and worldbuilding, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
Side note: The Sanderson website is frickin’ awesome! One of the things that I love about this author is that his website actually gives fun status updates on his writing process. For example a chart that tells the percentages of where he is on various things like proofing or writing drafts. He also has a post called “The State of Sanderson” that seems to be a yearly update on his goals and writing of the past year. This site is also filled with links on where to buy seemingly every version of everything. Ye could get lost on here. Check it out . . .
To visit his website go to:
To see a list of all of the books he has written visit: