Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Way of Kings, Runestaff, and Dresden

I’m highlighting three reviews in this, my first review post in a few weeks. Considering the length of the (1,000+) book for which I posted the review, the continuing time (and fun time at that) of raising/training a puppy, and how busy work has been for me, I hope my millions and millions of fans will give me a slide. How about a new picture of said puppy?

Back to the business of book reviews – first up is my review of one of the most hyped novels of the yearThe Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve been a fan of Sanderson ever since reading Mistborn: The Final Empire so I’ve really been looking forward to this one.

Sanderson’s tale focuses this epic tale on three primary characters – Shallan, a young woman apprenticed to a heretical scholar; Dalinar, an old revered soldier in the army of Alethi also known as the Blackthorn who is either going crazy or having prophetic visions; and Kaladin, a former soldier turned slave laborer who is a Bridgeman-one of an expendable crew of men who move bridges for the armies of Roshar to march over the chasms on the Shattered Plain. Through the eyes and actions of these three people, Sanderson reveals a world with incredible depth on the brink of a major paradigm shift.

The physical book is just as impressive as the story told between its covers. Those cover are adorned with a beautiful and instant classic Michael Whelan painting. Icons emblazon each chapter, ‘historical’ illustrations are provided at intervals, while some of Shallan’s illustrations are used to illustrate other pages. The endpapers utilize a powerful color palette with superbly rendered maps. In short, the physical book itself is just as stunning as the story Sanderson tells.

Art has continued his read through of Michael Moorcock’s History of the Runestaff (aka Hawkmoon) with the third book, The Sword of Dawn.

Like the first two books in the series, The Sword of the Dawn is classic sword and sorcery, filled with weird magics and technologies, nonstop action, almost superhuman feats of bravery, and a sizeable body count. Hawkmoon and D'Averc are a dynamic duo with a repartee reminiscent of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and like the golden age of pulp magazine adventures, the heroes' exploits are episodic in form, as each time they escape or overcome one strange and terrible peril they find themselves face to face with a new one. Yet as the Warrior in Jet and Gold so often reminds him, Hawkmoon serves the Runestaff, even though in the thick of adventure he may not realize it – and even though he may not want to serve it. Thus beneath the surface of a rollicking adventure is a narrative epic in scope.

Mark reviewed another installment of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files Turn Coat

As events unfold, the circle broadens in this one. We start to see things from a more global perspective as Harry goes to the scene of a murdered Warden at the White Council’s headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland. There we get some idea of how the headquarters works, as well as more of an impression that magic is not just centered in Chicago or the US but as a global magic network.

This is also shown by the brief mention of the Paranet, which maintains a global network between wizards and witches. (As an aside, it is odd to think how little the Internet was available to the general public when the series started in 2000.)

We also have unlikely allies who end up fighting together in order to deal with a problem that could affect them all.

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