the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Brandon Sanderson’ Category

Elantris_coverElantris, by Brandon Sanderson

published in 2005

where I got it: purchased used

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Hard to believe I haven’t read any Brandon Sanderson, isn’t it?  His name has been a buzzword for quite a while now, I’ve seen more than a few Sanderson read-alongs pop up, the dude is like, everywhere.   One afternoon at my local indie bookshop, I asked “got any Sanderson that isn’t in the middle of a series?”, and I came home with a copy of Elantris.

 

We open with some history of the world, where the god-like citizens of Elantris never wanted for anything, and kept everyone safe. Their magic suffused everything, allowing Elantrians to glow and magical creatures to wander the world. Then something horrible happened, there was a short war, and now the grand city of Elantris sits abandoned. Only those who have no one else to go, those who have been afflicted with the horrifying Shaod disease now live in Elantris.

 

In nearby Kae, Prince Raoden awaits the arrival of his fiance Sarene.   By the time she arrives, the King has already announced the Prince has died of a wasting disease. Sarene can’t go home, so she sticks around, and learns as much as she can about her new family. Also, when can she stop wearing black to mourn a husband she never met?  She’s not the only one new to the court. There’s a religious war brewing, and Hrathen, a high priest of Fjordell is on a mission to convert the citizens of Arelon before they can be viewed as heretics.

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The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson

published November 2012

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher

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The story is interesting, the magic is thrilling, but it’s the characterization that turns this simple tale into a glowing story and had me asking myself who is Brandon Sanderson, and why aren’t I reading more of him?

Caught stealing in the palace, Shai is scheduled for execution.  You see, it’s perfectly fine for the licensed palace artists to forge and reforge ancient artwork that will beautify the palace. But what Shai does is illegal.  Beyond being guilty of changing her own soul and practicing pagan arts, she’s unlicensed.  But before they rid themselves of one more filthy forger who insists on using pagan magics, the powers that be will use her to their benefit.  I’m just as uppity as the Imperial Councillors in the story, for having preconceived notions about her, for misunderstanding how and why she does what she does.

To earn her life back, Shai is given an impossible task.  She’s to re-forge the soul of the Emperor, who has been in a coma since an attack on the palace. The Emperor is expected to be in seclusion for one hundred days to mourn the death of his wife.  If the Emperor fails to appear after that time period, if Shai isn’t successful in her task, the Empire will fall.  Well, maybe not the Empire, but at least the ruling faction.   Her skills are seen as an abomination by the ruling faction, but she’s just become their key to staying in power.

Forging isn’t as easy as you’d think, and this isn’t a magic that just happens because some powerful wizard wills it to.    The forger isn’t just making a painting, or a vase, or an ornamented table, they are convincing the materials to remember a different history, a more beautiful history. To turn an old, scratched up table into something beautiful, the wood itself must be convinced that it was cut from a healthy tree, was carefully carved and then polished and oiled weekly. Using uniquely carved soul stamps, a forger isn’t making a copy, or a fake, they are changing the soul of the item to believe it was always that way.  And if forging a painting or sculpture is that complicated, just imagine how complicated it would be to forge the soul of a person.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.