Review: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

Edgedancer

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson, a novella that’s part of the Stormlight Archive series. As usual, I plan not to spoil Edgedancer itself, just discuss the premise; however, I will spoil a single interlude chapter in the preceding novel, Words of RadianceThe reason is because the information in that chapter is necessary to understand the position of Edgedancer‘s protagonist, Lift.

During that chapter, Lift, a quirky thirteen year old girl with special Surgebinder abilities, attempts to rob Azir’s imperial palace. However, the heist goes wrong, and one of Lift’s teammates, Gawx ends up mortally wounded when the group is attacked by another Surgebinder Lift calls Darkness, who is an agent of the law. At great risk to herself, Lift heals Gawx. It just so happens that the imperial viziers present in the palace had been struggling with an issue where their Prime Agasix (emperor) kept getting assassinated, and they were looking for a new one. They take Gawx’s healing as a miracle, name him their new Prime Agasix, and he legally dismisses Lift’s crimes, leaving Darkness with no excuse to execute her. He leaves, but Lift certainly doesn’t forget about him.

Our story begins when Lift flees the imperial palace, paranoid that the privileged treatment she was receiving was in preparation to eat her. (I did warn you she was unusual.) Lift goes with her spren, Wyndle, who is invisible to everyone else and entirely unenthusiastic about leaving the palace behind. She uses her special abilities (which she refers to as ‘awesomeness’) to quickly travel on a grand quest to… um, actually, she’s not sure. She just doesn’t like staying in one place for too long.

Nevertheless, her overpowering hunger (her abilities are fueled by food) draw her to the Yeddaw, a city built into the ground where trenches replace roads. Being Lift, she quickly gets into trouble for stealing things; her primary targets are pancakes. No, I’m not joking. Before too long, she discovers that Darkness is in Yeddaw, too. Well, maybe she was sort of following him. She’s not entirely certain. In any event, she decides to tail him, and the story takes off from there!

I would say the greatest appeal of Edgedancer is Lift herself. It’s rare to be treated to such an eccentric protagonist. She’s generally a lot of fun to read about, and I find myself wanting more characters like her. She has a rather unique perspective on the world, and that leads her to take actions that aren’t always easy to predict. I’m eager to read more about her in the remaining Stormlight novels.

The setting of Yeddaw is also quite distinctive, and invites the reader to imagine a city that’s probably unlike any other they’ve read about. In my opinion, Edgedancer‘s greatest shortcomings are in its plot and the rest of its characters, who feel somewhat generic. It was pretty easy to figure out what was going on early in the novella, and there was an unfortunate lack of especially emotion-provoking moments, unlike in much of Sanderson’s other work. That’s not to say Edgedancer wasn’t intriguing, ’cause it was, but I’d say it was at its best when giving Lift character moments and showing the reader things from her perspective. She had a solid character arc throughout the novella, one that made sense without being overly predictable.

Overall, I did enjoy Edgedancer, but I would say Lift herself was the only part of the story that really stood out. Therefore, I rate Edgedancer 3.8/5. If you’re a fan of Sanderson’s work (especially the Stormlight Archive), it’s absolutely worth checking out.

Have you guys read any of Sanderson’s work? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, are there any other books or authors you’re particularly fond of? I’m eager to hear about them in the comments below! Until next time, I hope your life is filled with awesomeness!

 

Successor’s Promise by Trudi Canavan Review

Successor's Promise

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m going to review a book by one of my favorite authors, Trudi Canavan! I just finished reading Successor’s Promise and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I should note this is the third book in her Millenium’s Rule series. (If you Google that, you may see it referred to as a trilogy, but there’s another one coming, so I guess that label is outdated. =p ) The previous two entries are Thief’s Magic and Angel of Storms. Obviously, I recommend you check those out before reading Successor’s Promise; without having done so, a lot of the story won’t make much sense.

On that note, while I will avoid significant spoilers for Successor’s Promise, there will be spoilers for the previous two books. I’ll try to keep those to a minimum, too, but, without some, I can’t properly describe the premise.

Successor’s Promise takes place across many, many worlds; I don’t know whether the term ‘multiverse’ is appropriate here, but that’s the feeling I get when I read about them. Mages with sufficient power are able to travel between worlds quickly and freely as long as they possess enough magic. The story’s two viewpoint characters, Rielle and Tyen, are exceptionally strong mages. They can also easily read the thoughts of those who are magically weaker than they are, which makes for interesting interactions.

I’ll briefly discuss the backgrounds of our two main characters. Rielle comes from a world with little magic where use thereof is strictly forbidden. She is tricked into using magic and eventually cast out of society for it. She’s delivered to the angel Valhan, who takes her from her world and helps her master her strength – all so he can use her for his own purposes. At the end of the second book, she makes a decision that alienates her from Valhan’s faction.

Tyen’s world also has little magic, in his case, as a result of magical machinery consuming a lot of it. He discovers a book which contains the memories and knowledge of a woman named Vella. After being framed as a thief, he, too, finds himself up against the laws of his world. He flees and, eventually, he finds a way to travel to another world and later encounters the Raen – the ruler of worlds – who forces him to act as a spy for him by posing as a member of the Resistance trying to overthrow him. He does so while trying to protect as many people as possible all while hoping the Raen will find a way to create a body for Vella. In the end, however, the Raen is killed. Tyen’s role as a spy is suspected but not revealed to all, so others remain wary of him.

In Successor’s Promise, the Raen’s most loyal servant, Dahli, endeavors to find a way to resurrect his ruler. He manages to rope Tyen into playing a role using the potential of resurrecting Vella the same way as a bargaining chip. Rielle, on the other hand, feels responsible for the well being of Qall, a boy she saved from the Raen five years (‘cycles’, by in-universe terminology) ago. Dahli is searching for Qall, who has now come of age, and does her utmost to protect him.

I feel I’ve already said enough about the plot, so I’ll stop there. xD It’s quite intricate and is best experienced from the beginning.

As a reader who has been following the series since volume 1, I found it very satisfying to see how the characters have evolved. They’re constantly faced with difficult decisions with strong repercussions. I’m really eager for the fourth volume to arrive, to learn which paths they take and what they’re willing to give up as a price.

I found Successor’s Promise to be quite the page-turner due to its deep lore, introspective characters, thorough world-building, and strong momentum. The only part that seemed a little puzzling to me was an arc near the beginning of the book that served more as a way to bring Rielle and Tyen together than as an important part of the plot. Overall, the book was still excellent! I had a lot of fun watching the plot evolve and hidden truths be revealed. Therefore, I rate Successor’s Promise 4.8/5.

Have you read any of Trudi Canavan’s work? What did you think? Who are some of your favorite authors? Please let me know in the comments below, and thank you for reading! I hope you all have a stellar week. Ciao~

Series Highlight: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Light Novel)

Haruhi Cover

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be talking about the series that got me into reading light novels – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, by Nagaru Tanigawa! Most people familiar with this series probably learned about it by watching the anime, but that alone wasn’t enough for me. I had to get all of Haruhi I could! So, I bought and read all the light novels, and those are what I’ll talk about.

The series follows Kyon, a self-described ‘average guy’ who, as of the beginning of the series, is starting as a student at North High. He finds himself seated in front of the notorious Haruhi Suzumiya, an incredibly eccentric girl who proudly declares during her class introduction that she wants nothing to do with anyone unless they have some link to the paranormal – ghosts, aliens, time travelers, whatever. Despite that, she and Kyon get into the habit of speaking to each other before class each morning.

Kyon learns that Haruhi is bored with the mundane and aggressively seeking something new to spice up her life. She’s known for dating anyone who asks her out, but for breaking off her relationships very quickly. She has also tried out every school club and rejected them all, despite her talent for both academics and sports. Then, Kyon makes his decisive mistake. He suggests she start a club of her own. Haruhi loves the idea, and, of course, Kyon is instantly roped into membership.

After hijacking the Literature Club and assimilating its only member, Haruhi begins the hunt for more. She ends up with a total of five members – each of whom has their own extraordinary quirk. Her club is called the SoS Brigade and is basically focused on doing whatever she feels like doing, whether that be entering a baseball tournament, creating a film, or scouting town for signs of the paranormal.

Kyon soon finds himself in over his head with all of Haruhi’s demands – and the astounding phenomena that surround her to which she is completely oblivious. The story takes many twists and turns from there, which I don’t intend to spoil, so if you haven’t at least watched the anime, I suggest you do!

That said, this highlight is about the light novels, so I should mention some of the storylines that are exclusive to them. But, first, those of you who are veterans of the anime will be happy to hear that the hated Endless Eight takes up only a single chapter in the light novels – the anime’s nonsensical take on that story is its own. Anyway, some of the other circumstances Kyon and his friends deal with in the light novels are as follows:

  • Defending the SoS Brigade against the student council president
  • Kyon finding a duplicate copy of Mikuru Asahina in the Literature Club closet
  • SoS Brigade tryouts.
  • Solving a mystery involving the strange behavior of dogs at a certain location
  • Encountering a second cast of characters that reflect the SoS Brigade members under incredibly convoluted circumstances

I don’t want to delve too deeply into any of those storylines, ’cause spoilers are bad, but the light novels feature even more quirky situations than just those, and if you liked the anime, I suggest you pick up the light novels and read them, beginning to… well, to where the author stopped.

The unfortunate thing about the Haruhi series is that it remains incomplete, and Tanigawa hasn’t published anything in years. He’s on record promising a continuation of the series, but even if that really happens, there’s no telling how long it will take, and no one seems to be quite sure what’s up. Part of me wants to believe this is some crazy gimmick Tanigawa is using to eventually garner more interest (Maybe he’ll claim to have been pulled into an alternate dimension or something! xD), but, realistically, the cause is probably completely ordinary. Haruhi wouldn’t be satisfied at all!

Speaking of Haruhi, I just have to write a little bit about why she’s one of the characters I most look up to in any series. The reason for that is in her unbridled individualism. She knows what’s supposed to be possible and impossible in life, but strives for the impossible anyway. Her free-spiritedness and openness to trying all sorts of things legitimately inspires me. I love her willingness to ignore society’s expectations for her and instead follow a path she really believes in, no matter how unlikely success seems – and her unconscious ability to find magic in the ordinary. She has character flaws, of course, but I’m totally willing to overlook them in the face of her sheer determination to be herself.

Anyway, that’s all for this highlight! Have any of you read the Haruhi light novels, or watched the anime? If so, what did you think? Have you read any light novels at all? Please let me know in the comments below, and have an outstanding week!

Looking for Beta Readers for The Sapphire of Sacrifice

Hiyo, everyone! I’m just posting here to more visibly announce the the book I’m writing, The Sapphire of Sacrifice, is still in need of beta readers! If you’re interested in learning a little more about the book, click this. Feel free to contact me if you’re potentially interested or just want to know more about what being a beta reader entails.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, and have fun!

Ideas for the Title of your Fiction

Hiyo, everyone! I’m making a brief post today. Recently, I’ve had to choose a title for the piece of sample fiction I intend to release here soon, which got me thinking about titles in general. I’ve always had some trouble selecting them, and I figure others probably feel similarly, so I thought I’d share my findings. To emphasize, I am in no way an expert concerning this matter!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Important characters, objects, places, or concepts in the fiction are often used as titles. For example, Lirael and Abhorsen (both by Garth Nix) simply borrow their names from a character or a rank (respectively) already present in the book. Similarly, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins uses the name of the event around which the book is based. If your work contains appropriately intriguing names or terminology, a key word or phrase central to the work may serve as an effective title.
  • If your work is part of a series or existing franchise, a title that ties it to that franchise may be appropriate. This works especially well for longer series.
  • If you’re looking for something deeper, reflect on the themes of your work. A title tied to a key theme can impart a certain weight upon the reader. Many literary works, such as To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, derive their titles from some theme.
  • Tone is important. If your work is a comedy, a silly title may be appropriate. Not so much if your works centers around solemn darkness. The title of your work is something of a promise to those who decide to experience it, so make it reflective of the content within.
  • Unless you’re purposefully trying to convey a sense of complexity (or something similar) in your title, simple is probably better. People often look to fiction for enjoyment, and people generally like things they can relate to, or at least understand to some degree. Unless it works against your purpose, you’re better off with a title that’s intriguing enough to inspire interest but concise enough not to appear entirely alien. I may not be doing a good job of articulating my point here, but the gist of it is that you want to choose a title that appeals to as many people as possible without sacrificing the identity of your work.

And, for now, that’s all. I told you this post would be a short one!

Have any of you struggled to come up with a title for something before? Do you have any tips of your own, or do you disagree with any of my advice? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below! I’m eager to hear from you. Happy New Year!

Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Abhorsen

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will be writing a short review of Abhorsen, which is the sequel to Lirael, which I reviewed here. As before, I will try to avoid including too many spoilers for Abhorsen. That said, there will be plenty of spoilers for Lirael in this review. Without them, it would be difficult to adequately describe the premise of the book.

The story picks up where Lirael left us, at the ancestral home of the Abhorsen, whose role it is to deal with threats posed by the dead. We have just learned that Sam, one of the main characters from the previous book, is not actually the Abhorsen-in-waiting, but that Lirael is, and she is also Sam’s aunt. Across the Old Kingdom, at a place called the Red Lake, a necromancer named Hedge has possessed Sam’s friend, Nick, and is using him as a vessel for Orannis, a deadly, ancient being Hedge seeks to revive. Naturally, it’s up to Lirael and Sam (as well as their companions, the Disreputable Dog and Mogget) to travel to the Red Lake and put a stop to Hedge’s plan.

The group faces all sorts of dead and magical threats along the way, and they suffer through a journey that pulls no punches regarding how tiring and disheartening traveling on foot can be. As they make their journey, we continue to learn about their personalities. Abhorsen largely builds on Lirael in this regard; there are few new characters of much import, but the old ones must adapt to their new places in the world, and therefore, their views about themselves.

As a side note, it was an absolute thrill to read the passages from Nick’s perspective. As a half-possessed skeptic surrounded by the dead who still clings to a scientific worldview, his reasoning is quite amusing to behold.

I believe that Lirael and Abhorsen are better read as a single story than as two separate novels. The point at which the former ends and the latter begins feels somewhat arbitrary, and I don’t think Lirael really closed many of the key story arcs. Much of Abhorsen felt like part of the climax of the story we’d been waiting for in the previous novel. Therefore, I recommend reading these books together.

I would also like to note that I loved the imagery in Abhorsen, especially the in-depth description of Death (the place where the dead go). More of that realm was shown in Abhorsen than in either Lirael or Sabriel, and that world was simultaneously haunting and fascinating to explore.

I won’t be discussing the ending in any detail; all I will say is it felt a bit abrupt and left a few questions unanswered. Overall, I rate Abhorsen 4/5.

Have you read any of Garth Nix’s work? If so, which stories, and what did you think? If not, what have you been reading instead? I’m eager to hear from you. Buh-bye for now; Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Review: Lirael by Garth Nix

Lirael 1

Hiyo, everyone! Today I will be reviewing Lirael by Garth Nix, a book I just finished reading last night! To begin, I’ll note two things: Firstly, Lirael is technically a sequel to another novel by the name of Sabriel by the same author. However, you don’t need to have read Sabriel in order to understand Lirael, though if you read them out of order, there will be some spoilers from the former. This review also includes some of those, though I will keep them to a minimum.

And, secondly, speaking of spoilers, I will avoid those as much as I can, although, as always, I will be discussing the premise of the book, which will reveal some introductory information.

Lirael mostly takes place in a land called The Old Kingdom, where magic holds great power and much of the technology from Ancelstierre, the neighboring nation, is obsolete. (Note that Anceltstierre’s technology falls far short of modern technology in the real world, but they do have electricity and stuff.) In The Old Kingdom, it is fairly common for dead things to walk with the help of necromancers, and other magical constructs are not unheard of.

The Old Kingdom is largely ruled by three groups: The royal bloodline, the Abhorsen bloodline, and the Clayr. The Abhorsen is the only person in The Old Kingdom who is allowed to practice necromancy and it is their job to deal with all threats from the dead. The Clayr are a people gifted with the Sight – the ability to see visions from the future or possible futures. It is with the Clayr that we meet Lirael, the primary protagonist.

We find Lirael in great distress on her fourteenth birthday when she awakes to discover she still doesn’t have the Sight, though it is typical for members of the Clayr to first See when they’re ten or eleven. Immediately, Lirael is sympathetic to anyone who has ever felt like they do not belong. For a recluse like me, at least, she’s a very easy character to identify with and she’s definitely my favorite character in the book.

As time goes on, Lirael finds a place in the Clayr’s Great Library, which, unlike modern libraries, is rife with magic and danger. She eventually befriends a creature called the Disreputable Dog who can talk and displays several other signs of very obviously not being a normal dog. From there, she gradually comes to find her place in the world – and learns firsthand the dangers of The Old Kingdom.

The book’s other frequent viewpoint character is Sameth, the prince of The Old Kingdom and the Abhorsen-in-waiting. He, too, feels like he doesn’t belong – his blood requires that he learn how to fight the dead and enter Death itself, but not long into his character arc, we find that he is deeply afraid of everything to do with being Abhorsen and feels he is completely unsuitable for the role. Eventually, he ends up journeying to find a friend of his from Ancelstierre, Nick, who came to visit and instead found himself in dire trouble. He is soon accompanied by a delightfully sardonic magical creature resembling a cat who goes by the name of Mogget.

Eventually, the two main characters meet each other, and with each other’s help, they steel themselves for the battle ahead – a battle that could see The Old Kingdom fall to ruin.

I found Lirael to be a super easy read that kept me coming back for more – in fact, I read the 700+ page book in just a few days. =p The Old Kingdom and the creatures dwelling within it give off a wonderfully spooky and ancient vibe, and the magic available to the characters is volatile enough to keep them in constant danger. There are surprises around every corner, and the protagonists and their familiars are extremely likeable. Several quotes from throughout the book offer memorable perspectives on various aspects of life.

Lirael‘s biggest downside, in my opinion, is that the ending felt a bit abrupt and anti-climatic. It very clearly sets the direction for the sequel, Abhorsen, which I expect I will review this month. There is a major revelation, of course, but it’s obvious enough that I saw it coming hundreds of pages in advance. I’m hopeful that Abhorsen will provide a proper climax to the story in its place; unlike Sabriel, Lirael‘s ending leaves the story feeling incomplete.

Despite that, I strongly recommend Lirael to anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre and who likes experiences dark and sinister worlds. The setting and characters are simply enthralling to read about, and I expect the trouble brewing throughout the novel will lead to an intriguing conclusion in the sequel. Overall, I rate Lirael 4.5/5.

Have any of you read Lirael, or any other book in the series? If so, who are your favorite characters, and what did you like most about the novels? If not, what have you been reading instead? I hope to hear from you soon! ‘Til then, thanks for reading my review!