Reading frustrations

Because I am not an idiot, I took a couple of books with to read on honeymoon. Because I have extremely poor planning skills, I just sort of assumed that I could get a few more in Thailand if I ran out.

Do not make this mistake.

The thai alphabet is exceedingly pretty, but for all that the symbols look familiar to anyone who’s ever seen graffitti, the relation they bear to the roman alphabet that we know and love is… nonexistent. The only bookstore that we found in Phuket that actually carried anything in english was a single-room outfit packed with second-hand reading material, very heavy on pulp thrillers and mysteries, but somewhat light on my primary interests: fantasy and sci-fi.

They did, however, have a couple of books by Brandon Sanderson. His work had been recommended by a friend, so I picked them up to tide me through the visit.

Sanderson has a gift for imagining different magic systems, different worlds, and the same damn social system over and over again. The reasons why the numerically superior everyman-types are effectively reduced to slavery by their elitist overlords changes, but the basic framework is always the same.

Cof.

As a worldbuilder, though, he’s first-rate. Coming from a background in pen and paper roleplaying, that’s deeply appealing. His first book, Elantris, suffered in terms of characterisation – most of the characters are terribly flat, and every non-viewpoint character ends up feeling like an NPC. Warbreaker was almost as bad, though the author’s storytelling abilities had developed to the point where it no longer felt like the entire plot of the novel happened in the closing 25 pages. Which brings me to the third of his books that I’d nabbed… The Way of Kings.

Cover image swiped from a blog with a rather more detailed and refined review of the book. Click through to check it out.

This is a good book. It’s a very good book, with engaging pacing, flavourful characters, and (at long last) the impression that the non-main-characters out in the world aren’t just painted on a background and then jiggled up and down by puppetry when a predetermined response is required. The story tugs at the reader to follow it, whisking along through scenes and visions until…

…well, until the hook for book 2. Which apparently won’t be published until late next year. I hate when this happens. I chewed through the Song of Ice and Fire series in a month or two… five years back. The subsequent gap between reading those books and the relatively recent publication of the latest has soured me on the series to the point where I haven’t even picked up Dance with Dragons yet.

Now, obviously Sanderson isn’t as completely oblivious to anything resembling a sense of productivity as Martin is. Sanderson already has at least one trilogy – the Mistborn series – under his belt, and has thrashed out a number of short stories and standalone books, mostly published in the same timeframe as GRRM spent producing a single volume in his series. My opinion of Martin is that there isn’t an author on the face of the planet more densely determined to drag his series out until we see a repeat of Robert Jordan.

Speaking of, though, Sanderson recently produced the final book in the acclaimed Wheel of Time epic… avoiding premature termination of the series due to Jordan’s author existence failure. As selfish as it is, I fervently hope that doing so helps keep Sanderson in mind of the worst case.

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