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Dear Maggie,

Now that the holidays are officially over, let’s get these posts rolling again! There are too many good books to talk about for me to be lollygagging around.

I just finished Mistborn, the first in the series. Has the book-finishing sadness hit me yet? Nah. I’ve still got 1,487 pages of story to go! Whoohoo!

But oh goodness, Mistborn. Usually with an epic fantasy series I give myself a breather book between tomes. Not in this case. The day I finished the first one I zipped down to Powell’s to get the second.

I’m very enthusiastic about Mistborn and I want to share that enthusiasm with the world but Mistborn is a difficult book to write about. We were both lucky to read this book cold, without a clue what it was about. I’m now so glad I wasn’t spoiled. It turns out Mistborn has some amazing plot twists and tremendous character development that can easily be ruined.

That said, I think some vague things can be shared to entice others over to the dark side (Mwahaha!) so they don’t miss this book as I almost did. I was a bit grumbly about starting it BECAUSE I didn’t know anything about the story. Thanks, Mags, for saving me from that fate!

What makes or breaks a fantasy novel for me is the world building: the creativity and immersiveness of the new world, but also how that world is delivered to the reader. For example, I really want to like The Lord of the Rings (the book, I already love the movies. That sounds sacrilegious coming from a book geek, doesn’t it?). I love fandoms and I’d like to be part of the granddaddy of them all. I even forced myself through The Fellowship of the Ring on an international plane flight. But ugh. Those long, droning descriptions of forests and mountains and rivers and songs made me almost chuck the book into the passenger seat in front of me.

What Brandon Sanderson, and all my other favorite fantasy authors, like JK Rowling, Patrick Rothfuss, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, Sharon Shinn, etc, do is release details about the world on a need-to-know basis. The reader learns as the characters travels through the landscape, not by reading multipage long descriptions that stall the narrative-flow midplot.

Mistborn is successful at this delivery but also has a world like no other fantasy I’ve read. Yes, it fits firmly in the fantasy genre in that there is magic, swords, tyrants, and horses. But that’s where the similarity ends. In the Final Empire the sky is red, the grass is brown, daily “ashfalls” dust the ground, and no one ventures out after dark when the mists appear. The society has a harsh class system and a culture where religion is tied into government, which is tied into magic. The magic, by the way, is my favorite kind: it feels very scientific and mostly abides by the laws of physics.

The other thing I love in a fantasy novel is some good old-fashioned intrigue, and intrigue abounds in Mistborn. There are thieves, spies, schemers, dances, alliances, assassins, and general skulking about in the mist.

I thought Brandon Sanderson’s books were going to be like those in the Wheel of Time series, given he’s writing the final books. Not at all. There is a reason this book, and series, is a favorite among fantasy readers but also has the ability to hook in those new to the genre.


Now on to joining the Internet in reading The Fault in Our Stars!