Big Reading Update – Mistborn, Stromlight, Reckoners, Gentleman Bastards, Red Rising …

This site was originally intended to support my awesome writing venture, with updates and supplemental content, and all that good stuff … but due to a variety of real-world circumstances, my creative writing efforts have been all-but-completely halted for a while now. So instead, you get a bunch of updates on works that I’m reading (reading is writing research, so it counts, right?).

Because of the nature of audio books, there is no such thing as “too busy to read” because in my life I commute–like most of us–and I do menial chores around the house–again, like most of us–and these have become reading moments for me, so I’ve been burning through a tremendous amount of amazing work. And incidentally, my house has never been cleaner! Though I refuse to clean my kids’ room. That’s their job.

Brandon Sanderson — how did this guy fly under my radar? How?!

To use the phraseology coined by the great Artosis, Brandon Sanderson is a literal god of creative writing. I don’t even understand how I’ve been a reader for this long and didn’t know of his genius modern masterpieces. Good lord. I read “The Final Empire” first, was instantly hooked, and am now rapidly consuming everything he’s ever written–and can’t get enough.

Books finished:

Series: Mistborn

Medieval Fantasy with an awesome magic system, and a tight-but-epic storyline sprawling the original trilogy. The follow-up trilogy takes place in a different time period in the same world, and it’s interestingly Fantasy Western / Steampunk. Highly recommended.

  • The Final Empire: Mistborn Book 1
  • The Well of Ascension: Mistborn, Book 2
  • The Hero of Ages: Mistborn, Book 3
  • The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel
  • Shadows of Self: A Mistborn Novel
  • The Bands of Mourning: A Mistborn Novel

Series: Stormlight Archives

Epic High Fantasy with a fascinating magic system. This is a modern works, as he’s only written three of a planned ten volumes–ten! Each book is massive, and sprawling, each weighing in at around a 45-hour listening time. It’s hard to truly convey how epic these books are, in every sense of the word. Highly recommended.

  • The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive
  • Words of Radiance: Book Two of The Stormlight Archive
  • Oathbringer: Book Three of The Stormlight Archive

Series: The Reckoners

This is Sanderon’s way of showing us that he is not just a master of medieval fantasy, epic high fantasy, western / steampunk fantasy, but can also do modern fantasy in the vein of the old TV show “Heroes” or the “X-men”. It’s absurd how awesome these books are. Extremely fun young adult fantasy that is highly enjoyable as an adult. I loved these books.

  • Steelheart: The Reckoners, Book One
  • Firefight: The Reckoners, Book Two
  • Calamity: The Reckoners, Book Three

Other Notable Authors I’ve Been Reading

So, besides my cave diving into the works of Sanderson, I’ve also been reading quite a few other notable fantasy authors.

Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Trilogy, and then his follow-up Book IV

So apparently I haven’t written an update since I finished Morning Star, Brown’s finale to the original Red Rising trilogy. It was ridiculously awesome! Some time later–actually, quite a bit later–he released Iron Gold, the 4th installment of the Red Rising series, but it’s more a Book I in a second trilogy. Iron Gold felt substantially weaker than the original trilogy, but it was still awesome and I still eagerly anticipate the follow-up works.

Books finished:

  • Morning Star: Book III of the Red Rising Trilogy
  • Iron Gold

Jonathan Renshaw’s Dawn of Wonder – Next please?

This coming-of-age fantasy was a bit slow to start, and by that I mean, the whole thing until nearly the final third felt a bit like a slog. But it was awesome once it picked up. By the time it ended I really wanted more! That’s when I learned I had just read a Book I of a trilogy and Book II is nowhere to be seen. Ugh. And so we wait …

Book finished:

  • Dawn of Wonder: The Wakening, Book One

Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Sequence – We eagerly await more.

I finished the first three books of the planned seven-book Gentleman Bastard Sequence and I desperately want more! This medieval fantasy book has a very rogue-centric heist-oriented feel to it. Very much a fantasy caper sort of dynamic. I highly recommend it. Extremely engaging and creative, but unfortunately it seems that Lynch ran into some personal / health trouble and the series has been halted. Wishing him and his the best.

Books finished:

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book One
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book Two
  • The Republic of Thieves: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book Three

 Wrapping things up …

I’m currently reading Elantris, and have a few more Sanderson books to read (though I will probably skip Alcatraz, since it’s for Young Readers). My buddy wants me to read Ready Player One, and I probably will, but I might just see the movie. And I’ve also been urged to read Meg, which I think I will probably do. I could use a departure from my normal channels of escapism.

And what type of update would this be if I didn’t call out Mr. Grimdark himself, Joe Abercrombie, the brilliant author behind The First Law series? What’s the deal, Grimdark? We want more!

I kid, I kid. Turns our Joe Abercrombie is diligently working on the follow-up trilogy set in his First Law universe and is taking an interesting approach. He is writing the drafts for all three novels first. His latest update claimed he only had a handful of chapters to write in his first draft. So that’s awesome. But geez … it’s been a while. But I guess the idea is that there won’t be big delays between books in this next series. Sounds good in theory! 

Oh, and hopefully I write some shit that doesn’t suck soon. Goodness. Every time I discover a new author or read a new series I realize what a pathetic little writing fool I am! Haha. Kidding. Sort of.

Thanks, all!

Finished Reading “Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy”, by Pierce Brown. **SPOILERS**

Preface: If you haven’t read Red Rising, which is book #1 in the Red Rising trilogy, stop reading this review right now–as it will contain light spoilers for you–and go read Red Rising. You will not be disappointed.

I’m reading the audiobooks of this series–so can I call it reading? Is it listening? *shrugs*–and of all the audiobooks I’ve read this one stands out. Exemplary, really. The writing, and story, and all that book-review stuff are absolutely top notch, but the performance delivered by Tim Gerald Reynolds, the narrator, is spectacular. He narrated the first book, and did an excellent job, but he found his stride with Golden Son and frankly, I think his performance takes the book to a level it might not have achieved for me by eyeball reading. If you haven’t truly experienced an audiobook yet, I strongly encourage it. Even if the purist in you thinks that reading must be done with your eyeballs, trust me. This is next-level shit right here.

Did you think Red Rising was a little too derivative, too young adult, too Matrix/Hunger Games/Modern YA Dystopia for ya? Any dust motes of that type of thinking are quickly swept away as soon as you open the door to Golden Son. This entry in the trilogy takes you way, way beyond book #1, and doesn’t just break the chains, but breaks the mold (bahahaha! See what I did there?).

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Finished reading “Red Rising”, by Pierce Brown — Spoiler Free Review

I had heard of “Red Rising” from a few different angles–a life-long friend, a sneak peak at the end of an audiobook (I think it was one of the Shattered Sea books)–and when you hear the elevator pitch, it really just doesn’t do the book justice. The pitch: in the distant future, society is broken down into a color-coded caste system. The Golds rule, all the other colors are slaves with designated tasks. A Red named Darrow–red being the lowliest of colors–rises from his mining colony on Mars to embark on a rebellion. Sounds so boilerplate, and basic … and then I read the book, and holy shit, it’s awesome. It’s much better than it sounds.

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All of the Stories in Rogues – Skip and Don’t Skip Summary

I listened to every story in the Rogues anthology, edited by George R. R. Martin, and composed a snippet-review for each one here on my site. I thought it might be useful if there were a quick consumable that gave a blip about each one, to help people decide whether to read or skip a story. I imagine most are like me and get an anthology like this because of a couple or three authors (or maybe even one!) and don’t necessarily want to read the whole thing.

A bit about the format:

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Stories in Rogues – “The Rogue Prince, or, a King’s Brother” by George R. R. Martin

Okay, George R. R., with you and your silly name–”Mr. Martin” as you might have it–you wouldn’t be trying to pass off a history textbook as a short story now would you? Would you?! Actually, I don’t even need to ask the question. That’s exactly what this story is. But, it’s in Westeros, and it deals with Targaryens. So I’m in. Mmmmm … Targaryens …

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Stories in Rogues – “The Lightning Tree” by Patrick Rothfuss

There is something to be said about being the lead-in entry for George R.R.’s story in this anthology, which of course, is exactly where Rothfuss’ “The Lightning Tree” is located. And can I mention Rothfuss, a newcomer, without also mentioning the other powerhouse newcomer in this collection, Joe Abercrombie? I think not. And in that note, there is something to be said about being the lead story, which Abercrombie was.

But Abercrombie fell a little flat, unfortunately–which is insane to say, really–and Rothfuss absolutely did not. But what was it about? Bast? Was Kvothe in it? The Waystone in? TELL ME!

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Stories in Rogues – “Now Showing” by Connie Willis

If you knew me personally, and had to guess whether or not I would enjoy a story about a college-age girl going to the movies, in the future, with her girlfriends–and the primary goal of the main being not to keep her friends from being sidetracked by scorching guys–you’d probably give that one a quick no. But what do you think happened?

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Stories in Rogues – “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman

You may have read the title and wondered, hmm, what is a Marquis? And what is so special about this coat? Well, normally I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you–and I guess I won’t–so let’s dig a little deeper and see what this tale is all about, and more importantly, whether or not you should be reading it.

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Stories in Rogues – “The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives” by Lisa Tuttle

Ready for a 19th century Sherlock-Holmes esque mystery-solving dynamic duo set in England? Then let’s dive into this story about a start-up P.I. team taking on a ghost story … but it ends up not being ghosts. Something worse. A monster.

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Stories in Rogues – “The Caravan to Nowhere” by Phyllis Eisenstein

Author Phyllis Eisenstein comes out of a semi-retirement, and takes a beloved character out of a similar retirement to tell us this curious story set in the desert on some fantasy world. Our main character is a bard with the ability to teleport. This ends up being important to the story, but not the reason for the story. The reason for the story feels deeper, in a sad way.

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