Must read books review: The Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
I have read more than 1000 books in my lifetime. Didn't count it so don't call me out on this, I just wanted to put a high - looking number because I read a fuckton of them. I learned how to read at home, before I even started school and after that I read anything that had words on it.
So trust me when I say "this book is awesome" or "that book you absolutely must read if you're a fan of the genre", because I know what I'm talking about.
Now that we've established my dominance, let's talk about one of the finest fantasy book series that hasn't already been all over the mainstream like Game of Thrones* has - The Stormlight Archive.
*When I was 13 - which was a damn long time ago - I went to a comic book store to ask for a recommendation on which fantasy book to start reading. This totally stereotypical comic book guy with a ponytail, unshaved and a little bit overweight asked me: "do you really want to read what I think is the best fantasy book in the world right now?" and I said yes. The guy went to a curtained, off-limits part of the shop and handed me an old cracked copy of "The Song of Ice and Fire" and said: "This is the last copy I have and it's not for sale, but I'll sell it to you, because I see you're a true fantasy connoisseur". True story - now bow before me, puny mortals.
So, what is this like?
The first 2 books of The Stormlight Archive (he wants to write 10 of them, 10!) are something that I described to a coaching client like this.
"Imagine you got a good action movie or a really well made action anime with all the awesome looking moves plus magic, plus mystery, plus intrigue and awesome story with really likable characters in a book. Written in words. Like imagine that this guy (the writer) managed to write all this in a way that you can see the main character doing all the awesome stuff (like landing from a big height, dropping on 1 knee, ring of dust expanding from the centre) in your head."
The Stormlight Archive is not a gritty experience like Game of Thrones is. There is blood, there is death, but no child slavery, sexual and fecal and other explicit stuff is present, to a little bit of my dismay, but oh well. TSA is an epic story about superpowers, magic, intrigue, how people deal with their new-found power, about beliefs, faith and about reasons people have to live, kill and love.
Brandon Sanderson managed to create a completely new world with a genius magic system that I have never seen anywhere before. It's based on different elements, but it doesn't stay just in "ice, fire, earth" stuff - it's so much more.
Why should I read this?
- The story and atmosphere is phenomenal.
It starts off a little bit slow, like getting killed on attack in Overwatch when your team just caps the point and you have to trek all the way from the spawn, but when it picks up, oh boy. There are so many interesting plots and twists it'll make your head spin. The world that the author has built is also totally wild - so much work has been put into such small details like how gravity works there, how rocks are created, what kind of dogs do they have there (totally alien let me tell ya), why do they have storms that kill everything in sight almost every week, like if you were on another planet. You will be transported to this world instantly and it will not let you go back to the real one. I don't know how Brandon Sanderson does it, but this is how a book should be written. Better than virtual reality.
- Characters are memorable and very likable.
I don't think I've seen much cliché or stereotypes in TSA characters, even if they are a little bit 1 dimensional. Yes, there is a grumpy and a little bit emo "main" character Kaladin, but he has good reasons for that, even if he is sometimes a little bit overbearing. Why did I write "main"? Well, because the story is told by Point of View stories from 3 different main characters (and sometimes others) similar to GoT series and every story is totally different. Near the end of the book you will start realizing why is the story made up this way, but again, I'm not spoiling anything. Suffice to say every character has their own agenda and it's not always what you'd expect, doubly from a stereotypical hero.
The magic system is completely new, refreshing and genius.
As said above, I don't want to spoil much, because discovering the magic system is a big plot device in the books, but I can tell you that you will have big fun doing that. It's element and familiar - based, but not in a traditional sense, which makes it really interesting to read and learn about.
All in all, this series will reward anyone who will invest some time in them with stories that has never been told before, in a world that has never been seen before, with a magic system that is completely new and...you guessed it...never never seen before.
The author guy spent 10 years researching and building the series.
And it shows. Everything makes sense and there are so many details...I know I sound like a broken record, but it's true. The amount of precision here is astounding.
Who's this fantasy book series NOT for?
- people who want instant gratification and don't want to read through the whopping 1200 pages / book
- people who don't appreciate an awesome new world and completely alien magic system
- people who expect traditional fantasy tropes like medieval times, dragons and dungeons
- people who don't like to wait for new books in the series
Everybody else should read The Stormlight Archive.
I tell you, whis WILL become the new mainstream when all the Game of Thrones hype ends.
Heads up: the links are affiliated - which means that if you buy the game or a book I recommend, I get a cut. Think of it as buying me a beer for a good tip! :)