The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I gave this five stars for a few reasons…
First, this book tricked me. If an author can trick me, where I can’t predict what was about to happen, then I love you. You are what I wish to be.
Second, sheer charm. I thought it was funny and the characters were well crafted. I enjoyed each character and felt they had their own story and individuality. Also, the story was so well-crafted that it wouldn’t be complete without all the characters. Each had a role and a decision.
And speaking of story-craft, this is impeccably-designed storytelling – a lost art. Starting with flawless world building all the way to the ingenious magic system, this book had everything I look for in books. The magic system was so concise, so well-planned, so individualized that I can vision it, feel it, smell it. THAT’S what a magic system should do – make you feel that it’s real.
Sanderson’s writing is easy to conceive and visualize. This world is painful and deep with heart-wrenching realism. It’s complicated and perplexing, but yet so freely expressed that anyone could understand it. For an author, this is not easy to teach, this is talent.
I weep with jealousy. Good job!
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On the Isle of Sound and Wonder
I will admit Steampunk intimidates me. I’m afraid of gadgetry and mechanization that is, basically, over my head. My imagination is so fanciful I need magic in my stories. So, I was slightly intimidated when I picked up On the Isle of Sound and Wonder. But I’m a sucker for covers and LOOK AT THE COVER!! I’m in AWE!
My fears quickly vanished. Grauer marries both magic and mechanics into an intelligent, well-crafted, seamless retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I was immediately drawn into a vivid world of mysterious voodoo magic, flying airships, and intellectual automatons, who if I can say this, reminding me a lot of adorable Baymax.
In comparing the Shakespearean work, Grauer’s love and understanding of the original text shines through with her careful crafting and storytelling. There is more intensity with both relationships, depth of characters, and heightened danger among the island that cannot be translated to the stage. As a novel, the back stories of several characters can come to light, which I really enjoyed and kept the action and story moving. She didn’t veer so far from the play that you wouldn’t recognize it, but highlighted its potential, pleasing the Shakespearean connoisseur in me.
Grauer’s clever play with names, places, and features complement the original text. Mira (modern Miranda) proved a strong interpretation of a growing young woman facing the harsh island life, and is a valiant example of a sacrificial heroine any girl could aspire to.
I had the delightful pleasure of meeting Alyson Grauer at Salt City Steamfest last July and she is just as colorful and lively as her book. I loved… LOVED this book!
It was, in no other expression, delicious!
As an author I admire the craft and wordplay used throughout, swelled with its own music and harmonies, and so visual and sensual, that I could feel the silk fabric, or smell the sweet popcorn. The characters were rich, lively, complicated – and oh… the romance, forbidden and delightful, a perfect balance.
But there are two interesting details that I specifically loved, and something I have to commend…
Bravo Double Day!! for how the book was organized. I loved the NO CHAPTERS, instead filling it with dates and situations, jumping back and forth in time, made me an active participant. I had to pay attention to little details. Smart, clever details are peppers throughout, each a symbol or clue of the deep romance cloaked in the Night Circus. And you, yes YOU, participate as a character, experiencing the circus cleverly placed between the splendorous romance and enchantment. I felt that I lived it… that I was there experiencing it, and loved it as they did.
Bravo Morgenstern! for creating the Night Circus as a character. This is SO important when world building and a detail that many writers forget – to include your world, its history and mythology, and make a living vessel propelled by its own momentum. It was the heartbeat of the story. The ever-present notion placed in every dialogue or situation that the Night Circus was still in motion, hidden in the backdrop. Nothing made me more curious than the Night Circus itself, and that mystical force bound me to the book, much like the binding of Marco and Celia.
Milk and honey… I loved this book!!!