Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson
A standalone in which two lands approach war, divided by beliefs about an intriguing magic system centred on colour and Breath – an essence each person is born with one of, with more usable to Awaken objects to do tasks or the dead to kill. It’s versatile: and makes for a good nuke-analogue.
For the first 40-or-so% I enjoyed it but found the characters and beliefs at play a bit simplistic, edging toward Flanderized. Then began the real character development, everyone and their ideals getting challenged and drawn out further. Vivenna goes from devout, prim princess through a wringer of trials, Lightsong’s dope, and Siri and Susebron… in retrospect the kneeling is hilarious.
The climax is a lot of fun, full of surprises and logical payoffs, if a little dependent on overly-mysterious tinges to the worldbuilding. The character arcs are fantastic, though I wonder if there could’ve been a touch more nuance and internal conflict in the first parts. And I have to ask what happens to [instigator] after the end? I mean, there were valid reasons to be pissed off.
The madlad even has this free on his site – here.
Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans And Authors – M.D. Presley
Presley starts with a somewhat plodding overview of what worldbuilding is – you can probably skip to p.35 without missing much – then becomes more interesting. The book provides insightful new terms, and gathers common points on the subject like Sanderson’s laws of magic or the warning to avoid smeerps in a compact package.
While sometimes his way of phrasing things felt a bit knotty to me, the underlying points generally make good sense. The analytical approach picks out the fundamentals, expands on standard fare in interesting ways (separating show-vs-tell into five options from ‘hard impart’ to ‘hard deduct’), but (outside the intro) avoids bogging down in minutiae.
Blood of Elves – Andrzej Sapkowski trans. Danusia Stok
The first two sets of stories provided just enough context to understand what’s going on here, but the novel gives more chance for the characters to breathe. Geralt, the pretends-to-be-gruff himbo mess. Dandelion, who either had a lot of off-page character development or is just written differently in such a way that I no longer want the scamp immolated. Yennefer, evolved from an interesting character who’d then inexplicably become a ‘uwu Geralt pwease’ smol bean to a more consistent, sardonic, hard-willed tsundere. Triss, Yarpen. Ciri! 😭
Aside from a little cringe (fear!), seeming anachronisms like ‘the secret virus cultures’, and highly specialised and undefined swordplay-vocab, yeah, I like it. The worldbuilding is very rich, down to detailed discussion of a trade war during customs inspection of a barge. All the interactions are nice, especially involving Ciri and the ‘good friend’ letter. Sapkowski is really good at showing a large crowd interacting, sketching out each character and group. The story emerging, concerning the threat of Nilfgaard, the Scoia’tael/human-other relations, and the prophecy, already has some good turns. The ending is a little abrupt, leading on to #4.