Book Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of KingsRating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Overview: This is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, written by the infamous Brandon Sanderson. It is the 1st book in The Stormlight Archive series and is just over 1,000 pages long. It is an adult fantasy novel, but is appropriate for even young adults.

Spoiler Free Plot: Brandon Sanderson is a master at world building. This is a world that gets hit by recurring highly destructive storms called highstorms and the plant life has adapted to live in these conditions. The book follows many different characters: a highprince, a bridgeman, and a ward. Each character has intriguing character traits, riveting personal backgrounds, and dilemmas that they are trying to overcome. The plot is about a 6 year long war that has been going on in an attempt at vengeance over the assassination of the King, and what this war means for the future of the kingdom.

Review: I quickly grew addicted to the characters and their lives. I felt connected to them, sharing in their struggles and their moral complications. I can’t recommend this book enough; it was one of the best books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to start the sequel! I’m convinced that any fan of fantasy would love The Way of Kings as much as I and will appreciate the artwork that was sprinkled throughout to help bring the world of Roshar to life.

Book Review: Foundation

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Overview: Foundation is a science fiction novel written by the master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov. Originally written as a series of 8 short stories published between 1942 – 1950, Foundation is the first novel in a series of 7.

Spoiler Free Plot: Foundation is set well into the future, where intergallactice space travel is possible. The Galactic Empire has grown for 12,000 years to the point where it now has become unmanageable. Additionally, there is so much historical data that it has become possible to statistically predict the future with a high degree of accuracy. Hari Seldon is one such mathematician (or psychohistorian) that is able to see the future and predecits that the downfall of the Galactic Empire will occur in 300 years. To prevent a cataclysmic era of barbarism that would follow, Hari, along with some of his most trusted followers, are chartered to create the Encyclopedia Galactica to preserve the knowledge of the human race.

Review: This was a very fun read. It was intellectually stimulating and always kept you guessing. But because this book is structured into 5 parts, it skips a good amount of years inbetween each part. This causes the reader to be introduced to a new main character each time, which is only slightly disrupting to the flow.

I realized that a key characteristic of science fiction novels seems to be the inclusion of very intelligent characters, to which, this one had plenty. Additionally, this author put amazing foresight into the technology that was utilized in the novel, especially considering that it was originally written in the 1940s. (Though it was interesting to note that there were still ground cars and newspapers).

A secondary plot point in this novel that intrigued me was the notion that the fall of the empire (a metaphor for our reliance on technology) would drive us to 30,000 years of barbarism. The author really knew how utilize things that we take for granted and connect them into his story. It was well done.

Book Review: Ender’s Game

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars – I highly recommend this book!

Overview: Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel written by Orson Scott Card in 1985. It’s the first book in a 5 part series.

Spoiler Free Plot: Ender Wiggin is a young boy genius and is recruited into an intense military tactical training school in preparation for the 3rd invasion against the buggers – an alien race.

Review: I grew to love Ender Wiggin. His character was very likable and instantly drew me in. I was always intrigued by his trials and tribulations throughout his tactical training school. Even more so, I was enthralled by his genius. Orson Scott Card brought his character to life.

The first 3 chapters used terms before the reader knew what they meant. I’m sure it was a tactic to draw the reader in, but I was a little put off by it. None the less, once I fully understood the meaning behind the terms, I was already drawn in by the story. Near the end of the conflict, I had caught on to the ending before it was revealed, though I don’t think that ruined the novel at all. The chapter after the end of the conflict that was supposed to bring closure to all the loose ends was a bit strange. It rubbed me the wrong way, just as the first 3 chapters did – but regardless, the book was wildly entertaining!

I am a dedicated fantasy fan. As long as there is a fantasy book I haven’t read, I would rather read that before I switch genres. But, with Ender’s Game being a sci-fi novel, I thought I should give it a shot because of the movie that has come out – and I was blown away. This made me want to check out other sci-fi books, and that’s saying something.

Book Review: First King of Shannara

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Overview: This is an epic fantasy novel, targeted toward an adult audience, written by Terry Brooks. It is the Prelude to the the Original Shannara Trilogy (aka The Sword of Shannara Trilogy), but was actually written after the trilogy was completed.

Spoiler Free Plot: A rebel druid named Brona is amassing an army to wipe the elder races off the face of the planet. Only Bremen and his cohorts can stand in his way. But to destroy someone as powerful as Brona, a magical sword must be forged, and only the King of Shannara can wield it.

Review: The only reason why I didn’t give this 5 stars is because I became picky over Brooks’ writing style. I can’t count how many times he used the words subverted and subjugated. Additionally, his writing style sometimes “told” you what was happening, instead of “showing” you. And there was one spot where I thought the protagonists were cornered, about to meet their maker, and then suddenly a secret passage was available for them to escape (a huge let down – very similar to a deus ex machina). But that about sums up my gripes.

However, the story was very entertaining and fun! I felt like I personally knew the characters by the end, and there was tensions and action throughout the book! I feel like I would have been even more surprised at certain points had I read the trilogy first, so I would recommend reading this last.

The book was well structured, separated into 3 parts. It followed the individual stories of many of the cohorts that supported Bremen’s plan to thwart the evil Brona, and each was gripping and fast paced. There was never a moment when I thought the book was sluggish, and I highly recommend it to any fan of fantasy – as Terry Brooks is one of the greats!

Book Review: Dragon Champion

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars. My favorite book of all time!

Overview: This is a fantasy novel by E. E. Knight written entirely from a dragon’s perspective. It is book 1 out of 6 in The Age of Fire series.

Spoiler Free Plot: The book begins with Auron hatching out of his egg. The reader is quickly engrossed in the life and culture of a dragon and his family, learning the stages of their development (breathing fire, sprouting wings, etc). In addition, Auron is a grey dragon, which means he doesn’t have scales like the other colors, but he became the champion of his clutch (hence the title of the novel). Once Auron is out on his own, he encounters a wide variety of unique allies throughout his adventures as he tries to find his place as a dragon in a world where they are becoming increasingly rare.

Review: This instantly became my favorite book ever! Viewing the world from a dragon’s eyes made everything seem foreign and new.  The amount of thought put behind the culture of dragons (how they communicate, the way their name changes as they reach a certain stage of their life, how they get new scales, the unique names for their front and back limbs, etc) was part of why this book captured me as a reader. There was a balance of humor, action, adventure, suspense, and wonder throughout this whole book. It was gripping.

I’d also like to give props to E. E. Knight for not using a single curse word throughout the novel. In addition, I felt that the relationships the Auron formed were real. The vast assortment of characters really come to life; this book was a pleasure to read and is easily my #1 recommended book from here on out. I can’t wait to finish reading the rest of the series.

Book Review: Eragon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Overview: This is a young adult fantasy novel. It was written by Christopher Paolini at the age of 15, but was first published when he was ~18 (in 2001). It is the first in a four-book series entitled Inheritence. In 2006, Fox made the movie adaptation of Eragon in theaters around the world (but the book is way better, in addition to it being very unique from the film).

Plot: The story follows a 16 year old farmboy named Eragon. One day while hunting, an egg magically appears before him, a dragon egg. Once it hatched, his life was forever changed. He instantly became part of a prestigious group known as Dragon Riders, though not many of them still lived. As rumors spread of his whereabouts, danger ensues, and Eragon finds his uncle murdered. Eragon goes on a quest for vengeance, bringing Brom along to train him in swordsmanship and magic. During his adventures, Eragon becomes increasingly interjected into the politics and grudges between evil King Galbatorix and the Varden and Eragon realizes that he must choose a side.

Review: Eragon was a fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters and their interactions, especially between Eragon and Saphira the dragon, were excellent and life like! Being that Eragon is a farmboy, turning from 15 to 16 during the events of the book, he had a lot of maturing to do in the way of combat and spell casting. As a consequence, I felt the book was on the heavy side with training. There was even a whole chapter about him learning how to read.

In addition, throughout the whole novel, Eragon almost never stopped moving. He was either chasing his uncle’s murderers (which he never did get his revenge), or he was fleeing. Last, but not least, Eragon never confronted evil, evil always confronted him. Even when he was located in a secret city that King Galbatorix didn’t know the location of, somehow an army of Urgals and Kull knew where to assault. Not that these complaints of mine are necessarily bad, but they are what prevented me from giving it 4 stars.

During my review, I always like to point out what I perceive as flaws mostly because it helps me learn as an author, so don’t let it deter you from reading this book. It was highly entertaining, a quick read, and it kept me engaged all the way to the end (and made me want to jump into the sequel!).

Book Review: Orcs – Bodyguard of Lightning

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Overview: The book depicted on the left is really 3 books in a single volume, containing Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest. ORCS is an adult fantasy novel written by Stan Nicholls.

Plot: An orc named Stryke leads a band of orcs known as the Wolverines. He has been commanded by a sorceress named Jennesta to return a cylinder to her. What should have been an easy task for a unit of their skill, quickly spirals out of control.

Review: This book is supposed to revolutionary by telling a story from the point of view of the orcs, adding culture and character to an otherwise mindless tyrannical evil race that, in other books, would destroy things just for the sake of destruction. But not in ORCS, no. The Wolverines were far too civilized and human-like for my taste. They cared for one another (and others), and they often voted on making a decision. I expected in-fighting and animosity, but that only occured between Jup (a dwarf) and Haskeer. . . that’s right, they have a dwarf in their unit and he’s the 3rd highest ranking person!

This book is like a classic action movie. Big on the combat scenes (which I enjoyed), but weak on the plot. The plot spun out of control pretty rapidly. Once the cylinder was stolen from the orcs, the plot became: Let’s go get it back, let’s keep it for ourselves even though we don’t know what it is, let’s conveniently learn about it from an old gremlin guy, let’s go searching for more of these and become renegades. Meanwhile, Jennesta sits back in her castle and sends unit after unit after unit of people to go hunt down the Wolverines. I felt like the author’s story wasn’t planned. The characters continually debated what they should be doing, and most of the time it was hard to agree with their logic (meaning, I found lots of holes in this story).

While the action scenes were memorable, and even though it ended on a major cliffhanger, I was not impressed enough to read the rest of the volume… not when I have other books to choose from, at least.