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: 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: 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: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell has been revised and updated for its 10th anniversary release to include new examples of leadership. While this is probably a great book for leaders in today’s workforce, I read it with a different tact in mind. As the book describes the 21 traits that a great leader should have (whether they are traits that a single leader should exhibit, or spread across a leadership team), I kept reading the book to search for traits that I should add to some of my heroes in my novel. (I go more in depth about whether a hero should also be a leader here). But whatever your motivation is for reading this book, it does bring forth some traits that I was not conscious of before.

For example, The Law of the Lid describes the extent of someone’s effectiveness, and especially rings true for a leader’s vision. The grander the vision, the further that leader can lead. The more you raise your leadership ability, the more your effectiveness increases.

The book goes on to describe 20 other irrefutable laws of leadership, but I must say that many of them overlapped with each other. They were not mutually exclusive, but they were definitely intriguing. I’ve read many many business and investing books before, so I had a somewhat cynical attitude while reading this because I could see the author’s ego inserted throughout the book. Also, many business books don’t dive very deep to provide analytic value, so sometimes you have to think, “What is this author not telling me?” But, what this book lacked in deep thought, I made up for by reading it as part of a book study group at work. Lots of intellectually stimulating conversation was brought forth as we discussed each chapter in a group setting.

So in the true spirit of asking, “What is this author not telling me?”, I’ll add a 22nd irrefutable law of leadership: Being humble. This is something that I am working on as I believe I have some ego-related issues. I need to learn to set that aside, as any leader should do, and people will follow you.

Book Review: The Tyranny of The Night

RATING: 4/5 Stars

OVERVIEW: The Tyranny of the Night is the first book of Glen Cook’s newest series: The Instrumentalities of the Night. It’s a fantasy novel that is targeted toward an adult audience.

PLOT: It tells the tale of how a soldier named Else encounters a minor god, but doesn’t know that it is beyond something he can kill. Ignorant to the strength of the creature, he fights it and wins. This draws him much unwanted attention from the creatures of the Night as they send two of its once-human agents to try to hunt him down.
Else’s success over the minor-god earns him his next mission where he must infiltrate the enemy as a spy under a new identity. After finding work and gleaning information, his skill in battle and knowledge of warfare earns him many promotions. He becomes torn between his new identity and the one he left behind as he finds himself now leading a new crusade against his own people.
However, the Instrumentalities of the Night were determined to get their revenge. After a failed assassination attempt that was thwarted by other dark forces of the Night, the two soultaken hunters finally catch up to Else on the battlefield, hoping to execute the Godslayer. I shall leave the ending to you.

REVIEW: Glen Cook writes in a style that is unlike any other author I’ve ever encountered. It took some getting used to before I fell into his rhythm. In addition, this was another book that didn’t capture my intrigue until 300 pages in, which is where multiple story lines began to entwine. But, once I reached that point in the story, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
Since the character Else tries to associate himself with very powerful people (heads of state, patriarchs, etc) to glean the best information he can, this book follows the political side of how wars are declared and fought in that world. As such, this book is overflowing with characters, far too many to remember – though Glen Cook does a good job of reminding the reader who each character is once their name resurfaces within the story. But it was still confusing, and would probably be best understood if this book was read in one sitting. But to add to the confusion, there were multiple lands and cities that were referenced again and again, but unlike many fantasy novels, this one does not have a map of the world. I had no reference-point to understand the layout of the land, which I would have appreciated a lot, considering the vast amount of cities that are mentioned throughout this novel.
Those were my only complaints, so on the flip side, I must say that Cook’s writing is wonderful. Any fan of sword-and-sorcery fantasy would appreciate the fantastical elements that were included throughout this novel (such as rare magical weapons and trinkets, sorcerers that are weakened by silver, and the creatures of the Night that constantly haunt the land). I can honestly say this, “Glen Cook delivered.” Every character had their own unique personality and his descriptions evoked my imagination to conjure every scene in my mind’s eye. I can honestly say, I look forward to completing the series.