The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Well of Ascension
Series: Mistborn #2
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 656
Words: 249K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The Final Empire is in turmoil as various regions descend into anarchy following the Lord Ruler’s death and the disappearance of the Steel Ministry. Elend Venture has claimed the crown of the capital city, Luthadel, and attempts to restore order, but various hostile forces converge on the city. Three armies lay siege to Luthadel because of its rumored wealth of Atium and political influence. The first army is led by Straff Venture – head of House Venture, and Elend’s father. The second army is led by Ashweather Cett, self-declared king of the Western Dominance. The third army consists of Koloss, massive, brutish blue creatures once controlled by the Lord Ruler, and is led by Elend’s former friend Jastes, who is buying the Koloss’ obedience with counterfeit coins.

Vin and Elend discover a set of discarded bones in their keep, and with help from Vin’s shapeshifting Kandra, OreSeur, realize that another Kandra has taken the form and identity of one of Kelsier’s crew to spy on them. Vin becomes increasingly suspicious of everyone around her. At night, she begins sparring with Zane, Straff’s Mistborn son and Elend’s half brother. In the South, Sazed has come across suspicious deaths that appear to be caused by the mists. Marsh – Kelsier’s brother and a Steel Inquisitor – leads Sazed to a Ministry stronghold called “The Conventical of Seran,” the former base of the Inquisitors. They discover an engraving that was authored by the Terrisman who once claimed to have found the Hero of Ages, which begins “I write these words in steel, for anything not set in metal cannot be trusted.” They leave quickly, Sazed taking a charcoal rubbing.

The Terris keeper Tindwyl arrives at Luthadel to train Elend to be a better king. Despite his personal improvements, the Assembly votes to depose Elend, using the very laws written by Elend, and elect Lord Penrod as their new king. Zane pressures Vin to kill her enemies and flee with him, abandoning the city. Misting assassins attack Elend at an Assembly meeting, and when Vin kills them in front of Elend, their relationship deteriorates. At Zane’s urging, Vin lashes out, slaughtering hundreds of Cett’s soldiers at his temporary Luthadel mansion. She becomes disturbed by her actions and flees without killing Cett, who decides to leave the city and abandon his siege. Vin decides to choose Elend over Zane and refuses him. He tries to kill her, and reveals that the real OreSeur is dead, having been replaced by Zane’s kandra, TenSoon. TenSoon has grown to like Vin, however, and he helps her kill Zane before returning to the kandra homeland. Feeling liberated, Vin accepts Elend’s longstanding marriage proposal. Sazed and the rest of the crew scheme to get Elend and Vin out of the city before it falls, and Sazed creates a false map to the Well of Ascension, which Vin is convinced may be able to save them.

Straff withdraws his forces, allowing the koloss army to attack Luthadel, planning to rescue the city after the koloss have destroyed most of it and suffered casualties. Jastes loses control of his army; he flees and is killed. Vin returns to Luthadel just in time to save Sazed and most of the city’s civilians, though Dockson, Tindwyl and Clubs are killed. She discovers that she can control the koloss using her Allomancy; she stops their slaughtering and turns them and Luthadel’s army against Straff’s army. Vin kills Straff and his generals as Cett decides to ally himself with Luthadel. Vin forces Cett, Penrod, and Straff’s last general to swear allegiance as kings under Elend, whom she names emperor.

Vin realizes that the Well of Ascension is in Luthadel itself, and finds a hidden doorway in the Lord Ruler’s castle that leads down to the underground Well of Ascension, where a man made of mist stabs Elend. Vin is tempted to use the power in the Well to heal him, but ultimately follows the instruction of Sazed’s rubbing, releasing the power for the good of the world rather than seizing it for herself. The moment she releases it, a powerful entity escapes, shouting out that it is now free. The Mist figure encourages Vin to feed Elend a bead of metal she finds in the room, which makes him a Mistborn; his life is saved through Allomancy by burning Pewter. Sazed travels back to The Conventical of Seran and inspects the engraving. He discovers that the words of the rubbing have been changed, presumably by the mysterious entity working to secure its own release.

My Thoughts:

I can imagine Sanderson chortling to himself as he wrote this book. He had already turned the Epic Fantasy world on its head by having the badguy turn out to be the hero but who really wasn’t and in this, he turns prophecy on its head as the hero of prophecy actually hasn’t come yet and it’s a woman, ie, Vin the Mistborn of the series. Of course, right at the very end of the book you find out that even the Prophecy turned on its head was just a fake out. I also happen to remember vague details from book 3 that makes it all even more inverted. Like I said, I bet he was chortling away as he wrote this. I think the impact of all that twisty inversion has the greatest punch upon the initial read but upon a re-read you pick up on the foreshadowing that he includes.

When I read this back in ’07 I was in my late 20’s and still single. What I was looking for in books was that sense of fantastic adventure coupled with a slight bit of romance and boy howdy, it delivered all of that back then. It still does this time around too. The problem is, I have changed quite a bit in the last 14 years and unlike some books (Way-Farer, Galactic Odyssey, The Hobbit, etc), this book has not weathered those changes as seamlessly. The angst of the love me/love me not has zero appeal, the uncertainty of youth and inexperience isn’t comforting but annoying and I’ve read a lot of Fantasy, epic or otherwise, since then. While Sanderson has reset Epic Fantasy, much like Tolkien did back in his day, that has spawned so much copycat and wannabes that it makes finding an original story that much harder. That’s not directly relevant to this story, but I see the effects this series has had and I have to admit that I don’t like that effect, not at all. So it colors my enjoyment here and now.

The story itself is just great though. Multiple armies and monsters and Mistborns all flying around and killing. And the world going crazy with mists starting to kill people. It is good stuff!

I don’t like the cover for this edition. While pretty accurate (Vin carrying a big ass koloss sword) it just screams Young Adult. Plus, it’s not the one that was originally released and that’s what I read and so obviously that is the best one. Duh! I’ve included a small picture of the original. If you’re really curious, just use Tineye.com to do a reverse image search for a big copy.

I don’t regret selling my hardcovers for this series though. Which tells me the raw and gritty truth, that I’ve moved on and these books haven’t. Now, where’s my cane? And someone tell those bleeping kids to get off my lawn too! Kids, no respect these days. Back in MY day…..

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Series: Mistborn #1
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 574
Words: 214K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Three years prior to the start of the novel, a half-skaa thief named Kelsier discovered that he was Mistborn and escapes the Pits of Hathsin, a brutal prison camp of the Lord Ruler. He returned to Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire, where he rounded up his old thieving crew for a new job: to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing its treasury and collapsing its economy.

At the beginning of the novel, Vin, a wary and abused street urchin, is recruited by Kelsier’s crew after Kelsier is notified by his brother, Marsh, that she is a Mistborn. Vin is trained by Kelsier’s crew to develop her Allomantic powers, which include burning pewter to strengthen the body, burning tin to enhance the senses, and burning steel and iron to gain a limited form of telekinesis over metal. She is also given the duty of spying on the nobility by attending opulent balls in Luthadel (the capital and center of the final empire), where she poses as Valette Renoux, niece to Lord Renoux, a nobleman working with Kelsier’s crew. During these balls, she meets and falls in love with Elend Venture, heir to House Venture, the most powerful of the Luthadel noble houses. Elend flouts the rules of nobility culture and secretly plans to build a better society with his noble friends when they ascend to their respective house titles.

Kelsier hopes to conquer the city by destabilizing it with a house war between the nobility and then invading with a skaa army. Once in control, he hopes to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing the Lord Ruler’s hoard of atium, a precious metal which is the cornerstone of the Final Empire’s economy. The crew succeeds in starting a house war by assassinating several powerful nobles and recruiting about seven thousand soldiers to join their cause. However, about three quarters of the soldiers are slaughtered when they foolishly attack an unimportant Final Empire garrison with the hopes of divine protection from Kelsier, who has spread rumors of his “supernatural” powers. The remaining soldiers are smuggled into Luthadel by Kelsier, who intends to continue the plan. Unfortunately, Marsh is discovered and seemingly killed, and Lord Renoux and his estate are seized and he is brought to be executed by the Canton of Inquisition, the police arm of the Final Empire. This Canton is made up of Steel Inquisitors, seemingly indestructible Allomancers with steel spikes driven through their eyes. Though Kelsier’s crew manage to free most of Renoux’s group and kill an Inquisitor, Kelsier is killed by the Lord Ruler himself in a dramatic confrontation in Luthadel’s city square. Though these events appear to leave Kelsier’s plan in shambles, it is revealed that his real plan was to become a martyred symbol of hope for Luthadel’s superstitious skaa population. The skaa population reacts to his death by rising up and overthrowing the city with the help of Kelsier’s army.

Before his death, Kelsier had attempted to unlock the potential of the “Eleventh Metal” that he had acquired, which was rumored to be the Lord Ruler’s weakness. He was unable to do so before his death, and left it to Vin to finish the job. With the Eleventh Metal, Vin goes to the imperial palace to kill the Lord Ruler. She is captured by the Canton of Inquisition and left in a cell to be tortured, but Sazed, her faithful servant, comes to her rescue. Using a magical discipline called Feruchemy, he helps Vin escape and recover her possessions. Marsh is revealed to be alive, having actually been made into a Steel Inquisitor; he betrays his fellow Inquisitors and slays them. Vin fights the Lord Ruler, who is revealed to be both an incredibly powerful Allomancer and a Feruchemist, the combination of which grants him incredible healing powers and eternal youth. Vin is almost destroyed by the Lord Ruler, but with hints from the Eleventh Metal and the unexpected magical aid of the mists, she manages to separate the Lord Ruler from his Feruchemical bracelets that provide him with constant youth, causing him to age rapidly. Vin uses a spear to kill the Lord Ruler, who with his last words ominously warns her of a great doom. The Final Empire collapses, though Elend is able to avoid total societal collapse by uniting Luthadel under a new system of democratic government.

My Thoughts:

Recently I’ve been talking with other people about whether fantasy has gotten worse (in whatever form you claim is “worse”) or if there’s just more drek or if authors are pandering to the idiots or whatnot. I do think we can all agree it has gotten bigger, literally. If it ain’t a 10 volume epic of phat tomes, then the publishers will tell you to publish it yourself. Anyway, I have found myself despising the path that Brandon Sanderson has started going down. He’s writing multiple Young Adult books, comics and starting new series while ignoring older series. He’s also taken to putting his name on a cover and “co-authoring” books, which as we all know, usually means the other person did all the work and the big name is to sell the book. You might detect a hint of bitterness. If so, you are correct. When I was in my 20’s, and him too, he wrote what I wanted to read. As I’ve gotten older, his output hasn’t changed but is still geared towards a younger audience. What I wasn’t sure about was whether my memories of raving about his early works were because they were actually good, or because they hit the spot for me.

So this re-read of the original Mistborn trilogy is a test to see if Sanderson was a good author or if his recent “decline” was just in my head. Sadly, this was pure awesome sauce and made me excited to read fantasy. I say sadly because it means Sanderson has pandered to the Crowd and stopped writing good stuff.

This is not a perfect book, despite my rating and love for it. This is early Sanderson and while nothing sticks out like a broken branch, it is not completely polished. It “felt” like an early work. The chosen words didn’t flow perfectly, they didn’t have the many shades of meaning possible. It was never bad or ever wrong, it just wasn’t as good as I’ve seen him write in later books. But really, I don’t expect a highschool athlete to perform at the same level as an Olympic Champion. But once they’ve reached that level, I expect them to stay there. And while early Sanderson was great, once he got beyond that there’s just no going back.

Now, with that naysaying, this was just as good as I remember. I was excited to crack open my kindle each evening and read some more. I was even more excited when I got to the end of the book and to remember that I had TWO MORE BOOKS to read. You know something is good when you get excited about the books to come.

So to end, I had a fantastic time reading this, my faith in old Sanderson was restored and Fantasy HAS changed in the last 15 years and not for the better.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Memory of Light (The Wheel of Time #14) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Memory of Light
Series: The Wheel of Time #14
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 883
Words: 355K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net

Note, this summary is neither in chapter order nor strictly chronological. Instead, it follows the individual plot threads insofar as that is feasible.

At the Black Tower, Androl and Pevara have realized that Taim is forcibly turning men to the Shadow and decide to try and work together. They practice linking but Androl doesn’t release the link quickly enough and Pevara panics and bonds him when he does. He retaliates by bonding her. They learn that Welyn has been turned and he claims that Logain and Taim have patched up their differences and are working together. They realize that Logain must have been captured and Androl decides to free him. They invite one of the turned men, Dobser, to come and talk and ambush him knocking him unconscious and tying him up with air. When he wakes, Emarin interrogates him, apologising for what Androl did and telling Dobser that he only followed Logain for his own safety as he didn’t want to reveal his true identity. Dobser assumes him to be a high lord of Tear and tells him where Logain is located. They go to rescue Logain, but Evin is caught and gives the plan away and they are captured. Taim tries again to turn Logain, but fails and also tries with Emarin, but fails with him as well. He manages to turn Toveine and Evin who urge Logain to stop fighting. Androl uses his knowledge of Evin, that his madness has made him extremely suspicious, to make him turn against Abors who he attacks, but the struggle is brief and Taim’s men come out victorious. Hessalam arrives and criticizes Taim, who tells her he has the Seals. They decide to leave and he orders Androl and the others killed. He weaves balefire at Androl.

Perrin and Gaul enter Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh, to better combat Slayer. They go to the Black Tower, as Perrin suspects there is another dreamspike He sees Lanfear there, who explains to him something of how it works enabling him to remove it. With the dreamspike removed, Androl is able to weave a small gateway and the balefire Taim aimed at him passes through it. Canler and other loyal Asha’man break in and the two groups begin to fight. Androl opens a gateway in front of Taim’s men, with the exit behind them, and weaves meant for him and his allies instead kill many of them. Taim, Hessalam and the others flee.

At the Field of Merrilor, Rand tells the assembled leaders that he will have three conditions for agreeing to fight in the Last Battle. The first is that the nations sign a peace agreement, the Dragon’s Peace, to last a hundred years, the second is that he be given the Seals to break and finally that he have complete control of all the armies. It is not going well until Moiraine arrives and repeats parts of the Prophecies of the Dragon that show Rand is right. He agrees not to break the Seals himself as long as Egwene agrees to break them when the time is right. The rulers agree to his demands and Aviendha asks him to include the Aiel. He says he trusts them to do what is right, but she insists and he changes the treaty to include them as peacekeepers between the nations. Moiraine also makes him realise he cannot have command of the armies while he fights the Dark One and he names Elayne to the role. When the time comes to give Egwene the Seals, he discovers they are fakes and the real ones have been stolen.

Mat goes to Ebou Dar to see Tuon and saves her from a gray man. Rand visits and manages to persuade Tuon to abide by the treaty. She and Egwene also have a meeting, that threatens to descend into conflict until Mat steps in and forces them to come to an agreement. She accepts that as the Sea Folk have not accepted her in any way, and Tremalking does not have a Sea Folk ruler, their rule there is illegitimate and the Sea Folk must be left to rule themselves They decide that the women who have been collared will not be freed, but that in future, the Seanchan can send emissaries to the other Westlands, asking women who can channel to come and be damane. She agrees that the Seanchan forces will fight in the Last Battle

They decide to fight the Last Battle on four fronts, with one of the Great Captains planning the battle for each of them but with Elayne in overall command. Bryne will lead in southern Kandor, Agelmar at Tarwin’s Gap, Bashere in Caemlyn and Rodel will defend Shayol Ghul, while Rand fights the Dark One. Graendal uses compulsion on them however, to cause them to make mistakes and many men are killed. Rand enters the Pit of Doom and starts to fight Moridin. Demandred arrives from Shara, with a huge army including hundreds of channelers who take on the combined Aes Sedai forces. He has Sakarnen, a sa’angreal and a full circle of seventy two, but his effectiveness is limited as he obsesses about Lews Therin.

Baldhere and Lan realize that Agelmar is making mistakes that leave their army completely exposed, and they lose most of their army. Tam realizes that Bashere has left their army heavily exposed and Elayne realizes he has been under compulsion. Logain and the Asha’man arrive and manage to save Elayne’s army by opening a gateway into Dragonmount and letting the lava block the path of the advancing Trollocs. Rodel realizes that he is being made to give bad orders and fights against it. Perrin sends Elyas to stop him, and Elyas is able to get there before the compulsion overcomes Rodel. When Mat arrives in Kandor, he realizes that Bryne is making mistakes that are positioning the forces of the Light to be wiped out. He sends Min to tell Egwene that Bryne must be a Darkfriend, but she just assumes Mat doesn’t understand what is happening and laughs at the idea. She begins to reconsider if she really does trust him and when she hears that Bashere turned against Elayne, she begins to question some of his decisions and he is removed from command. Egwene realizes that because of Mat’s medallion, he is the only one who can be trusted and he takes over control, moving to one location, the Field of Merrilor. They move all the forces apart from the ones protecting Shayol Ghul and wait for the Shadowspawn armies to arrive.

Faile waits in Tar Valon to take the Horn of Valere to Mat. Berisha prepares to open a gateway, but a bubble of evil hits and it the group ends up in the Blight, Berisha having being stabbed with a dagger. Harnan and Vanin open the chest containing the Horn and flee when confronted by Faile. The group make their way through the Blight until they come to a supply dump near the Town. They enter it, disguised as Darkfriends, but are given away by Aravine. An Aes Sedai arrives and opens a gateway, which they go through. Olver stabs the Aes Sedai and in the confusion, Harnan and Vanin free other captives. Faile kills Aravine to take back the Horn and gives it to Olver, asking him to try and get it to Mat.

The battle continues for days, with the forces of the Light outnumbered, but Mat managing to keep them alive. Demandred continues obsesses over Lews Therin and kills Gawyn in single combat and severely injures Galad. Taim is defeated by Egwene wielding Vora’s Sa’angreal and is given sakarnen by Demandred. He uses it to weave balefire and with the Sharans, kills half of the Aes Sedai. Egwene discovers a counter to balefire and with this she defeats and kills him, drawing too much of the Power and sacrificing herself, taking out most of the Ayyad as she does. Demandred is killed by Lan and the forces of the Shadow lose their cohesion. Olver blows the Horn of Valere and the Heroes come to fight. Mat fakes a fight with Tuon and the Seanchan withdraw, encouraging the forces of the Shadow to attack for what they expect to be a final victory, but they stretch themselves too thin and are obliterated when the Seanchan return.

Rand fights Moridin at the Pit of Doom before engaging with the Dark One and being shown a range of possible worlds after the Dark One wins. He rejects them all. Moridin grabs Callandor and realizes it is a sa’angreal for the True Power. Nynaeve and Moiraine use its flaw to take control of what he is holding and link with Rand, who melds the three powers together, as Logain breaks the seals to reforge the Dark One’s prison.

Perrin kills Slayer. A weave of compulsion backfires on Graendal, leaving her dedicated to Aviendha. Moghedien is collared by the Seanchan and Lanfear is killed by Perrin to stop her killing Nynaeve and preventing Rand from reforging the prison. Mat kills Padan Fain. Rand swaps bodies with Moridin and fakes his own death. He leaves, unable to channel but with an ability to alter reality by simply willing a pipe to be lit.

My Thoughts:

Well, the journey is done. Sanderson wraps up the Wheel of Time, something long time fans were not sure was actually going to happen. And in all honesty, he did a good job of it too.

My only gripe is that Sanderson brings his social justice attitude to the front several times and makes a point of pointing out which ash’aman are homosexual. It added nothing to the story and looking back, this was about the time I began diverging from Sanderson in his other works.

That aside, I was quite happy with how this went. The battle, one looooooong one really, was fantastically written and once one of the main characters turned out to be mindwarped by the Dark One and then another main character dies, well, it was obvious nobody was safe from destruction and death.

Lan’s final sword fight was the epitome of epic and characterized him to a tee. I’m not sure about Rand, since he now appears to be able to control reality at will. Will he live forever? If so, what do the dreams of Rhuedin now mean to the Wise Ones?

Jordan, and thus Sanderson by proxy, left a LOT of questions unanswered and areas unexplored. I don’t know if he was really planning on writing more in this universe, but it sure seems so. If he wasn’t, then he was just a jerk for creating questions for the readers without any possible answers.

Overall, while I am glad I re-read this, I don’t ever plan on doing that again. I saw too many of Jordan’s weaknesses as a writer on display and way too many instances of his wife’s bad decisions as his editor. I obviously have mixed feelings about this series but I don’t unreservedly recommend it nor universally condemn it. I won’t be reading it for a third time though.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time #13) ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Towers of Midnight
Series: The Wheel of Time #13
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 909
Words: 334K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net

Fain corrupts an army of Trollocs and heads south with them.

Elaida’s sul’dam has her demonstrate Traveling. Fortuona decides to use this to attack the White Tower in force.

Aviendha meets a strange Aiel on the way to Rhuidean, who makes her think of the toh the Aiel must pay, their sin and what they will do once it is paid. After going through the glass columns, she wonders if she can sense their purpose like she did with the other ter’angreal and manages to activate them so that they show her descendants rather than her ancestors. They show that the Aiel will be defeated by the Seanchan and reduced to pitiful honorless wretches.

Rand comes from Dragonmount and talks to Almen Bunt. As he talks, apple trees that had previously given shrivelled fruit re-bloom and give a genuine crop. He leaves to talk to Egwene and tell her he means to break the Seals. She decides this is the wrong thing to do and begins to organize resistance to him. He tells her he will meet her at the Field of Merrilor.

Perrin encounters the Whitecloaks, under the command of Galad. Bornhald and Byar tell Galad that Perrin killed Children, including Geofram Bornhald, so in order to avoid a battle, Perrin agrees to a trial, with Morgase as the judge, who Galad has identified. She pronounces him guilty, but declares it a fight between mercenary companies and says Galad should set the punishment. Perrin encounters Slayer in the Dreamworld and finds a ter’angreal that can prevent the opening of gateways. He follows Slayer to the White Tower where he walks into a battle between Aes Sedai and the Black Ajah under the command of Mesaana. Egwene tries to hold him, with rope and chains, but his abilities in Tel’aran’rhiod are too strong and he just shrugs them off. Slayer escapes, but Perrin destroys the ter’angreal, allowing gateways to be formed once more. He realises there is a trap ahead of them and arranges his men to fight Shadowspawn, who arrive through a Portal Stone, with one lone male passing them through. He is able to save the Whitecloaks. Bornhald accepts he is no Darkfriend but Byar does not and tries to kill him, but is killed by Dain. Perrin persuades Galad to give him his allegiance until the last Battle is over. Galad tells Perrin that his punishment will be to pay reparations.

In the Tower, the Bloodknives murder Aes Sedai, but Egwene believes it to be Mesaana. She arranges a meeting with Windfinders and Wise Ones and suggests an alliance, and a new bargain with the Windfinders to replace the one that Elayne made. They decide to think on it. Mesaana and members of the Black Ajah attack and they are forced to battle. Several Black Ajah are killed before Mesaana captures Egwene with an a’dam. Egwene refuses to accept it and it falls away. She then crushes Mesaana’s mind.

Mat discovers the gholam has tracked him. He sends an urgent letter to Elayne and is granted a meeting. He persuades her to make the Dragons, but she insists that Andor will own most of them. He agrees the Band will work for Andor until Rand needs them, but that they can refuse any commission. He tells her about the gholam. He offers her his ter’angreal to study as an encouragement and gets a deal out of her. She is able to make imperfect copies that deflect weak weaves, but not strong ones and do not allow the holder to channel. She decides to tie the Kin to her and arranges for them to be permanently based in Caemlyn, hoping that Egwene will agree. While Mat and Birgitte are out, she visits the Black Ajah, disguised as one of the Forsaken to trick Chesmal into revealing secret information. She gets some, but Temaile, Eldrith and Mellar are freed by Jaq Lounalt and attack her. After a struggle, Mellar escapes with a copy of the foxhead medallion, but the three Black Ajah sisters are killed.

After meeting Elayne, Mat arranges to kill the gholam. He entices it into attacking him, wounding it with his ter’angreal and copies Elayne made. He is able to force it back and through a skimming gateway that Sumeko had opened, where it would fall forever.

Nynaeve Heals Naeff’s madness. She Travels to Tar Valon and takes the test for Aes Sedai, which she passes after some discussion. She then Travels to the Black Tower and takes Lan’s bond. Rand sends Naeff to the Black Tower, to find men loyal to him and tell him he was wrong about Taim.

In the Black Tower, Androl leads the men loyal to Logain. They discover they are unable to open gateways. They note that Kurin seems no longer to be himself, indeed seems to be empty. Pevara also discovers she cannot form a gateway, but when she tries to talk to Tarna, finds that Tarna is behaving oddly and seems unconcerned about the restrictions Taim has placed. Androl comes to her to try and arrange an escape.

Rodel fights a massive Trolloc force, keeping them free of Maradon against all odds. As they are about to be overwhelmed, Bashere arrives and saves them. Rand joins them and obliterates the Trolloc army. Rodel is taken away by Rand, who has found Alsalam.

Mat meets up with Perrin and they tell each other their news. Perrin leaves to meet with Elayne and they arrange a treaty, Perrin is to be High Lord over the Two Rivers which is to be given to the Dragon Reborn and will not pay taxes. Perrin and Faile’s children will be encouraged to marry into Andoran nobility. Perrin heads to the Field of Mellitor, where he aligns with Rand. Elayne strips Arymilla, Elenia and Naean of their titles and offers their estates to powerful Cairhienen lords, promising the Andorans estates in Cairhien. She enters Cairhien to take the throne, though Birgitte has to prevent an assassination attempt.

Mat takes Noal and Thom to the Tower of Ghenjei. They enter and use Mat’s luck to navigate, soon arriving at a room with Moiraine. They tell the Aelfinn they want her and that Mat is willing to pay the price, the loss of his eye. As part of the bargain, he insists the Aelfinn allow them to leave, but forgets to insist on the same with the Eelfinn and they are attacked. Noal admits to being Jain Fairstrider and stays back to fight them off. He is defeated and the Eelfinn approach Mat, Thom and Moiraine. Mat thinks on the last bargain he made and realises that as he didn’t ask for a weapon, the weapon must be something he did ask for – a way out and uses it to slash the sides of the room and they escape. Moiraine tells them her strength in the Power is greatly reduced and that she will marry Thom. She bonds him.

The armies of the Westlands gather at the Field of Merrilor, to oppose the Dragon Reborn.

My Thoughts:

This. This was everything that a Wheel of Time book was supposed to be, every time. Massive in size, in scope and in story yet racing right along with intricate action scenes and politics galore. Sanderson brings the magic back into the storytelling and reminds us of why we stuck it out for over 20 years to see where Jordan was going to take us.

All 3 of the ta’averen, Rand, Matt and Perrin grow up. While it felt rather abrupt, it really fit in with everything that had happened to them before. This was the tipping point where they chose whether to become good men or to stay boys.

This also had one of the saddest parts of the entire series, where Aviendha sees the future instead of the past when going through the Aiel ter’angreal (a magical item). It is sad because you see the descent of the Aiel from feared warriors to scavenging animals and Sanderson really sells it. I could feel the descent, if that makes sense. It is sad also because you see the land and kingdoms we’ve spent the last 13 books reading about eventually being conquered by the Seanchan. I found it amazing how Sanderson managed to describe the next couple hundreds of years and convey the wealth of information that he did in only one chapter. On a third front, it also perfectly expressed how the Wheel of Time kept on rolling after the events chronicled here. This was NOT the Last Battle. Just A Battle.

That brings me to the one thing I am not ok with in the entire Wheel of Time series. The whole Creator and the Dark One entities. The Creator appears to have abandoned the universe after imprisoning the Dark One while the Dark One seems to have been given free reign to escape if he can. Jordan, and thus Sanderson, don’t really go into the theological details of this and that gaping hole bothers me just as much as the apparent Dualism theology presented. Obviously, as a Christian I have a VERY different outlook. I don’t expect my fantasy to align with my beliefs but neither do I simply ignore it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12) ★★★★☆

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Title: The Gathering Storm
Series: The Wheel of Time #12
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 829
Words: 304.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Aviendha is sent to Rhuidean to go through the Glass columns and become a Wise One. Faile kills Masema. Perrin rides north with the refugees, with Grady and Neald too tired to make gateways for those that would want to go home. He meets up with Galad and learns that Maighdin is actually Morgase.

Mat and the Band try and head to Caemlyn before going to rescue Moiraine. In the shadow of the Damona Mountains, they come across a village where everyone goes crazy at night and tries to kill each other, only for everything to reset back to normal the next morning. They learn a woman in a nearby village is handing out pictures of Mat, so he goes to see who it is, learning it is Verin. She explains that she had intended to go to Tar Valon, but was drawn there by his ta’veren nature. She tells him she can make a gateway for the Band to go quickly to Camelyn, but if so he must either wait ten days, then obey the instructions in a letter she gives him; or wait thirty days, then do as he wishes. He agrees.

Rodel meets with Turan after the Seanchan army has been destroyed outside Darulna. He explains he used their overconfidence and reliance on raken against them. Turan tells Ituralde that this will not be the end of it, that the Seanchan will send a larger army and will not make the same mistakes again. Rodel executes him. The Seanchan amass a fresh army of 300000 men with around 200 damane, traping Rodel and his men in a stedding. He knows they cannot win, but hopes to be an inspiration to future generations. Rand arrives and offers an alternative. Rodel and his men go to the Borderlands to protect the Blight border, and Rand will make a truce with the Seanchan, with the Aiel and Saldaeans enforcing order in Arad Doman.

Tuon meets with Beslan as Daughter of the Nine Moons. He swears fealty to her. Tylee tells Tuon how her force was attacked by Trollocs outside Ebou Dar and her opinion that they need to ally with the Dragon Reborn and others. Tuon decides to meet with Rand, waiting until after that before becoming Empress, as once Empress, she will be of higher status than Rand. She believes that would make the meeting difficult. They meet and Rand demands a truce. She feels herself being forced to agree to it, but manages to refuse, largely because of her belief that he must kneel before her according to prophecy. He leaves and she steps up to take the mantle of Empress. She orders a raid on the White Tower.

Rand visits Moridin in a dream and learns he is Ishamael re-incarnated and that balefire is the only thing that can prevent the Dark One giving one of the Forsaken a new body. Rand meets with Harine and tells her the Sea Folk must do better with supplies. In exchange for a promise to answer any question of hers, he learns that Sea Folk men who can channel are either drowned or abandoned on a deserted island. He tells her the practice must stop. Rand orders the Aiel to pacify Arad Doman and to find members of the Council of Merchants so they can name a new king. He uses one of them to try and track Graendal, via one of the messengers she had used, but that messenger had already died. Nynaeve investigates the torturer involved and finds an apprentice, heavily under Compulsion, from whom they are able to find Graendal’s location. Rand Travels there and balefires the whole palace.

Cadsuane makes no progress with Semirhage, until she realizes that they are showing her too much respect and spanks her like a child. Shaidar Haran arrives to free Semirhage and with the help of Elza, from whom she removes Verin’s compulsion, She puts Rand in the male a’dam. Via his link to Moridin, Rand is able to access the True Power and uses balefire on both Semirhage and Elza. Cadsuane tries to tell him not to use balefire, but he tells her he understands it better than she does and that it is the only way to prevent the Forsaken from being re-incarnated into fresh bodies. He exiles her from his sight for her failure in not keeping the male a’dam safely hidden and says that he will kill her if he sees her face again. He Travels to Far Madding to meet with the Borderland leaders, but they refuse to meet outside the city, so he tells Hurin, their messenger, to tell them to either return to the Borderlands and do their duty, or to stay away from him.

Cadsuane has Tam brought to Rand and they talk. Tam asks him why he is fighting. Rand goes crazy when Tam mentions Cadsuane, attacking Tam and fleeing to Ebou Dar before he can kill him. There, he decides to use the Choedan Kal to destroy the Seanchan in the Tarasin Palace. However, he falls sick when he seizes saidin and collapses. The concern of the passersby disturbs him and he flees, skimming first, then Travelling to Dragonmount. With Lews Therin, he realizes that the chance to love is what makes it so important to save the world. The two merge and then begin to laugh, before destroying the Choedan Kal. Above Rand, the clouds part and and he is bathed in light.

In the Tower, Egwene encounters Meidani while serving Elaida and tells her to summon her. Egwene continues to meet with Aes Sedai, who grow more receptive to her. Bennae and Nagora both summon her to ask for advice, and both are impressed. She meets Suana, who tells her she would do well in Yellow. Egwene suggests to her that Sitters of different Ajahs should begin visibly taking dinner together. When Meidani does summon her, she is unable to say why she didn’t flee the Tower when Eliada learned she was a spy, but she is able to show Egwene, taking her to a meeting of Saerin, Doesine, Yukiri and Seaine. She refuses to back down and tells them that they need to start reaching out to other Ajahs to heal the rifts in the Tower and also that they must take the fourth oath off Meidani. Meidani agrees to continue spying on Elaida as that is what Egwene wants from her. Egwene points out that as it was a bare minimum of Sitters that deposed Siuan and that at least one was Black, it was not legally valid.

Katerine tells her that she is no longer to meet with Aes Sedai but is to just do chores. In the kitchen, Laras tries to help her escape, but she refuses. Elaida has her as a serving girl a second time, this time in front of a group of Sitters. Egwene stands up to her, bringing up all her failures, using arguments specifically designed to impress various different Sitters. When Elaida sees Doesine murmuring agreement, she loses control. Egwene calls her a coward and a tyrant and she attacks, calling Egwene a Darkfriend and ordering her imprisoned. Silviana comes before the Hall to stand up for Egwene, saying Elaida should be deposed. Elaida orders her imprisoned and Stilled, with Katerine to replace her as Mistress of Novices.

Verin visits Egwene in her cell and tells her she herself is Black Ajah and that she only got around their oaths by taking poison that will kill her within the hour. Verin has been researching the Black Ajah from the inside and has compiled a list of around two hundred members that she has identified. After Verin dies, Egwene has Meidani remove the body and meets Siuan in Tel’aran’rhiod, telling her Sheriam and Moria are Black Ajah and should be watched. She is pulled out of the dream by Nicola when the Seanchan attack. She finds the novices and teaches them to link, forming a circle with Nicola, before Travelling to the storeroom where the objects of the power are kept, to fetch the sa’angreal she knows, Vora’s sa’angreal. She returns and, along with the novices, begins to fight the Seanchan. She encounters Adelorna who is feeling despondent at the poor showing of the Greens. She forces Adelorna to accept her leadership and together they engage the Seanchan.

Gawyn learns Egwene is a prisoner in the Tower and that the Aes Sedai are willing and able to relieve him of command at any time. He leaves them for the rebel camp. When they hear of the Seanchan attack, Siuan and Gawyn decide to rescue Egwene. She persuades Gareth to go with him. He insists that she bond him first. They fight their way in and Gareth kills a Seanchan assassin. She recalls Min’s vision that both would die if they didn’t stay close and Heals him of a minor wound he took that would otherwise have been fatal because of poison. They and Gawyn reach an exhausted Egwene and take her out of the Tower through a gateway. Elaida and around two dozen others are captured.

The next day, Egwene visits Saerin, to retrieve the Oath Rod, before holding a meeting of the Hall. She tells them that the Black Ajah is real and swears the Three Oaths, announcing that she is not a Darkfriend and that everyone else is to do the same. Sheriam embraces the Source, but Egwene shields her and tricks her into lying. Moria tries to flee and they apprehend her as well. Once the other Sitters have all been cleared, they go through the other Aes Sedai, starting with those in Verin’s list. All the Black Ajah are quickly executed.

In the Tower, the Ajah heads try to plan what to do to replace Elaida. The hall has been unable to make any progress, the divisions between the Ajahs still too strong for any to support a woman not of their own. Adelorna suggests Egwene and is immediately supported by Ferane, with the others soon agreeing. Once the decision has been made, a group of Sitters goes to summon Egwene to be raised Amyrlin. She is raised unanimously, with no second round of voting needed by the eleven remaining Sitters, there being no Red, and the Black Ajah Sitters having fled with around sixty others. She names Silviana as Keeper, as Silviana did her duty. She then goes to the rebels, forgiving them for rebelling and readmitting them to the White Tower.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this. This how the series should have been the whole time. While this was another monstrous book (the hardcover is over 800 and the ebook clocks in around 1100) I did not find it draggy, slow, ponderous or padded. Sanderson really makes an effort to push the story forward. It was fun and refreshing and I enjoyed reading a WoT book again.

I also felt like Sanderson did an excellent job of starting the characters down a path that would bring them from the wildly flung places Jordan has scattered them to. And I felt like he did the same thing for all the various shit pies that Jordan shoved down our throats. If I sound bitter, I am. Jordan could have gotten his readers to this place without wasting our time with at least 3 books that he made us wade through and wait for years for. I realize I am making a hash of this review as I really did enjoy the book but it is hard to sit back and realize what Jordan did to me, as a reader. While not nearly what GRR Martin has done to his readers, this was bad enough.

I guess I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to judge the next Wheel of Time book on its own instead of dragging in my baggage with Jordan. Sigh, sometimes reviewing books seems like it’s more of a hassle than anything.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Alloy of Law

11605507The Alloy of Law
Mistborn #4
by Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
Ebook, 265 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now this book was a LOT of fun to read. It was not one of Sanderson’s 600+ page epic tomes, but a fun revisitation to the Mystworld.

This was really a western at heart. I remember reading Louis Lamour when a young teen and how it appealed to me. Thankfully, Sanderson doesn’t write the same ultra-cliches that Lamour did, but that spirit was there.

The untamed gunslinger/magicuser comes back to supposed civilization and ends up having to clean up messes worse than he ever found out in the Wild, Wild West.

And it was a lot of fun to see allomancy used differently. Sanderson has given some good thought to the practical application and while I didn’t really care about the particulars, it was good to know that the internal physics of the world hadn’t been thrown jambalaya like into the plot pot.

Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens

Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens
Alcatraz Versus #4
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
3 Stars
DTB, 292 Pages

the Librarians are invading the remainder of the free lands, Alcatraz’s dad runs off to find a way to give everybody Smedry powers and Alcatraz ends up in the middle of a battle. Not nearly as funny and smart alecky as the previous books. Either I’m used to it, or Sanderson is forcing it. Wraps things up in such a way that this could be the last book [even though events are not wrapped up] but leaves openings for another [probably if publishers will give it a go].

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones
Alcatraz Versus #2
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy YA
3 Stars
322 pages, paperbook

Alcatraz is on his way to a safe place when he gets a call from his Grandfather, who is at the Library of Alexandria. The stronghold of the Librarians. His dad has entered and his Grandfather is going in after him. So Alcatraz, along with some new relatives, take a detour to rescue everyone.

Interesting. Not as funny as the first one, but it might be because I was expecting it.

Warbreaker

Warbreaker
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
4 Stars
588 Pages

an interesting stand-alone story. People can give their “breath” [life essence] to another person and it enhances certain aspects of perception.

The overall story deals with a kingdom split in the past that are now being manipulated to go to war by a third country. Deals with people who were present at the first split 300 years ago and how they are either trying to make up for what they did or running away from it.

My first thought was how much like Mistborn it was, but it was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy. There was a lot of humor and I just laughed out loud several times.

I would like to see Sanderson explore this world or the Elantris world more. But given his involvement in the finishing up of The Wheel of Time series, that is doubtful. This was a worthwhile read.