Eastern Street Slang: the Life of an Invented Anti-Language

Hi Blogland!

School is officially out, and I’m doing my damnedest to enjoy the two weeks before summer term starts. I need to be rested and refreshed, because this summer term is bound to be intense. And its the homestretch. If I’m going to hit Summa Cum Laude, there’s no room for error in the next two months.

Also, I felt I should update you all, we found a house! We close June 14th, and move in the following weekend. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but we couldn’t be more excited. Expect the blog to take an oddly HGTV spin during June and July as we paint and take on new DIY projects along with home-ownership.

But, on to the purpose of this post. I promised I’d share my paper on Eastern Street Slang, and I’m sorry it took so long to publish. I had to wait for grades to come back so I didn’t get dinged for plagiarizing myself. But, here it is, in its 6+ page glory.

If this isn’t of interest to you, I do want to mention that work is still ongoing with The Audient Void, and that I’ve updated my reading page. There should be a book review of The Magician King sometime soon.

Thanks, as usual, for reading and following. Enjoy my attempt at shedding an academic light on my fangirl obsessions.

Eastern Street Slang: the Life of an Invented Anti-Language
by Brittany Zelkovich

          Language is an inescapable facet of human existence. It’s how we communicate with our friends, families, and coworkers. Language allows us to not only make sense of the world around us but to experience it, and then share those experiences with others. So it’s only logical that, in our efforts to explore and express the world and ourselves, that our art would include language.

          Many works of fiction feature invented languages. “A number of authors have used constructed languages to give their stories depth and intellectually stimulating plot twists and to address mature themes,” (Boozer, 101). Some of these languages, such as Tolkien’s Elvish or the Klingon language from Star Trek, have become household names. Others aren’t quite as well known, such as the Elvhen spoken in the Dragon Age video game series. But all of them serve a purpose in their respective works, usually as a native language of some indigenous species. These languages, though invented, “are supposed to be real in their respective fictional contexts” (Peterson, 19). One fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, took a different path with his invented language. Instead of an indigenous language, he created an anti-language for characters of a socially and politically oppressed race in his Mistborn series, allowing them to speak without fear of being understood by their oppressors and, oftentimes, by the reader.

          First, a definition of an anti-language must be established. Halliday defines an anti-language as a “language generated by some kind of anti-society.” He goes further to say that, just as normal languages do, anti-languages maintain the social structure of its speakers but, in the case of anti-languages, that social structure is “of a particular kind, in which certain elements are strongly foregrounded.” An effective anti-language is purposefully obtuse. It should be difficult, if not impossible to understand if you’re not a member of that particular anti-society. An anti-society is, according to Halliday, “a society that is set up within another society as a conscious alternative to it. It is a mode of resistance…” It’s this definition that is key in categorizing Sanderson’s Eastern Street Slang as an invented anti-language.

Just as in real life, the environment of the Mistborn series directly affects Sanderson’s language. The Skaa are a race of people who have been oppressed by the Imperial government into servitude and destitution for over one thousand years. The setting of the first novel, Mistborn: the Final Empire, is in the capitol city of Luthadel. Conditions are bad for Skaa there. Crumbling tenement housing, ash piled in the streets, and the constant fear that some noble might notice you are realities for the Skaa. But the conditions in Luthadel are considered much better than those in the Eastern half of the country. To Lestibournes, later known by his nickname Spook, the capitol is bursting with opportunities for a young Skaa thief. He joins the rest of the characters in their heist plans upon his arrival in Luthadel, only to find that no one understands his speech. “’You’re wanted,’ he said in a thick Eastern accent. ‘Ups in the where above with the doing. With Master Jumps to the third floor’” (Sanderson, Mistborn 109). These are Spook’s first words in the series, and just like the character they were spoken to, readers don’t have a clue what he said. With context, the reader understands that the main character is supposed to head up to the third floor, but that’s all the language reveals. Hopes that further exposure will clear things up are quickly dashed. In one scene multiple characters speak the anti-language to purposefully confound and mock a particularly pretentious member of their crew, and while the scene is humorous, the meaning of the words spoken is still difficult to discern:

Spook frowned. “Niceing the not on the playing without.”
“I have no idea what you just said child,” Breeze said. “So I’m simply going to      pretend it was coherent, then move on.”
Kelsier rolled his eyes. “Losing the stress on the nip,” he said. “Notting without the needing of care.”
“Riding the rile of the rids to the right,” Spook said with a nod.
“What are you two babbling about?” Breeze said testily.
“Wasing the was of brightness,” Spook said. “Nip the having of wishing of this.”
“Ever wasing the doing of this,” Kelsier agreed. (Sanderson, Mistborn 397)

While, in this scene, the language is used for humor, it also lives up to Halliday’s definition. Spook speaks out against Breeze’s earlier implication that he used magic to get Spook to fetch him another glass of wine, and agreeing with the boy, Kelsier joins in to mock Breeze. But this is a small example of how Eastern Street Slang fits into the definition of an anti-language.

Later in the series, after Spook has become so much more than the crew’s errand boy, the reader finally learns more of his youth, and how he came to speak Eastern Street Slang in the first place. In one scene, between Spook and a love interest, the reader is shown that Spook still writes in the Slang, keeping his plans and thoughts private. “’It sounds like gibberish!’” She says to him, to which he replies, “’Wasing the how of wanting the doing’” (Sanderson, Hero of Ages 501). To translate, he says to her, ‘that’s how we wanted it’. He then goes on to reminisce on how it’d felt to speak the Slang, how it’d given him a “kind of power, being able to say things that only his friends could understand” (Sanderson, Hero of Ages 501). The very definition of an anti-language. But, just as in reality, life and language are not static, and so neither is Eastern Street Slang.

Sanderson’s Mistborn series moves beyond its original trilogy into a new series that takes place over three hundred years later in the same world. The events of the first trilogy have shaped the world considerably, and names and places have taken direct inspiration from the world’s history. There’s even a Lestibournes Square! So as the world changed and grew, Eastern Street Slang found a new purpose. And a new name:

‘Anyone here speak High Imperial?’
Waxillium shook his head.
‘Makes my head hurt,’ Wayne said.
‘I can read it, kind of,’ Marasi said. ‘Wasing the where of needing.’ (Sanderson, Alloy of Law 235)

What began as an incomprehensible anti-language spoken by a boy that was little more than a slave, has become a “lofty tongue” over three hundred years later, “used for old documents dating to the time of the Origin, and occasionally for government ceremony” (Sanderson, Alloy of Law 235). And even in its new uses, the language keeps it exclusivity and mystery, a nod to its anti-language roots. By creating a language that grows and develops with the world around it, Sanderson has added yet another layer of authenticity to his fiction.

As Don Boozer said, “authors have used imaginary languages to add a sense of realism to their work.” Authenticity is one reason why an author might choose to invent a language. Invented languages help to define and develop characters that readers might not have much experience with. Elves in Tolkien’s Middle Earth are very foreign to human readers, with their frigid demeanor, long life spans, and ethereal beauty. If they spoke the same language as the rest of Middle Earth, it wouldn’t make much sense. In order to create a believable and consistent world, Tolkien’s Elves should speak their own language. And this is what authors have done time and again as they create and perfect invented languages, in order to “…suggest their speakers’ experience within and perspective on a fictional sense of reality” (Sims, 160). From Elvish to Klingon, Klingon to Dothraki, and Dothraki to Eastern Street Slang, these languages are created to solve “an artistic problem, not a linguistic one” (Okrent, 282). And though Eastern Street Slang has almost nothing in common with Elvish or Klingon, it very much exists to solve an artistic problem. Sanderson needed to show the level of oppression in the world of Mistborn and show the subculture that struggled to survive, not just in the streets of Luthadel, but in the rest of the country. By creating an anti-society, and by giving that anti-society its own language, Sanderson added layers of detail to his novels, expanding the consequences of the novel beyond the walls of one city, and even beyond the events of a single trilogy. It’s these sorts of details that convince readers to believe in the worlds they explore in fantasy fiction. So, while Eastern Street Slang plays a small role in the actual plot of the novels, it is crucial to the success of the books. And Sanderson worked hard to create it.

Breaking down Eastern Street Slang in an effort to translate it is a difficult task. Thankfully, fans have been hard at work at interpreting and learning High Imperial, long before the research for this paper ever began. There are a couple key tricks to learning High Imperial. First, the language is in reverse word order of English. For the purposes of this text, “word order refers to the order of elements in a phrase and a sentence” (Peterson, 148). English word order is subject-verb-object. Meaning that our sentences, at their simplest, look like this:

“I ran home.”

But, High Imperial has reverse word order. So, verb-subject-object. What makes it so confusing is that High Imperial will often leave the subject out of the sentence because it’s usually implied or already known between the speakers. And if the subject of the sentence is the speaker, it will never be stated in the speech. So, to follow the same example:

“Wasing the running of there.”

That’s just the word order. What really makes High Imperial so confusing is that all verbs in the anti-language are turned into gerunds, or –ing verbs, regardless of tense. The tense is established by the first word of the sentence, in this case “Wasing”. The reader and listener know that what the speaker is talking about happened in the past. Present tense would start “Ising” and future “Willing”, respectively. If this isn’t complicated enough, Sanderson has said that as long as these basics are in the right places in the sentence, the speaker can throw in random words, in pretty much any place, in order to further obfuscate the meaning. That’s why “the” and “of” seem to be sprinkled throughout every sentence; because they are. Most of the sentences in Sanderson’s novels, and those created and shared on the internet between fans are simple in their structure, but Eastern Street Slang has the potential to get very confusing the longer and more complex the sentences become. Which is perfect for a language that exists in order to be difficult to understand. The more information you have to share, the harder it is to do so.

While constructed languages in fantasy fiction are fairly common, constructed anti-languages are much less so. Aside from Sanderson’s High Imperial, Anthony Burgess’s Nadsat comes to mind. This language was used amongst his characters in the cult-classic A Clockwork Orange who are members of the teen subculture in the novel. Even this comparison doesn’t quite work, since the tone and genre of the works are completely different. By creating and implementing an anti-language in his fantasy fiction Sanderson broke new ground for the genre. He used the language to not only further develop the world and add authenticity to his setting and characters, but to increase the stakes for his characters and further hook the reader. By adding an anti-language to the Skaa he created an anti-society readers would root for. Without the use of Eastern Street Slang, the novels would have lacked that level of depth and authenticity that keeps readers hooked for over 1,800 pages, and even the outcome of the series would have been different without the exclusive nature of the language. To put it bluntly, Sanderson’s anti-language is crucial to the outcome of events in his fictional world, and critical to the satisfaction of his readers. To take a lesson from Spook, notting without the speaking of it.

Works Cited

Boozer, Don. “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Languages”. Library Journal. Sept 16, 2006, Vol. 131 Issue 15, pp.101. Apr 18, 2016.

Halliday, M.A.K. “Anti-Languages”. American Anthropologist. New Series, Vol. 78, No. 3. Sept 1976, pp 570-584. Apr 18, 2016.

Okrent, Arika. In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language. Spiegel & Grau. 2009.

Peterson, David J. The Art of Language Invention. Penguin Books. 2015.

Sanderson, Brandon. The Alloy of Law. Tor Books. New York, New York. 2011.

—. The Hero of Ages. Tor Books. New York, New York. 2008.

—. Mistborn: The Final Empire. Tor Books. New York, New York. 2006.

Sims, Harvey J. “From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages”. Mythlore. Spring-Summer 2012, vol. 30 Issue 3-4, pp.159, 10p. Apr 18, 2016.

 

Two Weeks and Counting

Hello Blogland!

April has been a mad dash of sleepless nights. Between the two jobs both scheduling me more, which I hate to turn down since we’re trying to buy a house soon, and all the homework, I am working a lot of late nights and early mornings.

For instance, I woke up at 8 this morning, so I could get up and get to my nearest Starbucks so I could read and critique the last two short stories for my science fiction writing class. This week in particular is interesting because it was my turn to submit my story. So far, feedback has been good. People enjoy it, and there seems to be a general consensus on what needs work. That’s always a good thing.

So, I’m keeping tabs on that discussion thread so I can keep abreast of any new critiques.

I have a six page paper due on Thursday, which I haven’t started yet. But, I have an outline, all my sources lined up and ready to research, plus all the pages notated that I need for examples. My paper is on Brandon Sanderson’s creation and use of an anti-language in his Mistborn series. So, I’m pretty excited to write it.

When I get home from work tonight, I’ll sit down and get the first two/three paragraphs down. At least rough drafts of them.

What else?

We’re still waiting to hear back from the loan officer to get our pre-approval so we can start looking at houses. Because I don’t have enough on my plate.

So basically I’m just in an exhausted holding pattern until the 29th, when I’m off for just over two weeks before summer school starts.

I’m still reading in my very limited spare time. Magician King is turning out much better than its predecessor so far, so that’s good. Book Club is a touch MIA, but I’m about to rein it back in so we can meet up and discuss both Red Rising and Coraline.

Yeah, plus I keep stacking up a bunch of different books that pique my interest from the library. Because I have time for that.

I haven’t heard any news about The Audient Void release, so that’s on my radar to check in on. UGH! SO MUCH STUFF!

But, life is good. I have so many things I want to do, and that’s so much better than drifting along without any interests or passions.

I’ll see you soon Blogland.

 

BZ

The Trouble with “Intro”

This Intro to Writing Science Fiction class is killing me.

I spend so much of my time struggling to read through seemingly endless pages of passive verbs and switching tenses that my brain wants to explode.

And suddenly I understand why my Intro to Creative Writing class was so restrictive. In 2009, when I first took Patrick Michael Finn’s class, I was so frustrated. What do you mean it has to be ten pages or less? And no speculative fiction? So, you’re saying no spaceships or alien races?

What the hell am I supposed to write about?

And then I spent two years writing general fiction, honing and perfecting my ability to tell compelling and interesting stories in as little as six pages. Actually, I wrote and published a story that was just less than three full pages three years after that Intro class.

And here I am today, in a class that has almost no restrictions.

In fact, it has a page minimum. All stories must be at least 10 pages long, with no maximum page limit. That’s insane. Multiple stories have been 30+ pages, and guess what? I don’t read them all the way through. I see enough within the first 8 pages to know whether the story is worth reading.

Because they are riddled with “newbie” mistakes.

Now, I understand that this is an Intro class. The professor even said that those of us with experience probably shouldn’t take the class (but there’s no Intermediate Writing Science Fiction course). But, he’s not really offering any guidelines or feedback. I feel like I’m teaching the class, along with a couple other people whose stories have been at a higher level as well. So many times I’ll write a comment on a manuscript, then laugh, because it’s something Patrick would have said.

And I feel bad for these new writers. They’re hearts and brains are in the right place, but they’ve basically been thrown into the Pacific, told to breaststroke home, when they don’t even know how to dog paddle.

It’s painful to watch. And it happens 4-5 times a week.

And so now I understand Patrick’s limitations. And I appreciate them so much. Things that I consider basics in writing, aren’t universally known. People have to be taught. Shown. And these poor students are being taught by having their first drafts (and quite possibly their first ever attempts at story writing), butchered by fellow students.

So, what are these “newbie” mistakes that are driving me insane?

  • Tense changes. Pick one. Present or past? Also, 9/10 times, you should pick past.
  • Point of View change. “I went to the store, and she bought eight apples.” I’m not kidding, this is a thing. Pick one and stick to it, religiously. Also, when starting out, 9/10 times you should pick third person.
  • Passive voice. “She was having a hard time controlling her emotions”. NO! “She struggled to control her emotions”. There are times when passive voice is unavoidable, and that is the absolute only time you should use it.
  • Dialogue punctuation. It is either incorrect, or simply doesn’t exist. No joke, I read a story this term that had ZERO dialogue punctuation. “‘I don’t understand you’ he glared at her. ‘What’s to understand’ she asked.” Please, please, please, research proper punctuation for these scenarios! You are not Cormac McCarthy, so use proper punctuation! “‘I don’t understand you.’ He glared at her. ‘What’s to understand?’ She asked.”
  • Adverbs. Can you use them? Yes. Should you? Debatable. Sprinkle them in. Chances are, if you’re using a bunch of them, the writing is suffering. I will say, I haven’t noticed too many adverb abusers yet.
  • Length. This is what’s really killing me. This is a short story class. We’re reading and analyzing professional short stories. Now, they’re all about ten pages each. Some a little longer as they have more world building, character development, etc. So, when a student posts their rough draft and it’s 50 pages long, I’m immediately skeptical. Then I read almost 10 pages and I still don’t know what the plot is? Oh, then I’m pissed. Most of these stories could be shaved down to a fraction of their current length, but these writers don’t know that, because they haven’t learned to tell stories that way. They haven’t learned to start as close to the action as possible. They haven’t learned to develop characters and plot while describing someone/something. So they info dump, and give needless backstory. And. it. is. boring. as. fuck.

I’m dying. I opened three submissions that I’m supposed to be critiquing this week, not a single one of them was less than 15 pages. One of them was 40+ pages. And by page eight I gave up because the two established characters were still standing in the same room talking around the same vague issue. I scrolled through to the end to see what happened, and by then there were three new characters that apparently have nothing to do with the initial scene. Which means that the initial scene is COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY!

I work two jobs, have another class to work on, a husband to spend time with, a house we’re trying to buy, a lit mag to edit, and a mountain of books to read. I absolutely do NOT have time to critique your FORTY PAGE monstrosity of a “short” story!

Please. Just, please. Read short stories. Mimic them shamelessly. Not a single short story we’ve read this term just blathers on about the relationship between two characters while they talk to each other about nothing. Not a one. So please, I’m begging you, STOP!

Ok. This is a little more accusatory than I initially planned. I know that it’s not really the students’ faults, it’s the professor’s. But I’m also incredibly frustrated. My short stories were never like this!

I keep all my original drafts. I’ve gone back and read the first short story I ever wrote. 12 whole pages. Guess what? No switching tenses, no uncertain point of view. Some passive voice, some wild adverbs, but nothing that made the story unbearable. Nothing that obscured the story itself, or left the reader unsure of motivations and intentions.

That being said, it’s not a good story, and I have zero intentions of sharing it with the world at large. But it’s a hell of a lot better than most of what I’m reading in this class.

So please, read fiction. Read in the genre you’re trying to write. Please stop torturing me!

 

BZ

 

Book Review- Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Obviously March has not been my month.

So far, the spring has demanded a lot of my time, between school, jobs, and friends visiting from out of town. Throw in a migraine and a friend’s house-warming party, and I’m just about spent.

Is it August yet?

Anyway, I’m here to talk to you all about the first book in Pierce Brown’s trilogy, Red Rising. I don’t plan on going into too much detail, because there are entirely too many, so you should be fairly safe to continue without being spoiled. red rising

This story follows Darrow, a sixteen year old boy whose life is almost halfway over. His people, known as Reds, mine the planet of Mars in order to make way for the rest of humanity to come and terraform the planet. Mining for Helium-3 is a dangerous profession, and most of his kin doesn’t make it past thirty-five. Reds, called such for their rusty hair, eyes, and complexion, lead simple and extremely difficult lives.

And by the end of the first act of the book, Darrow’s life has been particularly hard. His father was hanged for protesting. And so was his wife, his beloved Eo. And so, after her death, Darrow was hanged for burying her body instead of burning it.

Now, this book takes awhile to pick up because the established world, the world Darrow knows… Well, it’s not everything he was told. And a huge portion of the book goes to building this world, and explaining the convoluted caste system. It’s all based on colors, with Golds at the top and Reds at the bottom.

And Darrow? Well, he’s going to do the impossible. He’s going to become a Gold. And he’s going to destroy them from the inside out.

That’s the plan anyway.

This book took me a while to warm up to. The first act, only 40ish pages long, was choppy and short, with Darrow’s first person narrative devoid of any sort of style or sense of individuality, except for when he described Eo. She was my favorite thing about the story before her death.

There’s so much to develop in this book. Complex characters with their own motivations come in and out of Darrow’s life, and as the book progresses the training wheels come off. Soon the reader is responsible for understanding the slang that Gold’s speak, and how it differs from that of the other Colors. A Red might say one thing in a certain scenario, while a Gold would say something entirely different, and by the end of the book, that is the reader’s responsibility to catch and attach meaning to.

Overall, as the book picked up in the final quarter, I really enjoyed it. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and they are all distinct and enjoyable. Mustang and her determined optimism, Servo and his devoted wickedness, Pax and his good humor and burly nature. So many Golds that we’re supposed to hate, and yet love anyway. And then there’s others, so many others that you actually do hate!

Red-Rising-2
House Mars

Another great thing about this book is its creative use of Greek Mythology. Now, I know my basics, but I’m by no means an expert. I’m sure there were references I didn’t get, or names that could have hinted to me that a character would turn out a certain way, but I don’t think my lack of knowledge detracted from the reading experience in any way.

Also, you might not expect this, because many label this book as young adult, but it deals with many adult themes. Murder, gruesome deaths (a personal favorite of mine involves people climbing out of dead horses to attack a fort), betrayal, and rape (that happens off screen). But still, there’s a lot of very mature content, either on screen or alluded to.

The emotions are very real in this book. Darrow grows a lot, and I can’t wait to see where he ends up in the next book. The tension of Red Rising is far from settled, in fact, these problems are likely to get much worse for Darrow before they get better.

And that’s good writing.

Even if it was slow.

So, my recommendation? Don’t give up. Because you’ll want to. At least, if you’re like me, you’ll get bored, and you’ll predict a few things and think that the book has no surprises to offer.

You’re wrong. Keep reading, I promise it’s worth the time.

I’m sorry this review was so long in coming, and that it’s not as effervescent as my usual reviews. I finished it at the beginning of the month, and if I tried to go back now and track the details for you, I’d just make a mess of things. So, I hope this review gives a little insight, and helps you decide whether you should read it or not.

Again, I think it’s more than worth your time. And I can’t wait to read the sequel, Golden Son.goldenson

Until next time, Blogland.

 

BZ

The Quenching

Blogland!

Hi! I am so happy to be back. I’m sorry for the silence over the last week and half, but I was banned from all forms of “work” over spring break. You see, as soon as school let out, I started muttering about writing chapters of Jordinn’s Story and catching up on some reading, preparing to pile new tasks on a freshly clean plate.

In response, my husband firmly set my 3DS, with Pokémon Alpha Sapphire already loaded, into my hand. “Relax,” he said. “Take an actual break.”

So, I did. And I can never thank him enough for his insistence.

I’ve come into this new term fresh and excited again, eager to learn and try new things after an intense and mildly disappointing first term. But the best part? Is my Intro to Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy class! We have to write two drafts of a story, at least 12 pages each, in 7.5 weeks. And though I get to post last, thanks to the alphabetical posting schedule (holla at that maiden name!), I’m well into the writing process.

And I didn’t realize what a desert my soul had become without it. Writing the first 1,500 words felt like standing under a cool shower after trudging through sand for time immemorial.

It’s a “short” story, and will probably come closer to being a novella than any short story I’ve ever written.  It follows Mel and Mal about four years before the happenings of “Cards”, and is tentatively titled, “Since the Fire”.

And I’m perfectly, incandescently happy with it.

I don’t ever want to be away from writing for this long ever again. It’s like I was lost and foundering for these last two years, the only thing keeping me moving forward was the blog and the reading.

Thank God for book reviews!

But, I have some homework to do this morning, and then I can write for a couple hours before work! Then work, some more homework, take a quiz, and then pass out.

My schedule this term is strict. I’m working more hours, both at Starbucks and at the Library, so my non-work time is doled out to various readings and school things. My only free time comes when I’ve completed assignments early.

That’s my life for the next 7 weeks.

So, my plan for the blog is this: Lots of small updates, like this post, most likely crowing about the writing class. And then Book Reviews when I’m able. I’ll post the Red Rising book review tomorrow night. Friday and Saturday nights are “free”, as long as I’m on track with all my reading for school.

Anyway, that’s the plan. Also, if you haven’t looked, the What I’m Reading page has been updated to reflect assignments, and my new personal reading.

Thanks again for being here, Blogland. Much love to you all.

 

BZ

Book Review- Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Hello Blogland,

I almost didn’t write this post today. I had a pretty terrible migraine yesterday, which made me leave work. I’ve been at the Library for just over a year, and have never called out or left early, until yesterday. That’s how bad I felt.

And so, though I feel so much better today, I seriously considered just lounging in bed until I had to get ready for work.

But, discipline won out, and here I am, excited as ever to talk to you about Calamity! Now, if you haven’t read my Firefight review, now might be a good time to get yourself caught up. I’d suggest the same for Steelheart, except I read that before I started writing reviews. But, if you’re reading this review before actually reading the series, tsk tsk. Because, here there be spoilers…
Calamity_book_cover

I just wrote about 600 words of this review and had to stop. There’s just too much. There are so many minute details that turn out to be important, and things twist and turn in very complex ways. I can’t retell it here. Not if this post is going to make any sense and be any fun to read.

So, key facts.

  • The Reckoners are on the run after Prof snapped in Babilar. He’s killed most of the Reckoners, leaving David in charge of Cody, Abraham, Mizzy, and Megan.
  • They track Prof, aka Limelight, to Ildithia. Formerly Atlanta, it’s been transformed into a moving city of salt. Yes, you read that right. And Sanderson does a really great job making the setting believable and undeniably cool.
  • Larcener, the former ruler of Ildithia, shacks up with the Reckoners in an effort to hide from Limelight, who would like nothing more than to kill the power stealing Epic. He’s lazy and petulant, and hilarious. And dangerous.
  • David’s convinced that, if they can just make Prof confront his fears, he’ll come back to himself. This is what the Reckoners plan for.
  • Turns out, it’s not that simple, and in the process Prof accidentally kills Tia. The destruction from his anguish pretty much dooms Ildithia.
  • Meanwhile Megan keeps testing the limits of her powers, which allow her to “borrow” from alternate dimensions to create illusions. The more she practices, the more real her illusions become.

This is where I have a hard time. The real twist in this story happens right about here. The team fights Prof one last time, using an impressive combination of tech and Epic powers, but they still can’t beat him.

calamity
UK Cover, cool as ever…

And then some crazy shit happens. Like, Obliteration showing up and (sort of?) helping David. Like, Larcener, who’s been chilling with the team through the entire book, turning out to be Calamity himself.

And Calamity?

He’s basically an alien, sent to this world on some sort of mission, which he misinterpreted as expediting man’s destruction of the world. When he’s shown the innate goodness of man, and how, if released from the bitterness and darkness created by Calamity’s own perspective, Epics can use their powers for good, he basically crumbles and poofs away.

And now Epics are free to be themselves, whether they’re good or bad. Now they’re just people. Epic people with Epic powers, that is.

Oh, and David gets to see his father, because in another reality Steelheart killed David instead, snapping his father into becoming one of the first good Epics, who then joined forces with that dimension’s version of the Reckoners.

And that’s basically how it ends.

Oh, except Obliteration shows up, spouting more scripture, and threatening doom on all the world. David points out that Calamity is gone, and Obliteration doesn’t have to be evil anymore. To which Obliteration says he knows. But, in fact, he faced his fears over five years before, and has been acting as his own crazy self this entire time! And he’s given David a warning. Toronto will melt in three days, more or less.

That’s how the book ends!

And Sanderson has already said that this is the end of The Reckoners.

And for this reason, despite the wonderfully written action sequences, and the nuanced build-up of wonderfully character interactions, this book is my least favorite Sanderson story.

Usually, Sanderson ties up his loose ends. But this books ends looking like an Afghan that’s been sitting in the entryway for over a decade. So many questions are left!

What about Prof? His anguish over the death of Tia, at his command. He has to live with that, and so much more, as he remembers all the atrocities he committed as Limelight.

What bout Knighthawk’s wife? She’s been in stasis for over a decade, waiting for a time when Knighthawk could get some of Prof’s tissue to try and heal her. Now he has the tissue! Did she wake up?

What about Cody and Abraham? Both of them were very seriously injured in the final battle with Prof, and though it’s hinted at that they made it, I could really use some details! Like, did Abraham’s arm grow back?!

And now David has powers, what’s he going to do with them?

This might be the end of The Reckoners, because they’ve ended the absolute tyranny of the Epics, thanks to the destruction of Calamity. But, there are so many details left that I’m left feeling quite dissatisfied.

I think this is the most negative review I’ve written of a Sanderson novel. I’m not sure I realized how attached I was to these characters before I finished this book. I’m not ready for this to be the end, not with so many answers still kept from me.

But, it was still a really great read. I was 100% invested in this book, even when things took that sharp turn into the weird. There were ending elements that I enjoyed, like David’s flying lessons with his Dad, and meeting the actual Firefight. I even cried at a couple parts.

So, it’s still a great book. Just be prepared to be left demanding more, and know that, you may never get what you want.The+Reckoners+Series

I’m still struggling through Red Rising. I’ve got less than a week to finish it, so I need to stop wasting time. But… it’s so boring. At least so far. Hopefully I can finish it and move on to the next read before too long.

See you then, Blogland.

 

BZ

A Calm Moment

I came here today to write the book review for Calamity, but wasn’t sure I could get it done in an hour, so I’ve slated it for tomorrow when I have more time.

So, instead, I’m here to just clear my head and talk about whatever. Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve done that.

Finals are over. I have almost two weeks off from school, in which I will play Uncharted 3 and Pokémon with reckless abandon. I’ve been reading Red Rising by Pierce Brown, and though it’s not bad, it’s… really slow.

Like, I’ll find other things to do than read this book, which isn’t normal for me. I like it… Ok, I can’t even say that. I’m completely ambivalent about it. I don’t hate it. But, I don’t really care about it either. Not a good place to be when I only have a week to finish it.

Submissions for The Audient Void are still coming in. I know Obadiah, the creator and Commandant of the magazine, sees a lot more submissions than I do. He gets them all, sends me the most promising ones, either because they need some line editing or to get my feedback about accepting them.

So far, I’m thoroughly impressed with the content I’ve seen. And we’re still accepting submissions! Check out the Facebook page here: The Audient Void for submission guidelines.

Hmm… What else is happening in my life?

Oh, I had a terrible term and am anxiously waiting to see what my grades will do to my GPA. Pretty sure my chances at Suma Cum Laude are gone. But, I should be able to just make Magna. I tell myself this is acceptable, and yet I’m still pissed.

But, next term, starting March 14th, I take two English classes! One of them is Intro to Writing Science Fiction, and I am so excited! I haven’t taken a writing class in forever, and I miss it terribly.

One of my favorite bands releases their new album in April, and is stopping in Portland in May, so I’m stoked for that.

What else?

Still waiting to hear more from Beta readers, but what has come in so far has been promising. I knew when I sent The Steel Armada out that it needs some major tweaking. It’s thin. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. It’s the malnourished body of a story that, given some additions, could be fully fleshed and detailed.

And that’s what the feedback so far has told me, but my Betas are fantastic because they’re telling me what they want more of, and where. It’s magical!

This weekend I want to get the second draft printed out and put in the binder. That way, when all the Betas have chimed in I can get to work fixing everything.

… I think that’s everything. Come back tomorrow to read all about my experience with Calamity!

 

BZ