Sanderson Updates!

Is it October 6th yet?

Brandon Sanderson just posted a blog which included the prologue and the first two chapters from his forthcoming Shadows of Self. In case you don’t remember from my last rabid ranting, Shadows of Self is the sequel to The Alloy of Law, which is arguably one of my favorite books ever. Granted, I say that about a lot of books these days.

Anyway, it releases October 6th, and after reading these preview chapters, I cannot wait! I love these characters, and treat my time with them as if they were cherished friends come to visit. Especially Wayne. That guy just cracks me up. I’m in love with him, completely. Which is a dangerous thing, because Sanderson is likely to maim him, or even kill him by the time the series is through.

School’s going well. I’m keeping up with my assignments, and enjoying the readings so far. I’m still making time for my personal readings, and am bouncing between the Rogues anthology and Sanderson’s novella Perfect State.

I’m still not sure what novel I tear into next, especially since Amazon is touting a October 15th release date for the Thorn of Emberlain. There’s just so much good reading coming up!

Anyway, I’m off to spend time with the hubby, before I lose him to Destiny.

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Book Review- Legion and Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Twofer it is. I’m feeling more than a bit under the weather, so I’m sorry in advance if this review is less… enthusiastic.

Beware the spoilers!

Legion

I found a hardback copy of Legion at Powell’s in downtown Portland. This is a fairly rare thing, since the US edition of hardback prints was limited. Turns out I found a UK copy that shared its binding with The Emperor’s Soul.
LegionGollancz

I was really surprised when I found out that Legion was only 72 pages. That’s tiny. Like microscopic in Brandon’s long list of long books. I read it in a day. And by a day I mean about an hour and a half.

That’s a testament, not only to my speed-reading tendencies, but the fast-paced nature of the story. This was both the best, and worst, thing about Legion.

Unlike most of Sanderson’s novels, Legion takes place in the normal world. This lets the world-building master skip out on this time-consuming element to most stories. He can get right to the plot, and right to character development.

Now, the thing about Stephen Leeds, AKA Legion, is that he has a quirk. Ok, a big quirk. All right, it’s probably more than a quirk. Like, a major psychological disorder. Most psychologist, therapists, and scientists think Leeds is Schizophrenic. And they make a pretty good argument for it. Because Leeds sees people who aren’t there.

But, in a nice twist, à la Sanderson, Leeds can control when he creates an “Aspect” and which ones attend him on cases. Usually. In the early scenes of Legion, we meet Ivy, J.C., and Tobias.

Ivy is the people person. She’s a psychologist, from what I gather. She helps Leeds read and react to people. And she tends to act as his moral compass quite often. J.C. thinks he’s an ex-Navy SEAL. He’s Leeds weapons expert, and often acts as a sort of security for Leeds. And Tobias. Well, Tobias is a well of knowledge. He acquires and stores minutia. Acquaintance’s names, birthdays, random info about architecture and news. But, mostly, Tobias seems to act as a buffer for Leeds. He helps him keep control.

And none of these people are real.

From the get-go, I really enjoyed Leeds and his merry band of Aspects. They’re a riot. And they bicker between each other constantly.

But, Legion itself suffers from a very frail plot. The premise good enough, and is a convincing reason why Leeds and Co., would go on their adventure. But, the story isn’t really about any of it. It’s about getting to know Leeds, his Aspects, and wondering who in the hell Sandra is.

Which is why I read the second novella, Legion: Skin Deep.
Legion Skin Deep

And where the first story fell flat, the sequel shined. The plot is much stronger, and there’s more intrigue about Leeds, the abilities and quirks of his Aspects, and the people he knows in real life.

And though there aren’t any real answers, we learn a tiny bit more about the elusive Sandra. Turns out, she was the only person who ever really got him. She helped him learn how to control his Aspects. Helped him use his “disorder” to accomplish things. And then, one day, she just up and left.

And Legion hasn’t been quite right since. Ivy thinks he’s beginning to lose control. Aspects are “creating” family members, J.C. straight up ignores orders. Leeds is on shaky ground with his aspects, and we don’t quite know why.

Not yet.

In Skin Deep, we get to see Leeds without all of his Aspects. Well, mostly. And we get to hear his thoughts on himself. How he thinks of himself as a blank slate for his Aspects. And it’s sad. And makes Sandra that much more important. Because she wasn’t just some psychological coach. It’s implied she was a lover.

By the end of the second novella, we realize that, despite his 48 Aspects, all specialists in some field or another, Leeds is incredibly alone.

That’s what I really liked about this series. The main character has to compete with a multitude of Aspects for the reader’s affection, but he still shines over them, because they’re all a piece of him. And I’m really curious to see how the series gets resolved. I look forward to the next installment, whenever that will be.

If you’re interested in a quick read series full of humor, detective-esque intrigue, and just enough weird to still be a Sanderson story, then you should pick up Legion!

I do want to say that I read Legion: Skin Deep as an ebook, and though I really appreciated the convenience, I constantly felt like I was forgetting something. It’s nice to open my phone and be brought to the exact page I was on, but I didn’t like how easy it was to be interrupted. Co-Workers have learned to leave me be when they see a book out, but my phone? No one cares about that.

But, ebooks allow me to read more things. I’ve bought a few novellas, and novel, that I will be reading as ebooks. And I wouldn’t have had access to them otherwise. So, while not my preferred method, ereading isn’t all bad.

Now I’ve got to focus on reading Ready Player One for book club at the end of the month. I’m thinking of doing a Book Club Review, where I’ll give each member’s opinion. But, we’ll see.

See you soon, Blogland!

BZ

Book Review- Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve been pretty enthusiastic about this book for over a month now. I went to the signing the week of the release and read the book in about half the time I’d scheduled for it. So far, it’s taken me longer to read The Slow Regard of Silent Things than it did to read this book, and it’s nearly four times the size of Rothfuss’s novella.

But, that’s not really a fair comparison. The books are complete opposites, as you’ll find out when it’s the novella’s turn for a review.

If you read any further, prepare to be spoiled!
RiverSongSpoilers

Firefight picks up not long after Mitosis. We’re thrown immediately into the action as David and the other Reckoners execute a mission against an Epic named Sourcefield. She’s pretty powerful, with teleportation and electricity powers she wields sort of like Ryu’s Hadoken from Street Fighter.
Hadoken

In Mitosis, David discovers that the title Epic’s weakness was related to his past. Both Tia and Prof think it’s a coincidence, but it turns out that Sourcefield’s weakness is also related to her past. Her grandparents tried to poison her when she was a child, using Kool-Aid to mask the flavor. Thusly, when she’s doused in gallons of red Kool-Aid her electricity flickers and fades.

She bolts, but the Reckoners were prepared, and she’s cornered. In her final moment David was struck at how afraid she was. How normal. But he still pulled the trigger. He tells himself it was the right thing, and he believes it, mostly. But he can’t shake his concern for Megan, who we discovered is actually the High Epic Firefight at the end of Steelheart.

David theorizes that Epics who forgo using their powers, or gift them away, retain their normal personalities. That’s why Megan could infiltrate the Reckoners, and that’s why he fell in love with her. And it’s why Prof can lead them. He gifts his abilities, leaving his personality intact.

Back to Sourcefield.

After her death, David discovers flower petals in her hand. They’re a message for Prof, from Regalia. She’s the badass Epic that flooded all of Manhattan and now rules over the renamed city of Babylon Restored.

Mitosis, Sourcefield, and an Epic called Instabam, who we didn’t get to see in scene, have all attacked Newcago. And they were all sent by Regalia.

So, Prof and Tia drag David to Babylon Restored, where David quickly discovers he’s terrified of water. Did I mention that the entire city is flooded? The people live in and on top of skyscrapers, only now only a few floors protrude from the water.

Regalia has power over water. She can manipulate it, use it to project herself, and can use it like a television screen. She can watch you anywhere there’s water, even if it’s just a puddle that’s dripped off of you.

And she’s not alone. Obliteration, a powerful Fire Epic has arrived, and that’s big time bad news. He melted Houston, San Diego, and Albuquerque. Melted. And he’s wreaking havoc through Babylon Restored.

Add Newton, a mysterious Epic working like a thuggish police force, and rumors of Firefight, and there’s almost too many powers and potential weaknesses to keep straight.

As the story builds and the plan is made, David runs into Firefight, and begs her to stop using her powers, just to see if he’s right about his theory. She’s reluctant, but agrees. They continue to meet in secret, and Prof is suspicious. Twice he asks David to be honest with him, and twice David lies.

And he should have known better. Just like any good parent, Prof knew more than he was letting on.

David tries to convince Prof and the other Reckoners that Epics can be saved. That, instead of killing Epics, they should use their weaknesses to incapacitate them, that way they can return to their normal selves.

That doesn’t go over well, but Prof is intrigued by David’s talk of good Epics. Of finding a way to negate the morality sap of his powers. He starts experimenting with his abilities again, and even manages to run across the bottom of the Babylon Sea to save a burning building.

And it doesn’t work.

Prof finds out about David’s betrayal, about his clandestine meetings with Megan. And he suspends David from missions. He takes his gun, and leaves him alone at the base. But not before admitting that was the whole reason he brought David in the first place. To lure Megan out. And now that David’s on lock down, the Reckoners are moving forward with a plan to kill Megan.
Firefight-by-Brandon-Sanderson

This is the part where David takes more incredible risks. On lock down, without his gun, he has to find a way out. Prof put up a force field, keeping David in the large meeting room of their base. There’s Tia’s desk, and an entire glass wall that looks out into the ocean.

Oh yeah, their base is underwater.

David finds a small gun in Tia’s desk, and shoots at the glass. It’s not nearly enough to shatter the window, but it’s enough to spring a leak. And a leak is enough for Regalia.

They strike a deal, and she uses the water to shatter the window, and then surges David up to the surface. And then up. And up. And up. Until he’s face to face with Calamity itself.

Side note, Calamity is the red star that hangs in the sky, the Harbinger of all Epics. And turns out, it’s an Epic itself. An Epic that bestows powers. The creator of Epics! And guess who’s next in line?

David can feel the power coursing through him, begging to be used. Calamity sets him back down on a rooftop with Regalia’s projection. And the water calls to him. His powers beg for it, promising that he’ll never have to fear it again.

And that’s when he knows.

He throws himself into the water, confronting his fear, and he denies the powers. He’s no Epic. But now he knows that fears are the key to Epic’s powers. And their weaknesses.

He rushes to find Prof while avoiding Regalia. But, he’s too late to save Megan. And even Prof is crushed by her death, even though it was at his hands. But, David refuses to believe she’s dead. Her main power is regeneration after all, and Prof realizes that he hopes David is right. He gifts a substantial amount of healing and shield to David, and wishes him luck.

And though David finds Megan’s body, he also finds her fail safe. The fire, her weakness, didn’t kill her. The remote activated gun she set up in the building across the way did. She’ll regenerate in a few hours.

Which mean David has just enough time to find Regalia.

He does, and he kills her, with a katana, which is badass, but not before her plan works. She lured Prof to Babylon Restored, not to put her down, but to set him up in her footsteps. She was dying of cancer, and only had a few weeks left. And he fell for the trap.

To prevent Obliteration’s detonation, Prof used his shielding powers. And he used way too much. He loses it, and kills the other two Reckoners with him. And then he comes for David.

Now, this is the moment where we see Prof’s powers unleashed, and man is he strong. And he is going to kill David. And David stands up to him, tries to talk him down, but freshly snapped Epics tend to go on murdering sprees, killing those closest to them. There’s no talking Jonathan Phaedrus down.

And then Firefight regenerates. And she’s even stronger. And, using her projection abilities, she whisks David to safety. And she doesn’t want to murder him.

And here’s the key: Epic powers and weaknesses are born of fears. And when an Epic confronts and survives that fear, they get to use their powers with out deteriorating their morality.

And that’s how it ends. So much is left for the final book, Calamity, due out next year.

Obviously, I really enjoyed this book. I just spent over 1,200 words detailing the story to you. There’s so much to love. I love the characters, they’re all individuals, and fully fleshed out. Plus, David’s bad metaphors make me giggle on the regular. I love the complex twisty-turny nature of the plot lines and weaknesses. Each Epic is a new puzzle, and each city has something innovative and so enjoyable about it.

And though Prof succumbing to his powers is the worst possible thing to happen to the Reckoners, I also know that David, Tia, and Megan can figure it out. And they’re going to save him!
The Faithful

BZ

Book Review- Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

I know, I know. I’m still reading The Star Scroll, but I had the time to read Mitosis at the Sanderson signing, while I waited for our row to be called, so why not read it? It was 100% pertinent since it’s an interlude between the first and second books in the series I was there to support.

This is my first Book Review, ever. I’ve written reports for school and blurb like reviews on Goodreads, but nothing as in depth as this.

As a warning, this post will contain spoilers for both Mitosis, and its predecessor Steelheart. You might not want to keep reading if you want to remain unspoiled.
mitosis

Mitosis picks up not too long after the events of Steelheart. David and The Reckoners are still in Newcago, but things are definitely getting better since Steelheart’s death. People are moving to the surface, painting the steel that covers the city in all sorts of bright colors, and there’s even a hotdog cart.

That’s where the story starts. David is teaching Abraham the wonders of a good old fashioned Chicago style hotdog. This opening mainly serves to build the world. We see Newcago as it is now, under the leadership of the Reckoners. People are still skittish and listless. They don’t think their new lifestyle will last. They’re convinced that another Epic (read: bad guy with superpowers) will come in and set up his own tyranny.

Which is what happens a couple pages later. Mitosis, an epic whose ability allows him to make endless copies of himself, sneaks into Newcago and starts to divide into hundreds of versions of himself. They each run through the city, threatening to shoot citizens until David comes forward. He doesn’t believe that a non-Epic could have killed Steelheart, and he’s ready to find the truth.

So, madness ensues. David and Abraham run about, and then get separated. As we learned in Steelheart, David has spent most of his life compiling files on various Epics. Each Epic has some sort of power, and they also have a single weakness, and they’re usually kept extremely close to the vest.

So, David runs through Newcago, attracting all the versions of Mitosis while Tia searches through the files for Mitosis’s weakness. Turns out, most weaknesses are related to something from the Epic’s life before they had powers. And Mitosis? Well, he was a rockstar, and he hated his own music so much that hearing it makes his clones turn to dust.

So, David gets cornered by a multitude of Mitoses, and starts broadcasting one of the songs over the city’s mobile network. Clones all over Newcago fall apart, but as they fade away, the remaining clones grow stronger, more real, and one shoots David. The bullet goes through his side and into his arm. A pretty bad wound for the series so far.

David escapes the room and makes a run for it, trying not to think about the fact that he’s just been shot. But, the multitude of clones are too much for the wounded boy, and he finds himself trapped in a small tunnel.

Mitosis after Mitosis crawl through the tunnel after him, single file. David sings the song, and each clone falls apart. But David’s losing blood and he can’t sing much longer. Finally, he tells Mitosis the truth of Steelheart’s death, which I won’t spoil here.

One of the main themes of The Reckoner series, and a lot of Sanderson’s work, is the power of the common man. The Epics make a point to prove that they’re better than the normal people, that they have a right to rule. That they’re the next step in evolution.

But, David’s involvement in Steelheart’s death throws a wrench in that assertion. And so do the hundreds of people singing all over the city. They sing, the song that played over the mobile network, and Mitosis, despite getting his truth, dies.

But, Mitosis is just the beginning of the trouble The Reckoners face.

I really liked this story. It took me a long time to get to like David’s narration in Steelheart, but now that I know him, it’s impossible not to love him. I will say that I found the intro a bit jarring. I haven’t looked at Steelheart since I finished it last spring, so to jump into Mitsosis was a little hard. Like most readers, I thought it was almost too short. I get it, it’s a short story, but I’m used to Sanderson’s expansive worlds. He got to skip all that since the world is established.
Mitosis1

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this story. I love the puzzle that the Epics present. I know Sanderson’s stories, so there’s something heavy about Epics in general. Something overreaching.

This story was a great jumping off point to prep for Firefight. I’m reacquainted with the world and the characters, and I’m ready for a full length adventure!

Now I just have to finish The Star Scroll!

I hope you all enjoyed my first attempt at a Book Review. I’ll try to summarize less as the works get longer.

See you soon to talk about The Star Scroll!

BZ

Creativity and Being a Goober

This has been a great weekend so far!

Last night was the Brandon Sanderson signing. I am still so grateful to my co-worker for trading me shifts so I could sit at Powell’s for about four hours. I’m also grateful for Trevor, because he sat with me the whole time, he drove, and he even had a good time!

When Sanderson does a signing, he always talks for a bit, then answers questions, and then reads something he’s working on. Last night he spoke about creativity. And I really loved what he had to say. He spoke about how our society tends to demean creative endeavors. How, when we tell someone we’re writers, they laugh and ask “how’s that working for you?” Or they say, “you mean you’re unemployed.”

First of all, to those people, you’re pretty rude. Secondly, we just met, you have no knowledge of my success and failures. But it’s always assumed we’re the latter.

But, Brandon asked why someone playing on a community sports team on the weekends is socially acceptable, even encouraged, when creative endeavors as a hobby are often laughed at.

He then mentioned his mother, who’s an accountant, and an old roommate of his who is now an engineer (and who happened to be in the audience). He said that they are creative in their own ways. The things they do and enjoy exercise the same “muscle” that writing fiction does for us.

And I’ve always believed this. I believe that every person is creative, they just don’t use the “muscle”. Trevor has claimed, for the last seven years we’ve been together, that he’s not creative. I tell him he’s wrong. Thanksgiving dinner is a bona fide masterpiece every year. And he strives to outdo himself every time. Compound butters, herb rubs, carefully mixed gravies. It’s a science as much as it’s art.

And it’s delicious.

And recently he’s been drawing. And as he draws he gets better. His sketches fill out and become much more complex. He’s strengthening his creative “muscle”.

I think it’s time we stop doubting our creative abilities. We should be fostering them, and encouraging others to do the same. Children and adults alike should feel comfortable talking about their artistic expressions.

But, aside from the inspiring speech, Brandon was his usual self. Equal parts confidence, humility, and goober. I say this with the utmost affection. Seriously, even Urban Dictionary agrees with me:

Goober:
basically a goober is just a kindhearted, rather oblivious goofball. it’s term of endearment really.

This mixture put me at ease, and reminded me that it’s OK for me to be a bit of a goober sometimes. When I get really excited about something (read: books) I tend to run at the mouth and make really bad jokes/puns.
Sanderson signing

This is why my last encounter with Sanderson was so dreadful. I was too much of a goober to recognize it at the time, but it was bad. This time I put on my “Starbucks Barista” smile, and treated him like a customer, and we actually talked like normal people! I asked him a question, he answered it, we smiled, and I told him that Writing Excuses was awesome so far this season. Then he handed me my books and we walked away…

As soon as we cleared the wall of his books my facade crumbled and I was in full on goober mode. I celebrated my successful two minute conversation, and basically was a bubbly, bouncing, squeeing fangirl for about an hour.
Sanderson Signing 2

So that was last night. I was blissful the whole evening, and that feeling followed me into this morning. Laying in bed, listening to rain, I scrolled through my morning’s dose of social media. I follow Tor Books on twitter, and they tweeted asking followers what they were reading on this rainy day. I replied with The Star Scroll, and that I hoped to finish it to read Sanderson’s Firefight. I tagged him in it.

I thought nothing of it, a simple tweet to start my morning, and continued with my day. Until a couple hours later, this happened:
Sanderson tweet

Now, this isn’t that big of a deal. At least I tried to tell myself that. But… I still had a healthy “fangirl” moment. And I may have flagged the notification email for all of time. I regret nothing.

And, to wrap up today, I finally got some feedback on A Stranger Comes Knocking. And it was mostly good! A couple tweaks and cleaning up my stumbles into the common pitfalls of the first person narrative, and, as my grandma always said, “we’ll be cooking with gas!”

Anyway, Trevor and I are about to embark on our own cooking adventure, tonight’s feature being homemade chicken tenders. They usually turn out beyond delicious, and I expect tonight’s edition to be no different.

Monday should find me a bit of time to get my first Book Review of the year posted, and I look forward to it. I’m also volunteering at the Salem/Keizer school district, sorting books for the school’s libraries. Hopefully that’s as fun as I think it will be. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have something to say.

See you then, Blogland!

BZ

Brandon Sanderson Signing Tonight!

Today’s the day! Brandon Sanderson book signing is tonight!

I’m really trying to keep my nerves to a minimum, and I’m going to do my best to act like a coherent human being when I talk to him this time. Thank goodness I have my loving, supportive husband with me, just in case I can’t get my mouth to work properly… again.

Last time, in hindsight, I was beyond drooling. I think I may have spoken a total of ten words, and was probably an alarming shade of red. But, I was so proud of myself when we left. I’d talked to him! I didn’t mumble, and I made eye contact! I considered it a huge success.

Tonight I’m going to do better. I’m determined.

I’m sure there will be photos and an adequate freak out session tomorrow!

See you then Blogland!

BZ

Dreary January

Firefight releases today! It just so happens to coincide with Sbux Tip Tuesday, which makes me desperate for a bookstore.

Firefight-by-Brandon-Sanderson

But! I won’t buy it yet… I know, I know. I haven’t shut up about this book for a couple weeks, and all of a sudden I’m not buying it?

But that’s because a fortuitous visit to Sanderson’s website dropped a bomb on me yesterday.

Thanks to the book’s release, he’s touring again, and will be in Portland on the 16th! But, I’m scheduled to work during the signing, and was on the verge of tears yesterday afternoon. Ask my friend, Crazybull, he was making fun of me.

simpsons_nelson_haha_1_answer_8_xlarge

But, an angel in the form of a co-worker, swooped down and saved me. She’s agreed to cover the shift, and I am Portland bound! So, in an effort to support awesome Indie bookstores like Powell’s, I’m holding off on my purchase until the event.

Which sort of works out. I didn’t want to rush through The Star Scroll just to read Firefight, and it gives me time to read Mitosis as well. It just allows for better pacing for my reading this month.

Speaking of reading this month, my hubby is a bit of a comedy buff. He loves stand-up, and his favorite comic is Patton Oswalt. He came to Salem once, and I bought us tickets for Trevor’s birthday. We had a blast, because Patton is one hilarious dude. And, in case you hadn’t heard, he launched a book today as well, titled Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film. And, he’ll also be in Portland, at the Burnside Powell’s, on the 29th signing books and shaking hands.

patton's book

So, all of a sudden my dreary January is full of fun events!

Another fun event is a return to our weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This is something relatively new for us. Trevor and I are fairly nerdy people. We play video games extensively. I have a Kingdom Hearts tattoo as well as a Doctor Who tattoo, and Trev’s rocking the Star Trek insignia for life. And I read Sci-Fi/Fantasy almost exclusively these days.

So, when a co-worker of Trevor’s suggested we get a party together for a beginner’s campaign, we were 100% interested. So we gathered a group of pretty interesting people, who created even more interesting characters, and we’ve been playing for a month solid. But, the Holidays made us a skip a week, and tonight is our return!

And what does the only female party member wear to play D&D? Why, only the finest nerdery out there!
ladies-tank-templarcullen-front pikachu cardigan

That’s right! A Dragon Age tank top, featuring her favorite romance option (a gift from her adored husband) and a Pikachu cardigan (a gift from the adored in-laws). Short of cosplaying our characters, it doesn’t get much more nerdy.

I don’t work at the Bux today, so I find myself wasting time scouring the internet, tweeting, and reading intermittently. It’s nice.

But, I did wake up this morning with a drive to work on Jordinn’s Story, so I’m going to wrap up this dribble, and get to it.

I’ll see you soon, Blogland!

BZ