MITOSIS by Brandon Sanderson

After being very impressed with STEELHEART earlier this month (I think it may be my favorite Sanderson novel to date), I picked up MITOSIS for $1.99 on the Kindle store.

It’s a very short read, maybe 15-20 minutes, so it’s hard to say too much about it — it really is a very short story and includes only a handful of the characters from the first book. David remains our first-person protagonist, and it includes the same sense of humor as the first book, which is nice.

The antagonist, Mitosis, has an interesting power, and it was nice to get a sneak peak of what Newcago will look like when Sanderson publishes FIREFIGHT this fall. I would probably have priced this at $0.99 instead of $1.99 on account of the story being so short, but I think I purchased STEELHEART as a Kindle daily deal, so I’ve still come out well ahead. If you enjoyed STEELHEART, you’ll enjoy this, but I think we’ll have to wait for FIREFIGHT to come out to be truly satisfied.

BLOOD SONG by Anthony Ryan

I really liked BLOOD SONG and I’m looking forward to reading TOWER LORD when it comes out this summer, but I’m not sure I love this book the way so many other reviewers do.

The beginning of the book describing Vaelin’s coming of age is my favorite part of the book. It’s well-worn territory, but Ryan does it well. Vaelin is an interesting character, with depth and shades of gray that become apparent as the story moves forward, but I don’t know that I related to him as well as I’m probably supposed to.

After a strong beginning, I wasn’t as interested in the final third of the book. The story is framed by Vaelin telling his life story to a chronicler, similar to Rothfuss’s KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, on the eve of his battle against a legendary warrior, but after his storytelling is complete, the resolution of his current-day predicament seems far too easy.

The world-building, storytelling and pacing are all excellent, and Ryan handles the difficult task of developing different personalities for Vaelin’s fellow members of the Order, which isn’t an easy task. While Ryan does an excellent job with these, his punctuation threw me off quite a bit — his use of commas created some run-on sentences that threw a grammar nerd like me out of the story too many times.

I’m looking forward to reading TOWER LORD and seeing how Ryan progresses as an author — it’s certainly an incredible debut, but I would put BLOOD SONG half a step behind Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch. I think Ryan can get there (something I can’t say about most authors), but I just don’t think this was it — yet.

STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

STEELHEART has many of the same themes as MISTBORN: a superpowered tyrant who may be unkillable, a lone rebel who joins with an underground network of freedom fighters, a desperate plan with little chance of success.

But Sanderson differentiates this work with a far different voice and a lot more humor, making this perhaps my favorite Sanderson novel to date, though I must admit I haven’t read much of his beyond the MISTBORN trilogy and the conclusion of THE WHEEL OF TIME.

Sanderson may be the best author today when it comes to creating logical magic systems, but in this book he’s more free with his rules, admitting that Epics (basically comic-book style superheroes) don’t follow the rules of physics, and their powers are often difficult to explain. Sanderson does keep the Epics in check, however, ascribing each one a weakness that can be exploited and limiting each to one primary power and possible a complementary ability.

Our main character David provides a compelling entry into this world, and I found all the Reckoners to be clearly drawn, easily likeable characters. During the climactic confrontation, I found that there was really only one character (sorry, Tia) whose presence I wouldn’t miss in future books.

This was a fun read, an enjoyable take on the superhero / comic book genre, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book. I’ve already downloaded MITOSIS to my Kindle, an opportunity to revisit this world one more time before FIREFIGHT comes out in the fall.

HEIR OF NOVRON by Michael J. Sullivan

Though the first two books of THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS, I still wasn’t sure exactly what it was about these books that allowed them to escape the stigma of self-publication and become worldwide bestsellers that were picked up by a traditional publisher.

The prose was solid and easy to read, but didn’t attract notice. The plotting, likewise, was good, but not outlandishly so. Hadrian and Royce had an easy, relaxed camaraderie, but it didn’t seem like their dynamic would be enough to explain why these books were so popular. Then I read the final book in the trilogy, and I understood.

Sullivan’s plotting is at its best in this book, with stunning plot twists and reveals, coming in rapid-fire fashion. Not only do they catch the reader off balance, but they challenge all the characters we’ve gotten to know over the previous books in ways we haven’t seen before. It’s the most complex book Sullivan has published to this point, and he does an excellent job of pulling all the threads together at the end. I remember before I read any of his books I saw something in which Sullivan explained that there would be no sequels after HEIR OF NOVRON because he felt as though he’d created the perfect ending and didn’t want to spoil it.

I think he’s probably right. If the ending isn’t perfect, it’s at least wrapped up tight, and while he certainly could find a way for sequels, I’m content with this ending. It’s always nice when a series’ final book is also its best.