I got around to reading Brandon Sanderson and I honestly find him to be really mediocre
By - loonz420
I am both intimidated and impressed by the fact you managed to read almost 7 books by an author you don’t enjoy
Edit: You are all ravenous, unstoppable book monsters with unquenchable appetites. I salute you and appreciate your passion for books, regardless of what books you choose to read ❤️
The **will** involved is intimidating.
But can you imagine if they had a pencil? :)
Related to other comments about the Malazan Book of the Fallen, I strongly disliked Erikson' style of prose since the very first book but his plot and worldbuilding are so good that I finished the series in spite of it.
I've never had to go back and look up things while reading a series MORE than when I read Malazan Book of the Fallen. So confusing but I loved it so darn much!
I'm in completely the same boat as you. English is not my native tongue and I was somewhat younger when I started the series, so there was a lot that didn't make sense. I'm on the third read-through on first half and I'm picking up a lot more. Especially some of the foreboding to later books.
Currently reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Thank God for the Malazan wiki site
Just finished the series yesterday. The first book I had no idea what was going on 90% of the time or who anyone was and had to look it up. By the end I had a good grasp of who everyone was and it was amazing.
Got halfway through the books before I realized I live about and hour and a half away from Steven Erickson
This is why I don't mind Sanderson's prose. I'm struggling so hard to get into Malazan because of the wild prose. Like I legit couldn't picture Moonspawn at all when it first appeared because of the writing. Literally googled it because I had no clue.
It took me ages to finish gardens of the moon but then I got to deadhouse gates and I got even more confused with the slave revolt and the whirlwind. I really struggled with that not to mention mappo and icarium. But then...the chain of fucking dogs. I was hooked. I got really emotionally invested into it and I couldn't stop reading after that. Still can't stand karsa though. He a rapist.
To echo other sentiments, this improves after GotM. It took me way too many tries over multiple years to finish the first book but the rest were much more enjoyable--it's possibly my favourite fantasy series right now at 5 books in.
The single biggest thing I found to get around his prose was to imagine everything larger-than-life and more fantasy-esque than described. I adore fantasy concept art and imagining Erikson's scenes as taking place in areas akin to concept art went a long way in making the world more enjoyable. [Marc Simmonetti has some beautiful artwork for the series](https://www.reddit.com/r/Malazan/comments/a6hffj/memories_of_ice_french_cover_art_by_marc/) which played a large part in helping me get through the first couple books.
edit: [Here's his take on Moon's Spawn](https://www.deviantart.com/marcsimonetti/art/Gardens-of-the-moon-729224001), which is single-handedly responsible for me having any idea what the hell was happening in that scene.
I found it easier once you get past Gardens of the Moon. Erickson even basically says that you are supposed to be confused
I think it's book 4 that starts out with Karsa's childhood and I genuinely thought I picked up the wrong book. He just stopped the plot to drop 200ish pages of history about some guy you don't know yet. 10/10
This is something I both love and hate about this series.
The way each book has essentially its own cast of characters lets him explore a lot of different things and keeps things interesting, but after a certain point, when you're on the penultimate book, the plot is now absolutely byzantine, and you're reading page after page about the childhood of someone who was mentioned like 3 times in the entire series so far but is now for some reason really important, it gets incredibly wearing.
By the end I just wanted him to stop making up new characters, plotlines and backstories and start *resolving* the existing ones!
Is the original English version actually that hard? I hear this sentiment a lot, I only read the translation to my native language, IDK if translator did gods work to keep this book fairly manageable.
Still, MBotF is something which requires persistence and kinda giving up on fully understanding everything that is going on. One of the best fantasy book for me and I am kinda biased.
Jesus it's so nice to hear this from someone else. Just finished book 1 and I absolutely hated his writing. His habit for stating the obvious, for overwriting and telling you exactly how to think and feel about every character. And the dialogue. Just horrible. But the plot was excellent and the world amazing so I was left ... Confused. To say the least.
It's like those negative Steam reviews from someone with like 200 hours played.
That's me with Dayz. I'm like 600 hours in and still mad lol
"i paid £10 for this game and after 2500 hours i'm starting to feel it was a waste of money. screw this game."
Oh you mean [this guy?](https://www.reddit.com/r/SteamReviews/comments/b67aog/its_ok_i_guess/)
A few years ago I read 10 Cassandra Clare books to see what the hype was about. All of TMI, TID, and Lady Midnight before I screamed about wasting my reading life and donated all them. Sometimes you just gotta read garbage.
I remember back when she was just writing terrible Harry Potter fanfics. She was super popular in the fandom back then, but got kicked off of FanFiction.net for plagiarizing whole quotes from tv shows.
I hate-read her first book when it came out and couldn’t help but laugh when I realized she had adapted whole scenes from the Draco trilogy.
Worst books ever. I shall only read them three more times.
I'm sure most avid readers can admit to something similar xD
It took me until the last book in the Witcher Saga to realize that I only actually liked the short stories. Kept expecting more of the early stuff but the series only diverges further the longer you read.
Yep. The short stories are excellent, the novels are largely aimless, plotless fluff wherein every single character is less likeable than they were in the short stories. Geralt gets whiney and annoying. Ciri is straight-up a horrible person. All the sorceresses are deeply unpleasant. Dandelion loses most of his charm. Cahir is okay I guess? Also, the longer you read, the clearer it becomes that you are reading a vehicle for Sapkowski's sex fantasies.
Six and half books before dropping it, you're a trooper.
Or a madman, that's a fuckload of reading for something you aren't enjoying, who does that?
Especially when you take into account that the Stormlight books are like 1300+ pages each
It's like reading Lord of the Rings five times and saying it's not that great.
I hate-read the entire Witcher series last summer. I was out of work, it was the pandemic, and I knew I’d be getting the same consistent slop I didn’t have to work too hard to follow.
I liked the short stories - but I wasn't that big a fan of the actual novels.
The stories in Last Wish are some of my favorites that I've ever read. And now I can't get past like page 20 in Blood of Elves, it's just so boring and different imho.
Yeah - he's not great at weaving together plot & backstory into good pacing. IMO - he was better off in the short stories where he could just leave 90% of the world a vague fantasy whatever.
This is why Conan hold up almost 90 years later.
I think the key to fantasy is knowing what to explain and what to leave to the imagination.
The first two collections (*The Last Wish* and *Sword of Destiny*) are absolutely brilliant pieces of fantasy writing. The novels though.....
i too hate read every sarah j maas novel last spring, oh god why did i do that
With you on Sarah J Maas. Brain candy with sprinkles of sex.
Same, I read Sanderson with a joint with in my hammock on a summers day.
I enjoyed reading the Witcher series despite the plot, not because of it. The short stories got me invested in geralt and yen enough to read thorough all the weirdness.
Not to go too far off topic but, any good at all? I keep hearing the English translation is borderline embarrassing.
For me it was the bizarre butchery of European languages in the world-building, which my Polish housemate says is in Sapkowski’s original as well. For me the most egregious was that there was no Roman Empire or Catholic Church or equivalent, yet educated people use Latin?
But it was on the micro scale throughout. ‘Elskerdeg Pass’ sounds a lot less scary when you know it’s Norwegian for ‘Love you’. And Sapkowski just destroys Welsh and Irish like they’re not actual languages. The funniest was when elves greeted each other saying ‘Cead míle fáilte’ and reply ‘Cead!’, meaning ‘A hundred thousand welcomes’ - ‘A hundred!’ I also couldn’t take someone named Eist Tuirseach seriously because I read it as ‘Éist Tuirseach’, as in ‘Listen, tired!’
I know I’m pedantic and this sounds like r/iamverysmart material, but it just broke the fictional world for me.
Oh, and when he gives Ciri’s height and weight it’s pretty obvious he has no idea how much tall women actually weigh, especially muscular ones. Ten seconds on an online BMI chart, Sapkowski!
>For me the most egregious was that there was no Roman Empire or Catholic Church or equivalent, yet educated people use Latin?
That's because The Witcher worldbuilding is kind of complicated. Humans in the Witcher world aren't some alternative species that just happened to evolve exactly like humans (the sort you'll find in most fantasy or sci-fi settings) but actually human beings from Earth with a capital E, who ended up in the Witcher world through portal shenanigans.
When they settled in the Witcher world, parts of our culture came with them and became morphed over time. One of the things that remained was the Latin language (albiet probably a heavily morphed and bastardized version of it) even when its origins had been forgotten.
Éist Tuirseach is a gas name I had no idea the elves spoke irish 😂😂 need to read this now. Weird considering there's so many brilliant irish words and names he could have used easily
The really funny part about that is that he's not an elf at all but a human from the "Every Scottish Stereotype" islands.
It's to preclude the recurring argument on r/books that "Oh, you only read X books in the series? You should have read Y, it doesn't get good until then. You shouldn't pass judgement on something without having read all of it." This comes up enough in discussions about Sanderson, *Malazan*, and especially *Wheel of Time* (which apparently doesn't get "good" until 3,000 pages in or something) that you can set your watch by it.
Speaking as someone who loves Wheel Of Time and Malazan...
Life's too short to read books you dont enjoy.
It really is. Malazan is pretty easily 6 months of reading for many people, even just the main 10 books. That's a hell of a commitment. It took me 3 tries to get through it, and it's my favorite series ever.
Man, I disagree on judging the wheel of time. Anyone who says it doesn't get good until later I don't understand. I loved the series don't get me wrong. But if you don't like the first book then it's not the series for you. My cousin who was an avid reader had the first book but none of the others when I asked her why she said she didn't care for it much because nothing happens.
If you think that about the first book of WoT you would be pulling your hair out in the later books of the series.
Yeah I'd put wheel of time as one of my favorite series ever and I never had a "oh, now its getting good" feeling. I enjoyed it start to finish and despite the author's quirks or the noticeable slower pace in the middle, I never realized how much people might \*hate\* books 5-9ish until I read about it online a while later
I read the wheel of time as it was coming out. I was greatly disillusioned by a few of the books in the middle because it was tough waiting 2-3 years just to read 800 pages that slightly advanced the story for half of the characters you care about.
I re-read the series a few years ago and didn’t even notice the slump. Turns out those books are perfectly enjoyable when you can just move right on to the next one when you finish, it’s the *wait* that was the problem (in my experience).
Edit: and also I agree, if anything I think the first few books are some of the best.
This confuses me, because the first three books are amazing.
Someone who's worried about people giving them grief if they ever share their feelings on the books. They keep going so that other people aren't like "oh you just didn't read enough" or "it gets really good after the first 2 books!" rather than accepting another person's feelings/opinions at face value without trying to "fix" a problem that isn't really there.
Speaking from experience here as someone who's unfortunately spent a lot of time around a lot of people who treated me like they always knew better than me, even about my own feelings. Reddit can be like that, too, sometimes, where people get attacked for having different opinions than the majority.
Well, I'm still patiently waiting for the last expanse book, and for me that whole series has had a poor hit rate.
I think there is something to say about the fact that books do become talking points for people you frequent. You read to have something to talk about too.
Would you recommend them? I enjoyed the series quite a bit.
Barely touched sci fi though.
The first book is great and stands on its own fairly well. The second is pretty different and, imo, not nearly as compelling. But if you enjoy the second, you'll also enjoy the third. Personally, I stopped reading pretty early into book 4 because I realized I was just chasing the high of the first book and I probably wasn't going to find what I was looking for.
He seems to inspire the same bizarre levels of dedication and emotional investment from his critics as he does from his fans.
Even Brandon Sanderson has noted his bewilderment over that too. It’s very strange how divisive they get over who actually seems to be like a really nice and cool dude.
I think the rabid critics appear as a natural (if unfortunate) consequence of the rabid fans.
If you see something that's loved by huge numbers of people, but when you try it you find it lacking - to the extent that you don't really understand how it's liked at all - it's human nature to want to question why so many people love it so much.
It's just unfortunate that many people seem to lack the basic human decency to do so without straying towards insults. Particularly as Sanderson himself seems like a really nice guy whenever he posts around here.
Yeah I’m not into his stuff at all, but I do really like him as a person. He’s very generous and giving of his time with fans and in giving advice to wannabe authors and I appreciate that about him.
Yeah. Both his critics and his fans seem to just want to place a value judgement on his overall worth as a writer, which IMO is ridiculous.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of my favorite writers, but it’s because his strengths (world building, magic systems, plot twists and epic moments) match up really well with my favorite things to see in a novel.
But I totally understand that for people who love very in-depth characters, dreamy/mysterious fantasy, or eloquent prose, they’re just not going to enjoy his work.
But that gives no-one the right to say “he’s a bad author” or “he’s an amazing author”. Writing is an art form and people making value judgements on it drive me batty. OPs review has some of it, where they veer somewhat from “this wasn’t for me” to “this was bland/bad”. The former is perfectly acceptable, the latter, in my opinion, is not. He’s a person, and seemingly a pretty good one - calling him bad at the thing he’s been doing for the past 15 years just because you don’t like it is a shitty thing to do.
I've only read the first three stormlight books, but I'll say your criticisms are fairly valid. I'll say that his bland prose makes for some really easy reading. Like really easy. Like you can lose three hours and not notice it. There's pros and cons to it. Sanderson is one who doesn't want prose to get in the way of plot, and I'd say he was successful at that. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing is up to the reader.
The easiness is a such a blessing sometimes. I have a hard time falling asleep, but when it's 3AM and I'm still awake, I can read Sanderson and at least be entertained. I can't read Malazan at 3AM, it's just too much. So I'm left just laying there awake, bored.
Sanderson is one of the only authors whose kept me up reading for this reason. I'll just read someone else for beautiful prose. I kinda consider them massive tomes of pulp fiction
Yeah, I read Sanderson for the world building and the story. If prose is very important to you then Sanderson probably isn't going to be that enjoyable
This is exactly how I feel. I just finished my first Malazan book and if I'm even a little bit tired I find it hard to follow. Whereas with Sanderson, I often find myself going to sleep an hour after I mean to. Both types of books are good and have their place though!
Book 1 is the hardest.
This is true. I went from reading Sanderson to tackling Malazan (might have read The Black Company in between, I don't remember) and jesus, it was hard to get into. So, so rewarding though.
The first Malazan book was written with the intention of being adapted into a screenplay. The others in the series are written as novels, and there was a large time gap between writing the first and second books, so there is a stylistic shift. Personally, I enjoyed the style better after the first, but the whole series is very dense.
Did the style shift from “look how incredibly smart I am” to "look how remarkably intelligent I am?”
I’m half joking, but I do catch a whiff of that from what little I have read.
Glad you enjoyed the first Malazan. Book 2 is where it really kicks off IMO!
I hope you stick with Malazan, they are great books! I mean I'd rather read the next Cosmere than the next Malazan, but Malazan is still top tier stuff.
I had to pause my first read of Malazan after book 8 so that I could squeeze in a re-read of Stormlight before RoW came out.
I'm glad I did, because it gave me time to really enjoy the last two Malazan books without feeling like I had to rush through them
When I picked up Mistborn, it was largely as a vacation from difficult prose, after taking 9 months to trudge though Ulysses with some sliver of comprehension. The ease of getting through Sanderson's prose was a big factor in me blasting through the entire Cosmere collection in less time than I spent cursing at James Joyce.
If you want to know how to waste an entire day, listen to Malazan at 1am in bed. You'll make no progress the next day while you figure out how much you need to rewind.
"Hmm... Have I never heard this before, have I heard it while half asleep, or did I just forget?"
I usually follow up a Cormac McCarthy or something like it with one of my Star Wars from Tim Zahn or Drew Karpshyn.
Can confirm, Sanderson is often my post-McCarthy read, and 1000+ pages of Sanderson seems to take about as long as ~300 pages of ~~Sanderson~~ McCarthy.
EDIT: Let's not create a space-time rupture.
> and 1000+ pages of Sanderson seems to take about as long as ~300 pages of Sanderson
And on that note, the universe began to fold in on itself...
Oh fuck not aga
This must be why a friend of mine recommended it to me. She likes reading, but has never once dipped her toe into fantasy, not even LotR or the Hobbit. She knew I liked fantasy though, so she told me a bit about it. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if it's very readable then I will. I liked the Witcher books, and lots of people have criticisms so I'm willing to give Sanderson a try.
Man, Sanderson is the one fantasy author I can tolerate reading because it's so readable. Personally, I've just never gotten anything extra out of complex/beautiful prose and often times it makes it hard for me to focus until I eventually stop reading.
It’s kind of strange to think of the contrast between Sanderson’s lack of prose and Robert Jordan’s lengthy descriptions. Sanderson did a great job finishing WoT, but I wonder if the blandness of stuff like Stormlight Archive is a way of distancing himself from other authors. I really liked Jordan’s writing style because I thought it fed into incredible world building. I don’t feel immersed when I’m reading Sanderson, and that’s a major draw back for me. I’ll probably finish Stormlight Archive, but I’m in no rush to. Definitely waiting until I need an easy read.
OTOH one of the big complaints about Jordan and others like him is that the actual story being told in the books can absolutely *crawl*, and even leave the reader lost because so little has happened in dozens or even hundreds of pages.
IMO it's just different preferences and neither is "better" than the other. Myself, I prefer the focus to be on the story instead of description so I greatly prefer Sanderson to Jordan (and believe that Sanderson saved WoT from having a bland and boring ending) but I don't view my preference as meaning that Sanderson is *better* than Jordan. They're simply two different authors who prioritize(d) different things when writing a book. And that's a good thing. If every book followed the exact same patterns there'd be no need for more than one book anyway.
I'm not sure I completely agree with this, unless we distinguish pacing as a different category altogether.
But for me, the pacing in the Mistborn series felt very unbalanced. And i'm saying this as someone who really enjoyed the series. It really felt like plot movement was very stale in the second book and not a lot significant was going on.
Isn't that the age old criticism of all trilogies?
Like if you look at a single book, the beginning has to hook you. It shows you new things. You are getting involved. It feels fresh and new and fast. The middle slows down and starts setting things up for the end. Then the climax of the book really starts building and taking off, and you get the big finale.
With a trilogy, you have to balance that inside each book, but also inside the greater 3 part narrative. It's really difficult to do.
You just put words to why I have difficulties finishing books at times, I get stuck in the middle phase and it drastically slows down my reading time.
I think The Well of Ascension is his worst book, vast swathes of it move too slowly and there's a big climax near the end that I feel ruins the pacing of the actual ending. Still enjoyed it though!
I've heard it said that some authors write like you're viewing the story through a stained glass window. Beautiful, but you aren't seeing much detail as a result. Gaiman particularly comes to mind when I think of authors that do this.
Sanderson on the other hand writes in HD through a plate glass window, and rather than drawing complexity from the way a scene is tinted and obscured, the complexity is drawn from a traceable complex weave of interconnected plots between the various series within his Cosmere. It's a different kind of difficult all on its own, and it's often mistaken for blandness, especially by fans of stained glass authors. And it can definitely read bland if you aren't paying attention to the details. People who are used to and enjoy digging through poetic prose for meaning just aren't going to like him, because he can't be read that way. And that's totally fine.
I think the people who are obsessed with him are usually the same kind of people who enjoy solving puzzles, less because of whatever the art on the box is and more from the act of solving the puzzle.
It's really all down to preference on what aspect of reading you enjoy, though.
Hoid? Is that you?
He is *really bad* at writing convincing romance, though.
I just finished the mistborn series with my bookclub and we constantly joked about how utterly devoid of chemistry the main romantic pairing is....you could have made them brother and sister and not changed a thing about the story and very little of the writing overall.
Oh, for sure, however, Adolin and Shallan are maybe my favorite relationship in basically any media.
Earnestly getting along with the only drama being self-doubts that aren't overblown, and secrets that really seriously make sense to keep secret? Yes.
And just Adolin's unfailing acceptance of Shallan's issues, earnest support and honesty. It mirrors a lot of the more meaningful and important relationships in my life as someone who has my own issues that can often get in the way.
Yeah, Sanderson is popular to people that like hard magic and behind the scenes world building. There are loads of world building details that are practically invisible unless you know they are there.
And yeah, for the prose in my head I have learned to adapt to the style of the author - I definitely have a pulpy TV show or movie pictured in my head for his stuff. Mistborn comes off like a made for TV mini series like what was done for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrington or Earthsea, while Stormlight has a Chronicles of Riddick feel.
Anyway, your complaints are valid. The people that praise Sanderson just like him for specific reasons that are lacking in many other works - he wraps his endings up really well, the magic systems are things your imagination can mess around with in daydreams, and the world building is a super deep dive and allows for rereads to pick up on little details. As well there is still room for speculation on certain mysteries. Dude also pumps out work like clockwork - which is both a pro and a con, since it’s his plain prose and movie depiction style that lets him work with that consistency.
I really enjoy Brandon Sanderson, I get this ephemeral feeling of something purely magical when reading it. So the prevalent criticism of his characters is coming at odds with my view of his writing. I don't think they're as plain as the op and comments are saying. They aren't grand and intricate with motivations like ASOFAI, but they are well grounded in their own universe. I guess I'm feeling a need to be validated that liking the characters in Sanderson books isn't too off the mark in literature, because I don't believe them to be particularly shallow.
I will definitely agree that he has very plain prose, and that makes it easy to get wrapped in the world. I think it's a perk of the books.
Not every single character has some amazing and groundbreaking arc, but I just don't understand how anyone could read Oathbringer and call Dalinar a shallow character.
Also, Shallan is obnoxious by choice at first, and then we get to see her more in the second book which is my favourite.
Wit is Hoid, but how do I explain Hoid to people?
Hoid is what happens to a character when the character himself is more clever than the author's ability to write a clever character.
I don't even think Hoid is ridiculously clever - moreso, he's just very clever, and ridiculously lucky.
I also thinks complaints of repetitive character arcs sort of miss the point. Kaladin deals with the same issues of depression and anxiety in every book because in reality those things don't just go away one day. I always felt like his willingness to have his characters deal with ongoing mental health problems without fully "fixing" them was a really strong point of the series.
Yeah, you don't just solve problems like depression and never deal with them again.
For many people, it's a lifelong battle.
I'm no literary expert, but one thing I crave in books is solid, unique characters, and I think Sanderson nails this. OP also bags on Wit, whereas I couldn't get enough of Wit personally (shame he hasn't featured more imo).
I guess each to their own, of course, but I'm with you on this.
Wit is rumoured to get his own book (or series) after Stormlight, called “Dragonsteel.”
Not after stormlight, after all the Cosmere books.
I love Wit as well. Part of that is the Hoid aspect. Cosmere fans look for him in every story no matter what world it takes place in, as he has a way of being in places he shouldn't, precisely because he should be there. Maybe knowing he is a sort of Cosmere Easter egg adds to my enjoyment of his character, whereas OP may have never caught on to that having visited only 2 worlds. But I can't fault OP, considering they read near 10k pages to determine they weren't a fan!
One note on the criticism of his use of hard magic: I am also more a fan of soft magic, but going with hard magic is a legitimate choice an author can make. If you're going to do hard magic, then mystery is not what you want, and I appreciate that Sanderson generally explores quite well how his magic systems would alter the way the world works in his settings.
Again if you're not into hard magic, I get it, I much prefer Tolkien's mystery and exploration of philosophical/theological concepts in magic to Sanderson's systems, but that's down to personal taste. I think the way he designs his hard magic systems and integrates them in his world-building are well done.
Must admit I'm still not fully familiar with the differences between hard and soft magic systems. Can anyone explain what the distinctions are?
A hard magic system is one where the use of magic follows rigid rules, there are set limits to what kinds of magic a certain type of magician/wizard/sorcerer can do, and often specific stipulations on what they must do to summon/command those powers, what they can affect, or injunctions on how many times a day they can invoke the ability (for example).
Most role-playing games have very hard magic systems, as they are intended to be balanced tools used by players in contests, and have to have set, predictable results. They have the advantage of having those set, predictable results, and the author can make those rules as binding or impossible to meet as they want. If magicians need to have an *athame* (magical knife) in their possession to cast a spell, then it's possible to take their power away (and open a variety of plot possibilities) simply by taking their knife.
A soft system is much more loosely based. The rules, if any, are solely in the mind of the author, and they can pretty much make them up or break them at will. With a soft system, a magician can do whatever the author wants them to do. Done well, this preserves a lot of the mystery of magic, and makes it seem less like a rote science with newt eyes and crystals, or just a clunky game mechanic. Done poorly, and it easily becomes *deus ex machina*, and the wizard is unbeatable because he just magics his way out of everything.
Which leads to a decent rule brought up by Sanderson: if going with a Soft Magic system, do not solve your major conflicts with it or otherwise the reader will probably feel cheated (there some exceptions imo, but Sanderson is still largely correct about this).
Lord of the Rings is a pretty great example of this. The ring isn’t destroyed by any magic or other fantastic things. Just Gollum and Frodo fighting for the ring that ends up in the lava, thus saving the world.
By doing this, Tolkien is also making a larger point about how evil is an all consuming force, eventually consuming itself.
LoTR is actually the best example of a soft magic system IMO. It's baked into everything - Wizards, the elves, dwarves, even the mountains and forests.
Tolkien never explains anything except in the simplest terms (like some info on the Nazghul, enough to give the hobbits and therefore the reader enough of an understanding to go on). It imbues his whole world with a sense of mystery and magic.
I will admit to geeking out on some of Sanderson's hard magic rules, but there's something to be said for the sense of wonder that follows a well-executed soft magic world.
I loved in particular the elves magic some non elves talk about and to the wives it's not magic, just the way things are, like their ropes or cloaks.
> "For this is what your folk would call magic. I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy"
Just providing a small quote (from the wiki).
And Harry Potter is an example of soft magic which does this rather badly..
I actually think early Harry Potter starts out as very good soft Magic and then evolves into an okay Hard Magic system over the course of the series.
The thing to realize is that Jo isn’t a fantasy writer. She’s a mystery writer who wrote a mystery series with fantasy window dressing for the most part.
Harry Potter is consistent within books iirc, it's when you apply rules from one book to another that it starts getting weird
Well I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone to reads those books that she did a good portion of the world building/magic system on the fly during the writing of the books. I think she’s admitted that herself
Sanderson's blog posts about how he thinks about "rules of magic" mention HP!
He thinks of it as hard magic in the details, soft magic in the broad picture. Within a specific book, the characters learn magic with specific rules and spells, and then usually use those pre-established rules and spells in the climax to solve their plot problems. Hard magic system. But in the big picture, those rules and limitations aren't clearly stated - there isn't a sense that the reader and characters understand "here's what Magic in general can and can't do", so there's lots of stuff in the wizarding world that's just cool or mysterious and doesn't fit in neatly with the spells the characters are learning in their classes.
That gives rise to what people think are "plot holes" - you can search the wizarding world for cool stuff and think "hey, why didn't the characters apply THAT tool to THIS problem." But on the other hand, the soft magic/hard magic combo also manages to both allow the characters to use magic to solve plot problems, AND maintain the mystery and coolness of "magic".
>"hey, why didn't the characters apply THAT tool to THIS problem."
The entire series after it's established that time travel is a thing
>evolves into an okay Hard Magic system over the course of the series.
It's more like a crunchy magic system, hard on the outside, but soft on the inside.
Like she has some rules (the hard) to magic, but really most of it is made up in the book that matters and handwaves stuff away (the effect is soft), it's also inconsistent and illogical.
JKR didn't come from a fantasy background and it shows on re-reads, her world-building is on one hand amazing and unparalleled, but on the other it's wildly illogical, inconsistent, and full of massive holes.
It's best not to treat HP as a work in the fantasy genre sub-world, but as it's own thing that is influenced by fantasy themes and exists in it's own place.
It's like if you watch horror movies, there are cliches and tropes and ideas the movies are expected to follow or subvert, if you make a movie that's scary but either messes up all the tropes or ignores them it might be a scary movie but it's not really within the horror-genre on a meta-level.
Just want to add that the same descriptors are used to describe sci-fi as well.
"Hard" sci-fi is rooted in real science, whether or not it's feasible with our current technology. See: Ringworld, which has one of my favourite "fun facts" around how the author never intended it to be a series but ended up writing a sequel to correct a physics error he made in the first book.
"Soft" sci-fi is similar to soft magic systems in that as the reader you just need to take a leap of faith and believe in the world See: Dune, which funnily enough has a plot element to eliminate things that would make his approach to technology more difficult to manage.
Soft magic is when the magic is just a plot device and the mechanics aren't really gone into at all. Think Gandalf. He just does stuff and people are amazed and surprised, including the reader.
Hard magic is more concrete. Think weaving in Wheel of Time. The magic has limits and they are defined and understood by the reader and some of the characters. Breaking those limits has a cost to your story, because you've built it in.
Breaking limits can also be very enjoyable - if done right. I can't think of an example off the top of my head. In those cases, the limit doesn't get truly broken. Instead it gets moved. Like breaking some insane world record or doing something until then unimaginable in a sport.
A good example of breaking limits done bad is what Brent Weeks did in the last book of his Lightbringer series. Apparently some people were okay with all that, but it ruined the book for me personally.
I really disliked the ending to Lightbringer. Loved the whole series, but the ending was just a literal Deus ex machina.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the magic in the series. Could you clarify a little on what you mean by breaking the limits in the last book? I'd like to specifically know if I agree with it, and I can't remember exactly.
I can't really remember, I did not really try to remember that book. I just remember feeling betrayed. I'd even say the Weeks basically introduced a second magic system (like there's surgebinding/allomancy/feruchemy) with very little setup and it was completely of the hand-wavy type.
> I just remember feeling betrayed.
I get you. I don't feel quite as strongly, but the ending was one of the worst wrap-ups that I've read so I get it.
The Wheel of Time did “breaking” really well. Usually it was through rediscovery of powerful ancient spells, in dramatic but still plot-consistent ways:
1) Ancient evil magic users (the “Forsaken”) gradually escaping from their slowly weakening prison. They’re in there with the Big Bad guy (Dark One) whose imminent escape frames the major plot arc of the book. What’s cool is that the main characters see and learn the powerful spells of their enemies, e.g. teleportation, which changes the whole nature of warfare since entire legions can be moved around the world almost instantly.
2) The main character, Rand, is the “reborn” version of an ancient hero, in accordance with prophecy, who went insane before his death. The catch is the ancient, mad hero shows up in Rand’s head (again, major plot arc) and knows a bunch of these powerful ancient spells, which Rand learns.
Yeah, I for one love the hard magic systems. Every time I see people complain about him explaining the magic system I'm just thinking "if you don't like it, just read the other 99% of fantasy books out there". It's his niche really.
I’m curious how you classify the system used in the Malazan book of the fallen series. There is a mystery to it that I could see is making soft magic, but the depth of it in the slow explanation over the entire series make it feel more “real“ than any magic system out there.
Personally, I would put that system almost exactly halfway between the two on the sliding scale. The warrens blend mystery and detail really well, and I think they serve both a utilitarian purpose that reflects the DnD homebrew origins of the series and also serves ultimately to explore some of the overarching themes of the series, especially in the later books. They do shade a bit more hard magic as the series goes on, but there's still a fair bit of mystery and a limitation of understanding regarding all the meanings and uses of the warrens.
Generally speaking, magic is not just soft or hard, it's more a sliding scale, with Tolkien representing the extreme end of soft magic and Sanderson on the extreme end of hard magic.
That makes perfect sense! It’s almost as if it’s a completely “hard“ system with consistent and developed rules, but Erickson doesn’t explain it to us so it keeps the mystery of a “soft“ system.
I believe Erikson has said this is exactly what he intended. He knows the rules, but he deliberately chooses to obfuscate them in order to keep a sense of wonder for the reader. He feels that something is lost when magic becomes a tool that you know all the ins and outs of, and he compares it to reality, where we still don't have all the answers about how the universe works.
I personally don't mind reading fully-explained 'hard' systems, but I think Erikson does have a point. As you can probably tell, I really enjoy his interviews! He always seems to have something insightful to say.
Not familiar with the work, but I think the definition isn't just "mystery vs. explanation." Allomancy is very well explained early on but has a LOT of mysteries, especially once you start seeing other systems in play and seeing how they interact, and even four books in there's a lot unexplained about Mistborn's surgebinding.
The real crux of the hard/soft magic spectrum (especially looking at Sanderson's own laws) comes down more to what the magic is used for and the explanation relative to that. A lot of people mistake his First Law of Magic to mean that all systems should be explained, but what it really says is that the more explained a system is, the better it can be used to resolve the plot in a satisfactory manner. That's an observation that dates back to at least Lord of the Rings - the crux of the story, the destruction of the One Ring, can't be resolved by the powerful magicks of Gandalf or the Elves; their magic doesn't need to be very well explained or limited because it's essentially set dressing. Where it intersects with major problems, the limits must be explored, but beyond that, it can be grand and mysterious. Hell, you can see it before that in Cinderella, where her transformation ends at midnight - the details of the Fairy Godmother's powers aren't relevant beyond that key limitation because that's the limit that affects the plot.
In my opinion, Malazan magic is soft as hell. The authors used DnD style rules, but that's not an explained magic system, that's just one that works. He did explain the warrens in a cool way, but I couldn't really say they use a hard magic system. Especially when the author believes in intentionally making things vague, not only the magic, but also the timeline. And the author does use foreshadowing to justify things, but still, things just happen when it comes to the magic. Like Beak's plotline for example.
Thats probably my favourite thing about the Cosmere. Magic isn't some mysterious thing only used by a handful of individuals. It's a major part of the world and characters. Magic is pretty much just another facet of nature on each planet.
Compare this with LOTR. If we weren't told Gandalf was a wizard would we really know? Even when we are told he is a wizard he barely does anything overt with his magic before he fights the Balrog. And even then we never know what he is capable of. So Tolkien could just asspull any ability and say it's magic if he wrote himself into a corner.
I really like hard magic because I like to know for sure what the characters can do to solve a problem. I also appreciate the bit of softness implemented in the Cosmere. Iron always gives the ability to pull metals. We know this for a fact. But how much iron do you need to eat? How long does it last? This is left intentionally vague so that the metals can last as long as needed for tension. If we were told that 1g of Iron lasts for 10 minutes then fights would be boring. The Sanderlanche is more enjoyable when you can have someone suddenly run out of metal, Stormlight, water,...bird? Whatever resource you need really.
I am also a fan of Sanderson's use of hard magic. I understand how to some readers that is boring or tedious. I personally like it. I think his magic systems are creative, unique, and probably one of the biggest reasons I have enjoyed his work. Soft magic has its place for sure, but sometimes when reading things with soft magic it feels like the author is using it to cop out of any real character development or troubleshooting. "Because a wizard did it!" is the lamest reason to win against a foe or solve a problem in my opinion. I like that Sanderson's hard magics have rules and the reader can try to work out solutions to problems while they are reading the characters attempting to do the same.
As a note on character interactions, particularly between men and women, I have to agree they are a bit stale and old fashioned. This is probably due to Sanderson's own personal beliefs though, so I try not to let the lack of racey scenes bother me too much. Even when characters frequently end up marrying the wrong person in my opinion!
You gotta be careful! I nearly choked on my food with that last line. Run out of bird, lol.
I tend to like some rigor in magical systems because authors who limit and explain magic tend not to abuse it as a deus ex machina. Not that soft magic can't be done well.
It's fair that you don't like him and I like that you criticized without being harsh.
I would like to speak to your point about his magic systems. While not for everyone, he has rules when it comes to writing magic and one of those is that it must have clear in universe rules. I love that aspect because once you know the rules you can see how it plays out and it allows for some creative uses for it. It's never just the wizard hand waving a problem away using power he never had before. And usually if it seems that way there is an in universe explanation he has already set up. >!like Vin having had a hemalurgic spike in the form of her earring for the first mistborn series!<
this one of the things that draws me to his work is the magic systems. so detailed and interesting
I like everything about Sanderson except for some of his character/dialogue. It does feel young adulty at times and bland. The Elend/Vin relationship does not work well to me.
I like Sanderson, but understand most criticisms of him. A big one being, none of his romances work for me. Not a single one.
he doesnt have an idea about how to write a romantic relationship. He's very good at the loveless ones imo, like gavilar and navani. But ones with love, no way
Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. But his romance writing sucks. It was better in SA than Mistborn, but still lacking. To be fair, I think writing compelling romance is a very difficult skill to master.
Makes me wonder what's up. He seems _uncannily_ good at presenting accepted dysfunction in a cynical way, but he's unwilling to commit to actual _romance._ All of his characters either dance around the issue or turn into weird wooden props when the subject comes up: there's Vin/Elend, Shallan/Adolin, Siri/God King, etc.--all of them act either _very_ uncomfortably or like paper-thin caricatures during their romance plots.
>!Maybe it's 'cause he's Mormon?!<
I think a big part of that is coming from his being a part of the Mormon culture. They have very conservative views on relationships. Whether he can't write romances well or chooses not to, I'm not sure.
Thank you, I ageee!
I like Spensa's romance with Jerkface in Skyward. It's the kind of romance that's almost not there.
This is exactly where my opinions lies. But I’m able to overlook the sometimes boring characters because I want to know what’s happening in the cosmere!
I honestly think Sanderson’s Mormon background holds him back when it comes to writing romances. He’s clearly not interested/comfortable writing about sexuality and in its place we end up with dialogue that feels very YA and overly modern, which doesn’t mesh with the way other characters in the setting speak. (On the plus side he also completely skates the creepy male gaze issue that writers like Martin can fall into when writing female POV characters: see every Dany chapter. )
That said there was a dick joke about Adolin’s sword in Rhythm of War and I was very proud of Sanderson for that.
I like Sanderson a lot and think I've read all his major published works. That said, I think everything you've said is valid and Sanderson himself would probably agree with you.
He's said consistently his prose is intentionally very plain, and he believes one of his strengths as a writer (and something he really enjoys) is creating hard magic systems and weaving his stories around them. This would go some way to explaining why his work/style hasn't clicked with you.
I also find his books borderline YA and always come away thinking they could do with a little more...grit/edge, if those are the right words. But again, that's not something that appeals to his tastes and he said he doesn't enjoy the Game of Thrones books due to the level of violence and adult content. It's just a turn off for him.
If you haven't read him yet, I think you might like the Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss.
I also find that his very “clean” style makes the gritty moments stand out more. A certain someone called a certain someone else an asshole in Rhythm of War and I was so surprised that I laughed out loud. I love gritty books, GoT, Stephen King, etc. but I appreciate the weight Sanderson gives to the more ~colorful~ moments.
Or when one character admitted to shitting himself in armor
I mean, if you’re coming off of Wolfe, is there any author that can live up to that prose?
Even going back to something like Tolkien was a huge adjustment for me after spending half a year buried in Sevarian’s narration.
So I read Stormlight Archive and then went back to read Mistborn. I agree with everything you say here for Mistborn. Very formulaic and surface level, you never really get to know any of the characters past their main points (Vin timid then brave, Kelsier is the very definition of one dimensional) and pretty darn predictable with the whole Elend and Lord Ruler plot, etc.
I think Stormlight is a step above that. While it still could be long term predictable, some of the short term things surprised me a bit, and you can tell he really made an effort expanding on the characters back stories and why they do what they do. I think that’s really what drew me in to those books. I can tell he put in a lot of effort world building and character building. I didn’t get that sense with Mistborn.
Even if it fell flat in places (a lot of people thought it dragged on, and what you say up there) I can definitely appreciate the time and effort he made into coming up with these characters and playing them off each other. And at a certain point, “there’s nothing new under the sun” and what matters is how you do it :)
Another thing about Stormlight is that the entire series is meticulously plotted. He has the exact frameworks already prepared for each of the 10 planned books and has for over a decade now. Stormlight was always going to end up feeling pre-fabricated because of that, but I think it’s pretty refreshing, especially when you compare it to the writing style of Martin, who lets his characters grow so organically that he can’t even figure out a way to get Daenerys out of Mereen because the way he grew her character is just... keeping her there. I have a strong feeling that a huge part of why he hasn’t finished Winds of Winter is because he literally doesn’t know how to get his characters from where they are now to the planned ending of the series, and he doesn’t want to say it
100%. So many authors dont know how to write endings and I always find Sandersons's endings deeply satisfying, logical, and are obvious steps of growth for characters. Because he plots things so well. Like yeah you know the hero will generally survive this book cause they gotta be in the next book but like the ending of Stormlight 1 was some of the most satisfying shit and set up book 2 really well. Plus I think epic fantasy can always drag a little. Wheel of Time, Stormlight, Lord of The Rings. Hard to not have some slow sections across thousands of pages. I honestly think it can just come down to preference and they are still all really famous series. Like I haaaated, HATED all the songs in LotR books. Just soo many and they are so long and with no melody like I can't even imagine what it would sound like in my head so why make it a song in the book!? Gah! I honestly just end up skipping them. But thats just me. I know plenty of folks who really love the songs in LotR. To each their own.
Oh yeah, definitely. My dad’s favorite character is Tom Bombadil so there’s definitely people out there that love the songs
I remember trying to read LOTR when I was, like, nine. Bombadil was what made me put the book down.
Hey I'm not the only one that hates songs in books! I just finished rereading Fellowship last week, and I was complaining about the songs the whole time. I appreciate the detail and care that Tolkien out into his books, but I don't know how to imagine the melody, rhythm, or even meter at times.
I totally agree with your take. I read Mistborn first and felt like the OP did but when I read Stormlight I was blown away.
I need to go back and read Mistborn again someday but I felt it was mediocre when I read it. I didn't hate it. It was literally just okay to me and I was confused about the hype.
I liked Mistborn, but for a lot of the reasons OP didn't. I liked the hard magic system and the easy plot. It is a fun fantasy romp basically. The "continuation" of the Mistborn series is... something else though. It's very similar but it's missing some of the charm I found in Mistborn, although I've only read the first book.
The Stormlight Archives I find quite a bit better, but it's the "same" thing. Easy reading. I'm partway through the latest book and I'm impressed that >!he's trying to handle different mental health issues in a serious way in his fantasy setting!<.
I kinda have the opposite opinion regarding mistborn era 2. It has a whole new charm that really resonates with me. Where as era 1 was dark and gloomy era 2 being a little more bright and cheerful is fun. That and the magitech aspects of era 2 are really cool. Seeing new uses and combinations of allomancy and feruchemy is awesome as well as how those influenced technology. Also its magic cowboys. How could you not like that?
But yeah I get why some people are turned off from it. It's a huge departure from era 1 tonally. But something about era 2 just really pulls me in. I think the characters in era 2 are a lot better written. I think it's best enjoyed if you don't fire it as a continuation of era 1 but more as a new thing that just happens to be set in the same universe
> Seeing new uses and combinations of allomancy and feruchemy is awesome as well as how those influenced technology.
I was surprised how much I liked the flip to Twinborn from full Mistborn. Other than Iron/Steel for pulling/pushing most of the Allomantic metals don't do anything that can't be justified narratively some other way. (Characters will always be as physically strong as the plot needs them to be, see what the plot needs them to see, and Rioting/Soothing can just come from talking to them.)
Giving Wax a limited combination of powers that actually allow him to do things he couldn't without them makes him much more interesting than having them all.
Stormlight is a step up, no doubt about it. I wish he would take it just one more step, but I don't see it coming. Still, worth reading.
I think Sanderson's greatest strength is the fact that his books are infused with hope. Theres always an uplifting moment even in the dark parts. Modern fantasy has kind of forgotten about that and went down the grimdark route, which is fine, I like grimdark too but it makes me enjoy Sanderson even more because I know I'm going to feel inspired during his books.
People seem to forget the darker moments and focus on the hopefulness (or cheesiness if you want) when they write off Sanderson. Bridge 9 wasn’t exactly Disney Land. The redemption subplot wouldn’t have had any impact if he pulled his punches when it came to how awful life was there. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t shed a tear when >!Kaladin turns his bridge crew around to save Dalinar.!< And maybe one or two more when >!Dalinar gives up his shards to free them.!<
Edit: Bridge 4. It’s been a while.
A-freaking-men. You put into words EXACTLY what I've been thinking for YEARS.
For instance, the Mistborn setting. An " evil has won, the hero failed" setting
And then that twist at the end with a certain person who wasn't "entirely whole" so to speak
Amazing. I literally stared at the third book after I finished it late one night.
Surprised you lasted for like 10,000+ pages if you aren't into hard magic systems and prefer lyrical prose. Brandon Sanderson's entire thing is a) he'll have a unique, hard magic system and explore many potential uses and b) he has a carefully plotted structure to each story that leads to a grand finale weaving various plots points together, and if he needs to have a character break or bend or some wooden dialogue to set it up, then so be it.
Sanderson's willingness to push out occasionally clunky dialogue etc is what enables him to be such a prolific writer. Maybe he won't go down in history as one of the greatest writers ever but at least he manages to finish his books, unlike some other contemporary fantasy authors who haven't produced anything in around a decade now.
In any case, as someone who enjoys reading I'll take an author like Sanderson who actually finishes his books in a reasonable time period over the more poetic / perfectionist writers every single time.
Patrick Rothfuss comes to mind. Dude has some really poetic wording in the Name of the Wind and A Wise Man's Fear but damn it if Kvothe, the incel music prodigy sex god sand ninja, isn't the Garyiest Sue to ever exist in a story that we have woefully little insight into for having read two books already.
>Patrick Rothfuss comes to mind.
I think the previous comment was referring specifically to Rothfuss and GRRM.
Yea. It feels like they're both just coasting on their fame because neither know how to finish their story in a satisfying manner. Rothfuss because he made Kvothe great at everything and Martin because the show fucked the books a billion different ways.
Sanderson isn't my cup of tea, either, but I hope he continues to enjoy writing and has many more stories for his fans!
*r/bookscirclejerk has entered the chat*
Can't stop me from uj'ing here
It's honestly impressive that you managed to read two whole series by an author you don't like lol (well granted Stormlight is a complete series, but still you basically caught up).
Honestly just seems like you picked the wrong author. Hard magic systems is Sanderson's claim to fame. It's the biggest thing that acts as a draw to his works and basically overshadows everything else. I read Stormlight first and then Mistborn and I can safely say that I found Mistborn quite eh in most parts, but was genuinely taken aback by how good the magic system was. Stormlight I had an overall much better experience with since it's a lot more polished than Mistborn (granted the prose is still bland but you don't really read Sanderson for the prose).
You probably could have saved yourself the trouble and pain by just looking up what the guy is all about.
I read Sanderson involuntarily; he finished the Wheel of Time which I had been reading since I was 13.
He did the best you could ask for in an impossible situation and I'll forever be grateful to him for finishing it as best he could.
That said, I knew his style wasn't for me. (based on your criticisms of Sanderson, I'd also say Robert Jordan wouldn't be for you either... Although the kind of psychopath who gives an author six giant fantasy epics they aren't enjoying is otherwise the type of person who would, RJ is basically just a... Grown up Sanderson, if that makes sense).
Based on agreeing with you to a large extent, if you're looking for more fantasy in the vein of what you enjoy-
Scott Lynch and the Gentleman Bastards Sequence would be my top recommendation for you.
Mask Lawrence's Prince of Thorns would be two.
Neal Stephenson's the Baroque Cycle would be three (this isn't fantasy, it's historical fiction, but it kinda scratches the same itch for me)
Anything by Terry Pratchett if you enjoy Gaiman
If you *really* lose your mind and need something to lose yourself in, the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.
> Scott Lynch and the Gentleman Bastards Sequence would be my top recommendation for you.
Seconding Gentle Bastard series... it's so damn good.
I loved the first but the second and third just didn’t capture me the same way. Both were good but not to the same level. Although I am the kind of person who likes when the hero’s loose a little (or a lot) before coming out on top.
Except the dude hasn't written a book for like 8 years
>If you really lose your mind and need something to lose yourself in, the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.
I second this wholeheartedly. But make sure to take notes as you go, because it's plot dense and people from early books might disappear for 2k pages before jumping back in on a high impact plot train!
Big WoT fan and was thankful for Sanderson finishing it but felt the characters suffered for it. Suddenly all of the insinuated traits became, literally, explicitly stated by characters. RJ shows you character traits and you piece it together through the different POV chapters (characters don't recognize their own flaws in their POV). Sanderson just *tells* you about character traits and it really killed the immersion.
I've given Stormlight three tries and stop halfway through because I feel no attachment to the characters. I want to like him, but I just can't get past the writing.
I read Sanderson specifically for his magic systems. I love them and love how he describes them, but I am a hard magic fan. His prose, plots, and characters are definitely written on the simpler side and can be quite dull or tropey. It doesn't bother me too much though, I feel like it gives me a little room to let my imagination go wild with his magic systems.
I'm the opposite - I don't care for hard magic systems, so a lot of *The Final Empire* turned me off because it felt to me like a video game tutorial.
*The Way of Kings* didn't do that, so I was a bit warmer to it.
It's been a while since I read Mistborn but the way he explains Lashings in the prologue of TWoK was the most video gamey explanation ever.
Yep, I like 99% of Sanderson's works. I hated the beginning with Szeth. Absolutely hated it. My eyes still glaze over whenever they mention Lashings. I don't care that someone half-Lashed here and Reverse Lashed there. This is coming from someone who intentionally memorized the Allomantic charts.
Yeah, I almost wish the prologues of TWoK were the last chapters rather than the first. All of the lashing stuff feels out of place as it doesn’t really come up again for like 2000 pages.
I havn't read a Sanderson story personally, but I do tend to run in the circles of people that highly praise his works, and I will say the one thing that people seem to universally praise is his well fleshed out magic systems. I have never heard praise for his prose or character design. To me this seems a bit like going to a steakhouse that was well reviewed and being disappointed because you generally have a distaste for Beef.
>To me this seems a bit like going to a steakhouse that was well reviewed and being disappointed because you generally have a distaste for Beef.
I think the problem is that people recommend Sanderson to everyone no matter what. It's more like if your boss invited you to dinner when you're lactose intolerant and all the food was cooked in cheese and cream.
Yeah this is certainly a big thing, often people don't specifically realize why they enjoy something and then assume it will be a good fit for everyone.
I mean, some of your arguments are sort of snotty, TBH. For example (paraphrasing) “in the end, his stories just seem to be about kids/heroes defeating bad guys and saving the world.” I mean, that’s the plot of everything from Harry Potter to X-Men to LotR to the Matrix. It’s all in how you do it, right? And I would say (spoilers for Mistborn!) that doing it by drinking metals to defeat a bad guy who was really protecting the world, not destroying it, is reasonably unique.
Nope, I'd say that's pretty accurate and I think even his fans would admit that he's not a great prose writer. He's very much a "throws plot on page" kind of writer, which is fine, but it's not really what I want to read. I understand why he has fans, but I'm not really one of them. I'll pick his books up when I want something that I know I won't have to think too much about, but I will probably enjoy.
I just listened to the audiobook for Skyward, narrated by Sophie Alfred, and thought it was excellent. Reading the sequel now.
The third one comes out in November!
That is fine. Everyone has different tastes.
I'm sure someone has said this already, but the reasons you say you don't like them, like the focus on the hard magic system, are the reasons I love them! To each their own I guess!