Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The simple joys of fantasy

(Reposted from... elsewhere. Can I just say, I suck at experiments...)

I was finally able to complete Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy a few weeks ago, with the help of great Fully Booked Powerplant staffer Elly, and my journey through the tumultuous land of the Final Empire ended the other night.
The plot was in no way simplistic, and inasmuch as the lightning-fast action scenes of the books were exciting reads, its the easy division of good versus bad that strikes me best, and how the good overcomes the bad with trust, faith, hope and love. Not necessarily something one would expect from a fantasy novel but I guess that's what makes the series and its author special. The religious undertones that started in Book 1 were painted in full-color by the final page of Book 3, and besides giving a powerful insight in the development of structured religion, the books also stressed on the importance of belief. The lead characters, despite being powerful Allomancers, political geniuses and creative thieves, were all humanized by personal weaknesses and dilemmas, which only made belief and having faith all the more relevant.

I loved the surprising depth the series got into, despite its fantastical setting, and I'm truly looking forward to the next Mistborn Trilogy Sanderson will cough up. Mistborn: The Alloy Of Law, although currently promised as just a stand-alone novel to be released in November, will hopefully turn into a series, too.

But November's too far off for me to just sit and wait, so I went and started reading a new book right after. Jonathan Stroud is another favorite author of mine, penning the witty and oftentimes downright offensive words of Bartimaeus. Like Sanderson's Mistborn, the first three Bartimaeus books started out as a trilogy, but was recently extended with the stand-alone novel you see on the left.

That and the fact that both books belong in the fantasy genre end the similarities, though. The insights of faith and hope in Mistborn are countered by the oppressingly hilarious mouth of the mid-level djinn named Bartimaeus. The Ring Of Solomon's first page already left me in peels of laughter today and I'm sure so will each time the story returns to the djinn's perspective.

While both Sanderson and Stroud take on the essentially basic good versus evil theme, the way they communicate it in print is as different as black and white. One takes the serious melody, matching its end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it plotline. The other the overt opposite, practically millimeters away from curse and swear words that I almost hear the lead character cussing in my mind.

Fantasy isn't the only kind of book I read but it's definitely my favorite genre. If this little "review" piqued your interest in fantasy in the teensiest bit, I recommend you start your journey with Mistborn or Bartimaeus. For now, I've got a book to finish. Real world will have to wait as I escape into a world of magic. See you on the other side. :)

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