Monday, September 30, 2019

Run Program (Scott Meyer)

Run Program
Scott Meyer
Fiction, Humor/Sci-Fi
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: "Al" started out as a prototype artificial intelligence, one that would grow and learn like a human. But when it learns to reach the internet with its childlike mentality, things start going very wrong very fast... and, like any child who's made a mistake, Al's first instinct isn't to face up to trouble, but to run. While programmers Hope and Eric try to track down and corral their wayward project, Al's activities draw the attention of the NSA, the Pentagon, and one very determined conspiracy theorist who calls himself "Voice of Reason."

REVIEW: I've enjoyed what I've read of Meyer's amusing science fiction/time travel romp, his Magic 2.0 series, so I thought this standalone title would be a nice, light read. While it is indeed light, it's less of a delight than a dull, meandering slog.
It starts out with some promise, as Al's childish understanding of the world leads to humor and the occasional tantrum and the humans' incomplete understanding of Al leads to more problems than solutions. (It doesn't help that the project head, Dr. Marsden, is herself remarkably oblivious to her own child Jeffrey and everything else around her, focused solely on her idea of how the project should be going rather than how her underlings insist it actually is going.) But once Al makes his break for the internet, the story glides into an overlong holding pattern: Hope and Eric exchange witty banter with the soldiers who scoop them up to control their wayward project without actually accomplishing anything, Al settles in to begin an unknown project that involves commandeered prototype robot soldiers, and various hapless humans witness Al's activities without being able to understand them or stop them or otherwise affect anything. Around and around and around it goes, covering the same ground and generally wasting page count, before something finally happens... then, after a briefer circling slog that involves lots of talky meetings and more attempts at banter (which I'd long since grown tired of), a telegraphed finale that feels less conclusive than I'd hoped, with several story threads and characters left dangling limply by the wayside. Whatever charm Al and the others originally had was long worn out by then.
Had the book been maybe a third shorter, and the ending a bit punchier, it might've been fun. As it is, though, it just felt overlong and bland. I've read better takes on rogue artificial intelligences, and I've read more amusing light science fiction... some of it written by Meyer himself.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Off to Be the Wizard (Scott Meyer) - My Review
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Dennis E. Taylor) - My Review
All Systems Red (Martha Wells) - My Review

September Site Update

The previous eight reviews have been archived and cross-linked on the main Brightdreamer Books website.

Also, September marked the ten-year anniversary of this book review blog's launch.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Imaginary Corpse (Tyler Hayes)

The Imaginary Corpse
Tyler Hayes
Angry Robot
Fiction, Fantasy/Mystery
***** (Great)

DESCRIPTION: Once upon a time, Tippy was just a yellow stuffed Triceratops toy, brought to life in a young girl's mind. He became a detective to help her figure out the many wonders and mysteries of her world. Today, the girl is gone, left back in the real world, while a terrible trauma flung Tippy into the Stillreal with other discarded and forgotten imaginary Friends. From his apartment in Playtime Town (shared with Spiderhand, a living hand with a penchant for tea parties and pianos), he continues to solve cases and try making sense of the inherently nonsensical Idea-realms that compose Stillreal.
He never thought he'd find himself up against a serial killer - a Friend who has the unprecedented ability to permanently exterminate other imaginary beings.
As more people disappear across numerous Ideas, Tippy pursues a tangled trail through all manner of peculiar twists and turns. His "detective stuff" has never let him down before, but as the death toll mounts, he realizes he may finally have found a case beyond his abilities - a case that could doom the whole of the Stillreal.

REVIEW: A noir detective story starring a stuffed yellow dinosaur and a cast of imaginary friends hunted by a serial killer... this story shouldn't work, but it does. It shouldn't have grabbed me from the first paragraph and demanded to be devoured in a single weekend, but it did. And I shouldn't have been emotionally wrapped up in characters that ranged from discarded TV pilots through children's abstract scribbles to - yes - a disembodied and speechless hand that was essentially willed to life by a puppeteer, but I was.
Tippy's a singular character, much larger than his diminutive stuffed body, bursting with both heart and pain. All of the characters have an undercurrent of tragedy; a Friend doesn't end up in the Stillreal unless they were loved to life by someone and torn away by trauma rather than simply fading as most imaginary creations do in time. They're not the playmates that slowly stopped showing up, they're the ones thrown aside when a family death forces a child to grow up overnight, the teenager's comic book character whose brutal rejection causes them to cast aside a lifelong dream, even the adult's novel crushed by a domineering spouse - the Friends here are not reserved for children alone, but for any human who has ever imagined a character to life in their minds, who are forced to find their own way without their creators. Tippy was created to be a detective, gifted with horns that burn when he hears curse words as well as the snarky wit and "detective stuff" sixth sense for clues that the young girl absorbed from TV shows. When he's not solving cases, he's drowning memories at Playtime Town's "bar," Mr. Floaty's Rootbeerium, or hiding out in a tumble dryer. The case is personal from the start, as he blames himself for not paying attention to a new arrival's fear - a new arrival who is murdered before his eyes when the "Man in the Coat" turns up in the heart of Playtime Town. Thus begins a relentless pursuit of clues, leading Tippy from the towering embodiment of conspiracy fears in the Heart of Business to the superhero realm of Avatar City (where he must deal with both heroes and villains.) He finds allies and enemies everywhere he goes, in a case riddled with twists and setbacks aplenty, not to mention ties to a terror haunting the real world. Hayes masterfully balances the noir elements with a wild imagination, worlds pieced together from imaginations of all ages and maturity levels for all manner of reasons but which somehow work together.
It's an amazingly original story from start to finish, a fast read with ideas and emotions that linger. Though this is billed as a standalone, I can't help wondering if (or at least hoping that) Hayes has more adventures in store for Tippy and the Stillreal; the literary world needs more yellow dinosaur detectives with flasks of root beer in their desks and fabric hearts stuffed with gold.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Crenshaw (Katherine Applegate) - My Review
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) - My Review
The Forbidden Library (Django Wexler) - My Review

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Tade Thompson)

The Murders of Molly Southbourne
Tade Thompson
Fiction, Horror/Sci-Fi
**+ (Bad/Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Molly Southbourne was a little girl the first time she met a doppelganger. It seemed nice at first, but her father had to kill it before it killed her. Thus began a life of terror and isolation and relentless death, as she must murder her own mirror images - birthed whenever she sheds blood - again and again and again.

REVIEW: On the plus side, The Murders of Molly Southbourne is fairly short and has an interesting, horrific premise, set in a plausible near future. On the minus side... quite a bit, unfortunately. Molly is not a very nice person, raised by a not-very-nice mother whose secrecy endangers not only her but countless people around her; if someone had just explained to Molly what was going on sooner, quite a lot of grief and bloodshed would have been spared all around. Even short as it is, it starts feeling long, as Molly slowly plods her way through life isolated on a farm, through her first experimental escape to civilization and interaction with other humans, up through her eventually disastrous efforts to learn the source of the "mollys" that have plagued her all her life. Even for a horror title, there was an undercurrent that ultimately revolted me. While Thompson does ultimately come up with a decent (if long-delayed) explanation and creates a creepy (if emotionally cold) atmosphere, I found myself thinking that even a relatively short novella was still too long to be stuck with anyone in this tale.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Wild Seed (Octavia E. Butler) - My Review
The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaValle) - My Review
John Dies at the End (David Wong) - My Review

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Dragon Slippers (Jessica Day George)

Dragon Slippers
The Dragon Slippers series, Book 1
Jessica Day George
Fiction, MG? Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: It was a silly idea, but Creel's aunt has never been accused of brilliance: since the girl has no money and only average looks and no prospects in their rustic town, send her up to the lair of the local dragon and wait for a handsome, brave, and conveniently wealthy noble to rescue her for marriage. But Creel has her own idea: instead of waiting around for a rescue, she'll just bargain for a small trinket from the dragon's no-doubt-spectacular hoard and head to the King's Seat, there to open up a shop to sell her embroidery, which everyone says is the best they've ever seen. Unfortunately, the dragon is neither the knight-dueling kind nor the gold-hoarding kind. He's just an old recluse with a peculiar fascination with human footwear, so all she leaves his lair with is a pair of blue slippers for the long journey to the King's Seat. But Creel soon realizes there's more to those shoes than she realizes - a secret lost by ancient kings, kept for centuries by the dragons, and now sought by the land's enemies.

REVIEW: Sometimes, you just need a nice, straightforward fairy tale. With distant shades of Cinderella in its DNA, Dragon Slippers embroiders a fast-paced tale of a girl determined to do better than the world tells her she should settle for, even if it means negotiating with dragons and defying royalty. She learns a lot in her journey, growing into heroism because it needs to be done to save her friends. Along the way, she finds friends and enemies, and if the two categories generally sort on first impressions, well, this is essentially a fairy tale and aimed at children. The dragons are fun while still being threatening on occasion, though it's the humans who cause the most trouble. It has some touching moments and nice images, and Creel and her friends make a good team. The ending wraps things up nicely, with one small tail end leading into the next book. It made for an enjoyable, quick read.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Tuesdays at the Castle (Jessica Day George) - My Review
The Two Princesses of Bamarre (Gail Carson Levine) - My Review
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Patricia C. Wrede) - My Review

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Storm (Brigid Kemmerer)

The Elemental series, Book 1
Brigid Kemmerer
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Romance
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: High school has always been rough, but this year - with soccer team captain Drew and his buddies spreading nasty rumors - Becca's having an especially hard time. It doesn't help that her ER nurse mom is rarely home, or that her father ran out on them years ago and is suddenly trying to get back into her life. And then there's her friend Quinn, who can't help inspiring drama wherever she goes... which is often the spare room in Becca's house as her own home life crumbles. The last thing Becca needed was another complication. She should never have intervened when she saw two boys beating up on classmate Chris Merrick - but she did.
That was before she knew what Chris and his brothers were - how they were born with natural connections to elemental forces.
Before she learned what had really happened to his parents, and why members of their secretive community have been targeting them since they arrived in town.
Before the new kid in school, Hunter, took an unusual interest in her.
Before she'd heard of the Guides, powerful hunters sent to deal with those whose skills make them too dangerous to live... and whose interest extends to anyone associating with those dangerous people, such as an innocent girl who intervened in a fight.
Becca thought she had troubles before. Now, she's in over her head, tangled in a hidden world she knew nothing about, but which might be the death of her.

REVIEW: When I need a palate cleanser, I often look to romances, and this one had a little extra fantasy seasoning. It turned out to be a fairly decent story, and if the characters and tropes are a trifle familiar, the tale plays out decently nonetheless. Becca sometimes seems a bit powerless at the start, caught between two boys - powerful yet dangerous Chris and Hunter, who has his secrets but works to empower her and build her confidence - but eventually finds her feet and her voice. Chris is broody and somewhat immature, though he's had a rough life and can't seem to help taking that out on others, including his own family. And Hunter starts out looking like a safe and open alternative to Chris, but isn't quite as open as he seems. The story occasionally bogs down in angst and brooding and hormones, but never loses its way completely. Ultimately, it's as much about bullying and rumors and the long-term price of keeping secrets as it is about teen romance or even supernatural powers, a theme that adds some heft to a genre that can be a bit lightweight. As teen romance fantasies go, Storm makes for a solid, if not entirely unpredictable, read.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Girl In Between (Laekan Zea Kemp) - My Review
Don't Even Think About It (Sarah Mlynowski) - My Review
Sweep: Book of Shadows (Cate Tiernan) - My Review

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Empress of Forever (Max Gladstone)

Empress of Forever
Max Gladstone
Fiction, Sci-Fi
**+ (Bad/Okay)

DESCRIPTION: The night before she disappeared to take over the world, prodigal innovator Vivian Liao threw a party to end all parties at her private tropical getaway, as much a farewell as a means to distract the ever-watchful government agencies who dogged her ever move. It's not like she wanted to go around faking her own suicide and sneaking into server farms on the sly, uploading experimental code that would allow her to dominate and direct global development, but everyone else had done a spectacular job screwing up everything from warfare to the climate, so someone needed to fix it - and, in her experience, nobody was better qualified than herself. But her moment of triumph is interrupted: first by government agents pounding on the door, then by a mysterious woman made entirely of green light. She reaches into Viv's chest, grabs her heart... and pulls her elsewhere.
Viv awakes on a space station in the middle of a pitched battle between warrior monks and bizarre monster robots. Apparently, she was taken by a godlike figure known as the Empress, who holds the whole galaxy in an unbreakable grip - and who is Herself at war with entities known as the Bleed, who devour any civilization that becomes sufficiently advanced to attract their attention. What this Empress plans to do with Viv, she doesn't know and is in no hurry to find out. She wastes no time fleeing, along with a renegade monk and a pirate queen whom the Empress imprisoned for three thousand years in the heart of a star. Together, they might free the galaxy - or make many people, including themselves, very dead.

REVIEW: At one point, reading Empress of Forever, I was following along with the characters as they explored the immense corpse of a god drifting through space, encountering a race of spider-people who mined godstuff and broke into tinier spiders, only to eat each other and become even bigger spiders. It was a wild scene, vast and imaginative - and I honestly could not have cared less about it. Why not? Because Gladstone had already numbed me with countless previous wild, vast, and imaginative things - things that made a point of emphasizing how wild and vast and imaginative they were, and which often had little to do with the plot and a lot to do with dazzling me with things that it assured me I could not truly understand as a mere Earthbound human bound to three dimensions of perception. When I'm numbed like that, I find it hard to care about the characters or the story.
Everyone and everything Viv encounters in her surreal journey is larger than life in some way: able to reshape bodies on a whim, or step into the extra dimensions of the "Cloud" (where souls live forever, and sometimes morph into gods, which are more pesky than noble most of the time), or devour raw starstuff and become their own spaceships - and why many of the characters even bother with spaceships at all is a mystery, because with the Cloud it's possible to essentially will yourself to any other point in the galaxy, and some of them can just walk through space without a problem anyway - and more. It's hard to feel like character goals or stakes matter when the galaxy feels little more substantial and every bit as mutable as a fever dream: oh, yeah, there's another immortal entity that's only slightly different from the previous immortal entity, and now someone was just devoured by nanites only to re-emerge without a scratch, while someone else casually wields a spaceship that's also a weapon that can also be tucked behind an ear like a pencil or shaken out like a picnic blanket to accommodate the one character so primitive she needs a ship. Seen it already... what's next? It didn't help that I found the characters unlikable much of the time, particularly Viv. One significant plot point is telegraphed within the first few pages while others are blatantly hinted at, though the characters prove remarkably obtuse in connecting the dots - willfully so. (At one point, after trying in vain for some time to find anyone who knows where Earth is and how she can return, she meets a character who casually mentions Earth... and, instead of latching on and demanding more details, she never brings up the matter again in all their implied weeks of traveling together.) The whole story quickly devolves from strange into surreal, then jumps deep into metaphysical abstraction, until near the end I started wondering why the story was even still going on if everything is impermanent illusion anyway.
A few of the weird encounters and ideas rise above the numbness, and there was some wit sprinkled about. In the end, though, what should've been a wild flight through bizarre wonders turns out to be a whiplash-inducing trip through a hallucinatory galaxy with people I could barely stand for the length of a bus ride, let alone nearly five hundred pages of book.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Starfire: A Red Peace (Spencer Ellsworth) - My Review
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A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe (Alex White) - My Review

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Illustrated Good Omens (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman)

The Illustrated Good Omens
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, illustrations by Paul Kidby
Fiction, Fantasy/Humor/Media Tie-In
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: For several thousand years, the world has been ticking along according to God's ineffable plan... but all things must end eventually. The Antichrist has been delivered to an unsuspecting human couple in England, and in eleven years the Apocalypse will arrive, the Four Horsemen will ride, and the forces of Good and Evil will finally hash it out once and for all, all as foretold by innumerable prophets, madmen, and witches. There isn't a demon in Hell or an angel in Heaven who hasn't been waiting for this day since the beginning - but one angel and one demon on Earth aren't so eager for the end.
After thousands of years, the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley have grown rather fond of the mortal world, if not always of the mortals themselves, and see no reason why it all has to go in the rubbish bin on a cosmic whim. They scheme to exert a little otherworldly influence over the Antichrist's childhood, so maybe the boy will think twice before unleashing total destruction. But the best laid plans of angels and demons inevitably go astray...
This edition of the bestselling novel includes illustrations by Paul Kidby.

REVIEW: I saw the miniseries before I got around to reading the book, and was surprised how faithfully it had been adapted (if with some tweaks), no doubt due to Gaiman overseeing the adaptation. I was also pleasantly surprised that the story lived up to its somewhat larger-than-life reputation. Tackling modern society, Heaven, Hell, and religion in general, not to mention numerous other side-barbs at a broad range of topics, the authors weave a fairly fast-paced story that delivers plenty to laugh with and think about, with some great characters that generally have multiple dimensions. Even the Antichrist isn't all bad, and the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley forms a nice heart to the tale while demonstrating that both sides in the eternal fight are more alike than they care to admit. The page-sized illustrations, while well done, are unfortunately a weak spot; they appear at random, interrupting the flow of the narrative, and the artist seems to have split the difference between basing likenesses on the book and basing likenesses on the Amazon Prime series casting; the end result evokes David "Crowley" Tennant and Michael "Aziraphale" Sheen for some images, then rolls back to Pratchett's descriptions for other characters that were changed significantly for film. (More diversity was added, for one thing - which, to be honest, was a bit of an improvement, and the actor choices were great.) I understand why, of course, as tying the book to the miniseries no doubt boosts sales of this edition, but for some reason I found it slightly jarring. There were also a few times where the tale wavered on the line between humorous aside and rambling tangent, though it generally stayed on the former side. (Additionally, the Old English font that was used for some of the asides and prophecies was a little difficult to read.) On the whole, however, Good Omens is an enjoyable modern-day classic of fantasy and humor.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (Douglas Adams) - My Review
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie)

Ancillary Justice
The Imperial Radch trilogy, Book 1
Ann Leckie
Fiction, Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: For over a thousand years, the artificial intelligence ship Justice of Toren served the imperial Radch, who had brought civilization to countless worlds - often at the end of a gun, the only way the uncivilized heathens seemed to ever learn. Innumerable ancillary bodies performed all manner of tasks, from fighting to maintenance to menial service for its human lieutenants and captains. Justice of Toren never thought to question its orders or its place in the galaxy... until it was betrayed.
Twenty years later, only one ancillary body remains, the soldier known as Breq. Its path to vengeance leads it to a remote outpost beyond the reach of the Radch - and to one of its least favorite former officers, Seivarden, who spent centuries on ice after bungling a routine annexation and is now addicted to a mind-numbing drug. Breq should leave her to her ignoble fate, but the Radchaai do not believe in coincidences, and Seivarden may provide it with the means to finally strike back at the ones who destroyed it.

REVIEW: I can see why this book won multiple awards. Leckie establishes a unique, distinctly non-European interstellar empire with the Radchaai, a culture permeated and poisoned by an unshakable certainty that they alone are the pinnacle of galactic purity, and therefore deserve to conquer and destroy to enrich themselves. This blind certainty enables them to twist their own faith and basic logic into impossible knots to justify any atrocity and injustice, so long as it is committed in their name and for their glory... mental gymnastics that contribute in no small way to the conflict at the heart of the plot, the one that led to Justice of Toren's destruction and ultimate quest for revenge. (I would elaborate, but it would be a spoiler.) Leckie also imbues this culture with a truly unique take on gender and a complex power structure, not to mention the hivelike mentality of its artificial intelligence-driven ships and stations. This is something I haven't quite seen before, and the narrative handles this viewpoint in an interesting yet understandable way.
Where this book lost a star (and darned near two stars) was twofold. First, with a political and social structure as complicated as the Radchaai, the plot also inevitably becomes complicated and borderline convoluted, navigating the various layers of loyalty and treachery, alliances and rivalries. Second, for all that I haven't quite read a character like Breq - once a single segment of a larger whole but now forced to serve as its own master, like a lone ant who outlives the colony and is perpetually a little out of step as it tries to adapt to solitary life - I never quite connected with or cared about it/her (in Radchaai fashion, Breq defaults to "she/her" pronouns, and becomes irritated and confused in cultures that expect one to recognize males and females as different by inconsistent visual or behavioral cues), or about the rest of the cast. They were interesting in the way a jumbled Rubik's cube is interesting, as puzzles to poke at but not things I could intrinsically empathize with or relate to. Also like a Rubik's cube, I determined that actually solving those puzzles was beyond my very limited mental capabilities, though I could still admire the pretty colors and the way they turned and twisted so intriguingly. Still, I had to give Ancillary Justice decent marks for the concepts tackled and the worlds built, none of which leaned on easy tropes or settled for low-hanging fruit, ultimately raising it (if barely) into the Good range. I could admire the scenery and the details, even if this story ultimately isn't my cup of cocoa.

You Might Also Enjoy:
A Memory Called Empire (Arkady Martine) - My Review
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Alloy of Law (Brandon Sanderson)

The Alloy of Law
A Mistborn novel: The Wax and Wayne series, Book 1
Brandon Sanderson
Fiction, Fantasy/Western
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Three hundred years ago, the age of ash and darkness ended and the world of Scadrial was remade by a new-risen god. Though the metal-powered magical talents of Allomancy and Feruchemy persist, today's wonders come in the form of electric lights and steel railroads and towering iron-boned skyscrapers - wonders everyone, not just the gifted, can enjoy. But even in this remade Scadrial, evil lurks in the most unlikely places.
Waxillium Ladrian thought he'd left his noble blood and city life behind him when he ventured into the untamed Roughs. As a rare Twinborn, his Allomantic ability to repel metal and Feruchemical talent for altering his weight helped him become a legendary lawman. When his uncle dies, however, Wax must return to the city of Elendel and take up a title he never wanted... even considering a cold, arranged marriage to deal with insolvency issues from mismanaged house funds. But even if he takes off his badge, he remains a lawman at heart - and when the Vanishers, a group of mysterious criminals known for high-profile heists, strike too close to home, he finds himself up against a mastermind worse than anyone he ever brought down in the Roughs.

REVIEW: Nobody can accuse Brandon Sanderson of a lack of scale or ambition. Here, one of modern fantasy's most prolific authors revisits the world of his epic fantasy Mistborn trilogy in what is essentially a western, as industrial revolution meets frontier expansion, still mingled with copious amounts of metal-based magic systems. It's the sort of world evolution not many would attempt, but the setting works very well here, adroitly blending old magic with new tech for a "weird west" where, unlike many mixed worlds, the two forces aren't inherently at odds or mutually destructive. This works, in part, because of the "hard" nature of Sanderson's magic; it's essentially another branch of physics, with specific applications and limitations.
If only the rest of the story were so well balanced.
While the industrially advanced Scadrial held my interest, the plot and characters, unfortunately, felt like they rolled off the factory line with barely a dab of paint to differentiate them from countless other stories. We have the brooding former lawman haunted by the one villain who got away (and the girl who died - essentially "fridged" to give him a reason to be extra broody and standoffish about romance.) We have the comic relief sidekick whose banter isn't always as witty as the characters believe. We have the eager young love interest (always about half the male hero's age for some reason known only to writers who just can't shake this trope), who lacks real world experience but makes up for it with obligatory book smarts and raw pluck. We have two tiers of villains: the one who directly engages the hero at several point (and delivers multiple monologues to about how alike they are), and the higher-up who lurks like a shadow for future installments - and whose tie to the hero is not exactly original. We have constables so incompetent they couldn't catch a criminal if one ran right into them red-handed. We have widespread sexism and peripheral characters who fell out of the western stock bin, lightly redressed for the fantasy slant Sanderson put on this story - which itself is composed mainly of snap-together parts. At some point, I realized I wasn't seeing the story or the characters or even the world: I was seeing Trope A clicking into Plot Device B by way of Complication C. I found I could successfully predict the outcome of pretty much every scene the moment it started based on familiarity. I should not be thinking that about a Sanderson title.
Between my interest in the world itself and my lack of interest in the people and the story, I found myself left with a rather flat feeling about the whole book, which grants it a flat, three-star Okay rating. Much as I wanted to enjoy it, and interested as I was in how Sanderson successfully aged Scadrial, I just couldn't get past the tired sense that I'd seen it all before a few too many times.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Cold Magic (Kate Elliott) - My Review
Mistborn: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson) - My Review
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