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Thread: The Book Thread

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    Well, dang. I dunno if I've ever experienced such overwhelming negative reaction to a book series I loved. Maybe it's because online randos are less likely to share tastes...or maybe my in-person friends just aren't willing to actually be honest with me.

    Regardless, I came here to rave about The Locked Tomb and evangelize for new readers, and the one-two-three-four punch of "read it already, didn't like it" has knocked the wind out of those sails. Thank you all for the discussion, I'll be back with another book later.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2022-09-25 at 09:15 PM.

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    Well, I just got the book based on the discussion here. It seems to cause strong reactions in people at least and since it's relatively short, I thought I'd give it a try.
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    I feel bad about deflating your sails, my verdict is definitely more of a ďEntertaining but flawedĒ for the first book. Itís more the thought that the second book isnít going to follow the same format (Necromancer Danganronpa) and is going to switch protagonists to one I deeply disliked.

    The first book I would still recommend if youíre a fan of mysteries. You just have to be able to deal with the Brandon Sanderson-esque main character and the book trying to sell you on a character I would have chucked off a cliff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ionathus View Post
    Well, dang. I dunno if I've ever experienced such overwhelming negative reaction to a book series I loved. Maybe it's because online randos are less likely to share tastes...or maybe my in-person friends just aren't willing to actually be honest with me.

    Regardless, I came here to rave about The Locked Tomb and evangelize for new readers, and the one-two-three-four punch of "read it already, didn't like it" has knocked the wind out of those sails. Thank you all for the discussion, I'll be back with another book later.
    By all means, please keep raving. I certainly didn't mean to puncture your sails, and I do not want to make people less interested in sharing their excitement about books due to the possible wave of negativity. The rest of the forum does that well enough already.



    Finished Revisionary the last of the liberiomancy books by Jim Hines. This series started fun in the first book, got a bit darker in the second, had a real sophomore slump in the third, and then got both serious and angry in the fourth. This was a big improvement, book 3 was both serious and all about ridiculous magic, which is not a super engaging combination. The last book though really went for it. The series is urban fantasy, and book 3 ended with magic getting thoroughly kicked out of the closet. Book 4 is about the consequences of this, and they're very bad. Lots of abuse of power, that sort of thing, and the book is seriously angry about that. This keeps it from being a downer, and instead it manages to be a pretty tightly written sort of spy caper, but with magic. I don't think this series is going to blow you away, but it's enjoyable, pretty easy to read, and occasionally quite funny.
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    Originally Posted by Eldan
    Well, I just got the book based on the discussion here. It seems to cause strong reactions in people at least and since it's relatively short, I thought I'd give it a try.
    I also tried it. I will decline to share my reaction.

    Originally Posted by Rodin
    You just have to be able to deal with the Brandon Sanderson-esque main characterÖ.
    How is this bad?

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    Meanwhile, as part of my quest to find the perfect book on historical pirates, Iím reading Under the Black Flag by Cordingly. So far itís an enjoyable narrative, hoping for more analysis in later chapters.

    This is an on-again, off-again quest of mine, which was revitalized by a recent re-watch of Black Sails. I found it less inspiring on the second viewing and didnít finish, and now Iím motivated for historical pirates again.

    Itís surprisingly hard to find a decent book on the topicósome of the more recent releases are rehashes of prior work, and others are a little too dense and dry even for me. But I persevere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    How is this bad?
    Sanderson has a sort of stock self-insert character that shows up in quite a bit of his work. Theyíre constantly quipping and have a witty response for everything, whether or not itís appropriate for the situation. Sometimes it works quite well, like in the Reckoners series. Other times it makes the character irritating, like in the Skyward novels.

    Gideon is like that, and fell on the wrong side of the line for me. I mention it because Iíve seen a lot of negative reactions to this type of character in the past on this forum.

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    Gideon's quippy responses didn't bother me, it was pretty obviously a front, and the narrative wasn't convinced they were the cleverest thing ever and proof of how awesome the character is. This tends to be what bugs me about quippy characters far more than the quips themselves.

    Really I can't say I disliked Gideon, either the or the book. She's abrasive, but I've happily read books about far less pleasant people, and not been bothered. The book was fine, I couldn't find anything particularly wrong with it, though it felt sort of... mmm... fannish I guess? Like this was targeted at, and written in the context of, some specific fan culture to which I don't belong. Which didn't leave me feeling excluded so much as mildly baffled by what were supposed to be big dramatic moments or lovable character beats that, to me, kinda landed with a flop.
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    Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, 1906.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    Sanderson has a sort of stock self-insert character that shows up in quite a bit of his work. Theyíre constantly quipping and have a witty response for everything, whether or not itís appropriate for the situation. Sometimes it works quite well, like in the Reckoners series. Other times it makes the character irritating, like in the Skyward novels.

    Gideon is like that, and fell on the wrong side of the line for me. I mention it because Iíve seen a lot of negative reactions to this type of character in the past on this forum.
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: Branderson doesn't really know how to write books for young adults. He seems to think that he needs to reduce complexity for those books and so he makes his characters less complex. That leads to rather one-dimensional protagonists in those books.
    It's rather unfortunate, as his other books show he can do better, in YA novels he just doesn't. It's acerbated by the fact that his YA novels are invariably written from a single perspective, so if that one protagonist doesn't click (looking at you, insufferable know-it-all in The Rithmatist), you won't even have other viewpoints to look forward to.


    On a different note, I've recently finished my long past due read-through of the Witcher books. I have to admit, they were not what I expected. I thought they would be mostly adventure stories and got a lot more politics, philosophy and metaphysics than I expected. Not that this is a complaint, mind you, they were pretty good books. It's just that in the later books, Geralt isn't central or even especially important to the plot. Which is weird for books named after him. Overall, the books feel like something of a mash between ASoIaF and the Drizz't Do'Urden books, but in a good way.

    Now I'm moving on to Altered Carbon, of which I've heard that the books are better than the show (which had an interesting premise but was decidedly mediocre). I hope the book will do better at scratching that cyberpunk itch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: Branderson doesn't really know how to write books for young adults. He seems to think that he needs to reduce complexity for those books and so he makes his characters less complex. That leads to rather one-dimensional protagonists in those books.
    It's rather unfortunate, as his other books show he can do better, in YA novels he just doesn't. It's acerbated by the fact that his YA novels are invariably written from a single perspective, so if that one protagonist doesn't click (looking at you, insufferable know-it-all in The Rithmatist), you won't even have other viewpoints to look forward to.
    Yea his YA stuff feels way more hit or miss on the character front. The Alcatraz stuff had the benefit of a narrative framing where the character talking in past tense and really talking up what an awful person he considered himself to be because of some things he does in the future of the narrative kept things interesting. I also enjoyed Spensa from Skyward flight because a gung ho constantly agro fighter jock who **** talk like Conan the Barbarian on a sugar high just appeals to me. Getting the tie in stuff between book two and three from the perspectives of a bunch of other characters was also nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    Now I'm moving on to Altered Carbon, of which I've heard that the books are better than the show (which had an interesting premise but was decidedly mediocre). I hope the book will do better at scratching that cyberpunk itch.
    The first season and first book are about equally good, although still different. The second season is where the quality between the two really shows.
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    I tried my hand at Steelheart once, and while it had the same typical sanderson elements, it also felt... generally awkward, in a way? Like he was trying a tad too hard to make it young adult.

    Love Sanderson otherwise, even if he tends to re-use certain character types or plot beats (arranged marriages for everyone!). He's fun, his magic systems are really interesting and the way he pushes them even more, and he's excellent for switching to when I don't feel like reading flowery prose for a while (a bit like Butcher's Dresden Files in that regard). And it's honestly amazing to take Elantris or the first Mistborn books, put them next to Stormlight, and see how much he's grown in making all his key characters into actual characters rather than plot devices with quirks (though there are of course exceptions, notably Kelsier). Elantris is a fun read, but Hrathen is about the only character that undergoes any real development through the story.


    I've read most of the three Altered Carbon books: I dropped the third one 'cause some of the aspects I disliked about the first two were markedly worse there, and it was just... unpleasant to read for me. I'd certainly recommend the first two though. Haven't watched the series myself.

    Right now, I'm in a bit of a lull: last book I read was Rhythm of War (which was just great, though I pity the many less-lore-addicted readers who had to go through several chapters of in-world magical theory and research development) and I essentially reached a point where, for the first time in a while, I can't go and get the most recent Dresden Files or Cosmere book, and have read most series I'd been wanting to read (and lost my list when my laptop went *bzzzt* last november). I could maybe give Glen Cook's Garret P.I. series a try, as I liked Black Company, but my heart's not really in it.
    Last edited by Taevyr; 2022-09-26 at 02:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post

    Now I'm moving on to Altered Carbon, of which I've heard that the books are better than the show (which had an interesting premise but was decidedly mediocre). I hope the book will do better at scratching that cyberpunk itch.
    I've only read the first one, which was decidedly better than the show. Better characters, better worldbuilding. I still thought it was pretty mediocre, though.

    Specifically (safe spoiler, if you've seen the show and know the plot)
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    The plot is just kinda meh? It ends up as "rich guy commits murder to cover up his dealings with a hooker", with a few cyberpunk frills. That's the most tired noir detective plot possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I've only read the first one, which was decidedly better than the show. Better characters, better worldbuilding. I still thought it was pretty mediocre, though.

    Specifically (safe spoiler, if you've seen the show and know the plot)
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    The plot is just kinda meh? It ends up as "rich guy commits murder to cover up his dealings with a hooker", with a few cyberpunk frills. That's the most tired noir detective plot possible.
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    That's kind of what I liked about it. Technology may warp the world into something borderline unrecognizable people are still fundamentally the same.
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    To me Sanderson is basically the modern Salvatore. He puts out a ton of pulpy mediocre fantasy at high volume. Which is fine for what it is. I like mediocre pulp fantasy as much as anyone sometimes. I do find the discussion about his young adult books amusing though as I couldn't tell the difference between them for the life of me. They're all the same. I just wish he'd quit writing Deus ex Machina endings. Even pulpy fantasy deserves a satisfying ending.

    I may have actually insulted Salvatore a bit here. At least his characters are mostly distinguishable from one another. If you took a random line from Kelsier, Mat, Raoden, or Lightsong and asked me to figure out who's speaking without context clues...there's just no way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Current fiction: Joseph Conrad, Nostromo. This may take a while, the style is quite verbose.
    About a quarter of the way through, reading a chapter here and there as time permits. Lots of description, lots of flashbacks and character background/characterization to flesh out who the major players are, except, for the moment, the character for whom the story is named. He is mostly 'as seen through the eyes of others' except for an interesting scene during a public event where he has a public disagreement with his romantic partner.

    Interesting approach, am looking forward to seeing the story develop, but this is not a quick read. Lots of description: I begin to understand the author's comments in forward in terms of how long it took him to write and finish the book.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2022-09-28 at 12:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
    To me Sanderson is basically the modern Salvatore. He puts out a ton of pulpy mediocre fantasy at high volume. Which is fine for what it is. I like mediocre pulp fantasy as much as anyone sometimes. I do find the discussion about his young adult books amusing though as I couldn't tell the difference between them for the life of me. They're all the same. I just wish he'd quit writing Deus ex Machina endings. Even pulpy fantasy deserves a satisfying ending.

    I may have actually insulted Salvatore a bit here. At least his characters are mostly distinguishable from one another. If you took a random line from Kelsier, Mat, Raoden, or Lightsong and asked me to figure out who's speaking without context clues...there's just no way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sanderson's First Law of Magic
    The author's ability to resolve conflicts in a satisfying way with magic is directly proportional to how the reader understands said magic.
    The hallmark of Sanderson's writing is that he explicitly never does Dues ex Machina. It's literally called Sanderson's law. Yea his character work before Stormlight and the Wax and Wayne series was much rougher then his world building his world building and the way his story climaxes tend to feel like puzzle snapping into place are literally hallmarks of his writing. And consistent enough people part way through only part two of the Mistborn stories have already accurately worked out how space travel is going to work for the setting with almost perfect accuracy. Even when his character work has been a bit rough though it still is leagues better then your implying here, the narrative voices of none of those characters could be confused for one another. They aren't even particularly similar characters?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
    To me Sanderson is basically the modern Salvatore. He puts out a ton of pulpy mediocre fantasy at high volume. Which is fine for what it is. I like mediocre pulp fantasy as much as anyone sometimes. I do find the discussion about his young adult books amusing though as I couldn't tell the difference between them for the life of me. They're all the same. I just wish he'd quit writing Deus ex Machina endings. Even pulpy fantasy deserves a satisfying ending.

    I may have actually insulted Salvatore a bit here. At least his characters are mostly distinguishable from one another. If you took a random line from Kelsier, Mat, Raoden, or Lightsong and asked me to figure out who's speaking without context clues...there's just no way.
    Yeah, Sanderson himself has remarked on how the "deus ex machina"-esque ending of the first Mistborn book is one of his biggest early writing mistakes, as there was no way not to see it as one with the information given at that point and thus makes for a rather lackluster ending. Beyond that one, which is explained without any retcons, only two books too late, I can't think of any ending that didn't fit perfectly within the magic system and lacked foreshadowing. And while I can see how you could take many of his earlier "witty" character dialogues and they wouldn't differ that much beyond setting flavour, as Dragonus said, there's a night and day difference in his character-building pre- and post his work on WoT. Hell, there's (luckily) a night-and-day difference in how he wrote certain WoT characters between the 12th and 14th book, particularly visible in Mat.


    (Also, just some tongue-in-cheek critique I feel like giving: there're far better examples of characters being similar archetypes than the ones you chose. Kelsier, Raoden and Lightsong? Really? Raoden hardly has a personality beyond "the good princeô", and Kelsier is markedly one of his most nuanced early characters. Pick some of the "witty young noblewoman" archetypes that appear in about every longer series of his and you have a far better example, albeit still superficial)


    That aside: For a quick example of Sanderson at his best, I'll always recommend The Emperor's Soul. It's short (by his standards, about 150 pages I think), but has his hallmarks of a tightly written plot and well-developed hard magic system, and the (very few) characters that appear more than once are quite well developed for a novel that size. It also manages to, for about 80-90%, take place in a single room without it getting tedious.

    There's no denying that the man puts in effort to keep his work accessible to the general public and (relatively) easy to understand: I've seen his cosmere referred to as the "Marvel of Fantasy" more than a few times across the web, and while I can see where those people are coming from, it severely understates how mechanically tight his magic systems and worldbuilding are. And Stormlight in particular shows how much he's grown at writing nuanced, deeper characters.
    Last edited by Taevyr; 2022-09-28 at 03:48 PM.

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    Originally Posted by Taevyr
    For a quick example of Sanderson at his best, I'll always recommend The Emperor's Soul.
    Interesting. Iíve read and deeply enjoyed most of Sandersonís work, apart from the YA and later Stormlight books; but the Emperorís Soul stands out for me as one that I very much disliked, to the point that itís put me off any further Sanderson for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Interesting. Iíve read and deeply enjoyed most of Sandersonís work, apart from the YA and later Stormlight books; but the Emperorís Soul stands out for me as one that I very much disliked, to the point that itís put me off any further Sanderson for a while.
    Now you got me curious what it was you disliked so much . Considering you also dislike the later stormlight books, is it the larger focus given to the "pseudoscience"/mechanical principles of the magic systems? Because that was one of the things I loved about Rhythm of War, but I also couldn't help but think that it'd put many less lore-addicted people off.
    Last edited by Taevyr; 2022-09-28 at 04:14 PM.

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    Originally Posted by Taevyr
    Considering you also dislike the later stormlight books....
    Not what I was trying to convey, but I see how my phrasing might have suggested that. I've only read the first Stormlight book, years ago, and simply haven't gotten to the others yet. And I haven't looked at his YA.

    Emperor's Soul...just didn't grab me, and I found the protagonist offputting. It's been some years since I read it, so I don't recall much except the numb disappointment and a general notion to let Sanderson alone for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
    The hallmark of Sanderson's writing is that he explicitly never does Dues ex Machina. It's literally called Sanderson's law. Yea his character work before Stormlight and the Wax and Wayne series was much rougher then his world building his world building and the way his story climaxes tend to feel like puzzle snapping into place are literally hallmarks of his writing. And consistent enough people part way through only part two of the Mistborn stories have already accurately worked out how space travel is going to work for the setting with almost perfect accuracy. Even when his character work has been a bit rough though it still is leagues better then your implying here, the narrative voices of none of those characters could be confused for one another. They aren't even particularly similar characters?
    Lol, ok. Mistborn literally ends with a character being gifted godlike power by the previous diety and using it to fix everything. What else would it have to do to qualify for you? Literally rename that character to Zeus? Elantris ends with the main character figuring out how to restore his race's godlike power by dragging a stick on the ground. Warbreaker literally ends with a character called the "God King" being healed and solving their problems.



    Quote Originally Posted by Taevyr View Post
    Yeah, Sanderson himself has remarked on how the "deus ex machina"-esque ending of the first Mistborn book is one of his biggest early writing mistakes, as there was no way not to see it as one with the information given at that point and thus makes for a rather lackluster ending. Beyond that one, which is explained without any retcons, only two books too late, I can't think of any ending that didn't fit perfectly within the magic system and lacked foreshadowing. And while I can see how you could take many of his earlier "witty" character dialogues and they wouldn't differ that much beyond setting flavour, as Dragonus said, there's a night and day difference in his character-building pre- and post his work on WoT. Hell, there's (luckily) a night-and-day difference in how he wrote certain WoT characters between the 12th and 14th book, particularly visible in Mat.


    (Also, just some tongue-in-cheek critique I feel like giving: there're far better examples of characters being similar archetypes than the ones you chose. Kelsier, Raoden and Lightsong? Really? Raoden hardly has a personality beyond "the good princeô", and Kelsier is markedly one of his most nuanced early characters. Pick some of the "witty young noblewoman" archetypes that appear in about every longer series of his and you have a far better example, albeit still superficial)


    That aside: For a quick example of Sanderson at his best, I'll always recommend The Emperor's Soul. It's short (by his standards, about 150 pages I think), but has his hallmarks of a tightly written plot and well-developed hard magic system, and the (very few) characters that appear more than once are quite well developed for a novel that size. It also manages to, for about 80-90%, take place in a single room without it getting tedious.

    There's no denying that the man puts in effort to keep his work accessible to the general public and (relatively) easy to understand: I've seen his cosmere referred to as the "Marvel of Fantasy" more than a few times across the web, and while I can see where those people are coming from, it severely understates how mechanically tight his magic systems and worldbuilding are. And Stormlight in particular shows how much he's grown at writing nuanced, deeper characters.
    I used the examples I did because those are his books that I've read. After WoT I decided to stop subjecting myself to Sanderson. I've been told before that his writing matured recently, but it's a bit like someone telling you to stick your fingers into a blender with the promise it won't hurt as much as it used to. I haven't read all of his works, but after 8 of his novels that were all absolutely dreadful I feel like I gave him enough chances.

    He does do great world building. I won't dispute that. It's just a shame that the stories he tells in those worlds are so bad.
    Last edited by Anteros; 2022-09-28 at 05:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
    Lol, ok. Mistborn literally ends with a character being gifted godlike power by the previous diety and using it to fix everything. What else would it have to do to qualify for you? Literally rename that character to Zeus? Elantris ends with the main character figuring out how to restore his race's godlike power by dragging a stick on the ground. Warbreaker literally ends with a character called the "God King" being healed and solving their problems.
    Mistborn did have a looser ending then normal, it still made sense in context as was mentioned above and is the only time he has ever really gone out of pocket like that. As for the other two? When you say it like that and ignore every surrounding detail, piece of foreshadowing, character beat, and plot point leading up to the then sure it sounds stupid. And what does it matter that a character used deific powers or was erroneously called a god king? Can I double check what you think a dues ex machina is?



    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post

    I used the examples I did because those are his books that I've read. After WoT I decided to stop subjecting myself to Sanderson. I've been told before that his writing matured recently, but it's a bit like someone telling you to stick your fingers into a blender with the promise it won't hurt as much as it used to. I haven't read all of his works, but after 8 of his novels that were all absolutely dreadful I feel like I gave him enough chances.

    He does do great world building. I won't dispute that. It's just a shame that the stories he tells in those worlds are so bad.
    Oh, you have barely read any of his work anyways.
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    The point of a Deus Ex Machina is that there's no setup for it. If we have two books of "This is how you get godlike power", a list of people who previously had that godlike power, a prophecy that soon someone will get that godlike power, specific criteria for who can get the godlike power and several mentions of how the previous holders of the godlike powers can't hold on to them, if then that someone gets that godlike power, that's not a Deus Ex Machina.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    The point of a Deus Ex Machina is that there's no setup for it. If we have two books of "This is how you get godlike power", a list of people who previously had that godlike power, a prophecy that soon someone will get that godlike power, specific criteria for who can get the godlike power and several mentions of how the previous holders of the godlike powers can't hold on to them, if then that someone gets that godlike power, that's not a Deus Ex Machina.
    He didn't entirely properly foreshadow the first books ending though, and while it was meant to be a mystery in universe how it happened across the next two book leading into the climax of the third it does stand out relative to his other work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
    Mistborn did have a looser ending then normal, it still made sense in context as was mentioned above and is the only time he has ever really gone out of pocket like that. As for the other two? When you say it like that and ignore every surrounding detail, piece of foreshadowing, character beat, and plot point leading up to the then sure it sounds stupid. And what does it matter that a character used deific powers or was erroneously called a god king? Can I double check what you think a dues ex machina is?


    Oh, you have barely read any of his work anyways.
    Foreshadowing doesn't necessarily mean it can't be Deus ex Machina. If the labors of hercules ended with Zeus descending and solving all his problems it would still be deus ex machina despite Zeus literally being his dad. If OOTS ends with Thor smiting Xykon it would still be deus ex machina despite Thor being an established character with an invested interest in the plot.

    And yes, "barely any of his work". A mere 8 novels. A paltry 10,000 words. A mere 3x the entirety of Game of Thrones. Certainly not enough to get a feel for an author.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
    Foreshadowing doesn't necessarily mean it can't be Deus ex Machina. If the labors of hercules ended with Zeus descending and solving all his problems it would still be deus ex machina despite Zeus literally being his dad. If OOTS ends with Thor smiting Xykon it would still be deus ex machina despite Thor being an established character with an invested interest in the plot.

    And yes, "barely any of his work". A mere 8 novels. A paltry 10,000 words. A mere 3x the entirety of Game of Thrones. Certainly not enough to get a feel for an author.
    No, by definition Dues ex Machina means something doesn't have foreshadowing. If it were implied there was some set of conditions that could allow Thor to vaporize Xykon ahead of time then no it wouldn't be Deus ex Machina.

    Considering that having to be the person to finish Wheel of Time was always going to be thankless and miserable even though he did do about as good of a job as anyone could have given the situation but it was also decidedly not "his work" in a real sense. Glad we agree that that really is a paltry amount of words though considering it's barely over a percent of what he has actually written word count wise though.
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    Sanderson, as an author, is interested in systems more than story or characters. That's hardly unknown, and many famous authors, such as Isaac Asimov have been similar. Asimov, in particular, bears many similarities to Sanderson - incredible prolificacy, a tendency toward weak conclusions, and a desire to blend too many ideas together at once. The key difference, I find, is that Asimov was a science fiction author and Sanderson is a fantasy one. Asimov explored systems that while speculative, might at least theoretically exist to some degree. Sanderson explores systems that he completely made up.

    Reading a Sanderson novel is rather like watching a Let's Play of a game the player invented, and tolerance for that varies a lot. By comparison, reading an Asimov or other systems focused science fiction novel is like watching a Let's Play of a heavily-modded version of life as we know it, which is a significantly more substantial hook. Personally, I really wish Sanderson had gone down the science fiction route rather than the fantasy one. There are too few authors willing to fully investigate the implications of things like torchship drives, Von Neumann asteroid mining machinery, and so forth, especially who can do so in a highly engaging and rapidly readable way.
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    Deus Ex Machinas in particular are from Greek plays where the stupid humans would get things so screwed up that nobody could fix it, and then the gods would come in and sort everything out with a wave of their hands while giving a moralistic lesson about how all of this could have been avoided.

    Mistborn...isn't that. The first novel is inarguably a Deus Ex Machina by the modern definition - Vin gets superpowers out of nowhere that allow her to defeat the villain. However, the novel was clearly meant as part of a series and the "What the hell just happened" nature of the resolution is brought up by the characters as well - a clear indication that an explanation will be forthcoming.

    The series as a whole definitely doesn't fit. In fact, it's kind of the opposite! What wasn't mentioned earlier is that the first person to get godlike power screws it up. Them screwing it up informs the backstory of the entire setting. And then the second person gets it...and makes things worse.

    It's only after the plot is basically resolved (heroes dead, villains dead) that a secondary character takes the reins and his knowledge that had been established across three books is what allows him to stop the end of the world.

    The one point where I can point to an unambiguous Deus Ex Machina is in the Wax and Wayne books, where literal God arranges for Wax to get his weapons back for the final confrontation of the first book. And even that is suitably lampshaded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    Deus Ex Machinas in particular are from Greek plays where the stupid humans would get things so screwed up that nobody could fix it, and then the gods would come in and sort everything out with a wave of their hands while giving a moralistic lesson about how all of this could have been avoided.

    Mistborn...isn't that. The first novel is inarguably a Deus Ex Machina by the modern definition - Vin gets superpowers out of nowhere that allow her to defeat the villain. However, the novel was clearly meant as part of a series and the "What the hell just happened" nature of the resolution is brought up by the characters as well - a clear indication that an explanation will be forthcoming.

    The series as a whole definitely doesn't fit. In fact, it's kind of the opposite! What wasn't mentioned earlier is that the first person to get godlike power screws it up. Them screwing it up informs the backstory of the entire setting. And then the second person gets it...and makes things worse.

    It's only after the plot is basically resolved (heroes dead, villains dead) that a secondary character takes the reins and his knowledge that had been established across three books is what allows him to stop the end of the world.

    The one point where I can point to an unambiguous Deus Ex Machina is in the Wax and Wayne books, where literal God arranges for Wax to get his weapons back for the final confrontation of the first book. And even that is suitably lampshaded.
    Rather than desu ex machinas, it's probably more reasonable to argue that Sanderson has a problem with abrupt shifts in power level, both at the character scale and at the setting scale. This circles back to his system interest and how he chooses to build systems. He's fond of stepped progressions with abrupt break points rather than gradual increases. Stormlight Archive, with its series of vows that each provide sequential, massive, power boosts is perhaps the most obvious about this, but it can be traced back all the way to Elantris, where the overarching system seems to having only two states: fully functional and completely broken.

    And I get why he does that, since it makes it easy to simply flip a metaphorical switch and change the power balance from 'we're totally screwed' to 'victory!' at a stroke, and in the kind of personal power > societal power quasi-superhero settings Sanderson uses that's effective. The downside is that it quickly becomes predictable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Rather than desu ex machinas, it's probably more reasonable to argue that Sanderson has a problem with abrupt shifts in power level, both at the character scale and at the setting scale. This circles back to his system interest and how he chooses to build systems. He's fond of stepped progressions with abrupt break points rather than gradual increases. Stormlight Archive, with its series of vows that each provide sequential, massive, power boosts is perhaps the most obvious about this, but it can be traced back all the way to Elantris, where the overarching system seems to having only two states: fully functional and completely broken.

    And I get why he does that, since it makes it easy to simply flip a metaphorical switch and change the power balance from 'we're totally screwed' to 'victory!' at a stroke, and in the kind of personal power > societal power quasi-superhero settings Sanderson uses that's effective. The downside is that it quickly becomes predictable.
    The vows in Stormlight Archive are interesting because aside from getting a decently steep power boost overall they also come with what is effectively a free recharge on mana.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Rather than desu ex machinas, it's probably more reasonable to argue that Sanderson has a problem with abrupt shifts in power level, both at the character scale and at the setting scale. This circles back to his system interest and how he chooses to build systems. He's fond of stepped progressions with abrupt break points rather than gradual increases. Stormlight Archive, with its series of vows that each provide sequential, massive, power boosts is perhaps the most obvious about this, but it can be traced back all the way to Elantris, where the overarching system seems to having only two states: fully functional and completely broken.

    And I get why he does that, since it makes it easy to simply flip a metaphorical switch and change the power balance from 'we're totally screwed' to 'victory!' at a stroke, and in the kind of personal power > societal power quasi-superhero settings Sanderson uses that's effective. The downside is that it quickly becomes predictable.
    I agree with this, and with Stormlight probably doing it best: it's still predictable, but due to it being so deeply tied to the given character's development and growth (or lack of such) it still gives that catharsis you need at such key moments. It's also one of the main reasons for the "Marvel of Fantasy" view some people have of him, which I mentioned earlier.

    I personally tend to prefer his novels that don't go quite as big with power levels/explosions: probably why I enjoyed Emperor's Soul and Shadows of Self so much. Ironically, I feel he writes better when there aren't any of his trademark over-the-top stakes at play.


    Also, concerning Elantris' "on-off" analogy: I'm still amused by a friend in IT who summed up the plot as
    Spoiler
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    City built on magic programming bugs out when nature adds a semi-colon
    . It's a perfect example of Sanderson essentially being a "Science-fantasy" writer, particularly because it's an early work where his skill at systems vastly outstrips his skill at character writing.

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