Stormlight Archives

When you were a kid, did you ever lay on the floor, look up at the ceiling and pretend that you were on the ceiling and the ceiling was now the floor? Or peer around the corner in a hallway and pretend you were looking down a pit? I did and I’d place bets that Brandon Sanderson did as well.

I’ve been reading (listening) to his Stormlight Archives lately. I’m almost done with the second book (which, sadly is the last one available) and am really intrigued by the surge binding powers. Without giving away any plot, one of the ‘magical’ abilities some characters possess allows them to change which way gravity works for them. These characters can fly by making ‘Up’ into down so that they fall into the sky. They run along walls like it was the floor.

It’s a very amusing thing to think about. Changing the orientation of the world at a whim. Not worrying about one of our basic problems, falling down. It’s used to great affect in the books and it’s very useful. If we had this ability in real life, space travel would suddenly become much easier. Just have a space ship fall up until its able to move under its own power. Course, that would raise the question of how the power would interact with multiple gravity sources, which is probably outside the scope of an epic fantasy series.

I’m really enjoying these books in other ways too. Kate Reading and Michael Kramer are amazing voice actors. They really sell the characters in a way that you just don’t get via reading. In fact, their reading of it helps get me past my one annoyance with the series.

The books are broken into several parts. After each part there are interludes in which you follow non-primary characters. Now, as a writer, I completely understand what Sanderson is going for here. You get to experience other parts of the world and see other characters that you don’t while following the main characters. None of these pieces are important enough to be made main characters but they add to the world and reveal some important info you want to tell.

But as a reader, I hate them. I just want to get to the next part of the story. Parts end at a climatic point. ¬†You want to know what happens next. The interludes make you wait for that. Now, these interludes aren’t bad, they just are isolated. You might learn something interesting, but you often never see those characters again.

What makes the difference is the performances by the narrators. This help turn them from an annoying distraction to enjoyable. The best was the chapter about Lift read by Reading. I actually wanted more of that character and could have enjoyed a story about her. Especially way she’s portrayed by the narrator. WIthout that performance though, it might not have worked.

Anyways, I recommend you give them a read if you like epic fantasy at all.

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