I am digging through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy on the Kindle at work and when I can steal a spare moment.
At the beginning of the third book, this series, published by TOR, has confirmed a couple of things for me.
First of all, in case you have been dead to the world of fantasy, Brandon Sanderson has serious chops. He has bold, memorable characters, dynamic situations, great fight choreography, high-stakes adventure, and yet never loses the immediate and omnipresent reality of interpersonal relationships in all things. It’s a rare duck that handles all of these things well, and Mr. Sanderson is one rare duck.
Second, in the wake of this year’s kerfuffle about the Hugo awards, Mr. Sanderson’s trilogy confirms that if you want to break into traditional publishing, it doesn’t hurt to hit every single liberal PC button possible, because The Powers That Be all see in shades of blue and they hold the keys to the kingdom. All the great PC issues are here: Early industrial steampunk means that the nobles are useless inbred abusive shits while the poor innocent workers are oppressed to death on purpose out of sheer apathy and evil. (Never mind the fact that one reason cities exploded is that those horrible working conditions were so much better than life shoveling pig shit that people flocked in droves for a chance to be an industrial laborer.) The greatest potential warrior alive has to be a skinny abandoned orphan girl (because in history that has ever happened) who perpetually saves and surpasses all of the earnest but inferior men about her. The wise counselor has cataloged over three hundred ancient religions so that four to ten times each novel he can talk about how useless, contradictory, and hopeless they are in the face of the real world. Workers Unite Glorious Comrades For Great Justice (because the slaughter and depravity of socialist movements of the past 200 years never made it into a single history book). All warfare is class warfare, as socioeconomic class is the greatest determinant of all after the fantasy question of whether or not you have magic. All organized religions only exist to oppress (and in this case butcher and slaughter) people for their own sick power games. All gods are false and evil, or true and evil, but there are no good gods, no supernatural hope. Just people versus supernatural evil, because people are the hope of the world. (J.R.R. Tolkien just rolled over in his grave.)
So, when I praise Brandon Sanderson, please understand that he’s such a good storyteller that he can weave a tale about everything I find nauseating about literature, and make me want more. I’m actually going to curl up with book three.
He’s that good.
When someone can stand up about everything you despise and loathe and make you ask for seconds, he’s got mad chops.
Props to you, Mr. Sanderson. Props.