Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

Fans of Brandon Sanderson and his Cosmere universe will be excited by this anthology which goes far to explain Sanderson's thinking and planning for his writing as one of science fiction/fantasy's premier authors.  The book is a collection of riches.  There are nine novellas and short stories, a graphic novel excerpt as well as illustrations of each selection.

Some of these selections have been published at Tor over the years.  There is an all-new novella from the Stormlight world as well as a Mistborn novella that has never been in print before.  Collected here together, they are a treasure trove for Sanderson fans.

My personal favorite was the first selection, The Emperor's Soul, which is taken from the world of Sanderson's first novel, Elantris.  In it, the Emperor has been attacked and his mind left a void.  If word of his condition leaks, there will be pandemonium and dire consequences.  The emperor's advisers decide to take a gamble.  They reach into the dungeons and bring up a witch named Shai.  She has been imprisoned for forging a national treasure.  The advisers make a bargain with Shai.  If she can restore the emperor she can have her freedom.  She is given three months.  Neither side trusts the other and each schemes to accomplish their own goals within this massive task.  This novella won the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 2013.

Each story is intricate and shows evidence of the careful planning behind it as well as revealing another slice of the universe Sanderson has created.  His first well-known trilogy was the Mistborn novels.  Sanderson was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series when he was unable to do so.  He is currently working on the Stormlight Archives world.  One of the most fascinating facts is that Sanderson had started planning and populating these worlds that make up the Cosmere universe as early as his high school days.  The complex interconnected universe is an example of the best fantasy writing to be found today.  This book is recommended for Sanderson fans as well as fantasy/science fiction writers.

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