I discovered Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson in December, one of my most exciting book finds of the year. It has an awesome premise (what if the prophesied hero failed to defeat the Great Evil?), an original and very cool magic system and appealing characters. It has adventure and romance, sacrifice and danger, armies and heists, grand balls and desperate missions, martial-arts-style magic and so much more. I loved Vin’s character arc–how she went from being this beaten-down street urchin to a confident courageous young woman. The sequel is wending its way to my mailbox soon (squee!).
Nathalie Mallet’s The Princes of the Golden Cage and The King’s Daughters draw inspiration from non-medieval Western European sources. The first is set in an Arabic/Persian-type culture, complete with harems and eunuchs and a Grand Vizier. Prince Amir is one of the Sultan’s many sons, confined to the Golden Cage with his brothers until the Sultan chooses a successor. Amir has tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, avoiding politics and duels to the death as his brothers vie for their father’s favor. But now a mysterious force is murdering his brothers one by one and Amir is dragged in the thick of it…especially since he is looked upon as a suspect.
The sequel finds Amir in the northern Russian-inspired land of his beloved Princess Eva, where he sets about committing terrible faux pas and investigating the kidnappings of Eva’s sisters. I like Mallet’s willingness to be ruthless with her characters’ lives and emotions. The twist at the very end is something I did not expect, but makes total sense in hindsight. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
I finished Unseen Academicals (Terry Pratchett) in the nick of time–on New Year’s Eve. I found it to be more ponderous and less witty than I am used to in a Pratchett novel. Not to say it wasn’t good, but it didn’t feel as sparkly and pithy as most of Pratchett’s novels are. Still, Pratchett’s signature style–his humor, intelligence, and way with words–is stamped all over it. I love how he holds the Discworld up as a mirror in which we see ourselves.
Random non-fiction reads: Celtic Mythology (one of David’s college books from his not-quite Celtic Studies minor), Salt: A World History (very entertaining, but heavy on the recipes and tangents into the fishing industry) and The Bronte Myth (author Lucasta Miller sifts through the biographical material to trace the development of the half-truths and enigmas surrounding the Bronte sisters. I was disappointed at the lack of attention paid to Anne, but this exploration of how biographies are molded by their authors’ agendas, including those of Charlotte attempting to redeem the characters of her deceased sisters, is very readable and interesting).
That’s it for December! Any good books you read?