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“We are all of us frauds, and we are all of us doing the best we can to hold up a tower of illusions and ill-placed hopes.”
I’m reading – and enjoying – The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks and this great line jumped out at me.
It struck me recently as I was deciding what to read next, that it was like deciding what music to listen to next.
Should I read / listen to something new and modern, or go for a well-known classic? Something to relax into or feel stimulated by?
For example, if Tolkien is to Mozart as David Gemmell is to Led Zeppelin, what music fits Brandon Sanderson?
My wife said if you want to write better short stories (I do) why not read some good examples, like Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, a collection of his works first published in 1999. What a wise woman (my wife, not Neil Gaiman, he is a wise man).
I have finished now and I am inspired. Generally I find anything less than a full-blown novel difficult to write, but Gaiman can’t stop himself launching into an extra short tale in his introduction to the book that is full of them.
Simple words, nothing pretentious or fancy, but so imaginatively and brilliantly written with such lifelike characters. I feel like I know Mrs Whitaker – I really should nip around for a cup of tea and check she is all right. And somehow it’s very credible that she came to posses the Holy Grail.
As I progressed through the collection I found the stories quite mixed, some would work for young readers and some would be unsuitable. I didn’t really get on with the narrative poems, but no doubt that says more about me than Mr Gaiman’s work.
What the book left me with , apart from excellent entertainment, was a fine demonstration that while an obvious truth, uttered tentatively or timidly, can become doubtful and unbelievable, the impossible, stated with confidence and conviction, can become plausible and even probable…
But. I could put down Words of Radiance up to about half way and sometimes did, reading a couple other books on the way that grabbed me more. Shocking I know. I can’t criticise Sanderson, his writing is fantastic, I love his characters with their lively and realistic dialogue. And the scope of the tale is fantastic, the illustrations are amazing, such a huge amount of work must have gone into this creative masterpiece.
The fault must be with me. You see he lost me a bit with the details and the complexities in the first half. Characters, names, places, history, culture, magic rules etc. Without the distraction of his usual brilliant action-packed writing, credibility slightly wavered once or twice. For example women covering one hand for decency but it’s OK to leave the other one uncovered? Or the hero followed around by his own Tinkerbell fairy? Mmm.
But of course Brandon saves the day if you stick with him long enough. The third quarter of this substantial tome was really engaging and the final quarter was fantastic, gripping and un-put-down-able.
So, if I could rate the book in quarters, I’d give it 3/5, 3/5, 4/5, 5/5 – an average of 3.75/5 which rounds up to 4/5 and that after all is still very good but sounds mean for Sanderson…
Maybe my head wasn’t as clear as it should have been for enjoying this – more time and less stress and I would probably have enjoyed it all and felt it was 5/5.
If the next one is as big will I read it? Yes of course, but I might not prioritise it because I have such a long list of books I want to read, most of which would be less epic in size so I may read those first. Seeking more instant gratification? Yes, but at least I do read books so I’m at the positive end of the spectrum compared to so many people these days who say they don’t have time to read books at all…
Check out the latest review at The Book Marketing Network
“…an original story that combines fantasy with parallels to our own history…”
“…the action sequences are impeccable, the story line is faultless..”
Similarities abound, I love comparisons, how about the joy of reading and the joy of listening to music?
Helped in this example of some brilliant music (Dear Mr Fantasy performed by Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood) by the overlap of the word fantasy – my favourite reading and writing genre (possibly my favourite word).
And what about the lyrics (below) – it’s a short story in its own right…
Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these years
Written by Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group