Fantasy books are like music

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?

MozartJRR Tolkien

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, not five stars?

Words of Radiance coverBrandon Sanderson is a brilliant writer, imaginative and clever. The Mistborn books are among my all-time favourite reads, – I couldn’t put them down!

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…