Sunday, June 14, 2009

New This Week: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

If you love SF/F and have not yet encountered Brandon Sanderson, you can forgive yourself: the whole thing has happened pretty quickly. That said, don’t stick your head in the sand on this one. He may be relatively new, but expect him to be around for a while.

Sanderson is a writer with talent, vision and chutzpah, a combination that put him into awards line-ups and bestseller lists almost from before the first moment. This because Sanderson was hand-picked to write the conclusion to Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series after Jordan’s death in 2007. Being heir apparent to one of the genre’s most legendary writers did nothing to detract from Sanderson’s reputation, but when you read his work, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have gotten there on his own. He is a writer that not only can write, but does. He’s so good, he makes it look effortless, to the point where Warbreaker (Tor) was more or less written online. Sanderson explains on his Web site:
And so, I did something crazy. I went to Tor and asked if they'd be okay with me posting the entire version of Warbreaker AS I WROTE IT. Meaning, rough drafts. The early, early stuff which is filled with problems and errors. They thought I was crazy too (my agent STILL thinks this project is a bad move) but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something that would involve and reward my readers. For those who are aspiring novelists, I wanted to show an early version of my work so they could follow its editing and progress. For those who are looking to try out my novels, I wanted to offer a free download.
And that’s just what he did. The book published this month is much more than an intact testament to Sanderson’s great online experiment, it is a book that grows out of this author’s involvement with his community. Not a bad starting point at all.

The book itself is... well, it’s wonderful. Sanderson is one of those world-building authors who replies heavily on strong characterization to convince readers of the viability of the environments he creates. This is not a technique that can work for writers who are short on either skill or imagination and Sanderson has lots of both.

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