Mistborn Review: A Hero’s Struggle

Mistborn Review: A Hero’s Struggle

My Rating:  ★★★ ★ ☆

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Before I opened this book I wasn’t too sure about whether I’d like it. I love Brandon Sanderson and all the books of his that I have read so far have been amazing, but I read a few iffy reviews of Mistborn and was a bit nervous.

Those nerves quickly subsided when I started reading it though, cause I was hooked by the end of the first few chapters.

What really got me interested, which isn’t usually something I find in books, is that the entire plot of the book was laid out very early on.

The premise of the book is that there is a group of thieves and criminals, and they plan on overthrowing the government.

What’s beautiful about it though, is that their entire plan is spoken about. We know exactly what steps need to be taken in order for this all to work.

Some might think it’s annoying because there is less suspense, but I firmly disagree with that. I think there is so much opportunity for suspense and potential failure that the story benefits from it.

There are some cheesy moments that all books fall prey to. Two people falling in love after meeting one night, ruining the plans you’d have to kill them is the first one that comes to mind.

In knowing the overall story, we just know that something will go wrong. There’s no way that the story can go perfectly as planned right? There’s no way our heroes can do exactly what they need to, cause where’s the fun in seeing them succeed so easily?

There is a sort of joy in seeing heroes struggle, even though we want them to win.

It’s sort of weird if you think about it. We all want the hero to win, so why do we want him to suffer and struggle? Why shouldn’t he win easily? Why do we want the hero to get beaten, battered, bloody and bruised.

We should want him to complete his goals with ease.

But that’s boring.

A story wouldn’t be much fun if we didn’t overcome some obstacles. That’s what makes them a hero though. They are a hero because they overcome great adversity and triumph in the face of defeat and despair.

A hero that struggles and goes through pain is a hero because of it. Because all that pain and hardship is what relates us to the words on a page, or the character on the screen.

Mistborn gives us two main heroes. Two characters that are the same in so many ways, but so different too.


My one big complaint about Mistborn and the world it is in is the “magic” system. What’s cool about it, Allomancy as it’s called, is that it uses metals that are absorbed into your body.

What isn’t so cool is that you sort of forget what each power does over time. Some of the powers are used enough, or are written in a certain way that the meaning comes across in a memorable way, but there are just about as many that you confuse.

Without spoiling anything, there are 8 different “powers” and each sort of has an opposite. Some of the powers are easy to understand, and the names for them give away their meaning.

Some of them aren’t really used often enough, so when they are mentioned it takes you a second to remember what power is being used.

Overall, fantastic book. I have the other two books in this trilogy and can’t wait to get my hands on them, but I promised myself I’d take a crack at IT before going back to The Wheel of Time, which I need to read before coming back again to Mistborn.


My question to you is simple, what is your favourite magic system that you’ve read. Harry Potter’s straight up wand use, or maybe Twilight’s magical creatures? Is it Game of Thrones subtle magical world, or something else entirely? Let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Dumbest Generation

Book Review: The Dumbest Generation

Can a nation continue to enjoy political and economic predominance if its citizens refuse to grow up?

For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture available to young people and the impact it has on their futures. At the dawn of the digital age, many believed they saw a hopeful answer: The Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.

That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect. According to recent reports, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its consequences for American culture and democracy.

Drawing upon exhaustive research, personal anecdotes, and historical and social analysis, Mark Bauerline presents an uncompromisingly realistic portrait of the young American mind at this critical juncture, and lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies.

In the five or so minutes it will probably take you to read this, you will have logged roughly half the time the average 15- to 24-year-old now spends reading each day, assuming you even bother reading the entire post.

In a world where books and knowledge are at our fingertips, most people choose to avoid them at all costs, causing Mark Bauerlein, the author of The Dumbest Generation, fear for his country’s future.

The way Bauerlein says it, something disastrous has happened to America’s youth with the arrival of the instant gratification age we are currently in.

The result is a loss of knowledge, plain and simple.

Can we really blame people though? I mean what sounds like more fun, scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and checking out your friends’ newest post, or reading a book about Medieval warfare tactics?

Most people would choose Instagram or Facebook.

When Bauerlein told an audience of college students, “You are six times more likely to know who the latest American Idol is than you are to know who the speaker of the U.S. House is,” a voice in the crowd tells him: “ ‘American Idol’ IS more important.”

Young people are a melting pot of “unimportant” knowledge. The important stuff that affects our day to day life, is information we probably don’t know. A celebrities birthday and what their favourite gemstone is? Information we probably know.

And all this feeds on itself. Increasingly disconnected from the “adult” world of tradition, culture, history, context and the ability to sit down for more than five minutes with a book, today’s digital generation is becoming insulated in its own cocoon of bad spelling, civic illiteracy and endless postings. Two-thirds of U.S. undergraduates now score above average on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, up 30% since 1982, he reports.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty well known that with each new generation, there will be some sort of inevitable change, and with that change will come complaints from the older generation, with reminiscence from the past, and so on, repeating in a never ending cycle.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, for many reasons. When cultural norms change, art, literature, and other creative outlets become more fluid, and people respond to the spirit of the age with an intelligent and relevant civic discourse.

Within Bauerlein’s collected research, some interesting information has come to light.The fact-based, multiple-choice approach to education has hampered our ability to “think historically,” meaning young Americans have difficulties placing current events in relation to their historical contexts.

Equally, our ability to do basic math and our reading proficiency continues to drop. In a 2005 survey cited in the book, respondents aged 15-to-24 only read anything for eight minutes on a weekday and nine minutes on the weekend, while clocking hours and hours watching TV or surfing the Internet. These are just a few shockers that Bauerlein reveals, but not all of his statistical evidence points toward depressing trends.

At the same time, technology is making our IQ’s go up, and Bauerlein reveals how IQ tests have become more complex to meet our growing intelligence.

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably don’t apply to this book as much as others, but it is never the less something that worries me. How can I trust my future to a bunch of people who ate tide pods and can’t go without their phones for more than five minutes?

Arc Review: Logue Town & Reverse Mountain

Arc Review: Logue Town & Reverse Mountain

I figured it would be best to review both of these arcs at the same time. Not because they are that heavily related, but more so because they are both really short and there wouldn’t be much to say about just one of them.

This is the point of the story where the Straw Hats are going to this “Grand Line”. This terrifying part of the world where the strongest pirates sail free. The part of the ocean where storms can hit in an instant, and be gone the next. The part of the world that the Pirate King, the worlds strongest swordsman, and a brave warrior of the sea need to conquer.

This was the real start of the Straw Hat’s journey, and this ocean would be the place where many of their dreams would come true, or be crushed.

Logue Town is the last city before the Grand Line, so the Straw Hats decide to stop there and get some supplies. Zoro is in need of a few swords since Mihawk destroyed his, Sanji needs some food for the ship, and Luffy wants to see the town where Gol D. Roger, the king of the pirates was born and was executed.

Not much happens for Usopp and Nami other than regular shenanigans, and Sanji just gets some food for the Going Merry.

Zoro and Luffy have the interesting moments in this arc, and they’re pretty interesting because of what they show for those characters.

Luffy wants to see the spot where Gol D. Roger was killed, and eventually gets nearly killed by Buggy. The moment before his death, Luffy smiles and a lightning bolt saves him from getting his head chopped off.

This was the first instance where we got to experience the Will of D. Not much is known about it, but one thing we do know is that everyone with the name D. dies with a smile on their face. Luffy was smiling the moment before his death, and Smoker (a captain in the Marines chasing Luffy) notices this and notices the similarities of Roger and Luffy.

We know Luffy is destined to do great things because he is the main character, but this was the first chance we got to notice Luffy’s connection to Roger.

On the other hand there is Zoro. He’s going sword shopping, and is rather poor. Luckily he comes across Tashigi, a near-blind Marine when she doesn’t have her glasses on, who helps him find a rather good and rare sword basically for pennies.

The other sword he is looking for he gets by throwing it in the air, and betting the sword salesman that if it cuts his hand off, then he doesn’t get it, but if the sword spins over his arm and doesn’t cut him, then Zoro gets it for free…and guess what happens.

Yes, the sword spins over Zoro’s arm and doesn’t hurt him, and the swordsman, believing that the cursed blade belongs in Zoro’s lucky hands, gives him the sword for free. As it turned out, this sword was even more rare than the sword he got for cheap.

Another big part of this arc is the occurrence of Smoker and Dragon. Smoker, who ate a logia devil fruit, gives Luffy some trouble because nobody can actually hit him. Thanks to Dragon, who we discover is Luffy’s dad later on, stops Smoker and helps Luffy et. al. escape.

This sort of sets up Smoker as the “rival” of Luffy in the Marines. Coby is supposed to be I think, but I like the idea of Smoker being the rival like Gard was for Roger.

Reverse Mountain Arc doesn’t offer much in terms of story. Basically the only thing that happens is that the Straw Hats make it over Reverse Mountain and into the Grand Line, where they meet a man named Crocus, who they learn worked on Roger’s ship.

They also meet Laboon, which becomes a pretty important whale later on in the story.

There is a brief moment of camaraderie when they all pledge to achieve their dreams and conquer this ocean.

In terms of the overall story, these two arcs don’t offer much. I think together they take up less than 10 chapters, but their impacts are huge for the rest of the story.

Book Review: Norse Mythology

Book Review: Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology was a book I had on my radar the minute I heard about it. I’m extremely interested in all things mythology and history, as you should know by now, and Norse mythology has interested me since I was a teenager.

Greek and Roman myth are shoved down our throats time after time, but Norse myth has sort of taken a step back from stories and movies, until Thor became popular in the MCU.

I would argue that Marvel is one of the biggest reasons Norse myth and stories are still alive. Scholars and academics have been fascinated with them for a long time, but a big reason we don’t get to learn these stories as much as Greek or Roman is because there isn’t much to learn.

Not a lot of the stories and poems survived the test of time, which is unfortunate to those who want to know more.

Gaiman, in my opinion, does a wonderful job of taking these stories, written hundreds of years ago in a language few of us can understand, and turned them into something that modern audiences can enjoy.

I’d read one other book by Gaiman before this, but as most of us probably have heard, his reputation as an outstanding author precedes him.

Not only were the stories funny, interesting, and informative, I thought they were very thought provoking because they told the story in a way that allowed me to understand how some of these stories would have come about.

Most mythology books are a bit tough to get through, at best. If they’re written well, they are written as a story that is easy to follow, and not as a historical retelling.

At worst, they’re basically a translation from ancient Greek/Latin that put you to sleep more than they entertain you.

Norse Mythology was the best myth-related book I’ve read because it was like reading a bunch of short stories that really didn’t overlap at all, other than the characters involved.

If you know any of Norse myth stories, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in this book, along with all your favourite, or least favourite characters.

Thor, Loki, Odin, Baldur, Freya, they’re all there and more. You’ll learn about some gods you’ve never heard of, and even get to read about how a baby killed a blind man, and I’m not joking.

There are two things about Norse Mythology that I found kind of funny and that are also commonplace with most stories involving a “god” of some kind.

The first is that gods are assholes. No need for anything but being blunt, they’re assholes, and to them it’s always normal.

Bet a man he can’t build a wall in a month? Kill him because he is close to doing it. Jealous of Thor’s wife? Rip out her hair. Guy doesn’t want you coming into his home and drinking his mead? Kill him.

There are very few actual “good” gods in mythology. Yes some come across as good and all, but when it comes down to it, they’re usually assholes, and I kinda love it. I love that they are so clearly seeing themselves above everyone else.

The second thing that I love about a lot of mythological stories of gods is how “smart” they are.

Gods are so clever. They can outsmart any mere mortal. Except most of the time, they really aren’t that smart. Most of their problems they just solve by making themselves look like something else, or smashing them with a really big hammer.

Now to me, that doesn’t really seem that clever, but I like how the world and the gods think it is.

There’s one more thing I wanted to mention about Norse Mythology, and that’s how quickly I got through it.

Being used to taking a month or so to finish an 800 ish page fantasy book, I found that I flew through Norse Mythology extremely fast.

I started it on a Monday morning and had it done by Saturday afternoon, and most of the reading was done on the 20ish minute bus ride to and from work each day.

It wasn’t that the book was that short even, more so that it was that easy to read, which I think is a compliment to Gaiman’s abilities to write a book based off of established stories.

Book Review: The Path of Daggers

Book Review: The Path of Daggers

Since I finished this book on Friday, and I am morally and internally obligated to cover it as soon as possible, and since this is the first book review after Friday, here it is.

The Path of Daggers is the eighth installment in The Wheel of Time series, and in my opinion is one of the better ones (at least from what I’ve read so far).

Unfortunately we don’t get any Mat in this book. He’s still recovering from his injuries he obtained at the end of the last book, but him being away is related to one of the main reasons I like this book so much.

About 75% of The Path of Daggers takes place over a few days/weeks. I think about the first half of the book is different characters doing whatever it is they were doing after book seven.

It’s nice because we aren’t rushing ahead weeks and months with no real progression. Not that it’s bad or anything, but I like the story being fleshed out days and weeks at a time.

So on one hand we don’t get Mat, but on the other hand we get a shorter timeline which I really enjoy. I guess you have to pick your battles right?

The last 25% ish of the book does a pretty big time jump, but in this instance it makes sense for the time jump.

Since the weather has been “corrected” and heavy snow falls now cover the land, all of the main parties are slowed down heavily.

Where normally people would take a week or two to get somewhere, the snow is taking people a month or more to get to the same place.

Hence the time jump. We just skip that month or so, and get ready for book nine which has a lot of stuff ready to go.

What’s most enjoyable about TPOD is that there is very minimal “mystical” confrontations.

The Wheel of Time series has an overall enemy who is, to sum it up briefly, Satan, and the good guys need to beat him. He has incredibly powerful lieutenants that are the main bad guys for most of the books, but TPOD doesn’t follow that rule.

TPOD has minimal interaction with these Darkfriends, and instead focuses on the other, regular enemies and their goals and ambitions. Allies become traitors, enemies remain enemies, and some “friends” show their true colours.

I’m a sucker for cliffhangers, and we have three different ones that we are left with at the end of the book.

Perrin and his group have two by themselves, and I think I’m most excited for those ones right now. We know Mat will be coming back with a vengeance after resting up for over a month, Egwene has rested her troops and is on the warpath, and Elayne has finally made it to her rightful place.

Plenty of story lines have me hooked right now which is good. Usually there’s only one or two story lines per book that I want to see unfold, and maybe by the end something interesting happens or is set up for the other characters, but as it is now, I’m excited to see what happens to just about every character/group.

Movie Review: Midsommar

Movie Review: Midsommar

I’m a big fan of thriller and creepy movies, so when I saw the trailer for Midsommar I instantly wanted to go see it.

Most movies that have a secret cult in them are good for many reasons, and in my opinion Midsommar fit the bill perfectly.

I really enjoyed every minute of it, even though it was sort of predictable and i knew what certain things were that the main characters didn’t.

Ari Aster’s work, in my opinion, is not quite like any other director. I’m not a big movie nerd, but he has a way of throwing in those unknown gods and deities into his movies (Hereditary) that you don’t really see coming and it’s one of my favourite movie tropes.

My biggest issue with the movie, and with other Aster work is that the shots and the gore are absolutely beautiful, but the characters are sort of flat and don’t seem to have too much development.

I found Midsommar utterly transfixing, darkly comic, ravishing, and appropriately terrifying; despite a two-hour-and-20-minute running time, I was never inclined to wish that it were shorter, happy to put myself under the same strange Scandinavian spell as the one that seals the major characters to their fate.

Midsommar is a story about how relationships feel during a breakup. The whole movie is focused on the relationship between Dani (who was fantastic in my opinion) and Christian. They have their issues, and Christian is ready to break up with Dani before the worst thing happens, her parents and sister die tragically.

Things evolve and they both end up across the waters in northern Scandinavia, celebrating the summer solstice festival in a small commune. Off the hop you can just tell the commune is off, but the main characters don’t seem to notice anything is wrong. They take drugs, are excluded from a certain strange looking building, and even watch two elders jump off of a cliff, to which they don’t react too harshly.

The citizens of the commune don’t really take much effort to hide what’s going on, and come up with some pretty shitty lies to cover their tracks, or just opt for the straight up approach and tell them it’s tradition…to which the main characters sort of accept over and over.

One part of the movie I liked is that it takes place almost entirely in sunlight. Because it is summer, the sun doesn’t set for long in the northern part of the world, so the creepiness doesn’t get amplified by the darkness…but I don’t think it needs to. It does a hell of a job of being creepy with the constant sunlight.

I enjoyed the ending of the movie though. Dani, evidently wins in the end of their “relationship” and ends up staying with the commune, finally finding a place that she feels like she fits in, since she has been lost since her family died.

Have you seen Midsommar? What were your thoughts? Like it or hate it? Let me know in the comments

Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Book Review: The Name of the Wind

I’ve written three different reviews for this book, and for some reason none of them are posting or saving in any way so I’m a bit annoyed and tired of the post, so I’ll keep the review short.

This book seems to have been gaining a bit of popularity since I read it a few years ago. I honestly can’t remember where I found it, or even where the book came from, but I’m glad it magically appeared on my shelves.

I liked the book a lot, especially seeing Kvothe grow up and discover the world, but I was not a fan of the time jumps that would happen every so often.

I wanted the time jumps to be more fleshed out, giving me a bit more of the main course of the story instead of making me upset that I wasn’t getting more story, but that might be my opinion.

Sorry again for the short post but I spent three hours today trying to make this post and it wasn’t working so I’m just going to admit defeat.

%d bloggers like this: