Changing The Dark Tower – The Dark Tower Movie.

Today sees the first trailer for The Dark Tower film,  directed by Nikolai Arcel with a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman, starring Idris Alba as Roland Deschain, the last remaining gunslinger, Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers. The film has been in development for a number of years with names like J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Ron Howard, and Javier Bardem all attached and having to drop the project at some point.

With movie adaptations come changes, and as Stephen King has said this is a direct sequel to his magnum opus so will change come to pass in this series of films. This reminds me of the series of posts I wrote airing out all the frustrations, with love, that I have with the book series. With the movie releasing in December perhaps it is time to reread the series and decide if the changes I thought of in 2015 were appropriate.

Changing to The Dark Tower – Part I – The First Three Books

Changing to The Dark Tower – Part II – Wizard & Glass

Changing The Dark Tower – Part III – Wolves of the Calla

Changing the Dark Tower – Part IV – The Song of Susannah

 Changing The Dark Tower – Part V – The Final Book & Mordred: All Hype, No Substance

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“I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo. 

‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually –their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on –and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same –like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’

The Legacy of Robb Stark.

For viewers, it has been over three years since the Red Wedding episode, “The Rains of Castamere” of Game of Thrones aired on HBO. For readers, it was the year 2000 when A Storm of Swords first came out. For me, it was 2012 that I first read the third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. While many have poured over every page dissecting every word for theories on where the series will go my To-Be-Read pile has only gotten bigger keeping me away from rereading the series until recently.

Robb Stark, the eldest son of Eddard Stark, has been ever present in my mind as I reread the series. Mostly, in relation to what has happened to the North after book three / season three and what has happened to Jon Snow in season six. Spoilers ahead.

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Take Not A Slice, But The Whole Dish of Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie.

I’ve been reading the webcomic Octopus Pie from about a year into its start. Before its tenth anniversary in May of next year, the comic will be coming to an end. Part of what makes reading a webcomic (or any comic) fun and interesting from its beginning to its end is watching the changes that occur.  Not just the characters, but the change in writing and the art style. Especially with webcomics who often have one creator for both.

From when I started my blogger site, to when I created this site, and to the present day I’ve had a draft on both blogs trying to write about my love for Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie but I’ve never been able to put my finger on what it is about it that I love besides the fact it makes me smile and laugh like no other webcomic does consistently while making me care deeply for its characters.

There’s a part of it that you, the new reader, will appreciate it in a way it took a reread for me to take in. Gran’s art style and writing evolved with the changing lives of her characters. It’s not so much that the creator finds her voice as the comic goes on, but her voice changes and with it the voices of her characters. From the beginning, I felt Gran had the voice of her characters down pat, even if that may not necessarily be true.

Eve and Hanna.

 

“The stories accommodate the characters, and the characters reflect the changes in my own life.The stories accommodate the characters, and the characters reflect the changes in my own life.” – Meredith Gran, Paste Magazine




Octopus Pie is the story of Eve (Everest) Ning and Hanna Thompson living in Brooklyn in their twenties. In the second volume of the comic, “Music at Home with Octopus Pie” Gran writes about living in a commuter town on Long Island before the storyline “Exile on Jericho Turnpike.” If you’re also a New Yorker, the settings will resonate with you differently than others, but that’s how it is with a piece of fiction we admire taking place in the fictionalized version of the real area we live in and visit. Everyone thinks of New York City as their city, whether you’re from Long Island like I am, from Upstate New York or if you actually live in the city.  See, we refer to it as the city. We see Eve and Hanna in their apartment, on the subway, in the bar, in the coffee shop, in Chinatown, or in Central Park and our ability to relate and to empathize shoots up. Brooklyn is alive in every panel of Octopus Pie even when it doesn’t speak.

I want to tell you how great the art is, the way she nails facial expressions and body language that is silly one minute and deep into that drama the next. I want to tell you about the humor. All the quippy lines, observational humor, visual gags, situational comedy, and smart ass comments from her characters. What is best about Meredith Gran’s sense of comedy is that she isn’t afraid of the joke. What I mean by that, and this is part of what makes her storytelling so well done, is that every kind of joke I just mentioned come naturally to her characters. I’m not talking about to the story, but to her characters, who laugh with the reader at other characters being funny like they’re people and not part of a narrative. You don’t see being done well often. Either the artists doesn’t show their characters laughing or when they do it looks like the end of a Scooby Doo episode.

 

You put the crisp dialogue, the humor, the setting, the stories, and the art into a pie dish and you’ll still be missing the main filler that makes Octopus Pie such a delight to read. That filling is the characters. Gran writes her characters for a comic like great novels do. They all come with a history that is delved in small spoonfuls over time, often without all the details. This missing history makes her characters read like real people because there is some baggage you don’t get to learn about a person, that they don’t want to share, and that they’ve moved past it but it still remains part of this life.

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When Eve visits her family, she returns to her role as the “Big Sister.”

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“With each passing year away from home, the plight of loved one seems more urgent. Giving up on family feel reckless, persisting can seem cruel and futile.” – Meredith Grand, Listen At Home with Octopus Pie

The cast all has a family and their own unique relationship with them but those relationships are part of the background, not the main plot. It doesn’t end there, but my point is that the characters have former jobs, former dreams, former loves, and former friends that shaped who they are in the ongoing story. Like a new friend, your first impression of the characters doesn’t reveal everything about them. You get to know them, flaws and all, as you continue through the comic. Eve seems the straight-and-narrow, cynical, and sarcastic type in the beginning, struggling to deal with Hanna’s smoke-filled, carefree, non-conformist personality. Underneath, you get the feeling that Eve is lost, struggling not so much to define who she is but where her life is going like many twenty-year-olds. Her past, like the break up with first love and the divorce of her parents, is a weight she carries more than any other character. Meanwhile, Hanna, though often well intentioned, is manipulative to her friends and is constantly seeking control over herself and those around her. Her struggle comes with the loss and lack of control we often face in our twenties.

Will calls Hanna out on her controlling nature.

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Will comforts Eve overs a fallout between friends.

The strip isn’t simply about Eve and Hanna’s relationship but relationships as a whole. The empathy Gran has for all her characters comes out in every arc, on every page. She rotates the cast of characters in Eve and Hanna’s life just as relationships seem to change so rapidly in our lives during our twenties. People move, quit jobs, get new jobs, get new interests, and forge new relationships. Marek, Will, and Marigold round out the main cast of the strip each with their own arcs and lives that exist alongside Eve and Hanna, not rotating around them. Marigold and Will start out as friends of Hanna but gain larger roles and story arcs later on. Both struggle with who they are and want they want in life with different paths and approaches to how they find what they are looking for.

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My absolute favorite panel from Octopus Pie.

 

 

Almost like a role reciprocal to Hanna, Marigold constantly feels like she has no control over her life. When we meet her, she believes there is no satisfaction to be found within the system she is in, namely her job. The structure is controlling her, in her mind, not giving her a stable environment in which to find control. She sees Hanna, who has an independent business, as the friend who has both freedom and control, two things she feels she has neither of. Meanwhile, Will is looking for simplicity and structure in his complicated life. He forces a half-assed structure to his lifestyle without ever committing to what he truly wants, something Hanna points out Eve tends to do the same.

 

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Hanna knows Will very well.

 

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Will is afraid of change.

 

Marek knows exactly who he is, or believes he does. His inner conflict is hidden behind a curtain of desperately trying to get through college. When we see him stressed early in the comic it’s because of deadlines. We often see Marek, if not with Hanna, through Eve’s eyes. From there he seems to be the wise one among them with the most insight but Marek is not without his own problems that may not appear onscreen. The reason for this is Marek, as opposed to a lot of the other characters, knows what he wants, knows what he believes, and knows where he wants to go in life. This leads to future conflict with Hanna because they don’t necessarily want the same thing.

 

Wise words from Marek.

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No one has it all figured out.

Change is the great conflict for the characters of Octopus Pie. Their individual lives are changing, their jobs are changing, the people around them are changing, and their relationships are changing. With change comes great joy and great pain, all the while laughter will come in between. Meredith Gran quickly found her tone and interweaves it well. She knows when her readers need a break from the conflicts with her brand of smart observational humor and silliness that can only be pulled off in comic form.

 

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Eve dealing with her inner demons and catcalling on a regular basis.

 

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Eve dealing with life.

 

 

This is what compels me to read it, and why you should read it as well. The changes come quick, and you’ll ask yourself but why does it have to change? You’ll move past the empathetic pain you feel for Eve, Hanna, Eve, Will, or Marigold and you’ll ask what happens next?

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I do have my own Nintendo and very creative thoughts.

 

The Author: Meredith Gran.

Meredith Gran makes comics and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. She lives in Brooklyn and has tried every vegan cheese, even the good ones.

All images are property of Meredith Gran. Read more Octopus Pie online at: Octopuspie.com

The current volumes of Octopus Pie are released by Image Comics. Find them in your local comic book store, book store, or online retailer.

You can find Octopus Pie merchandise at Topataco

One Word After Another: Wonder Woman, Fantasy, D&D, Game of Thrones S6.

My draft section on this blog has become mighty daunting. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, but it never felt like enough to fill how long I expect a post to be. So I decided to title this amalgamation of posts into posts called “One Word After Another” named after this Neil Gaiman quote:

“The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another. The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman, Nerdist Podcast.

I believe in my archives I titled posts of random links the same, but this is not the same.

Since my last post, Wonder Woman has premiered in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman Rebirth began with Greg Rucka back on writing duties, the trailer for Wonder Woman’s solo movie came out, a trailer of Justice League Action premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, and I read The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

I believe, thanks to my love of fantasy and my continuing adventuring playing and DMing Dungeons and Dragons, Wonder Woman has risen to #1 status as my favorite member of DC Comics’ Trinity. Don’t get me wrong, Green Lanter and the Flash can always count on me to have their back, and have no love loss for Bats and Supey but the ways of Wonder Woman have  swayed me. A complex female character taking on Greek gods and monsters balanced by her stranger in a strange land story is very appealing to me. In my head, she balances a lot of the qualities that I’ve always loved about Superman and Batman while also bringing new ideas to the table. Ideas of that delve into whether can be both the peacemaker and the warrior.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman‘s title, by Jill Lepore, should come with a caveat or written beneath in small letters it could say “‘s Creator,” since this book is barely about Wonder Woman but mostly about William Moulton Marston.  The question one is left after reading this book is what to think of her creator. Is he a con artist, by manipulating his students , his mistress, and his colleagues to boost his respect / standing in the academic community? I mean, at one point there is no denying he is a fraud with what he tries to pull with Gillette Razors and his Lie Detector test. Is he a feminist, an advocate for the women’s movement or is he a hypocrite for his lifestyle of a patriarchal figure to two women fathering children with both Olivia Byrne and Zadie Holloway plus a third woman involved.

The author does an excellent job balancing Marston’s good traits with his bad subjectively, not by offering her own opinion on the creator of Wonder Woman. At some points, Marston sounds like a strong advocate for women’s rights, and at others, he sounds like he’d prefer a harem of women if he were allowed. Question: How many women must there be to be considered a harem? Is three enough? In general, it isn’t a good sign when Joye Hummel is introduced as his co-writer for Diana and I wondered whether she was going to be Marston’s next mistress. However, the author made me admire Marston’s strong will to defend Wonder Woman’s agency, the agency of women in general, and the kink community that in his day-and-age was seen as a perversion. That be said, when I really thought about W.H. Marston I believe if I knew the man in real life his arrogance mixed with denial would make me want to punch him in the face.

Dungeons & Dragons have made me appreciate writers with a deadline and improvisers. Every week I’m left trying to write what’ll happen next in the campaign on a framework of a story that does not have enough time for a second draft. There are no second drafts of a campaign when you write while you’re playing each week nor if you did would it necessarily work. A common saying I hear from Dungeon Masters is “any preparation you make is destroyed upon contact with players.” It would be so easy for me to railroad my player characters but I want them to choose and sometimes that leads me down a road of making it up on the spot. Sometimes adding information to the canon of my world that I’m furiously writing down less I forget. It’s not easy, and I learned from reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney that this disconnect I feel between my thoughts and the words I speak versus the words I write is normal but sometimes it gets in the way when I am telling my story.

Rereading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin I am blown away by this book even more than I was the first time. It has been since 2012 since I read it, before season 2 of the show ever came out, and boy, it makes the show look bad in comparison. It isn’t the show’s fault, though, I have come to realize again, but the fault of the basic principals and foundation of creating a television show. There is all these little details missing from the show that makes it seem like the Sparknotes version of the books but that is because there are very real limitations. The show can only be so long, they can only spend so much money, they can only include so many characters, they can only hire so many actors, they only have so much time to fill it. The other problem is, the little changes in the show that seem idiotic, is due to this prevailing nature in films and television that pisses me off to no end. This idea that television and movie audiences are stupid, every little thing has to be explained (especially when it comes to magic), and nothing can be confusing for any single member of the audience in order to read a wider audience. That’s why Tyrion’s wife was cut from the show, it’s why Hodor’s real name isn’t Walder but Willis, and why Asha is now Yara because that’s too close to Osha. There is subtly to the books the show lacks, and it loses some of its sparkles because of that. After watching season six of the show I am even more excited to get my hands on The Winds of Winter because they built a pyre around subtly and burned it to the ground. All this being said, what kind of idiot reads A Dance with Dragons and goes “Hey, you know what part would be really cool to add to our show? The horrific rape scene! *Writer’s room cheering:* YEAH!” Real bad, fellas.

In two weeks time, I’ll be done proofreading my novel, having finished editing the story back in April. So far, the beta readers I’ve sent it out to have sent some very kind things. I’ll have to remember them when the rejection letter begins coming in when I send it out to literary agents.

You Should Read: A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshall, Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

You Should Listen To: The British History Podcast, The Adventure Zone, Drunks and Dragons Podcast, My Brother, My Brother, & Me Podcast.

 

 

After Zelda, Superheroes Were My Gateway To Fantasy.

After the news of celebrated writer and artist Darwyn Cooke’s passing, I picked my copy of Absolute DC: New Frontier and absorbed Cooke’s love letter to the Silver Age of the DC Universe.

It’s massive scale and the enormous cast of diverse characters combined with the lingering thoughts about Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World reminded me that after The Legend of Zelda it was superhero comics that opened the gateway for my love for fantasy.

The similarities between the two are surprisingly plentiful. Just to name a few:

  • Garish costumes.
  • Systems of magic.
  • Unusual names and codenames.
  • The use of symbology.
  • Enhanced or enchanted armor, weapons, and items.
  • Prophecy and legends influencing the protagonists.
  • History, mythology, and continuity that dates back before a current story but has a lingering effect.
  • Multi-faceted heroes and villains that walk the moral line.
  • Archetypal heroes and villains that serve as both characters and symbols for their cause.
  • Conflicts on the micro scale within close knits groups,
  • Macro scale conflicts that put universes in jeopardy,
  • and those in-group conflicts affecting the chance of success of resolving those universal threats.
  • War: The consequences of war, the threat of war, and the aftermath of war.
  • Death: Heroes, villains, love interests, and side characters all dying and in some cases, coming back.

Superhero comics do have the advantage of being broad enough in storytelling that it can encompass many genres including fantasy. A majority of DC’s magic users, including Etrigan, John Constantine, Dr. Fate, Swamp Thing, Alan Scott, and oh, I don’t know, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman all either dip their toes or fully submerge themselves into fantasy.

What it comes down to is world building. If you can understand the chaos that is the worlds of Marvel and DC then remembering the houses on Game of Thrones isn’t that difficult. What’s different is that for Marvel and DC the rules are always changing. What most fantasy tends to do is either established the rules early on or establish the rules and break them early on to create conflict. This is because eventually those fantasy stories are going to end. Comic book companies are in the business of keeping their stories running for as long as they sell. Thus their characters have to change overtime but not necessarily evolve.

Plus, most series of fantasy novels are written by one creator while superhero comics is a ever-spinning turnstile of different writers and artists. Their environment, purpose, supporting cast, powers, appearance, and even their history could change from one writer to another. Elements that stem from roots in fantasy could not longer be in fashion. Now, their powers, equipment, cast, or origin may not be science fiction in nature.

This can be frustrating to the reader which could not be more apparent with the recent developments in [spoilers] DC Universe Rebirth and the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers. Change is acceptable in a fantasy novel, especially a series with no previous history (real world history that is) but not so with most superhero comics considering their long history dating back to World War II. Even new superheroes have this struggle because by the time you establish a new character in an ongoing over a certain amount of issues any change you make is going to met with resistance from your readers.

That and the price is why I made the jump. I was frustrated by bad writing of characters I loved and the ever increasing price of comics versus the price of books made the switch easy. Fantasy novels have stayed relatively the same price, they have a more complete story, no other bad writer is coming in and fucking up what the good writer has done, there are no editorial mandates to fit within a big event happening in another series, and  the story is self-contained.

Still, I may never hace found fantasy without superhero comics.

“The Wheel of Time is too daunting,” says Tolkienist. “Wait, what?” Everyone else asks.

Recently, I finished reading The Eye of the World, the first novel in Robert Jordan’s sprawling epic The Wheel of Time. It the first of fourteen novels and quite frankly, it is a bit intimidating. This is coming from someone who has a studied the Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and other collection of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing on a scholarly level, for fun.

The Wheel of Time seems daunting in the same style that Frank Herbert’s Dune is daunting. The difference being I already decided in my mind when I read Dune that I would go no further than the first book. You don’t have that option with The Wheel of Time. Like Dune, the writing style is long-winded but Jordan, like Herbert and Tolkien, cares about his words being mot juste.

However, this makes for a slow read. A fantasy novel, usually a long read by itself, will take me about two weeks to read. The first Wheel of Time novel has taken me a month to get through. It’s a slog, which usually has a negative connotation, but somehow it’s a good slog? A lot of backstory and history is given in this first book which usually would be perfect for a reader like me, who loves exposition, but by the end of the novel, it was hard to stay focused.

It’s funny, for such well-known fantasy series it is surprising how little I knew about it. Even A Song of Ice and Fire was spoiled for me (The Red Wedding) before I ever finished the second book. With The Wheel of Time, however, I’ve never heard of a single character or setting. Not Rand Al’Thor, Mat Cauthon, or Perrin Ayabard nor Tar Valon, Emond’s Field, or Caemlyn.

When I say the series may be too daunting for me this isn’t a criticism of the books nor does it mean that I won’t continue reading. What I mean is that it’s going to take me a long time to read and truly appreciate the series. As a child, doctors told my mother that I had attention deficit disorder. In school, I could not sit still. At parties, I would run into walls. To fight this, my parents removed all artificial flavors and coloring from my diet rather than putting me on a prescription drug like Ritalin. Now, I struggle to fight distractions when writing and have difficulty staying focused if I read a two books of a series in a row.

I could read each book in the series one after another, but not only would it take longer than if I read other books in between but the series would become a burden rather than what I would do for enjoyment. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Great Hunt, after I’ve read two or three other books in between. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read The Lord of the Rings for the twelfth time in ten years.

Writing A Novel Vs. Writing A D&D Campaign.

I’ve set a deadline for myself. By the time I turn 31 on April 23rd my novel will be finished. I am talking final draft, not the first draft, as I only have five chapters to finish editing.

At the same time, I’ve become the Dungeon Master for my D&D group. Writing and developing a D&D campaign, at least, I thought would be simple compared to writing a novel. I thought since worldbuilding is so much fun, that it would be a walk in a park. Oh ho, no. It is a very different beast entirely. I wouldn’t say it is more difficult but it is difficult because it is different.

Unless you plan a whole campaign before you start there are no second drafts i D&D. You write what you need and move on. Most of it is improvised anyway especially minor NPC (Non-Player Character) names like the merchant or regular at the tavern your players decide to get into a fight with.

With the characters in your novel, you have complete control over their actions, personalities, and decisions. In D&D, the players are the characters and you have little to no control over them unless you want to make a boring campaign. On the other hand, it takes a lot more pressure off you to write good protagonists. That’s up to the players.

The world of a novel, especially fantasy, can be more organic. The rules are looser. With D&D, there are so many rules. You have to keep track of them for your players, your NPC’s, and the monsters they fight.On the other hand, D&D is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be this deep exploration of human nature. There are no inner

On the other hand, D&D is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be this deep exploration of human nature. There are no inner monologues to worry about. A D&D campaign, in fact, can be a lot more vague since the Dungeon Master isn’t the sole storyteller. The players can and will change the story. This can be both frustrating and freeing.

With a novel, though, unless you are a published author, it’s all on you. You have to sit down and write your story first draft then second draft then third draft then final draft. A D&D campaign is vaguer. You have to take into account how long a session takes, everyone’s plans for the week, what level the characters are at, and where they may want to go.

If the main villain of your novel is in a certain building of course your protagonist is going to wind up confronting him. Not necessarily so in D&D. The players might decide to burn that building down, as we decided to do in my friend’s campaign, instead of confronting the main baddie of that particular storyline who had story beats for us to follow.

It’s much easier, at least for me, to communicate through writing then it is through speaking. Therefore, theater of the mind is much more difficult to work with. I don’t need extensive maps for my novel because I can convey a scene with as many words as I need but with D&D, if they’re going into a dungeon I am definitely going to need a map because there is a lot to remember.On the subject of dungeons, if my protagonist in a novel is in one I can glaze over

On the subject of dungeons, if my protagonist in a novel is in one I can glaze over certain room if they’re not important to the story. Not so with D&D. My player may end up exploring every room of a castle and I need some kind of description, however short, for all of them.

The antagonists has to be one of the most difficult parts. Well, really, anything that involves balancing the game versus telling a good story is what is so difficult. A villain can’t be so overpowered that it is an obvious party kill but he can’t be so underpowered that any threat he makes, plot-wise, goes unappreciated or unconcerned. Same goes for just about any encounter or plot element of your campaign.

However, a D&D is more accepting of aspects you try to eliminate from your writing when it comes to a novel. Your players are inhabiting archetypes, so giving their characters typical archetypal stories is fine. Tropes, cliches, and parody is welcomed rather then eliminated in later drafts.

Plus, though novels don’t have to do this either, a D&D campaign can be silly and less serious. If you tell a good story in your campaign, you get validation every session by the joy your players are having A novel takes much longer to get that validation.

A friend, fellow writer, and former Dungeon Master himself tells me being a DM will likely make me a better writer. I can see where that stems from but what I get out of it now is combining my love for storytelling and worldbuilding with friends who I love to be around.

Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Beyond The Well of Ascension.

If one shouldn’t judge a book by a cover, even though that’s basically what book covers are for then one might also try to never judge an author by one book.

Where Brandon Sanderson was concerned I did exactly that. While the first two books I read by the fantasy author, Elantris, and Mistborn: The Final Empire belong with some of my favorite fantasy novels the second Mistborn novel, The Well of Ascension, left a bad taste in my mouth that has kept me away from  all Sanderson novels since 2012.

We find Vin after having defeated the Lord Ruler, who has acted as their god for a thousand years, and being reunited with the man she loves has become an angsty teenage brat in her early twenties. Elend and the remaining members of Kelsier’s crew from the first novel don’t act any better. Then there’s Zane. Oh, Zane, you are a shitstain of a villain.

This isn’t about shitting on The Well of Ascension, and believe me, I could for at least a thousand more words. The point is, the second Mistborn book left a bad taste in my mouth that stopped me from reading anymore Brandon Sanderson novels from 2012 to late 2015.

Fellow frequents readers and bibliophiles will empathize with this. Your “To Read” pile increases much faster than your “Read” pile. Therefore, you may own a book but not necessarily have read it yet. Then one of your friends starts reading one of those books you own and it awakens a fire in you. “I have a competition in me,” you might say, “I want no one else to succeed.” They can’t finish that book before you, you’ve owned that book for years! You have the first edition!

Maybe it’s more like, you want to be part of something, a story, a world, or an experience along with your friend at the same time he’s going through it. Simultaneously, this happened me to with Sanderson’s
series and the 2nd Era of Mistborn. I had one friend who long since read The Alloy of Law and was breezing through The Shadows of Self. Another had started The Way of Kings with praise all around for it.

So, despite my apprehension, I dived in. The Alloy of Law immediatly grabbed me. I had missed with the world of Scadrial. The powers of Alomancy and Feruchemy greeted me like an old friend. The book was sprinkled with hints of a history I was familiar with.

The Way of Kings beginning was a slog through muddy swamp water. The beginning is mind-bogglingly slow but when you reach the other side it’s like walking into an oncoming storm. Everything is happening, everything is connected, and nothing will be the same. I was hooked.

I ate up books from the Cosmere like I was starving. Shadows of Self, Words of Radiance, and The Bands of Mourning were all read before March 2016 even hit. I reread the first two Mistborn books and while I still hated The Well of Ascension I knew it was one bad book out of many amazing ones.

Finally, after refusing to read it back in 2012 I picked up the third Mistborn book, The Hero of Ages. You have to remember I had already read three of the books from the second Mistborn series. I knew the fates of Vin, Elend, Sazed and the rest of Kelsier’s former crew. You’d think already knowing what happen it wouldn’t hit as hard but that third book’s ending is still devastating.

All this in mind, when I finally read Sanderson’s new novella, Mistborn: Secret History I wasn’t prepared for what happened. I wasn’t prepared for the reunion with some of my favorite characters. I wasn’t prepared for this interwoven plot that is Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. I was blown away.

Finally, I ended my journey where I began with Elantris. That was the book that made me fall in love with Sanderson’s writing that I had somehow lost struggling to hate-read through The Well of Ascension.

Maybe, though, that break from his book is what I needed. I washed the bad taste of the second Mistborn book out of my mouth and returned to his Cosmere older and with a new perspective on stories and writing. I am highly anticipating my next chance to go exploring through the Cosmere when Oathbringer, the third Stormlight Archive book comes out.