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.