Miscellany: While I was hiding out in Joseon-era Korea…

I’m back from Holy Week Semi-Hibernation!

Aside from participation in the usual religious ceremonies, my holiday also included a Korean drama marathon (The charming Sungkyunkwan Scandal and The-Show-That-Made-Me-Cry-For-1.5-Hours-Straight The Moon That Embraces The Sun ) and, unfortunately, much procrastinating on writing assignments.

While I was on that self-imposed internet blackout, these happened:

➳ Writer-producer-director Chris Weitz, otherwise known to me as the director who made a problematic Twilight book at least watchable (i.e. New Moon ), will soon add “author” to his résumé. Little, Brown and Company won the rights to publish Weitz’s The Young World, the first in an “epic, post-apocalyptic trilogy” set in a New York where only teenagers remained alive. [Source: click!]

It sounds a little too manufactured for my taste, to be honest. I can see where he wants to go with these teenagers who are left alone without adults and the comforts of life. I just hope it’s written well and that Weitz can bring something new to the post-apocalyptic YA sub-genre.

➳ As Lauren Oliver revealed when she visited last month, she’s writing her first adult novel. The Harper Collins website just revealed that the book will be titled Rooms, but offers no other details about the plot. (Duh.)

➳ One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, will release four shorts this year. I don’t know how he does it considering he’s working on other novels and is probably at the editing stage on A Memory of Light (Pub. Date: 13 January 2013). I think he’s a secret Mistborn and he must have found a previously unknown metal that can be burned to enhance writing efficiency. If so, I hope you can hear me, Brandon: will you be my Kelsier? 😛

Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine (with Ethan Skarstedt) will appear in the John Joseph Adams-edited military science fiction anthology, Armored. Mecha fans will probably love this! If you click on the title link, you’ll find a short excerpt on his blog.

Legion , meanwhile, is a modern sci-fi-ish mystery/thriller that will be released as a novella and e-book.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell   is included in an anthology called Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

The one that I’m most excited about is The Emperor’s Soul, which is set in the Branderson Cosmere (the core mythology will tie-in with the worlds of almost all of his adult fantasy novels). I love the premise of the story, and this promises to be another showcase of Brandon’s always-fresh-and-never-boring magic systems.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Though condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Despite the fact that her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead from the attack of assassins.

Delving deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that her forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Skillfully deducing the machinations of her captors, Shai needs a perfect plan to escape. The fate of the kingdom lies in one impossible task. Is it possible to create a forgery of a soul so convincing that it is better than the soul itself?

➳ In other Branderson news, Writing Excuses is up for a Hugo this year and the Mistborn movie is moving forward!

They now have a working script for Mistborn that Brandon likes, and it’s being shopped around to studios along with this “mood trailer.”


 
Note: That wasn’t an official trailer; it’s cut from scenes from different movies that were put together to show studios what kind of film Mistborn is supposed to look and feel like.

I wish I had several million dollars to put into financing this film! (Actually, I wish I had several million dollars, PERIOD. 😛 )

➳ Mina V. Esguerra’s new book, That Kind of Guy–I mentioned this in my profile story about her–will be released this month! She’s hosting a giveaway on her site. Check it out: click!

➳ Lastly, if you are wondering why I never posted about The Hunger Games after seeing the movie, well…let’s just say I had so many things to say that I didn’t know where to start. I had a LONG conversation with my friend Frankie via the comments section of her blog post (click!), but I lapsed into procrastinating and lost a lot of the words that I wanted to write into the ether.

I eventually managed to put together a coherent review, which was published yesterday on GMA News Online: (click!) I’m sure it’s evident in the tone of the article that I had more to say about the movie, but I had a maximum word count to abide by and had to choose only the points that are most important to me.

I hope I can still make myself write a proper blog post about the movie, but re-capturing my train of thought despite extensive notes is going to be an uphill battle. After a marathon of 2 Korean historical dramas, I feel like my mind is stuck in another time and place where magical english subtitles appear when people speak. 😛

I really should take Jae-Shin‘s advice, eh? Don’t procrastinate often; it will become a habit. Lesson learned! (I hope.)

Snapshots: These books have British accents

 
Caution: O.C. Fangirl Blogging

When I started collecting Brandon Sanderson’s books, the very first one I bought was the UK mass market edition of Mistborn: The Final Empire. Although the US covers look and feel more like classic fantasy, the UK covers have a certain minimalist appeal. I tend to be OC about editions, so I hounded the stores until I got the entire Mistborn trilogy in matching editions.

I made sure to get the UK editions for his subsequent epic fantasies, although I gave up on getting them all in mass market format because Gollancz’s mass market The Way of Kings was split into 2 volumes. And when The Alloy of Law came out, the local store stocked only the regular paperback.

The UK edition of Warbreaker very recently appeared in another local store, so I got a copy even though I already read the e-book, so that I can complete my collection. I also want to read Warbreaker again to stick tabs on the pages with my favorite passages, and to just generally enjoy all of Lightsong’s witty dialogue. And I couldn’t resist the lilac-colored font. 😛

(O.C. comment: Warbreaker’s title doesn’t have curliques on the spine. It bothers me.)

As you can see, my copy of Elantris is still a mass market US; it looks so out-of-place in that group. Keep an eye out for the UK edition in stores for me, will you, Pinoy friends? 😀

So why do I like collecting the UK editions aside from the endless amusement I get when I imagine hearing the narrator speak in a British accent inside my head? If you don’t have the moolah to get a hardbound copy, then the UK mass markets are a good value for your money. They normally cost just as much as the US mass market, but the UK MMPs, particularly the Gollancz ones, have better paper and print quality. The British eds are also a little bigger (Elantris and Mistborn in the photo above are both classified as MMPs), so the font size is more comfortable for the eyes.

As for Sanderson’s other books, I’m still missing volumes 3 and 4 of his Alcatraz series for young adults. I got the 1st volume at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale, and the 2nd just randomly appeared in another store. I saw volume 3 somewhere else, but it’s a hardbound copy, and I’m hesitant to get it.

And although I’m 25 pages into the 1st volume of The Wheel of Time, um…that’s not on the table today, ‘kay? ‘Kay. 😛

Next mission: Procure a copy of the Mistborn Adventure Game.
_______

Shout-outs! — Thanks to Aaron for the heads-up on Warbreaker, and to Leia for calling the store to reserve a copy for me. 😀

“The Alloy of Law” by Brandon Sanderson

 

Title: The Alloy of Law
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Read Date: 1 December 2011
Goodreads Reading Progress Status Updates: Click here. May contain spoilers.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars (I really liked it!)

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Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

 
If Brandon Sanderson’s imagined worlds were real, I would find myself establishing residency on Scadrial, the world of the Mistborn series. It’s a rough world, but Allomancy and Feruchemy fascinate me so much, I couldn’t care less.

Scadrial as it is now, circa The Alloy of Law, is very different from the world that readers saw at the end of The Hero of Ages. The magic system, mythology, and society have evolved, and someone has discovered electricity. Horse-drawn carriages roll down the streets as railroad tracks extend out of the capital city of Elendel and far into the Roughs.

Remember Back to the Future III, when Marty and Doc were in the year 1885? This incarnation of Scadrial has that kind of Western vibe. It’s as if Alloy is Sanderson’s very own flux-capacitor-powered locomotive and he invited readers on board for a temporal joyride. The world also feels a lot like Firefly if you replace the advanced technology with magic so “sufficiently analyzed” and applied that it’s almost science.

I love how Scadrial has evolved. I’ve never seen a fantasy world change through time before, not even in a long-running series like Dragonlance. Granted, I haven’t read every fantasy series out there, but it’s only logical that things should change after 300 years! This makes for a fascinating study of how authors can still expand the genre and keep a book series fresh.

Alloy is an easy read. The core story is less taxing to the emotions (The Hero of Ages made me cry) and there are no spectacular plot surprises or big world-changing events, but it’s still an enjoyable and action-packed adventure.

What happens when thirty gun-toting bandits infiltrate a wedding feast packed with several hundred noblemen and there are only 2 Allomancers around to uphold the law? You get an action scene worthy of a Hollywood movie! I still maintain that should Sanderson want to quit writing, he can get a job as a stunt consultant for a movie. 😛

Alloy also features two other things that I love about Sanderson’s writing: witty dialogue and in-depth reflections on the themes of the book. Yes, I admit to liking the long philosophical discussions on the nature of crime and the law! They really make me think.

 
My biggest problem with Alloy is–and this isn’t personal but more a concern for other readers–while it’s a good stand-alone in terms of the plot and the characters, it seems to still require some prior knowledge of the first Mistborn trilogy. Sanderson did take the time to explain the magic system and some history in the beginning, but there are references that may go over the heads of the uninitiated or those who haven’t finished reading the trilogy. On hindsight, people who don’t know Mistborn at all might not pick this book up anyway, but in case someone does, they might not get the full benefit of the Alloy reading experience.

Reading Alloy after The Way of Kings is both bane and boon for me. I miss the deliberate plotting and the detailed treatment in Kings, but it’s obvious that this wasn’t meant to be as big as that or Sanderson’s other books in terms of scope. At the same time, it’s a relief to read something fun and light in an epic fantasy setting, and to know that he can pull something like this off. And I mean “light” literally as well–Alloy won’t seriously injure you if you accidentally drop it on your foot. 😛

If this book isn’t part of the second Mistborn trilogy, it’s certainly a big step forward from the first one. We’ve had our sneak peek, and when that next trilogy finally comes along, it looks like Mistborn fans will be in for an epic treat.

Speaking of treats…

The Alloy of Law is available as an audiobook narrated by Michael Kramer, who also narrated The Wheel of Time series and Sanderson’s other books. Here is an excerpt from the audiobook:

Thanks to MacMillan Audio for providing me with the audio excerpt to include here! 🙂

There are also text excerpts and other goodies over at Tor.com.

If you’re reading this post even if you haven’t read Sanderson and would like recommendations for a good First Read, try Elantris or Mistborn: The Final Empire.
 

So many memes, so little time

Because I wasn’t able to blog since Friday, I’m going to catch up with some memes today!
 
 
 

 What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?  (Hosted by Should Be Reading)

 
 
I’m currently reading:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I’m almost 200 pages into the book, and I’m comfortable with GRRM’s writing style so far.  However, I can’t be sure if this is because I recognize most of the scenes and the dialogue from the HBO series.  I remember that this helped a lot when I read J.R.R. Tolkien after seeing the movies. (What’s with the double Rs?  Hrmmm.  Note to self: Think of a pseudonym with double Rs when you publish a story someday. :P)  I think the true test of my capability to read GRRM will come when I read A Clash of Kings before Season 2 comes out.  If I find the text readable even when I’m faced with unfamiliar situations and characters, then that means GRRM (or at least A Song of Ice and Fire) is for me.  I’m still trying to decide, though, if I’m going to do that or if I’m going to hold out until Season 2 is out.  I was able to hold out on the Sookie Stackhouse books for 3 seasons of True Blood, so…

What I like about reading A Game of Thrones right now is the invaluable insight into the characters’ emotions and motivations.  While the showrunners did exceptional work in adapting the book and capturing some of those inner character moments, there is still so much that someone like me who is new to the series can take from the book.  I like the Daenerys and Jon POVs, which comes as no surprise considering I liked them on the show.  It’s a bit unsettling trying to reconcile the ages of the book characters with the actors, but they fit the personalities of the characters well enough that it’s easy to forget about age.
 
 

The Hero of AgesI just finished reading:
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, I can’t remember crying so much over a fantasy book!

It took a while to finish this as it was DENSE (700+ pages).  Dense but not too dragging, although Sanderson tends to ramble.  However, that’s expected of a Sanderson novel, and I’ve gotten used to it.  His ramblings, while sometimes long and unnecessary for character development or plot, tend to be mentally stimulating, so I find myself actually reading them and paying attention to them rather than skimming over the pages until the next plot-related action comes along.  The monologues do enrich the mythology and philosophy of the book, and I find it easier to find logic in what’s happening in the story after reading them.

This book took an emotional toll on me because of the focus on the war against Ruin and the life-changing journeys that the characters had to go through to survive it.  So much has changed since Mistborn: The Final Empire, and Sanderson did an amazing job making the evolution of the characters and the world very believable.  And because even the mythology evolved, the series has become not just a plain epic fantasy story, but Sanderson’s personal commentary on the genre.  Sanderson is not as easy to read compared to other fantasy giants out there like, say, Margaret Weis, but there are a lot of rewards for those who will persevere.  He understands fantasy very well and I believe this is what Robert Jordan’s wife saw in him and why she selected him to finish The Wheel of Time.

I found myself re-reading Book 1 (The Final Empire) several minutes after I got a hold on my emotions after finishing this book.  Life was as simple as it could be back then for the characters, and I wanted to relive those days and to try to look for any clues that Sanderson might have left then about the conclusion of the series.  I loved the scenes where Vin pretended she was Lady Valette and had to attend all those society balls and events.  She was terrified, and yet she loved the gorgeous dresses and the dancing and the frivolity in spite of her fears and prejudices, and I do too.
 
 

What’s next:
In Too Deep (The 39 Clues #6) by Jude Watson

I’m going to take a break from the epic fantasies to try to finish The 39 Clues series.

I managed to get Books 6-9 as a bundle during the Scholastic Warehouse Sale, so I might as well finish all four.  I need to catch up before everyone starts discussing the second series.  I’ve already had to endure a lot of spoilers for the first series because I came into it too late, so I’m not anxious for a repeat of that, especially considering that one of the draws of The 39 Clues is trying to figure out whodunnit and howtheydunnit.  It’s not as fun if you already know the “who” before getting to read about the “how”.

Oh, and Jude Watson! I’m very biased in favor of her last The 39 Clues contribution before this one, so this should be a lot of fun.
 
 
 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 
 
My pick for the week is:

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2)
By: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: 4 October 2011

In The Lost Hero, three demigods named Jason, Piper, and Leo made their first visit to Camp Half-Blood, where they inherited a quest:

“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”

Who are the other four mentioned in the prophecy? The answer may lie in another camp miles away, where a new camper has shown up and appears to be the son of Neptune, god of the sea…

Riordan left fans high and dry at the end of The Lost Hero, so this book ranks very high on my wishlist.  It’s going to be a treat to find out just how Riordan treats this section of his new series considering there were so many loose ends from the first book that he has to seamlessly integrate into this one.

Riordan’s brand of YA fantasy depicts how mythology is present in our mundane world, and it’s something that he explores with such wit and humor, so I always have fun reading his books.
 
 
 

“Want Books?” is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

 
 
The Night Circus
By: Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I first learned about this book when I read that David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films, bought the film rights and was planning to produce the adaptation. Then when I interviewed Samantha Sotto, she also mentioned this. The story sounds intriguing, and it would certainly make for a great movie.

The Fairytale Nerd told me that this book is available already, but only in hardcover. My wallet is still in dire straits, so I’m going to have to wait a bit longer to get my hands on this.