Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Date read: May 20 to August 08, 2013
Read count: 1
A good story, but told in a long winded way. Too long winded for me.
If you’re looking for something light and vibrant that has some religious-political heft and a few lectures on morality, this book is probably you’re what looking for. I hesitate to recommend because, although it started off very well, the story was gradually weighed down by too much political intrigue and too many good vs. evil inner struggles.
Sanderson has established yet another world (or is it the same world but a different time period?) on which he can build another series. The mythology is a unique blending of magic and biochemistry—very interesting in the context of a fantasy world—and tying magical systems to human biology has always been Sanderson’s strength. While the magic system seems fascinating at first glance, BioChromatic Breaths is not as detailed or structured as Sanderson’s other magic systems. (The term “BioChromatic Breaths” is too awkward and scientific a term for a fantasy setting.)
There’s a lot of history behind the mythology (or is it mythology behind the history?) left unexplored in this book, and one of the main political sub-plots is left open-ended. Which is just as well, I suppose, since there are plans for a sequel.
Unlike the characterization in Sanderson’s other books, I don’t find the main characters in this one as well-thought out or engaging as the mythology. The characters seem as though they exist only to move events forward, and they’re very single-minded in the pursuit of their goals, which is why it’s believable that some of them are susceptible to manipulation. On top of that, they seem to be written with a forced hand, like they’re meant to be funny and sympathetic and you’re meant to laugh… as though somebody is trying really hard to make you laugh and feel for them…
What annoys me the most in any story are deus ex machinas that come in the form of mad-dash explanations near the end of the book. Whenever I come across something like this, it doesn’t feel like reading, it feels like the book is spilling its guts because events and revelations happen in rapid succession as the story is hurtled toward the climax.
When the priests and Bluefingers kept telling Siri that “nothing is as it seems,” it’s clear that nothing is as it seems. A lot of things are happening off-scene. Obviously. There’s foreshadowing and then there’s literally slapping the reader across the face with the same hints a couple of times.
That’s not to say this book is mostly political posturing and my being annoyed with it. There are a few funny moments of word play and well-placed puns. A couple of the Nightblood, Siri, and Lightsong passages had me laughing for a good minute. I still sense your hand at work, Mr. Sanderson, but those scenes made me laugh nonetheless.
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I’m beginning to see that, although Sanderson escapes falling headlong into character tropes that plague other fantasy writers, he doesn’t avoid them completely, although he tries very hard to sidestep many of them. As a result, I think he has spawned a group of character tropes of his own. If his characters or character traits seem familiar, it’s because you’ve seen them before in other Sanderson books. And it’s a sign that you’ve read one too many Sandersons in a short amount of time. Which is another way of saying I’m all Sanderson’d out for the rest of the year. I think I over-exerted myself by taking on this book so soon after finishing Steelheart.
Must’ve pulled a muscle or something.
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There is a sequel and it’s called Nightblood. No release date yet.