Monday, October 29, 2012

Viele Tausende - Devin Patrick Bates


    2012; 350 pages.  Full Title : “Viele Tausende (Many Thousands), Book One of The Ruthan Analects.”  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Fantasy, (sorta).  Overall Rating : 3*/10.

     Ruthan is the Chosen One.  His blood will flow through the generations of many races and he will live to see the world rent apart and knit back together.  But first he has to be taught all sorts of things.  From all sorts of races.  Not the least of which is to learn to hear The Voice.

What’s To Like...
    The story can be summed up in three words and an acronym :  Siddhartha set in LOTR.  There are elves and dwarves and dragons, and hints of fairies, pixies and Entish creatures to come.  And humans, of course.  There are some nice descriptions of the lands that Ruthan travels.  Ruthan meets people and he learns magic.  Women of all races seem to want to help him spread his blood through many generations.  No one seems to doubt that Ruthan’s da Man.

    Viele Tausende will give your vocabulary a workout.  Devin Bates will never choose a common word when a longer, more obscure one can be found.  Milton would be proud.  It gets distracting at times, but it could be worse.

    But as a fantasy novel, Viele Tausende has some serious issues. There are continuity problems, the magic system is poorly developed, there are lots of unanswered questions (e.g., why does the horse live so long?), and worst of all – there is zero action.

    I mean none.  The closest we get is a lovers’ spat 2/3 of the way through, where spells are thrown instead of dishes.  Other than that, we get to listen to Ruthan muse about life, the Universe, and everything else.  Frankly, I found our hero/chronicler to be long-winded, slow-witted, and spoiled.

Kewlest New Word...
    Saccade : a rapid movement of the eye between two fixations points.

Kindle Details...
     Viele Tausende sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  AFAIK, this is Devin Bates’ only novel thus far.  But in his Amazon blurb, he indicates this will become a trilogy.

Excerpts...
    Men have wondered for untold ages about the nature and purpose of their existence, ValĂ©ria, but the answer to the mortal condition is really much simpler than we make it.  Love and peace are the great meaning of our mortal sojourns.  A life is only wasted when it has not been well-lived, and death is nothing for a wise soul to be afraid of.  (loc. 402.  Herman Hesse would be proud.)

    “Are you safe, nephew?” I asked Solfallin.
    “As well as can be expected, no thanks to you,” he quipped.  “I’m burning with exhaustion and I reek of sweat and horse shit.  Are you safe?”  (loc. 4907)

“Of what value is magic ... if a person can’t, or won’t, make use of it?” (loc. 5712)
    It is difficult to know what the author intended with this book.  Readers looking for a fantasy book are going to be sore disappointed by the lack of action.  As a “Siddhartha” book, it does much better, but a book about spiritual enlightenment doesn’t blend well with dragons and elves.

    I suspect this was a labor of love, with things like editing and beta-reading dispensed with.  Here’s hoping the next two books in the series have some excitement infused into them.  3 Stars.  Add another 4 stars if you’ve read Siddhartha, and liked it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury




    2005; 523 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Action Adventure.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    It was supposed to be a big night for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art – the grand opening of the “Treasures of the Vatican” exhibit.  Too bad four armor-clad knights on horseback decided to crash the party, chop off a head, and make off with a bunch of gem-encrusted artifacts.

    But there was something odd about Knight #4.  He only took one item, and it didn’t seem to be anything particularly valuable.  Some sort of curiosity the Vatican inventory listed simply as a “multi-geared rotor encoder”.

What’s To Like...
    The Last Templar starts with a bang.  Well, actually a swoosh and then a bunch of bangs.   The action continues throughout the book.  The two protagonists – a female archaeologist and a male FBI agent, are predictable but engaging.  There is a nice blending of two storylines – one medieval, the other modern day.  The bulk of the book takes place in Turkey, and that gets a personal thumbs-up.

    There are some YFKM’s (“You’re Freaking Kidding Me!”).  Would the Museum really have only a single security guard when priceless Vatican treasures are on display?  Would a leather pouch holding a ancient parchment survive decades underwater to the point where you could still read its message?

    There is some preachiness, but not a lot.  I didn’t like the style of ending (details are in the comments to avoid spoilers).  But overall, this is a well-structured, fast-paced tale.

Kewlest New Word...
    Parlous : perilous.

Excerpts...
    His rough-hewn appearance, and the matching manner he had cultivated over the years, first disarmed others into thinking he was just a simple man of God.  That he was but, because of his standing in the Church, many proceeded to another assumption: that he was a manipulator and a schemer.  He was not, but he’d never bothered to disabuse them.  It sometimes paid to keep people guessing, even though in a way, that was in itself a form of manipulation.  (pg. 38 )
 
   “So how religious are you?  If you don’t mind my asking.”
    “No, that’s fine.”
    She grinned.  “Just tell me you don’t hike out to some cowfield in the middle of nowhere because someone there thinks he saw the Virgin appear up in the clouds or something?”
    “No, not recently anyway.  I’m guessing you’re not a particularly religious person.”  (pg. 243)

Veritas vos liberabit.  (The truth will set you free)  (pg. 49)
    I remember The Last Templar being heavily promoted by Borders Books (RIP, Borders) when it came out in 2005.  It was obvious that the target audience were those legions of readers who ate up Dan Brown’s 2003 opus, The Da Vinci Code.  I’m okay with that, but what is inexcusable is reusing the exact same “secret” here.  C’mon, Raymond Khoury, come up with some different angle.

    Personally, I think the Gnostic question about the origins of Christianity is an important subject.  But TDVC covered it more than adequately and TLT doesn’t add anything new.  To boot, the wishy-washy treatment of it here will satisfy neither thin-skinned, skittish-faithed Christians, nor metaphysically-inclined Gnostics.

    So maybe make Jesus an extraterrestrial.  Or the disciples a cadre of drug-partaking, gays.  Yeah, those could work.  It’s fiction, after all.  Just give us something new.  7½ Stars.  Add another star if you are a Da Vinci Code devotee.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Adventures of Augustus Fuller - James Rickon


    2011; 242 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Acton - Adventure.  Overall Rating : 6½*/10.

    London, 1904.  Anarchists have a new and formidable foe to deal with – Special Constable Augustus Fuller of Scotland Yard.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re in the city, amassing arms, or out in the countryside, developing new weapons.  If the peace and well-being of England are being threatened, Fuller is probably on the trail.

What’s To Like...
    The Adventures of Augustus Fuller is a set of three novellas, each roughly 80 pages in length.  The storylines are imaginative; the protagonist is resourceful and successful, yet he’s not over-the-top like, say, Dirk Pitt.  I like my heroes to be believable.  The world-building is adequately done.  I didn’t feel “immersed” in (slightly-post) Victorian England, but the backdrop was smoothly blended in with the story, and I didn’t spot any distracting historical errors.

     Fuller lives on Chertsey Street.  I’m not sure what city it’s in, but my favorite place in England is Chertsey, so that’s a personal thumbs-up.  The stories are all independent of each other, and a couple words about each are in order.

    Casus Belli.  A straight-up adventure, where the action starts immediately.  A fun read, but there are showing/telling issues at both the beginning and end.

    The Aldbury Devil.  A “Hound of the Baskervilles” sort of setting, but more Poe-ish in style.  An interesting mystery/horror tale, yet it doesn’t fit in with the other two stories, and unanswered questions dangle at the end.

    The Terror Weapons.  A clever blend of adventure and intrigue that builds nicely towards an exciting climax, only to have it air-brushed out and then presented as an epilogue.  Why tell when you set up events to be shown so deftly? 

Kewlest New Word...
    Chinwag : a light, informal chat.
 
Kindle Details...
    The Adventures of Augustus Fuller sells for $2.99 at Amazon, as does its sequel, Masquerade, which I have not read, and which came out earlier this year.

Excerpts...
    The month of June continued its progress and with it brought a run of good weather.  Boys played cricket on mown grass, men in boaters messed about on the river and young couples took excursions to picnic in the countryside.  The newspapers offered their daily commentary to those who cared and the millions who did not.  (loc. 2263 )

    A knock came at the door and Mrs. Teal appeared to ask if he would be dining in that evening.  Fuller opened his mouth to reply but instead asked a question.  “If your son had been kidnapped, Mrs. Teal, what would you do?”
    “You don’t have a son, do you Mr. Fuller?” the honest woman replied with a motherly smile.
    “Hypothetically, Mrs. Teal.”
    “Oh hypotechnically speaking are we?”   (loc. 2457)

“I mean, who murders an anarchist?”  (loc. 252)
    I’m guessing that TAoAF was James Rickon’s debut book, and that the three stories were penned in the order they’re given.  If so, this was a decent first effort, but not without some weaknesses.  Besides the aforementioned telling/showing issues, none of the stories had any plot twists, which meant no surprises and very little tension.

    There’s also the matter of defining the genre of this series.  Casus Belli is a pure this-worldly adventure.  The Aldbury Devil introduces other-worldly creatures.  The Terror Weapons mixes in some futuristic (for then) technology devices.  Which one typifies the coming stories?

    It could be that James Rickon was tweaking the genres before he himself chose one.  It also could be that this is answered in the sequel.  But for now, TAoAF is a curious and uneven mix of historical fiction, sleuthing, action, and paranormal.

    Which is not to say it isn’t a fun read, with the potential to become a fascinating series once the above issues are resolved.  6½ Stars.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grailblazers - Tom Holt


    1994; 265 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Mythopoeia; Humorous Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    The knights of the Grail have lost their way.  They’ve abandoned their quest for mundane jobs like delivering pizzas and cleaning windows.  That can happen over the course of fifteen centuries.  They need a new leader to re-energize them.

    Prince Boamund has been wakened from his enchanted sleep to lead the knights in search of the Holy Grail.  His leadership qualities may be lacking (there is a reason people call him “Snotty”), but at least he enthusiastically accepts his role.

     Now if only the other knights would get with the program.
   
What’s To Like...
    The characters are every bit as funny as their Monty Python counterparts, but without the slapstick routines.  It works quite well.  The plotline is better defined than the other Tom Holt books I’ve read, but you still have his trademark unexpected scene-shifts, bizarre twists, and unexplained new characters popping up.  But not to fear, everything gets tied together nicely at the end.   

    The book centers around (obviously) the Quest for the Holy Grail, but other legends are worked in as well.  You’ll learn what happened to Atlantis, and see a totally new side of Santa Claus (aka Klaus von Weinacht).  You do not want to mess with Radulf, he of the red nose.

    There are kewl dwarves, mad queens, and mysterious hermits and timekeepers.  If Unicorns are more your speed, you can find them here too, out among the kangaroos.

    Grailblazers is a-chock with chuckles, and as always, Tom Holt’s witty writing will keep you turning the pages.

Kewlest New Word...
    Soi-disant : self-styled, self-proclaimed, so-called.  (French)

Kindle Details...
    I bought Grailblazers for $2.99 at Amazon, but it has since been raised to $4.99, which is still a good buy.  On 04 September, more than 2 dozen of Tom Holt's books became available for the Kindle, priced in the $5.99-$9.99 range.  Given that the few used paperbacks of his that I’ve come across are usually around $7, the Kindle pricing is rather attractive.

Excerpts...
    There was a note in Turquine’s voice that Bedevere had never heard before, in all the years they’d known each other.  Fear.  Say what you liked about old Turkey, he never seemed to get the wind up.  If you asked him what the word fear meant, he’d probably think for a bit and say it was German for four.  (loc. 3247 )

    A shadowy figure with a knife in its mouth dropped from a tree.  Unfortunately, it had mistimed its descent.  There was a thump; and when the shadowy figure came round, there were two men standing over it solicitously.
    “Are you all right?” asked Simon Magus.
    “I’th cut my mouf on this thucking dagger,” the assailant replied.  “Thod it.”
    “You should be more careful, then shouldn’t you?” Simon Magus replied.  “Here.”  He gave the assailant a handkerchief.
    “Thankth.”  He wiped his face, spat out a tooth and crawled away into the bushes.  (loc. 4831)

“Boamund was – and is – the perfect knight.  Brave, honest and stupid.”  (loc. 5351)
    Grailblazers is the fourth Tom Holt book I’ve read.  It is one of his earlier efforts (1994), but has just as much humor and zaniness as his newer material.  The main difference seems to be that his 1990’s books are usually spoofs of various myths, while in the 2000 novels (from which my three previously-read Tom Holt come), he builds his own worlds.  So a new genre has been added to my vocabulary : Mythopoeia.

    My standard Tom Holt closing comment bears repeating – if you like authors like Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and Robert Rankin, you’ll enjoy Tom Holt.  And now, if you own a Kindle, you don’t have to go scouring the used-book stores or do a special-order (pricey, because his books are imports) at Barnes & Noble to read his books.  8 Stars.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Postmortal - Drew Magary


    2011; 365 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Alt-History; Dystopia.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Suppose a cure for aging was developed.  We’ll call it “postmortality”, which is not the same as immortality.  You can still get cancer, get shot, etc.  But your body wouldn’t age a day after you got the cure.

    The cost would be a few thousand dollars and would involve some blood being drawn and a couple rather painful shots a few weeks later.  The government, after some foot-dragging, legalizes it, but it is an optional procedure.

   Would you have it done?  How would it affect your life?  Your marriage?  Your career?  What impact would it hve on the world, particularly in terms of population explosion?

What’s To Like...
    Drew Magary explores the complex ramifications stemming from the majority of the world’s population opting for “the cure”.  Unsurprisingly, as time goes on (the book spans about 60 years), things go from bad to worse – both personally and globally. 

    The fictional “science” behind the cure is believable, although one shouldn’t expect it to be a reality anytime soon.  The tone of the book changes, and it corresponds to the effect of the cure.  There is a euphoria immediately after getting the treatment, and the book starts out light-hearted.  But as the "high" wears off, the tone darkens.  I don’t know if this was deliberate on Magary’s part, but I can’t think of any other book that does this.

     The Postmortal has an epistolary format, and I always like that.  It makes for relatively short chapter breaks, and keeps the story from dragging.  Magary does a nice job of world-building; the little details he sprinkles throughout the storyline make it very realistic.

Excerpts...
    “I am so excited!  I’m gonna be twenty-seven forever!  And I don’t have to go to Sao Paulo to do it!”
    She sprung up and rushed to the kitchen, then froze halfway there.
    “Oh, Christ,” she said.  “Do you know what I just realized?  I’m always gonna get my period.  That sucks.”
    “Seems like a minor sticking point.”
    “We could be roommates forever too.  Do you want to sign a hundred-year lease?”
    “No.”
    “Your loss, because I’m gonna party my ass off until the year 5000!”
    Then she poured a glass of Shiraz to the brim and danced on the sofa.   (pg. 18 )

     “I’m not afraid to raise our child alone, John.  I’m not.  I’m a strong woman and I know I can do that.  But I’d like you to be there.  I’d like to raise him with you, as your wife.  It wouldn’t be a chore.  It would be wonderful.  Indelible.  It would be fifty times more rewarding than spending the next three decades getting blasted and watching football with your friends or whatever.”
    “I don’t know.  I like football quite a lot.”  (pg. 79)

But no one told me forever would be this long!”  (pg. 37)
    Drew Magary apparently writes some very off-the-wall stuff at several sports-themed websites.  Readers who are familiar with him seemed to find The Postmortal disappointing when it wasn’t hilarious from beginning to end.  The book cover is misleading, making you think this is going to be something akin to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, where DEATH is the main character.

    I had never heard of Magary, so I didn’t have any preconceptions.  I thought it was a captivating book, dark yet not dreary, and similar to George Orwell’s 1984.   There is Romance, Violence, Dystopia, and Apocalyptic Alt-History.  One of those genres will appeal to you.  8 Stars.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fabric of the Cosmos - Brian Greene


    2005; 493 pages (plus another fifty or so pages of notes, which I didn’t read).  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Non-Fiction; Science.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    Do you wonder why Higgs keeps misplacing his boson?  Whether 3-D movies would look even neater in the 10 dimensions that certain physicists claim exist?  Are you curious as to why strings have theories?  When someone says "branes", do you think of zombies?
 
     Perhaps Star Trek is more your speed.  Can we time-travel to the Future?  To the Past?  Maybe build a Transporter?  How ‘bout all those Parallel Universes we remember from that ST episode  where a hundred different Enterprises were floating around due to a rift in the space-time continuum?

     All these questions are answered in Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos.  And for you Trekkies, the answers to the ST questions will be listed in the comments.  You might be surprised.

What’s To Like...
    As you would expect from a physicist, the book is impeccable and logically structured.  First up is a history of physics, starting way back with Isaac Newton, then continuing through Einstein and lastly bringing you up-to-date with Quantum Physics. 

     There is a whole bunch about the tiny particles at play in QP (including the Higgs Boson), and just when you’re getting tired of that, Brian Greene switches from micro to macro, and discusses how this all relates to the origin of the Universe and the Big Bang.    He then wraps things up with the more-fun issues (Wormholes, Time-Travel, etc.) and a look at where Theoretical Physics is headed.

     The book is aimed at those of us without degrees in Physics.  In the 500 pages, I don’t recall having to deal with a single equation.  Instead, Brian Greene uses examples we lay people can envision – The Simpsons, a swirling bucket of water, the chicken and the egg, etc.  He has a gift for doing that, and just to make sure it sinks in, he usually repeats important principles three or four times.

 Excerpts...
    It’s kind of like what would happen if you were to drop a frog into a hot metal bowl, with a pile of worms lying in the center.  At first, the frog would jump this way and that – high up, low down, left, right – in a desperate attempt to avoid burning its legs, and on average would stay so far from the worms that it wouldn’t even know they were there.  But as the bowl cooled, the frog would calm itself, would hardly jump at all, and, instead, would gently slide down to the most restful spot at the bowl’s bottom.  There, having closed in on the bowl’s center, it would finally rendezvous with its dinner.  (pg. 257; and a fine example of Brian Greene’s imagery )

    When Einstein discovered the nature of relativistic spacetime, he laid out a blueprint for fast-forwarding to the future.  If you want to see what’s happening on planet earth 1,000, or 10,000, or 10 million years in the future the laws of Einsteinian physics tell you how to go about it.  You build a vehicle whose speed can reach, say, 99.9999999996 percent of light speed.  At full throttle, you head off into deep space for a day, or ten days, or a little over twenty-seven years according to your ship’s clock, then abruptly turn around and head back to earth, again at full throttle.  On your return, 1,000, or 10,000, or 10 million years of earth time will have elapsed.  This is an undisputed and experimentally verified prediction of special relativity.   (pg.448/9 )

“(T)he more than 100 billion galaxies, sparkling throughout space like heavenly diamonds, are nothing but quantum mechanics writ large across the sky.  (pg. 308)
    Look, it’s not like Quantum Physics is rocket science or brain surgery.  Oh wait, yes it is.  In fact, it’s more difficult than launching something into space or drilling into someone’s head, because you can see those things.  You can’t see tiny particles, strings, or dimensions #5 thru #10.

    It took me about 8 months to get through The Fabric of the Cosmos, mostly because after reading about 15 pages, my brain would start panting and demand I switch to something with wizards, aliens, or psychotic killers.

   This is a fantastic book which, unfortunately, can only be recommended to people whose geek factor matches Sheldon’s on the TV Show, The Big Bang Theory.  Happily, I'm one of those.  9 Stars.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Tortoise Shell Code - V. Frank Asaro


    2012; 400 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Legal Thriller, Philosophy.  Overall Rating : 2½*/10.

     Attorney Anthony Darren stands accused of arranging for the Sea Diva, a friend’s tuna boat, to be scuttled while at sea in order to collect the insurance money.  Admittedly, there is some circumstantial evidence, along with some false testimony.  But surely the American judicial system will correctly find him innocent, won’t it?

What’s To Like...
    The plotline is easy to follow, and you don’t have to worry about figuring out whodunit.  If you’re looking for the answer to Life, you might find it here.

What’s Not To Like...
    The book cover implies that this is an Action-Adventure tale, and for the first third of the book, it shows some promise of doing that.  But just when you’re ready for some studly protagonist to start investigating the sinking, the story changes into a Grisham-wannabee.  I don’t do Grisham books.

     But count your blessings, because from there it degenerates into the author’s self-promotion of his pet philosophy – something he calls “co-opetition”, a portmanteau (I always wanted to use that word in a review) of “cooperation” and “competition”.  I don’t do philosophy books.

    The writing is weak. All the plot twists are telegraphed, so the story never develops any tension.  There are some awkward similes (“Hal rapped his knuckles on Anthony’s desk and cocked his head like a raptor tracking prey”).  The court trials are unbelievable, which is exacerbated by the author’s claim that he is an attorney.   Worst of all are the abundant YFKM’s (You’re f**king kidding me!), incredible coincidences that will have you rolling your eyes again and again.

Kewlest New Word...
    Palliation : the making of a crime less grave and less reprehensible.

Excerpt...
    “I just wish I could be there but sometimes the eagle flies and empty the aerie lies.”
    “What’s that mean?” she asked.
    He looked down the length of the corridor, at all the barred doors of the “houses,” the grimy tiles, the hand-printed walls.  And, eventually, a closed and locked door.  “Nothing,” he said.  “Just one of those little quotes I picked up along the way.”   (loc. 6442 )

Kindle Details...
    I bought The Tortoise Shell Code for $9.99 at Amazon.  The paperback version is $24.95.

“A theory that explains everything explains nothing.”  (loc. 4795)
    V. Frank Asaro has another book at Amazon, titled “Universal Co-opetition: Nature’s Fusion of Competition and Cooperation”.  It is non-fiction, and came out about 10 months before The Tortoise Shell Code.  The latter (I assume) touts the same principles as given in the former, but with a piece of fiction thrown in on top for entertainment value.

     I suspect that TTSC is one of those books that an author writes strictly for himself.  Mr. Asaro postulates that co-opetition can be used to solve all the problems of the world, and explain everything from art and music to something which still eludes the brightest physicists of our day - the Grand Unification Theory of Quantum Mechanics.  Really.  I am not making this up.

     Personally, I ascribe to Douglas Adams’ theory that “42” is the answer to life, the Universe, and everything else.  So I can only rate this 2½ Stars.  But if you happen to know the author (or are him) add another 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson


    2006; 643 pages.  Full Title : Mistborn: The Final Empire.  Book #1 of the Mistborn trilogy, which paradoxically now has 4 books.  New Author? : Kinda.  Genre : Epic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The Lord Ruler has reigned over the Final Empire for a thousand years.  For all extents and purposes, he is immortal.  There have been some uprisings over the centuries, but they were easily and thoroughly put down.  The Lord Ruler’s omnipotence is equaled only by his callous brutality.

    A fellow would have to be insane to try to organize another rebellion.  Ah, but Kelsier fully admits he’s crazy.  And he has a plan.  Which involves a street waif named Vin, who, like Kelsier, is a Mistborn.  And that makes her pretty special, even if she’s never heard of such a thing.

What’s To Like...
    The world-building is eminently believable, the plot is full of twists and surprises, and the characters are rich, varied, and deep.  Even the Lord Ruler has some redeeming qualities, albeit small and not apparent until the end.

    The magic system, called Allomancy, is refreshingly original.  Adepts ingest a given metal, and burn it to use its power as needed.  Each metal has its unique attribute.  Most  Allomancers can only use one of the metals.  They are called Mistings.  A rare few can use them all.  They are called Mistborn.

    In an appendix, Brandon Sanderson gives a list of the metals, what their users are nicknamed, and what powers they confer.  It is a very handy resource.  There is a second magic/metal system, Feruchemy.  It is less prominent in the story, and less powerful than Allomancy; but no less important. 

    Mistborn is really the story of Vin, as she is taught how to use each metal and becomes adept in combat, including fighting other Allomancers.  She also has to impersonate a noblewoman, mingle with high society, engage in espionage, and try to avoid any romantic entanglements.  Yeah, good luck with all that, Vin.

Kewlest New Word...
    Caliginous : dim, dark, misty, and gloomy.

Excerpts...
    Her hair had grown longer, and had been carefully cut by Renoux’s stylist so that it fell around her ears, curling just slightly.  She no longer looked quite so scrawny in the mirror, despite her lengthy sickness; regular meals had filled her out.
    I’m becoming... Vin paused.  She didn’t know what she was becoming.  Certianly not a noblewoman.  Noblewomen didn’t get annoyed when they couldn’t go out stalking at night.  Yet, she wasn’t really Vin the urchin anymore.  She was...
    Mistborn.   (pg. 283 )

    Vin leaned forward.  “What is it, Elend Venture? Why are you so intent on avoiding your duty?”
    “Duty?” Elend asked, leaning toward her, his posture earnest.  “Valette, this isn’t duty.  This ball... this is fluff and distraction.  A waste of time.”
    “And women?” Vin asked.  “Are they a waste too?”
    “Women?” Elend asked.  “Women are like... thunderstorms.  They’re beautiful to look at, and sometimes they’re nice to listen to – but most of the time they’re just plain inconvenient.”  (pg. 307)

You don’t know what I do for mankind.  I was your god, even if you couldn’t see it.”  (pg. 639)
    Kelsier's grand plan is a product of brainstorming.  It is complex, and well thought out.  As with any piece of superb Epic Fantasy, things go significantly awry despite the meticulous preparations.  Mistborn is completely standalone, yet is part of a trilogy.  The first 2/3 of the book is good, and the tension steadily builds towards an exciting climax.  The last third of the book is fantastic.

    In short – powerful writing, well-developed characters, a captivating storyline, and a satisfying ending.  Is it any wonder that Robert Jordan chose Brandon Sanderson to finish up his Wheel Of Time opus?  9 Stars.