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Book Review: Arcanum Unbound by Brandon Sanderson

November 22, 2016

Title: Arcanum Unbounded

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The World of Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Individually Rated Below

The Overview: Brandon Sanderson’s first story collection: novellas and short stories set in the Shardworlds, the worlds of Stormlight, Mistborn, Elantris, and more. Originally published on Tor.com and other websites, or published by the author, these wonderful tales convey the expanse of the Shardworlds and tell exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect.

 The collection will include eight works in all. The first seven are:
“The Hope of Elantris” (Elantris)
“The Eleventh Metal” (Mistborn)
“The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris)
“Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30” (Mistborn)
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody)
“Sixth of Dusk” (First of the Sun)
“Mistborn: Secret History” (Mistborn)

Arcanum Unbounded will also contain a currently untitled Stormlight Archive novella which will appear in this book for the first time anywhere!!!!! -Goodreads

The Review:

If you can’t tell by now, I am a HUGE Sanderson fan. To have all of these amazing short stories in one collection is awesome. This compilation includes everything from maps of the Cosmere to behind the scenes expansions for some of our favorite Sanderson works (ahem…Mistborn). In this review, I’ll briefly explain what I liked about each story [In ascending order by rating].


Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30 [No Rating]:

Okay, I’ll admit the blasphemy that I didn’t read this one. But I hear if you liked the introductions to each chapter of Mistborn Era 2, you’ll like this too.

It’s very reminiscent of the golden age of radio era in the 1930’s (not my thing) and I couldn’t get past the presentation long enough to appreciate the story.

The Eleventh Metal [2.5/5 stars]:

This is a prequel short story for the Mistborn Trilogy, Era 1. It gives a little glimpse into how Kelsier coped after escaping the Pits of Hathsin (don’t panic if you haven’t read the series – this happens before the first book). I enjoyed it alright even though it didn’t add anything new to the series. 

Moving on…

The Hope of Elantris: [3/5]

This felt like a deleted scene from Elantris, but has very little to do with the main story… it’s more of a tangent. I honestly don’t think it added much to my enjoyment of the world as a whole, but I did like it.

Interestingly enough, my favorite part of this segment was actually the author’s note at the end explaining how the story came about. It has to do with one of his fans… way cool. :-)

Edgedancer [3.5/5 stars]:

Edgedancer was a great short story, but it’s one I think I’ll need to go back and reread once I’ve finished my reread of Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. It has been so long since I read those two that some of the references in Edgedancer went over my head. THIS is a problem because if I have holes in my memory, I wont be ready for Oathbringer, due out in November 2017. So, I will reread all the things, then review this one again. All you need to know is, this short story might help curb your craving for Oathbringer and help fill in some gaps.

White Sand [4/5 stars]

I freaking loved this short story. What a cool culture! It presents a magic system which involves using moisture in your body to manipulate sand (a cost/reward system I found particularly clever). Its about a young man who wants to run the trails of skill, but doesn’t have enough tradional magic strength to do it “properly.” I liked it so much I immediately went out and bought the graphic novel. Honestly, even though I’d just read the short story, I was hoping for a detailed expansion of the exact same scenes in graphic novel form. Instead, it breezed past it too fast for my tastes. With that said, if you plan on reading the graphic novel at any point, I’d highly recommend this short story first. It’s a marvelous introduction to this world and these characters.

Sixth of Dusk [4/5 stars]:

Sanderson is known well for his epic world building (among other things), but he really outdid himself with Sixth of Dusk. It was an experience, to say the least. Inspired by Polynesian culture, it takes you to the ridiculously dangerous jungles of an isolated island. Everything from the beasts that prowl the island, to the most minute flora and fauna was fascinating. On top of that, the character had these cool, albeit disturbing, hallucinations/premonitions of the future that help him see (and survive) the dangers around him. Even though the plot lacked a little resolution, it’s still one of the coolest short stories I’ve ever read. We all should badger him for more things set in this world (as if he doesn’t have enough to work on).

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor’s Soul [4.5/5 stars]:

I read this short story ages ago, but apparently never wrote a review for it. It’s a well-woven tale infused with Asian culture, includes a neat magic system centered around calligraphy, and provides truly unique character exploration.

It stands on a pedestal as one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever read.

Mistborn: Secret History [4.5/5 stars]:

Mistborn: A Secret History is definitely my favorite new read from Arcana Unbounded (I’d already read Shadows for Silence and Emperor’s Soul). This short story provided tons of insight to the events that took place on the periphery of Mistborn, Era 1. Sanderson offers so many layers to his storytelling! Knowing all of this extra information about what really happened completely enhanced the main trilogy. Seriously, if you read nothing else from this collection, pick this one up. You’ll want to read it before picking up the 4th Wax and Wayne novel.

Shadows for Silence by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell [5/5 stars]:

If you only read one novella from Brandon Sanderson, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell would be my top pick (by a smidgen – they’re all awesome. And really, why would you limit yourself to just one?). It’s just one more example why Sanderson is one of my favorite authors – his novellas are every bit as good as his full-length novels. I loved this one because it had the perfect mix of characterization, setting, story, pacing, action, and resolution. It felt like a snippet out of a fully developed novel, but was self-contained enough to stand complete on its own. Silence, the main character, really struck a chord with me – her decision-making during the most intense scenes of the story still have me reeling months later. I want to get into the nitty-gritty details and geek out about all of them, but I can’t discuss it to my satisfaction without spoilers. So just take my word for it – this is definitely worth reading! :-)


Overall, Arcanum Unbounded is a brilliant compilation that I deem essential for any fan of Sanderson’s Cosmere. One of my favorite elements was the introduction to the planet systems within this universe and elusions to how the shards affected each one. I love how I learned about the Cosmere from this collection and look forward to discovering even more in his future works.

by Niki Hawkes

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Short Story Reviews: Brayan’s Gold and The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Reviews:

I hadn’t originally planned to write reviews for these short stories, but I have a few more opinions than anticipated lol. Here goes:


Brayan's Gold by Peter V. Brett

The Book Info: Brayan’s Gold by Peter V. Brett

The Overview: Arlen Bales 17, apprentice Messenger in brand new armor, is ready for the first time beside a trained Messenger on a simple overnight trip. Instead Arlen finds himself alone on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine, one of the furthest points in the duchy. And One Arm, giant rock demon, hunts him still. Novella. -Goodreads

[3 stars] Of these two, I liked Brayan’s Gold the most. It was a true tangent from the middle of The Warded Man and had nothing to do with the overall arc of the main story (more so than usual, anyway… this author definitely has his own unique way of getting to the point). But I did enjoy it, mostly because I thought the snow demon was pretty cool. While I feel it was worth my time, I can’t say the same about the next one.


The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Book Info: The Great Bazaar by Peter V. Brett

The Overview: Humanity is nearly extinct after 300 years of hungry demon corelings. A handful of Messengers brave the night between the increasingly isolated populace behind protective wards. Arlen Bales will search anywhere, dare anything, to save the world. Maybe Abban, a merchant in the Great Bazaar of Krasia who purports to sell anything, has the answer. -Goodreads

Great Bazaar [1.5 stars]: I didn’t get a single thing out of this short story that wasn’t already presented in The Warded Man. The first few pages were promising, but it was all downhill from there. I was hoping for more cultural immersion or at the very least some character development, but all I got was an expansion of a minor plot element for which I’d already known the outcome. I’d say pass on this one and move right along to The Desert Spear – it’ll give you cultural immersion tenfold.


Overall, I’m really excited to read more from this author, despite the hit or miss with the short stories. I find his unconventional story construction oddly refreshing. I’ve been warned about the second and third books by multiple people, so we’ll see how it goes. XD

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Arcanum Unbound by Brandon Sanderson

November 22, 2016

Title: Arcanum Unbounded

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The World of Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: November 22, 2016

The Overview: Brandon Sanderson’s first story collection: novellas and short stories set in the Shardworlds, the worlds of Stormlight, Mistborn, Elantris, and more. Originally published on Tor.com and other websites, or published by the author, these wonderful tales convey the expanse of the Shardworlds and tell exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect.

 The collection will include eight works in all. The first seven are:
“The Hope of Elantris” (Elantris)
“The Eleventh Metal” (Mistborn)
“The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris)
“Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30” (Mistborn)
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody)
“Sixth of Dusk” (First of the Sun)
“Mistborn: Secret History” (Mistborn)

Arcanum Unbounded will also contain a currently untitled Stormlight Archive novella which will appear in this book for the first time anywhere!!!!! -Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I love Brandon Sanderson books so much that I’m almost as excited about this compilation as I would be for a new novel. First of all, the short stories that I’ve read from it (The Emperor’s Soul and Shadows for Silence) were amazing, so I am thrilled to have them in a beautiful hardbound copy to add to my shelves. Second of all, there are all NEW STORIES that I haven’t read yet that will hopefully help hold me over until the new Stormlight Archive book comes out next year. I’m definitely going to have to fudge my 1500 for 1 book-buying ban to pick up a copy of this one ASAP! :-)

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

shifting shadowsTitle: Shifting Shadows

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson (Short Stories)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger… A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends…

Includes the new stories… “Silver” / “Roses in Winter” / “Redemption” / “Hollow”

…and reader favorites “Fairy Gifts” / “Gray” / “Alpha and Omega” / “Seeing Eye” / “The Star of David” / “In Red, with Pearls”

shifting shadows 2

The Review:

Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers, and the fact that she usually only comes out with one novel per year has me feeling perpetually impatient. I completely devour her books as soon as they come out and am always left craving more. While that speaks volumes of Briggs’ talents, I’ll admit it hurts my heart a bit every time I realize I have a full year to wait before finding out what happens next. So, the release of Shifting Shadows – a compilation of short stories set in Mercy Thompson’s world – felt like the ultimate treat to this uber fan!

Every single story did one of two things (and in some cases both): 1) allowed us to delve a little deeper into the lives of some of my favorite secondary characters (we essentially got treated to their fascinating backstories while viewing the world from their perspectives) and/or 2) expanded on the world-building within this already brilliantly-conceived universe. It was amazing, and I now want to go totally fangirl and start blabbing about Bran and Samuel and how cool it was to see their origins, or perhaps Warren (my favorite member of the pack) and the chills I got while learning about his strength of character, or even Kara and Asil, the stars of my favorite short story of the collection, and the wolves I’m now most eager to read more about. And that’s just to name a few!

Patricia Briggs is such an amazing writer. This is something I already knew, but Shifting Shadows made me appreciate her even more. She is just so great at characterization that you always feel like you’re reading about real people. It probably helps matters that Briggs considers the characters her imaginary friends, to the point where these fully-formed people in her head are mostly responsible for driving their own stories. She gives them a problem and then sits back and watches how they all deal with it. At least, that’s what she said during the Q&A of one of her book signings, and I’m inclined to believe her. 

It’s one thing to fall in love with characters and get to know them over the course of a multi-book series, it’s a whole other ballgame to get to know them within the confines of a short story. I’m seriously going to go back and study these stories for tips on how to make my own characters stronger – it was that good. Writing aside, there wasn’t a single point in this entire book that I wasn’t highly entertained, which is saying something because I don’t usually have the patience to pick up short stories (yes, I realize how ironic that sounds). As I said before (but it warrants repeating) every story either gave me insights to characters I’d been curious about or made Mercy’s world more vibrant… in fact, many of them did both.

All I have to say is, if you’re a fan of Mercy Thompson, these short stories will knock your socks off! If you’re not yet a fan, you’ll probably enjoy them because the writing is that good, but I think already having a deep connection with most of these characters is what took the book from great to amazing. Along those lines, if you haven’t read them, I highly recommend picking up the book that started it all, Moon Called.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede

64108Title: Book of Enchantments

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Series: N/A

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: This witty and charming collection of ten short fantasies includes a story, set in the Enchanted Forest, about Queen Cimorene’s Frying Pan of Doom; a zany yarn about a magical blue chipmunk with a passion for chestnuts; and an eerie tale of a caliph who turns his vizier’s daughter into a wolf.

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The Review: 

This collection of tales by the author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles was every bit as engaging and whimsical as the stories that captured my imagination as a kid. From a writer’s standpoint, it was also a great study of composing short stories – she even includes authors notes at the end sharing her inspiration behind each story.

My review today is going to be a bit short because, from a reading standpoint, this is one of those books that you don’t analyze, you just have fun with! Reading it really did bring me back to my childhood. I enjoyed all of the stories and appreciated just how different they were from one another. There was everything from a humorous werewolf tale to a haunted castle to a conceited unicorn… And they were all as good as they were different; a little something for everyone. My favorite was the cover story about a wizard who accidentally summons a little blue chipmunk god – adorable!

Overall, since I already had planned on sharing The Enchanted Forest Chronicles with my kids one day, I am delighted to have even more from this author to pass along.

Recommended Reading: for fans of the Enchanted Forest, fairytales, and whimsical short stories!

by Niki Hawkes

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