Monday, February 20, 2012

Books for Bastards #1

As miniature painters, we often find ourselves playing a little music or turning on the tube to help pass the time while we paint. Some, like Phaneuf here, prefer listening to Podcasts related to the hobby. I do listen to the occasional podcast but I am much more into audiobooks.

I prefer audiobooks generally due to their length (let us not speak of their girth). A big fantasy novel can easily run thirty plus hours, although something closer to ten or fifteen is more typical. Once I get sucked into a book it actually inspires me to paint more often. I'll actually pick up the brush just to have something to do while I get through the next chapter. Listening to audiobooks also helps me plug away at the never ending list of books I should have read but haven't gotten around to.

Typically, I read about one or two regular books a month and listen to about two or three audiobooks. In this series, I plan to share the good stuff! (maybe a bit of  the bad as well)

So let's get into the first, recommended by another Bastard, Mr. Domus.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.


This is the first book in a series of four so far, and the only one I've listened to so far.

The setting for this one is nice and gritty. Most of it takes place in a grimy fantasy dystopia beset by ash falls during the day and mysterious mists at night. The overall fantasy level is pretty low. Supernatural beings are few and far between, but magic is pretty common. The magic system itself, Allomancy, is quite unique. Magic is done literally by swallowing metal and "burning" it in your stomach to give you abilities. Certain metals give you certain abilities to manipulate metal or your body and most people can only burn one kind of metal, if it all. The titular Mistborn are rare and can burn all the metals.

I have to admit that the whole concept seemed a little cheesy at first. (For example, burning one metal makes magical blue lines appear from your chest pointing to any piece of metal nearby.) But as the story progresses and Allomantic brawls heat up, it gets to be pretty good entertainment. I would love to roleplay in this setting, although I might get tired of every fight starting out with "So.... do they have any metal on them?"

In any case, the main story arc starts as a caper, an Ocean's Eleven type heist with a fantasy twist. We learn about the Allomantic arts as the main character, a new member to the team and a mistborn novice, gets a crash course in the powers of each metal. As with any caper, there are some screw ups and new developments along the way. I have to say I really like the final hook with the Lord Ruler at the end. I may or may not have said "Holy shit." out loud.

As far as the audio goes, this one is close to twenty five hours long and narrated by Michael Kramer. This is the first book I've listened to by Michael and the overall quality is good. Some of the explanations on how Allomancy works are not the greatest in audio form. This is probably something you'd reread a couple times if you had the book, so unless you can devote your undivided attention to listening to these parts, you're probably better just reading the wiki page on the various metals and powers to move forward.

I should mention the author has a really cool annotations page on his site which act in the same way as a commentary track on a DVD. It's broken down by chapter and it was really interesting to get his take on how the end of the book played out.

Overall, you'll probably get a kick out of this one if your a fantasy fan. Although it's part of a trilogy, pretty much everything gets resolved nicely in this volume. I've already started book two, which seems like it might not resolve some major plot points until the third. I will make sure to report back and advise if these other two are worth your time.

Where do you get your audiobooks?

I would recommend checking your local library first. Most public libraries have an audiobook section with CDs, even if they are not updated frequently. If you are lucky, though, your local library will allow you to download audiobooks from their website for free through a service.

If you have no luck there, then Audible.com is probably your best bet.

Happy Holidays! Download a FREE audiobook today!

The monthly subscription seems to pay for itself if you buy at least one book per month.

Got a book suggestion?

I'm always looking for new stuff! Send it to the Hot Tips inbox.


6 comments:

Domus said...

Glad you liked it. That hook at the end there pretty much had the same effect on me as well.

Your guess with 2 & 3 is spot on - you kinda need to read both where book 1 is completely stand alone. The last book is a bit stand alone again and I think is more steampunk.

Mikeyb said...

I've not tried the Audiobook, I generally watch something on Hulu with my netbook or listen to various podcasts.

I've never been into fantasy fiction all that much, I think I've read the Felix and Gotrek first Omnibus, and pretty much left it at that. I tend to enjoy non-fiction more. Which I tend to read about one or so a month of.

Currently the Archer book, which is totally badass, mind you is my source of joy. It looks like the local library has them and I found one written by a former pimp about being a pimp. Sounds intersting to me. That will a good test to see if audible or something is right for me.

Rogers said...

Cool! They are definitely not for everybody. (I have a friend that will talk about reading sheet music if I mention audiobooks) Let me know if you can dig 'em.

Matt Teeter said...

Rog, don't know if you were aware but Sanderson was hand picked by Robert Jordan to finish his Wheel of Time series. Jordan and his wife went over all the plots with Brandon so he could finish the last three books cause they knew RJ would not live long enough to finish them. After reading the first of the three books Sanderson has written to finish the series, I came across his Mistborn series which I thought was really good. I've read all three in the series and the series takes some unexpected twists in the last book.

Regards,
Leapin Lizard

PS: I was the guy standing next to Hastings in the bathroom Sunday morning at BITS last year. That was the morning after his epic road show the night before. The only reason I bring it up he mentioned it in your podcast after the tournament. Just wanted to let him know I didn't peek. :)

Rogers said...

haha, I'll let Johnny know.

I was aware that he had taken on the role but have never read the Wheel 'o Time stuff. You sayin' yer fan?

Matt Teeter said...

Yeah, I'm a fan Rog. I started reading the WOT back in the late 90's. It kind of got a little boring in the middle (books 8, 9, 10ish), but then picked up again. It took a long time to get to the last three books - its been worth it though. Interesting thing about the WOT. If you ever get to reading book 1, I think you will see where GW got their inspiration for Beastmen models. He wrote the book maybe late 70's - early 80's. Jordans description of "Trollocs" in his book are very much like the gor/bestigor models I see today. Also George RR Martin, I believe, took some ideas from Jordan's books and repackaged them for his Ice and Fire series. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion cause he twisted things a little to fit his series. I am reading book 5 right now of the Martin's series and Tyrion has rapidly become my fav character in the series. I&F is a really good series too, I think Martin moves things along quicker than Jordan did in the WOT series, but WOT has many more things going on at the same time though, so a lot to keep going.There are 2 really cool series out that you should read if you have not yet. The first one is The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. She basiclly inserts dragons into the Napolionic era, being used as airforce for the military machines. Peter Jackson has bought the rites to the series and I think he may be working on this after he finishes with the LOTR stuff. The second one is Gail Z. Martin's "Chronicles of the Necromancer" series. This one reminds me of Warhammer fantasy somewhat cause there are undead/vampire factions and empire style armies, as well as, more chaotic countries/empires each playing politics and war games. Anyway sorry to ramble on Rog, but you caught me on Spring Break and I had the time to ramble.

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