Book Review: Arcanum Unbounded

ARCANUM UNBOUNDED
Brandon Sanderson

Arcanum Unbounded is a delightful anthology set within Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Universe. A must read for hardcore Sanderson fans, yet also filled with plenty of great stories for a reader who hasn’t yet touched his work. I loved them all! My top three, however, would be: Edgedancer-Sixth of Dusk-Allomancer Jak. I’ll leave my opinions on each individual story below.

The Emperors Soul
This was a great story to open up to. I’ve not read Elantris, but in this first story we get to see a ‘forger’ create her ‘stamps’ to make things better.
Shai’s practice is considered outlawed by the ruling class, but when the Emperor takes on terrible brain damage, she is the only one who can help. The majority of the story takes place in a closet, Shai’s prison. Through the course of the story this little place transforms as Shai learns the intimate details of the Emperor so she can fix his brain.
Despite mostly being confound to a single room, this ‘short’ story (Over 100 pages) is sensationally captivating. Brandon shows his skills here, he has his own unique world—no, universe—in which to tell this story, but he succeeds in keeping you turning the pages whilst confound to a single room. A great read all the way through.

The Hope of Elantris
As I said before, I haven’t read Elantris. There’s a spoiler warning for this story, but after enjoying The Emperors Soul so much, I really wanted to read it! It was nothing like The Emperors Soul.
The Hope of Elantris follows Matisse, a teenager that takes care of children, through an attack on the town. There were some cool ideas for the world, that anyone who had read Elantris would have a deeper appreciation for, yet still easy enough to figure out for those who hadn’t. For someone who hasn’t read Elantris, the ending is a massive deus ex machina. I assume this coincides with the ending of Elantris and would make a whole lot more sense if I didn’t ignore the spoiler warning! It was still a nice short story, although I’d recommend not being like myself. Read Elantris first!

The Eleventh Metal
Reading this not long after The Final Empire was awesome! The Eleventh Metal takes us to Kelsier after he escapes the pits, but before he returns to Luthadel. He has emotional issues and only just discovered his allomantic powers. His teacher, Gemmel, is absolutely hilarious. Before this story I had imagined him as somewhat sagely, an all knowing martial arts masters. He is not. In truth, Kelsier isn’t actually sure if Gemmel is helping him, or trying to kill him. He is brutal, and I loved Kelsier’s training in the field.
It’s also here that the idea of an eleventh metal seeps into Kelsier’s mind, along with the knowledge that anyone can be killed. Yes, after surviving enough of Gemmel’s abuse, Kelsier decides he’d go kill Lord Ruler.
This was incredibly enjoyable short story to read after The Final Empire, but would be just as great to read before it. It holds no terrible spoilers, while adding more understanding to Kelsier.

Allomancer Jak
For someone yet to delve into the western period of Scadriel, who was also not that enthusiastic about ‘gunslinging fantasy’, this story changed my mind! Allomancer Jak is a loveable character. I want more of his stories! I usually strongly prefer third person over first, however, the way this was done—with Handerwym’s notes down the bottom—was absolutely impressive. I loved the humour and the over-the-top accounts of Jak.
I’m guessing the insight into the koloss, and what they really are, would be a big deal to someone who had already ventured through the western age. For me, it has made me want to hurry up and devour the rest of the Mistborn series so I can progress further into Sanderson’s western saga!

Mistborn: Secret History
The first chapter had my mind scattered. It focuses on Kelsier and the events at the end of the Final Empire. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it really made me start throwing out questions left, right, and centre! Brandon’s magic system has always seemed quite ‘hard’ (in accordance with Sanderson’s Law!), yet this story is all about divine super powers. Eventually we settle into Kelsier’s ‘afterlife’ as his stubbornness keeps him from the beyond, a realm where the dead eventually go to rest. The story has some ups and downs, generally following Kelsier as he watches Vin’s life unfold.
At times I found it a bit disjointed (Which Sanderson confesses it is!), while at others I found myself really curious about the realm between life and death. I liked the hint as to the greater universe. The true ‘god’ was shattered: shards of him ended up all over the Cosmere, allowing the various magic systems. Greater beings stealing parts of that god to become gods themselves was also rad.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other short stories in this book, and maybe I’ve spoilt the two books in the original Mistborn series I’m yet to read, but it was something Brandon wanted to write. I love seeing someone write what he wants to write. With that in mind, I hope we do eventually see a part 2 and 3 of the secrets. I do look forward to finding out more about these gods and how they are connected. I’d love to know what Stormfather is? “Temper”?

White Sand
The contrast between the comic version and full story was refreshing. Two very different styles of story telling to show off varying aspects of this desert world.
The magic system was interesting… How can it not be? It’s Sanderson! I loved how Kenton was basically a reversed chosen-one. Using his own skill and cunning to overcome the fact his magic prowess wasn’t all that great. The way it all came together in the end was awesome. Can’t wait to read more in this world!

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
The over-grown forest setting really gave me a Far North Queensland vibe, and I loved it! The ghosts were interesting with the way they attacked people who were breaking religious law.
Silence and William Anne’s adventure, as the White Fox, gave a unique assassin vibe that suited the story well. The stakes for them were high, and Silence’s prowess through the forest was awesome. The ‘final ghost’ in the story behaved a little bizarre towards Silence, but I feel that’s the only part of the story I didn’t really like.
The intro and outro, involving the character Daggon telling tales in exchange for free drinks, offered a stellar ending.

Sixth of Dusk
I completely adored this one! Set on a world full of deadly islands, Patji in particular, which is the father of them all! While we don’t see too much of the ‘civilised’ world, the harshness of the jungle is brutal. Everything wants to consume everything else. A bite from an ant or touching the wrong plant could have you dead. Then there were the blood-thirsty creatures that roam at night. Yes, this was a place where survival would not be easy!
A breed of unique birds, called aviar, bestow special abilities onto their human handlers. Exploring the island with Dusk and his two aviar, and watching them survive, was really exciting. The conflict with the ending of an era with the modern civilisation, and the people from above, was pretty cool. I especially loved his excitement with the technology from the people Dusk despised—<spoiler>when it was used to destroy things he feared!</spoiler>
This world was easy to fall in love with, and the story was wonderful. I believe it would be difficult to create more unique stories set in the same location, but if they are to be written, I look forward to them!

Edgedancer (Warning: spoilers if you haven’t read Words of Radiance)
Lift prepared to be awesome. The opening line had me smiling, and throughout the story my face was warping through all sorts of childish grins and giggles.
If you’ve read the first couple of Stormlight books, Lift is a character that shows up in the interludes. Along with Wyndle, her pet ‘voidbringer’ (spren) that looks like a plant, she has her own little adventure in attempt to find her calling. She doesn’t find all the answers in this story, however she does learn that no one else has them either.
I definitely wouldn’t read this short until after Words of Radiance. The Stormlight Archive builds Roshar very slowly, and when you learn how certain things work, it feels like a complete revelation. Reading this first will destroy some of that, so don’t.
Continuing Lift’s quest as she strives to consume the ten pancakes of Yeddaw was an absolute blast. The perspective of a child chosen by a spren was a lot of fun compared to the serious outlooks that the other Knights Radiant possess. She was simply special and had the ability to be awesome. A great explanation! The fact that defeating her nemesis, Darkness, one of the most dangerous men in Roshar, meant sneaking into his room and eating his pancakes was priceless!
Through the story we see Wyndle hinting that Lift must ‘say the words’ and that she would go around hitting people with him. When Wyndle does finally ‘become metal’ it makes for a feel-good moment between Lift and Darkness. Later, using the shard as a</spoiler> fork to eat pancakes had me in stitches, and was a fantastic way to finish the story—and the book!

Grab a copy from Amazon and get reading this awesome collection now!

Beware the Brothers of Eternity

Brothers of Eternity

Who are these brothers I warn you of? Well, let’s just say they have no issue striking fear into Holtur’s most renown monster slayers.
Rock golems and slater beasts are making sure The Holtur Curse is ready to ‘rock and roll‘ through its release on the 30th. Pre-order your copy so you can start reading it the moment it’s available! Be sure and email me your confirmation receipt so you get a copy of the short story “Sorrow’s Empowerment” and go into the art draw (valued at over 60USD). For more information, click here.

Vampires

Vampires play a big role in The Holtur Curse. If you like your bloodsuckers romantic and sparkly, this story may give you nightmares. It wasn’t my intention, but one of the beta readers did find herself having freaky dreams due to some of the events of The Holtur Curse. If you’d like to get acquainted with one of the more humane vampires, A Justified Bite is still live on Wattpad.

You Voted!

Cheers for voting on the NaNoWriMo poll earlier this month. Glaring Chaos won the poll, a mere three votes ahead of The Earth Experiment! I’m really excited to write about this villainous protagonist in a high-fantasy realm. Many awesome ideas are swirling around my mind, just waiting for a chance to squirm into the story!

What do You Want to Read?

What do You Want to Read?

October is one exciting month! The final edits are going into The Holtur Curse and I’m getting pumped up for NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month). The idea of Nano is to write a complete first draft entirely within the month of November. Challenge accepted!
I’ve definitely boosted my writing speed this year, but can I pound out 50,000 words in a single month? I’m definitely excited to give it a crack.
Nano will be taken as a break from Holtur and I will be writing a complete standalone story. Browsing over my ‘Story Ideas’ document—that has grown considerably over the years—was good fun, but narrowing myself down to a single story idea was a challenge I need a little help with. This is where you come in. I want you to vote on which story you’d be most excited to read about, and I’ll write the story that secures the most votes. Here are the stories:

1. The Earth Experiment – dystopian sci-fi on modern Earth
The world is in turmoil, and creatures of myth and legend have risen in the modern world. Humanity is on its back foot and falling fast. Zed Zapper, a gruff ex-marine, feels as though something is forcing current events to unfold. Forcing the end of out humanity. Too bad for whatever it is, Zapper is ready to obliterate everything they throw at his home.
Zapper fends off the invading enemy with varying success, until the rise of the zombies that is. Flesh eating corpses swiftly wipe out what is left of humanity, leaving Zapper as the final survivor.
Loneliness destroys him, and Zepper braces himself for his demise. Despite staring death in the face, a group of aliens, known as Krethians, rescue Zapper. They don’t want much in return, only for Zapper to use his knowledge, skill, and blood to help save the Krethian home planet.

2. Black Island – set in the same world as Necrosanguin and Holtur
Hidden deep within the Tropical Current is the small island of Sunshine. The beaches are covered in pure silica sand, the fish in the surrounding waters are plump and plentiful, and the lush inland forests bear plenty of fruit. Safe drinking water constantly trickles down from the mountain, and the climate is sublime. In almost every aspect, Sunshine is the setting of the average person’s dreams.
The residents of Sunshine all live on the floating town of Dreamglass Bay. But when a tropical storm destroys their home, the people of Sunshine watch the sun rise with terror-filled tears. For when the sun rises over Sunshine, so too do the Verdantuans.

3. Glaring Chaos – set in a generic high fantasy world
Earning the rank of dark overlord was never an easy task, but it was well worth the grueling life-time of effort. The Hero of Justice, chosen by the Grand Wizard, given the Sword of Integrity, and joined by an elf, dwarf, and a half orc, thought he could destroy the dark overlord because of some prophecy. Needless to say, the undertrained do-gooders didn’t last long in their final battle. Surely no one could truly expect an alternative result; that kind of rubbish exists only in fairy tales!
After discarding the corpses of another vanquished collection of heroes, the dark overlord grasps the Sword of Integrity. Suddenly, he is overcome with the urge to do good. Along with his army from the underworld, the dark overlord sets out to right his wrongs. He quickly realises that doing so isn’t so easy, apparently people hold a grudge when you destroy and enslave their countries.

 

Vote:

  • Glaring Chaos - set in a generic high fantasy world (48%, 19 Votes)
  • The Earth Experiment - dystopian sci-fi on modern Earth (40%, 16 Votes)
  • Black Island - set in the same world as Necrosanguin and Holtur (13%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 39

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Thanks for voting!
Whichever story idea has the most votes by the 23rd will be the story I shall bring to life.

Back to Holtur for a moment, The Holtur Curse will be available on the 30th. Pre-orders are now live and worth checking out for the promo offer. The third Holtur story will be written next year. If you just can’t wait that long, the entire collection of short stories set in Holtur will be released in a single book for Christmas.

Book Review: I Am Legend

I AM LEGEND
Richard Matheson

“Come out, Neville!”

After hearing that the original story is quite different to the Will Smith film, and that it is considered the best vampire story of the 20th century, I thought I’d give it a crack. I’m glad I did!

The story is relatively short, but that’s not a bad thing. It delves into the mind of Robert Neville as he attempts to cope with being the sole survivor of a vampire apocalypse. At some points the story jumps about a little, but for 3 years to be crammed into a novella, you kind of expect it. Still, you get a good feeling on how Neville’s life is after everyone goes vamp on him.

Events unfold through the story making his life continually seem more grim. Things begin to escalate quick as he learns the truth of the infected, leading to an unavoidable, but legendary ending.

I actually watched the movie again after reading the book, trying to trace the origins of everything to that story written in the fifties. The only things that are identical are the character names and that there is a dog. Even the whole theme of the dog is completely and utterly different. That said, it’s easy to see everything in the book inspiring all the details of the film. I’m not going to say one is better than the other; both the book and the film are fantastic in their own ways.

It’s easy to see how this short story, written in 1954, influenced a lot of books, movies, and video games that have been quite popular over the last decade. If you are a fan of anything survival, dystopian, zombie, or vampire, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. The only negative thing I can say about the book, is that I wanted more.

Want to read it now? Buy I Am Legend from Amazon.

Oh yeah, if you haven’t figured it out already, those ‘leeches’ from The Holtur Enigma have a huge impact on the upcoming sequel.

Necrosanguin is now Complete!

Necrosanguin is now Complete!

I am incredibly excited to announce the release of the third and final episode of Necrosanguin, Boulderclaws!

For fans of the series, I’d recommend you prepare yourselves as you are going to be blown away by the events that unfold in this finale! If you haven’t read any of the Necrosanguin series, now is the perfect time to grab the trilogy and binge the lot! With an epic adventure spanning across—and beneath—the ocean, filled with prehistoric-like creatures, pirates, and zombies, along with a loveable cast of heroes, you won’t be disappointed! Necrosanguin truly is a unique and amazing adventure!

There is no way to describe the month of June other than hectic; it really was full on! I spent a lot of time working on both The Holtur Curse draft and polishing the final touches to Boulderclaws. I’m really pleased with the way the Necrosanguin story has finished and everyone is loving it so far. I am keen to hear what you think about it too.

The Bristrunstium Monster Records is also supporting some new monster faces. Two new wyverns, shock and water, along with a large reptilian, and a nasty spider-type critter. Check it out!

I also have a new offer on the website, one that gives anyone the opportunity to grab some free books. If you’re interested in scoring some free reads, click here.

Happy suns,
Cameron Wayne Smith

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The Holtur Enigma begins…

The Holtur Enigma begins…

Today is an incredibly exciting day, it is the day The Holtur Enigma begins. For those who do not yet know, The Holtur Enigma is a dark fantasy full of monsters, beasts, and horrors, and is a free serial with new chapters released each week.

The first chapter see’s the protagonist, Vivian Patressi, making his way to Holtur. It was a nice steady trip too, well until a stone wyvern showed up. Will he survive the journey? Find out today by clicking here. (You may need to be logged in to Wattpad to read the entire chapter)

As well as an all new adventure, the Scholars of the Bristrunstium will be working hard to bring more monster information to you. Seven chapters, starting with this one, will be accompanied with an updated Bristrunstium Monster Records. Grab the latest release here for free.

The next ten weeks are going to be exciting. Hope you are ready to experience Holtur while Vivian attempts to survive.

A Digital Home

A Digital Home

“You don’t need an author website,” were my thoughts whenever someone brought up the concept. Well, as you can see, that has changed. This is now the digital home for all my fantasy works.

The big decider for me, is the fact that I have decided to write full time in 2017. So my Christmas gift to myself is setting up for the big year ahead. The plan for next year is to release both episode 3 and 4 of the Necrosanguin series, a small standalone story with massive monster action, and a bestiary full of black and white art of the creatures in the Necrosanguin universe.

I’ll post news updates on here, but for my readers who want to be kept up to date, and receive free goodies from time to time, you should definitely join the Bristrunstium.