Maybe I’m Not As Big a Brandon Sanderson Fan As I Thought

Maybe I’m Not As Big a Brandon Sanderson Fan As I Thought

Recently trying to read Elantris I was sure I would love it. Yes, it’s early Brandon Sanderson and a lot of people warn it’s tough going, but I’m a big girl and I love Sanderson! Right? The premise sounds super interesting too, so in I went and 70 pages later, I hadn’t read for 3 days and was having a slight crisis.

Do I actually not like Brandon Sanderson?

That’s silly, I thought. I loved Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, Rithmatist was a joy, and I had a great time with Mistborn 1-3, of course I like Brandon Sanderson. He’s a master of worldbuilding, his magic systems are unique and the way he pulls out a book’s climax always leaves me desperate for more. So naturally, he’s been on my favourite authors list on Goodreads for years, for good reason.

However, those things don’t necessarily mean you love the work itself. They are just my opinions of his writing. And so I got to thinking: I have definitely *liked* Sanderson’s work in the past, but in hindsight, what did I *really* think? Did I actually love it or was it something else?

Brandon Sanderson

So we head back a decade to the time when I read the original Mistborn trilogy. I was reliably informed that this trilogy was amazing and everybody on Twitter I spoke to adored it, so of course I would too, that’s how this works, right? Everybody loves a book in the genre you love so that makes it amazing? So I read The Final Empire and adored it, ordered Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages and read those as well, except they were slower going. I can honestly say that in hindsight, I really didn’t like either book until they ramped up to their respective grand endings and I believe my ratings for both of them was based solely on the endings and not the journey. But the journey is so important.

I used to force myself to read through books I wasn’t enjoying because “they get better” and sometimes the payoff was good, but as I get older I realise that it’s not really worth it. If you’re reading a book and not enjoying it, or at least getting something out of it, what is the point? It’s possible to read through slow books or books you’re not totally into to get to the next in a series or whatever, but if it’s making you not enjoy reading then it’s an issue. That’s how I feel anyway, and I’m coming at you from the other end of a big old reading slump so your mileage may vary but for years I read this way, pushing through prose that made me want to sleep because “it got better” or I’d get a review out of it, at least, and then I’d end up in a slump and ignore the feeling, continuing reading the same way. That’s how you end up not reading for years.

Fast forward a few years and I finally picked up The Way of Kings, book one in the Stormlight Archive. This whole series is full of 1,000+ page doorstoppers and that was not going to slide when I was aiming to get out a book review every 1 or 2 weeks, I’m much too slow a reader. However, once I left book blogging I dove in.

Now, the Stormlight Archive is interesting to look at because it’s a whole lot of building. I loved it back when I read it. Worldbuilding fascinates me and I enjoyed following the unravelling lore of the world through books one and two.

Brandon Sanderson Mistborn Vin

Thinking about it several years on, however, I wonder if my reading tastes have changed? I still love rich worldbuilding and a solid climax, who doesn’t? But I think in a post-reading slump world, things have shifted for me. I’ve had mental health crises since then, I was unable to read much at all for years and the way my brain functions is not the same as it was. I think I need faster-paced books and stronger characters these days and you know what? That’s cool. It makes me a little sad, I suppose. The joy of tucking into a thick tome is something special indeed, but there are plenty of books in the sea, and plenty of doorstoppers that may still fit what I need from a book, and to be clear I am still very much reading for pleasure, if I don’t have a review out for a month then that’s okay, it’s not the only content I have to offer.

I guess what I can conclude is that I’m just not as big a Brandon Sanderson fan as I thought I was. It doesn’t mean I’ll never read his books again or Elantris is done for, I think I just need a little more time. I’m basically starting my reading journey from scratch at this point and I need to be more conscious of my book choices for a while longer, make sure I don’t slip back into the slump and the I’m not slowed down too much by the brain fog. I just have to remind myself that my finding Elantris and Tigana a struggle doesn’t mean that I don’t like high fantasy anymore because come on… this is me we’re talking about. Just because I’m off exploring other authors and other genres doesn’t make me any less of a fantasy head nor does it mean Brandon Sanderson is off-limits.

Now, that’s quite enough from me. If any of this vibed with you then I encourage you to think a little deeper about your reading habits and choices and consider switching things up a bit! Websites like The StoryGraph can help us explore more of what we’re actually in the mood for (their recommendations are truly wonderful) and it’s worth not letting ourselves stagnate if we want to really enjoy this hobby of ours.

0 thoughts on “Maybe I’m Not As Big a Brandon Sanderson Fan As I Thought

  1. You can be a fan of a writer and not like all of their work and that’s totally fine! Not finishing a book by an author you love is fine. Not like this particular series is perfectly fine. Your reading journey is yours alone, and maybe this one won’t be part of it 🙂

    1. For sure! It’s interesting how I’ve come back to reading and realised how much has changed in my mind and how I read.. and what I read. This was the thing that made me think “ohhh maybe my tastes are different now” but also, were they? It’s interesting to consider.

  2. I’ve never read Sanderson so I don’t know what I’m missing out on, lol. As a book blogger it’s hard to fit in large books, like you said. I would rather read shorter books and get more reviews up. But someday I will tackle him!

    1. Yeah, I’m thinking I may try the audiobooks for his stuff in future, see if that helps. I am really starting to notice that I’m not alone with these thoughts, though. I dunno!

  3. Elantris was the 1st book of his, and while it dragged in parts, I liked it overall.

    I adored Mistborn 1, but didn’t really like 2 and 3. They were “fine” but again dragged a lot for me.

    I’ve not read his Robert Jordan series finishers. I keep saying I’m gonna just blast the whole series at some point and my son even gave me all of the books as a present and they sit on my shelf, but….. I just haven’t done it yet.

    I love his Stormlight books.

    Don’t particularly care for the Legion books.

    Haven’t read his YA stuff… The descriptions don’t interest me.

    I recall liking Warbreaker quite a lot while I read it, but not so much I’ve re-read it or remember it well, just something to do with color magic, really.

    I read his “Cosmere collection” of short stories, and liked those well enough.

    I really liked the “Wax and Wayne” trilogy. 1st book was best, 3rd was quite good, 2nd one… was a typical “sophomore slump” book, but better than Mistborn 2 still, IMO.

    My favorite thing of his is the novella “The Emperor’s Soul.” I’ll re-read that a time or 2 each year. Just love it. No idea why, just do.

    So…. I’ll call myself a fan overall, but I’m not a fanboi and don’t care to meet him at a con or a book signing or whatever. He’s “just another author” to me, though I’ll say he’s “above average” in my eyes, I guess.

    1. Somewhat similar to you, for me.

      re: Wheel of Time — some of Robert Jordan’s books in that series become a real slog. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed reading less than I did during book 8 of WoT. The early books are fantastic, the later books also begin to pick-up again, and I think Sanderson did some of his best work in wrapping up this series based on Jordan’s notes.

      It’s been a long, long, long time now since I read the series myself so I have trouble saying now whether I think the journey as a whole was worth it or not.

      I think… I think I’m pleased to have done it. But I’m certainly pleased it is done. And I’m in no hurry to ever revisit the series in book form. xD

    2. I’m glad you enjoy his stuff well enough! My friend recommended The Emperor’s Soul to me, actually. I believe I have it in Arcanum Unbounded but wanted to read others first. Will get there eventually.

  4. I agree with you that the “it might get better later” is a terrible trap to fall in. We live in an age where there is so many types of entertainment out there, easily available and all vying for our attention that it just isn’t worth spending time on something that we are not enjoying because just on the off chance it might get better.

    It is also completely valid to not enjoy something that is super popular or like Tessa said, like some works from an author and enjoy others.

    Life is too short to spend time on things that aren’t bringing us joy.

    1. Yeah, it bothers me in a lot of mediums. Why watch a TV series if it doesn’t get good until series 3? A game if you have to put in 50 odd hours just to get to the really good bit? A book if you have to read 400 pages until it gets going? Some people just have more stamina in these areas than I do, haha. I say that, After YEARS I’m almost at the part of FFXIV that people say is “when it gets good” (I’m a very on/off player, no judge pls). And yeah, exactly. There is so much out there we might enjoy more and only so many hours! Indeed.

  5. I hardly ever stop reading a book or series once I’ve started. But I’m also very picky in what I start. For better or worse, I still don’t read self-published books as a matter of course. This is probably horribly unfair and I know there will be high-quality stuff in there I’m missing, but I just don’t read enough to risk the waste of time it may entail.

    But, Robin Hobb’s Soldier’s Son trilogy is one I stopped. Twice. I stopped during the first book the first time, and I think I tried to come back to it later, brute force my way through it and see if it picked up in book two. I can’t even recall if I finished book two or not, but even if I did, I definitely didn’t go on to three.

    Even with that experience though, I’m still very much a fan of Hobb’s previous works — and actually if I’m not mucking timelines up in my head, later works too, when revisiting the Elderseer / Fitz world.

    Sanderson is an interesting one though. I like his works, by and large, at least the adult fiction. I’ve not read his YA work and have little interest in doing so. Certainly The Stormlight archive ranks highly on my list of favourites, but neither it nor Sanderson as an author really sits right up high as a top favourite. He has certain quirks in his writing which are irksome. Some books dragged, and terribly so. Looking back on GoodReads, I rated the Mistborn original trilogy, in order: 4 stars, 2 stars, 3 stars.

    So I guess overall I can understand the sentiment here. Sanderson is an author worth liking; his reputation for magic systems and world-building is well deserved. But overall… I think he is perhaps upper middle of the pack, and wonder if perhaps some of his fame is more based on being so prolific rather than being so good.

    Of course… Considering still waiting for Rothfuss and Martin after however long, there is probably something to be said for a middle ground there. 😉

    1. I bow to you, sir. I think I’m picky but often get into a book or series and wanna read something else instead. And that’s a shame! I heard some wonderful things about a lot of self-published fiction. Mayhaps myself or others can change your mind soon! Just have to find the right recommendations.

      4, 2, and 3 seems about right for my personal experience with Mistborn, as well.

      That’s an interesting thought. I always liked that he does definite high fantasy, not grimdark, around a time when I felt like we were swimming in grimdark stuff. But it is true, being chosen to finish Jordan’s series and just the amount he puts out into the world has added a lot to his fame. Not that that should discredit what he does well but yeah.

      Give it up. It’s not happening. xD

  6. Haha, reminds me of my own complicated feelings with Brandon Sanderson books. I actually think most of his endings are trash! I don’t think I’ve been happy with a single one of his series endings from Mistborn to the Reckoners and Alcatraz. Still, I’m a fan though 😀

    Elantris, as you’ve mentioned, is a bit raw, given it’s his debut so I don’t blame you. Also, his epic fantasy novels tend to be doorstoppers, and more and more I am finding that I have less patience with the genre itself due to time constraints and mood in general. But I’ve learned you can still take the bad with the good 🙂

    1. I wrote a whole reply to this comment the other day and WordPress glitched and it never posted so I’m just gonna say: aye! And it’s extra frustrating when a disappointing ending comes at the end of such a brick! I’ll come back to him when I’m ready. 😀

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