Came across a couple of interesting series lately. Thought I'd share.
1. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy
At first, it just seemed like standard fantasy fare. There's magic. There's a powerful villain running an evil empire. A lowly peasant with unsuspected powers who will clearly play a key role in overthrowing him.
Sanderson's previous book, Elantris, was kind of like that. Long, meaty, interesting, but nothing that special.
But the Mistborn trilogy is bigger than that. There's a whole new system of magic (with whole new facets revealed from book to book). What seem to be casual, unimportant details are gradually revealed to be indicators of vast underlying secrets. There are new twists, new ways of looking at the same characters. Everyone turns out to have been completely wrong in some way, even the gods (who don't appear until the third book). And yet it's perfectly clear that all of it was planned by the author from the very beginning.
At times, it does seem a little heavy-handed that way, especially towards the end. Revelations and exposition can be tricky. "... and I just realized that little thing from way back in the beginning was actually a sign that..." Still, that's a small thing. Overall, it's well written, with a good amount of depth and complexity.
Which is promising, because Sanderson is the writer entrusted with fleshing out the outline Robert Jordan left for the final books in the Wheel of Time series.
2. Dance of the Gods by Mayer Alan Brenner
I'm only just starting this. I'm not entirely certain how good it's going to be. But it's cool so far. A number of characters, each with a distinct voice and narrative style. Different locations. Different problems. A swashbuckling desert adventurer is tracked down and whisked off (on the back of a giant bird) to see an old and powerful friend. The next chapter introduces us to a hard-boiled private detective who works his way through a kidnapping case in a city with such complex, chaotic, and unstable politics that just about the only thing you can count on is an insurance company - and that only because they're backed by one or more gods (and you don't want to meet the claims agents). The adventurer's friend turns out to be a wizard who, despite all precautions, has found himself trapped in a mysterious teleporting castle (and the only means of escape would seem to be finding and freeing the castle's owner, who is likely a local deity, from a magical trap of his own). Then we jump back to the city (a different part of it), where we meet a multifacted character who is introduced as a doctor but turns out to be superhumanly competent in a number of fields (and who has a very dry and amusing take on life), and we learn a little more about the city as he moves through the chaos.
... And that's just the beginning of the first book.
The series was originally published in the late 80s and early 90s, but didn't do too well. According to the author, it did develop a small cult following. He believes the book was simply too far ahead of its time, as the genre has developed since then and styles have changed. So he posted the books free online at his website
. They're available in a number of formats, including chapter-by-chapter podcast read by the author. It's an experiment to see if the books have a modern-day audience (and, if so, to figure out what happens next).
I came across it while browsing the books from MobileRead
, which has a vast catalog of free Kindle-friendly books.