I enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s work because he likes to do things a little differently than what is commonly found in fantasy novels. When there is powerful magic in a fiction story the main character is usually a part of it. In young adult fiction they are often able to use it because that is what the audience wants. Not in this book. Our protagonist, Joel, knows more about rithmatics than most students at Armedius Academy, but he is unable to use it. This could have been a dangerous move for Sanderson as he could have easily lost the audience. Most readers will want to live the story through the eyes of a character with power; however, Sanderson does a magnificent job of balancing this weakness with other strengths that sculpt a realistic and wholly enjoyable character.
I have grown rather fond of Sanderson’s work after reading his bestselling novel, Mistborn. From there I read the second book of the series, The Well of Ascension, and Steelheart. From my limited experience with his work I look forward to reading through the rest of his books at some point. (I should probably create a master list of books to read or I will continue to put some off forever).
To further fuel my love of fantasy, I have a strong interest in new magic systems. For the most part fantasy has been a favored genre for writers ever since J.K. Rowling brought it back into fashion with the Harry Potter series. What I love about the magic system in this book is that it is something new. They use chalk, not just in part, but everything that is magical is drawn with chalk and exists in a 2-dimensional world. When I read the inside cover I didn’t know what to think, but as I dove deeper into the book I found myself loving it more and more. It isn’t my favorite form of magic to be created, but it caught my attention and spurred my imagination in different directions that I hadn’t thought to explore before.
For anyone wanting to write a fantasy novel, I think exploring the different types of mystical powers is essential to create a fantastical world. Whether it’s super powers like the X-Men or wizards with wands you will need to create something that is your own, that can be identified as something other than what has already been written. This book is a good book to explore that frontier.