I binged on Brandon Sanderson this past week. I finished reading The Rithmatist, I saw Brandon at the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association) trade show, went to his Powell's signing, Started reading Steelheart, and oh yeah, I had lunch with Brandon too. Good times, that.
It's always great to see Brandon and the Cedar Hills Powell's does such a wonderful job running their events. But I bet what you really want to hear about is the books.
The Rithmatist was a good read. I'm a bit surprised that it was released as a YA because the story felt more middle grade to me. It didn't diminish the story, it's just one of those weird publishing moves that I can't find a reasonable explanation for other than price point. Anyway...like I said, it's a good read. Even though it's been out for a few months I won't post any spoilers. Brandon did an excellent job, as usual, of explaining the magic system so that the reader doesn't need a geometry degree and the names of the various defenses are fun. The diagram of the Shoaff defense made me laugh out loud. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the revelation of the villain. It wasn't who I expected (even though it was foreshadowed). Normally that's a good thing because I'm well read enough that I can pick up on those clues. However, I still felt a bit cheated because it was like watching a new episode of Scooby Doo only to find out that the special guest was Harry Potter's muggle neighbour's former roommate.
What I found really interesting were the changes he made from the original. No, I haven't read the original draft, but I did read the first three chapters when he posted them on his website. I don't know if they're still there or if they were removed during the site's redesign. If they're not then check out 17th shard. If anyone has them they will. Anyhoo, the reason I bring up Scribbler (the original draft) is that it was fascinating being able to compare the two. The opening chapters were very different and I can see why he changed what he did. It made me sad that I don't have access to the full draft of Scribbler so I could compare and contrast the rest of the book. I'm really curious about what else he changed.
Steelheart is a very different book and I'm enjoying it a lot. I've only read the first half and I'm curious as to where he's going to take this series. Again, I'm not going to give out any spoilers. Since I haven't finished it that's pretty easy to do. In fact I'll hold off reviewing Steelheart until I've finished it. However, I will say that out of these two books I'd recommend Steelheart over The Rithmatist because it has some excellent violence and a Japanese supervillain. That's two happy buttons right there.