Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson - REVIEW

Synopsis (per Goodreads):
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist.  Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings.  Rithmatists are humanity's only defense against the Wild Chalklings - merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake.  Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.  

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice.  Then students start disappearing - kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood.  Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery - one that will change Rithmatcs - and their world - forever.

Decided to take a trip back to the YA zone.  Picked up The Rithmatist at the local library.  The story is that of a young man/boy (age: 16) who goes to an elite school that, on top of their standard classes, also teaches Rithmatics for those chosen by the Master to be Rithmatists.  It's explained in the synopsis what Rithmatics is, but incase you skipped over that section (you wouldn't do that, would you?), Rithmatics is the power to use chalk to a) give life to little chalk creatures (Chalklings) as well as create defensive / offensive structures (mostly based on circles and lines).  Joel (our protagonist) is not a Rithmatist, though yearns to be one.

The story carries a rather cliche structure, but behind that structure is an interesting concept - chalk-monsters and spring/gear-punk.  While chalk does not sound exciting and/or scary, Sanderson has a way of making it interesting.  These are not pretty unicorns (mostly) running about to make the world a more beautiful place.  Spiders, monsters, amorphous blobs, are drawn and have the ability to rend a man to nothing but bones.

There are few twists and turns that one doesn't necessarily expect.  As well as twists and turns that one would expect.  Regardless, this was a pretty easy read and another interesting world that Sanderson has created.  Again, this is the first of a new YA series he will be continuing.  I look forward to see more growth in the American Isles and Rithmatic studies.

Never did Joel think he was going to make it in the Melee.  Gonna be a Rithmatist, he thought.  Give Nalizar a run for it.  You know how the story goes.  Up, always up.  Never down.  Gonna study his ass off and learn all there is about Rithmatics whether he becomes one or not.  Let the stuck-up Rithmatists at Armedius look down upon him!  You know he'll come out on top.  Down to the wire.  Never give up.  Gonna take Rithmatics by storm!  Run towards the danger.  Around politics.  And in the end, Rithmatist or not, Joel will be there.  Desert, Nebrask, the tower of Chalkling power.  You just wait.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Control Point (Shadow Ops #1) by Myke Cole - REVIEW

Synopsis (per Goodreads):
Army Officer.  Fugitive.  Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents.  Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it.  A lieutenant attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad.  Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.  

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down-- and take him out.  Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known, and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for.

I didn't intentionally read this right after reading Steelheart.  Two books with different takes on Stan Lee's "with great power yaddayaddayadda." Opposite ends of what Magneto would hope to strive for.  In Steelheart, the powered populace essentially run the world (what's left of it).  In Control Point we see Magneto's greatest fear.  Government.  What does the United States (or any) government due when something threatens its way of life?  It regulates the shit out of it!  All powered individuals in the army...  now!

Control Point is heavy into the military side of things.  The plot, dialogue, acronyms.  This is military fantasy fiction.  And Myke Cole knows his stuff.  That's him on the right looking like he can rip your head off (and he probably can).  Three tours in Iraq and still a reservist to this day.  How did Patrick Rothfuss word it?...  "He's a hell of a nice guy, and a bit an an exception to the fantasy author cliche.  He's not a bearded pudgy ex-D&D geek.  He's a clean-shaven, military-fit, ex-D&D geek." Well put, Mr. Rothfuss (as always).

Control Point is a man questioning his decisions, his government, all of the rules and regulations that had guided his life.  Who does the government serve?  In whose best interest is a war beyond the realm of the average citizen?  The questions don't all have answers and Oscar does quite of bit of reflecting over these points (again and again...  probably the biggest downside is his repetition of the same questions to himself).  As a whole, the book is certainly interesting.  My experience in military fiction is...  well...  this.  So, I'm pleased it kept my attention.  And I have added book #2 to my "to read" list (I know...  book #3 comes out soon...  I'm behind *cough*Warcraft*cough* leave me alone).  

And who doesn't like stories with super powers?  

I give it...  Professor X firing Wolverine (click the link for the video).