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Tag Archives: Brandon Sanderson

Stack of Books

I find it interesting as I talk with various writers of fiction – published and unpublished – that opinions vary as to just how many words should go into a novel of any kind. And I’ve found that a lot of it seems to depend on opinions based on whether or not you’re a first time writer, or sending it to a big publisher versus a small press, does the novel really need so many words, or can they be trimmed down a considerable bit, and the list goes on and on.

Nevertheless, there are always the novels that come out fairly regularly by different authors that easily have 150,000 to 200,000 words or more in them, with others that push it even further. And there are the authors that not only put these novels out regularly “on time” but put out a few of them each year too. Personally, I have always liked a big meaty book that I can spend many nights and days in going through whatever adventure or drama is being played out. Over the years as I find books getting bigger and bigger I’ve had equal feelings of excitement and being overwhelmed with what’s out there to read. There’s quite a few I still haven’t read that I certainly want to, and the ones I have read I have greatly enjoyed.

Let’s look at a few of them, shall we?

Big Book

One of the biggest series of books that have consistently been “BIG” books of increasing size and scope, and the one that sort of brought attention to this phenomenon in the Speculative Fiction world of publishing is Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

This series refreshed everyone on what a fantasy adventure is all about and even after the author’s passing away, the story is being completed. Now that’s a powerful story! Yet many readers of it have said that although he got off to a great start and seemed to be leading to a great conclusion, somewhere in the middle he got real draggy. Could it be that he was putting too many words in when fewer would suffice? Or could it be that readers are just unaware of how he wanted to conclude the story, so those extra things were more necessary than people at first realized? If the current writer Brandon Sanderson does a good enough job off of the notes Robert Jordan left behind, and if the notes were detailed enough to account for this, then we shall see if earlier concerns were justified or not. Of course, I’m still not into those “middle” books yet, and I’ve talked earlier about how my goal this year is to have every book in this series read before the last one comes out. You can keep track of my progress in my own ongoing journey through The Wheel Of Time series here. Each time I finish one I’ll be leaving a comment telling you it’s been completed.

Or how about Kevin J. Anderson? He pumps out books like it’s going out of style, yet he consistently delivers on story, action, intrigue, and vast scope, plus he has a way of creating characters that remain with you long after their part of the story is complete.

Hidden Empire by Kevin J Anderson

Hidden Empire by Kevin J Anderson

Ten years ago he began a seven book series set in outer space called The Saga of the Seven Suns starting with Hidden Empire. Each year he had a book out at right about the same time and since then he’s done a fantasy trilogy with the third book coming out this year. In the meantime, he’s written books set in the DC Comics universe, edited various anthologies, kept up with his ongoing collaborations with Brian Herbert including the first book of the Hellhole trilogy which just came out, and did other various projects.

I personally still haven’t read Saga of the Seven Suns, but I’ve seen the books in the bookstore. (Yes, there is still such a thing) They aren’t thin novels by any stretch even if they aren’t the biggest ones on the shelf either. But if they are anything like the fantasy trilogy he’s been doing since then and the other books I’ve read by him over the years, I know that I’ll be enjoying it and meeting a lot of characters that will stay with me.

Speaking of books not read yet, I’ve noticed another author by the name of Patrick Rothfuss. I read a recent mutual interview that he and Brandon Sanderson did with each other and people have been recommending his books to me. I’d highly recommend reading that mutual interview as it’s between two authors that have been successful in writing big books and they talk about it from several angles. It’s both a humorous and informative article.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind seems to be a pretty big book too. Maybe once I’ve gone through the books I’m reading this year I’ll pick this up and read it too. Anyone else out there read Rothfuss yet? Opinions? Is he too wordy, or are the words fitting what’s going on?

And as I pointed out, Brandon Sanderson is the heir to Robert Jordan’s legacy to finish The Wheel of Time series, but he now has his own massive multi-book (ten projected) series called The Stormlight Archive. Book One is The Way of Kings.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The hardback is on my shelf right now and it’s MASSIVE. Just over 1,000 pages. Not a quick read for sure, and one that I am definitely looking forward to getting into later on this year. I’ve been going through the PDF download of Warbreaker on my computer whenever I’m not busy with something else. It’s been a really great read so far, so if this first book of this new series of his is anywhere near as enjoyable as that one – and many have told me that this is his best work to date – then I know I’ll have a good read ahead for me.

But even before Robert Jordan, and even outside of regularly accepted Speculative Fiction, there were people that wrote the occasional massive book.

Let’s look at the one by L. Ron Hubbard that has had a lot of praise over the years.

Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard

Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard

Battlefield Earth is a massive volume that tells a complete story in and of itself. This I’ve been told by those who have read and enjoyed it. It’s a book I intend to read one day. For a long time there I didn’t want to read it because I had seen the movie and didn’t care for it, but people that have both read the book and seen the movie have assured me that the movie is a terrible adaptation and to not judge the book by that. Considering other movie adaptations of books I’ve seen over the years, I’m willing to give it a go one of these days.

But what about Tom Clancy? From the beginning with The Hunt For Red October he has consistently written big books and it just seemed for a good long while there that each book would just get bigger and bigger. When Executive Orders came out, it was dubbed “A Collosal Read” by the Los Angeles Times. The paperback version on my shelf is at 1,358 pages in length. With such a massive volume, I figured that would be his last novel. I mean, honestly, I was wondering how he could write anything bigger?

Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

Fortunately, he did write more even if none have exceeded that one in size, although, the one he just put out has had mixed reviews and the one right before that was terribly thin for him. I’ve been reading Tom Clancy for over a decade now with a break that’s lasted for a couple of years or so. I’m just two books away from reading Executive Orders. I think it’s the biggest book page-wise that I have on my bookshelves. I think it even tops the master for the length of a novel.

Yep, the master.

How could I write about massive books without mentioning my all time favorite author?

Quite a few of you that know me well enough should know who I’m talking about without having to scroll much further.

But I’ll go ahead and say it.

Stephen King.

Stephen King Motivational

This man was, and still is, a writing machine. He is the only author that I’ve seen that can consistently pump out massive volumes of text and keep the reader coming back for more each and every time. And he has proven over and over again that he can write about anything. And he has written some massive tomes for sure. And his average is certainly more than “one” book per year too.

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King

When the mini-series of The Stand came on ABC in the nineties, I had no idea what I was going to watch. Most of my friends had read the book, but for me, it was all fresh. A few years later I read the complete and uncut version of the book, and honestly, I can’t imagine what the cut version must have been like. At this point, I don’t even want to know. These are some of the greatest characters that I’ve ever read, and there are times I swear (can I do that?) that I’ve had dreams about some of the minor characters and have even heard names mentioned and thought I knew someone just because of that book. The Stand is the biggest book he’s ever written, but it’s not the only one that’s big. No, there’s yet another that’s almost as big as The Stand, and if you’re wondering what it is, this would be:

It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King

I got through this one about a year or so after I finished The Stand. As a person that was also at the time reading through his Dark Tower novels (and boy do THEY get big near the end too) I was beginning to see some connections with his “regular” novels and The Dark Tower. That’s another blog post, but as I began to see these connections, I began to have an even greater respect for the man as an author. Wow!

But now he’s gone and done it again a little over a year ago.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I’m not even sure when I’ll be reading this one. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it though, and once I’ve finished some of the other books by him that I need to read first, I know that when I do read this one, I’ll be having another many days and hours of enjoyment.

Well, those are some of the books that I’ve either read or want to read that are huge in size. I prefer those kind myself. What kind do you prefer, and are you more into series or stand alone novels?

Feel free to leave comments below. Thanks for reading what I had to say about these books. 😀

The Path Of Daggers

The Path Of Daggers

I remember when I first saw The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. It was about ten years ago when The Path Of Daggers had already come out in paperback. I have no idea how I had missed this series, but I remember looking at this turnstile in this grocery store and seeing all the paperbacks that were available. It was one of the many series coming out at the time that felt they needed as many pages in each volume as the Bible itself, but this one actually was attractive to me.

I was completely enthralled by the cover of The Path Of Daggers. This image of some crusader like army marching with this “king” of sorts with a sword before him and the two flags with one being the yin-yang symbol – yet not being one as the dots weren’t there to make it a true yin-yang – and all the armor and other details of just the painting and the title of the series “The Wheel of Time” which seemed to give credence to why there would be an almost yin-yang symbol…..well all of that just captivated me so much that I just wanted to take that book right then and there and start reading it.

But I didn’t.

I’m just too much of a person that if something is in a series I know that I’m going to start at the beginning. And you want to know the weird thing? None of the other covers of the books that came before quite captivated me like that one did. The others were nice enough, but none seemed to capture for me what seemed to be the essence of “The Wheel Of Time” with this menagerie of images that seemed to be gathered from various spots in time and Earth’s history and various locations to be collected in one cover of one book, and here I am standing in the grocery store holding the book I’d never looked at before then, and I’m making this judgment of what is the “essence” of this series – and I hadn’t even read one word of it yet.

I really, really, oh for Jesus’ sake, you just don’t know how much I really wanted to pick up that book The Path of Daggers, but I knew that if I did, I’d need the other ones, and I just didn’t have enough money to get them all, and I didn’t want to get the first one and not be able to later on get the rest leading up to (what I erroneously thought of at the time) the “last” novel that I was so interested in reading. Heck, I’d seen enough fantasy and sci-fi series come and go, I wasn’t in the mood to start yet something else only to have it ruined because I couldn’t finish it. Same reason I didn’t start the Dune novels until Frank Herbert’s son Brian and his co-author Kevin J. Anderson picked it up and wrote the prequels and then the finale a few years back based on Frank’s detailed notes.

And you want to know something else that sort of contributed to me not picking up the first book? As I mentioned, and most of you should know, this was one of those series where each volume seemed to want to rival the Bible in page numbers, and here I’m looking at not just one book, but eight books I would have to read of fairly equal length, and here I was at the time still trying to work my way through The Stand – The Complete and Uncut Version by Stephen King and had been working on that one on and off for a couple of years. So yeah, even though I was deeply attracted to and captivated by the cover of The Path Of Daggers, I was equally overwhelmed by so much to have to read just to get to the one book I was wanting to read.

So then I wind up back in Florida (I had stayed there for a year a few years before then), and over the time of another couple of years, I see the books of The Wheel of Time series added to, and I get a chance to talk with some people who are reading them. The opinions varied from “too confusing” to “can’t get enough”. All I knew was that I was still interested in this series and wanted to know why the items portrayed on the cover of The Path Of Daggers were the way they were. So I finally broke down and in 2003 I bought the first two books in paperback even though I wasn’t able to buy all of them. I started reading the first book, and admittedly, I had a bit of trouble getting through the beginning. It was so much deeper and richer than even Tolkien right from the first few pages. I was overwhelmed again.

After stopping it and starting it a couple of times, I finally got past Chapter 3 and really got into the novel. This all happened during a nine month lease I had at this apartment complex. By the time my lease was up, I was about half way through the first novel and feeling pretty durn good about myself with it.

Then events changed, and for the next three years I was unable to pick up that copy of the novel because it was not near me. Later, things came back to where I could have it again (the same copy I had originally purchased mind you, even though it wasn’t near me didn’t mean it wasn’t in my “possession”), and a friend of mine that was needing something good to read and didn’t have any books and didn’t have money or transportation seemed like he was in greater need than I, so I told him a bit about this book I had began some time back but hadn’t had a chance to pick up in some time, and when he liked the sound of it, I gave him both of the books I had purchased three years before and he later told me how much he was enjoying reading them. That made me happy. I figured I’d always get the paperbacks again one day since by that time I had already long figured out that it didn’t seem to be one of those fly by night series that I had initially been worried about when I first noticed it.

Shortly after that, I became a part of a book club and when I found out I was able to order hardback copies (which I had seen hardbacks in the store but didn’t think I could get them) and just pay it back upon receipt, and when I saw what a good deal I was getting by getting all of the series that was available at the time, well, you know I ordered them. It seemed that good favor had come on me by giving away the two books I originally had in paperback and now I had all up to The Path Of Daggers and beyond. 😉

R.I.P. Robert Jordan

R.I.P. Robert Jordan

So, I got started reading again, and was in the middle of my second book when I heard the news of Robert Jordan’s passing. It was then that I discovered that Robert Jordan was but a pen name for James Oliver Rigney Jr. and I was completely blown away by how this impacted me. I mean, first I was wondering what kind of family the man may have left behind – if any – that he felt the need to write such a vast and complex series (just within the relatively little that I had read at that point) under a pen name. I wondered if there might be a son that would later come along and take over like Brian Herbert had done for his dad, or Christopher Tolkien had been doing for a long time for his dad, or even how it already seemed that Todd McCaffrey is already doing for his mother as she gets older. I figured if this was the case it would occur much later on like at least a decade or so later. I knew I’d wind up reading the rest of the series just because I had already read too much to not do so, but I was sooo disappointed that this would be yet another series I’d probably never see the end of, and I had no idea if there was an heir or not.

Then, not very long at all after the news of his death, I hear news that I most certainly didn’t expect to hear so soon, that another author would continue and finish the series.

What? Really? So soon? Wow.

I figured that maybe Jordan had picked someone before he died, but later I found out his widow had picked this author, and I had never heard of this fellow before, a guy named Brandon Sanderson. I was quite surprised that an author was on the scene so quickly for this series. But Jordan’s widow had picked him, and it seemed she was very invested in her late husband’s work, so I figured she would be the best to pick a successor if anyone was. So, with the hope renewed that I would indeed see the end of this series, I shrugged my shoulders and began reading again, here and there, as I went on to find other books and new series to explore in the meantime.

I’ve now witnessed two new books hit the store shelves with the names of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson on them, and I have been reading Sanderson’s blog for several months now keeping track of things there too, and I even downloaded his free novel that he has on his site to try him out. (Sanderson’s blog is one of the Top 10 Blogs that I’m following this year that you can see the complete list of here) And that brings me up to this year where I have now decided that I am going to finish through all of the original Jordan novels (and thus finally reach that book that still captivates me so much with its cover painting), and see if I can also get through the two Sanderson co-authored entries before the last one hits the store shelves by the end of the year.

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson

Not only that, but I have Sanderson’s Jordan-inspired The Way of Kings on my shelf waiting to be read so that I can start yet another long series of books with each volume seemingly trying to outdo the Bible in number of pages. 😉

And indeed, Jordan’s expansive story is very inspiring and I’ve recently started having some ideas of a huge sci-fi epic with many books that are so thick, but it’s such a small germ of an idea at this point that I will most certainly have to work on it in order to bring it up anywhere close to the standard set by someone like Jordan. And of course, to really see how encompassing his overall story is, I must finish the series that he started and that I’ve heard good things of how Brandon Sanderson seems to be finishing so well. And my goal is to do that this year.

And the books by Jordan and Sanderson aren’t the only ones I have scheduled to read this year. I’m right now in the middle of an ARC of Hellhole – the first of an original trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson that in March will be available in stores – and the third and final book of Kevin J. Anderson’s Terra Incognita trilogy will be out this summer, and with both April and October there will be about six more Marcher Lord Press novels to read, not to mention however many various surprises Grace Bridges will bring us from Splashdown Books, and both Mike Duran and Greg Mitchell each have debut novels out next month, and who knows what else just might come along that will catch my attention? Not to mention that I still need to finish reading the complete Dune saga and do some more re-reads after that for the extensive overall review and individual reviews that I intend to do about that series.

So it’s quite clear that I have a lot of reading to do this year.

Hope I can get it all done. Time will tell as the Wheel turns. 😉

This year has been an interesting year for publishing and entertainment. For me, it’s been a chance to start a blog, join a group blog, and begin seriously reading other blogs while figuring out just what to do with this Beyond the Charts thing I’m embarking on.

I’ve decided to make a list of the Top 10 Blogs I know I will be following on a regular basis in the coming year. The one you’re reading is a given. 😉

1. The New Authors Fellowship – This is the group blog I am a part of and I’ve made some good friends there as well as have read some very interesting entries over the last year I’ve been a part of it. These are some great writers with some stories to tell, and they don’t do a bad job of blogging about things either.

2. Kevin J. Anderson – Kevin and I became friends online a couple of years ago when I contacted him as a fan and that friendship has grown beyond the fan/author to where we’ve talked about deeply personal issues. He’s a really good person and an awesome author, and his blog is chock full of tid bits on writing and productivity, not to mention that he recently reposted his 11 Tips for Writers which he often cites at conventions and workshops.

3. Mike Duran – This is a blog I’ve been following with much interest this year as he writes in two areas that I am very much interested in, but rarely see blended together and done right: Horror/Thriller fiction and Christian fiction. With the way he’s talked on his blog this past year about this ghost story he’s written, I have some high hopes for his book coming out in February. I hope I’m not disappointed. The Resurrection hits bookstores’ shelves in February.

4. Dean Wesley Smith – A long time hand in the field of writing, he is keeping up on all the goings on in the publishing industry and keeping new and current writers abreast of all the scams and false hopes and then telling them what they need to know and keep track of. A true expert if there ever was one.

5. Brandon Sanderson – I’m really just discovering him. I first heard of him because he took over Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after the unfortunate passing of the original author, but since I was still working my way through Jordan’s books, I just took that as a good sign that I could actually finish reading the series when I get to that point. Since then, I’ve discovered that he had a good reason for being picked for that task as I’ve started reading him with his free download Warbreaker. Once I’m finished, next up from him: The Way of Kings. I’m following his blog to see about news on his projects and to see what else he might say about the industry.

6. Wil Wheaton – Yes, most of you probably remember him as Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there’s a lot more to this fellow besides that role from so long ago. Read his blog to find out.

7. Michael Stackpole – I first read him with the Star Wars novels he’s done. This year I’ve looked over some of his other books online to decide what to read beyond that and have followed his blog some too. I’ll be following him even more this next year. Also, I’ve chatted with him some on Facebook and he’s a very gracious conversationalist.

8. Splashdown Books – This small independent publisher is definitely making a “splash” on the small press scene. As a publisher of Speculative Fiction with Christian perspectives, founder Grace Bridges from New Zealand talks about the themes of the novels she publishes as well as other thoughts and topics associated with the emerging genre of Christian Speculative Fiction.

9. Greg Mitchell – Much like Mike Duran, this fellow seems to have a decent story put together that combines the two areas I want to see more of. I hope he does well. I’ll be following his progress. The Strange Man hits bookstores’ shelves in February.

And what about 10?

Well, 10 will be that one that surprises me as I get into the first couple of months of the next year. It will be the one that I either had never heard of before, or will have considered for this list but didn’t think would be as “must read” as the rest I’ve mentioned and then it suddenly pops out as a winner. Number 10 is a mystery now, but before too long, I’m sure that it will reveal itself.

I hope you have found some new blogs to follow because of this list. Feel free to comment and link below to any blogs you like to follow.