Backlist Love is an informal series on “older” books that I hope you’ll find interesting. These aren’t so much reviews as quickie recommendations, so check out Goodreads or your favorite book review sources if you want more info.
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2009)
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2005)
Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people. By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished.
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Why I liked them
I’m a sucker for high fantasy stories with well-developed magic systems and plucky heroines, and Sanderson always delivers. Usually my favorite stories are published as doorstopper series, so these are somewhat unique on my shelves in that they’re stand-alone books. They’re both “Cosmere” novels (set in the umbrella universe that encompasses most of Sanderson’s fantasy books), but I don’t think you have to know anything about the author’s other series to be able to enjoy these.
I picked them up after I finished reading the Wheel of Time series, which Brandon Sanderson completed after its original author (Robert Jordan) passed away. I was impressed by this new-to-me author’s work, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get invested in another big fantasy series right away, so I tried these two stand-alones first instead — and I’m so glad that I did.
Who I’d recommend them to
TBH, I’d recommend the Mistborn series to Sanderson virgins first — Elantris was his first published novel, and Warbreaker was actually an experimental self-pub’d e-book project before the final version was released in paper format, and I do think that the Mistborn books represent a significant maturing of the author’s storytelling skills compared to these other two books.
But if you, like me, would prefer not to invest in a series right off when you can get a little taste of the author’s style/quality instead, by all means start with Elantris. I promise you’ll want to try Warbreaker (which is FREE in e-book format on the author’s website!!!) and Sanderson’s other books after that, too. And if you’re already a Sanderson fan, what are you waiting for?