Review: ‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson

The Final EmpireBlurb

“The Mists rule the night.
The Lord Ruler owns the world.

For a thousand years, the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unlikely heroine, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.”

About the Book

The Final Empire (published in 2006) is the first book of the Mistborn series, and was the second of Brandon Sanderson’s novels.

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Gollancz (2006)
The Final Empire on Goodreads

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Review: ‘The Otterbury Incident’ by C. Day Lewis

I’ve just finished reading The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis. I don’t think I’d heard of the author before someone at work recommended and lent me the book, but he was Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in ’72, and he also wrote under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake.

The Otterbury Incident was published in 1948, and is set in a small town in England shortly after the Second World War, written from the perspective of a schoolboy named George…

The Otterbury IncidentBlurb

“This is a really super story—I should know, I wrote it. My name is George, and I’m Ted’s second-in-command: Ted is is centre-forward of the Junior XI at King’s School in Otterbury and a first class chap. He’s the leader of our company, and the story began with our battle against Toppy’s company. We were so worked up in the excitement of victory that Nick Yates kicked a football through the big window of the classroom next to the Headmaster’s study.

“Poor old Nick! When the Head said he’d have to pay for it he looked like a puppy with distemper: he’d no hope of raising £4 14s. 6d. in a week than of going to the moon. So we signed a Peace with Toppy’s company and planned Operation Glazier to get the money for Nick. And if you want to know how it worked, and what happened after it was over, you’d better get cracking on Chapter 1.”

The Otterbury Incident on Goodreads

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Review: ‘Mortal Engines’ by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve was on my ‘To Read’ list for far too long. It’s the first book of a tetralogy (The Mortal Engines Quartet, the Predator Cities Quartet, or the Hungry City Chronicles in the US. It’s a young adult novel set in the distant future, after the Earth has been ruined by the Sixty Minute War. Nations as we know them cease to exist, but cities are mounted on caterpillar tracks and fitted with jaws to chase and eat smaller cities, fitting with ‘Muncipal Darwnism’, the natural selection of city states.
Mortal Engines won the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize in 2002, and the author was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 2008 for one of his later novels, Here Lies Arthur (2007).

Mortal EnginesBlurb

London is hunting its prey.

Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage – and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

Mortal Engines on Goodreads

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Heysham

Last week I went exploring.
Lucy had said that she wanted to go for a walk, but we didn’t have much time. We decided to go to the bus station and see where we could go, and ended up travelling to Heysham, despite the fact that I knew little about the place other than that it’s the home of a couple of nuclear power plants. As it turns out, Heysham has some beautiful surroundings, and my phone camera certainly hasn’t done them justice. The weather didn’t help.

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Review: ‘Capital’ by John Lanchester

Amongst the books I’ve read this month is John Lanchester’s Capital. It’s set in London leading up to the financial crisis (2007-08), focusing particularly on the residents of a fictional Pepys Road, not the real one. The houses themselves are almost as important characters as the people you’ll see mentioned in the blurb…

'Capital' by John Lanchester“The residents of Pepys Road, London – a banker and his shopaholic wife, an elderly woman dying of a brain tumour, the Pakistani family who run the local shop, the young football star from Senegal and his minder – all receive an anonymous postcard with a simple message: We Want What You Have.
Who is behind it? What do they want?

As the mystery deepens, the world around Pepys Road is turned upside down by the financial crash and all of its residents’ lives change beyond recognition over the course of the next year.”

See Capital on Goodreads
See on Amazon.co.uk

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How about writing 50,000 words this November?

In a few days time about half a million people from around the world are expected to participate in NaNoWriMo, an annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day.

I first attempted NaNoWriMo in 2008. I’d been trying to write a novel for a while, but like many struggling writers I know I kept getting ‘better ideas’ and abandoning projects. I think I told just about everyone that I was doing NaNoWriMo, which meant that people kept checking up on how I was doing. I’m a competitive chap, and I knew that I’d find it awkward having to say, ‘Actually, it’s not going so well…’ so I wrote my 50,000 words.

The result was definitely not my best piece of writing. It’s a cliché-driven tale of a peasant saving a princess from an invading horde, and much of it was completely improvised. But more importantly, I learnt a lot from the experience, and I discovered what it took to write a whole novel. It’s important to say that not all NaNoWriMo novels are bad. Plenty of people plan through October to make sure they have some idea of what they’re writing, as I did in later years, and over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. Each year I’ve noticed significant improvements in my writing, and this year I’m not participating because I’m busy editing Two Branches, which I might never had finished had it not been for NaNoWriMo.

I recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re trying to get more writing experience. It really can give you that extra push you need to get through. Tell everyone you’re doing it, stock up on snacks and hot chocolate, and get writing this November.

nanobadges