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Is Brandon Sanderson the best fantasy writer of our time?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JamesGordan, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. JamesGordan

    JamesGordan Banned

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    I have read his Mistborn and The Stormlight Archives series.

    Right now I am reading The Way of Kings through for the second time and am constantly floored by his world buliding, character development, magic systems, and storytelling ability.

    Is he actually the best? Are there contemporaries of his that is even better? If so, I'd love to know and give his or her work a read
     
  2. Phantom of the Library

    Phantom of the Library Unspeakable

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    I really enjoy Sanderson's work, and enjoy the magic and world building in particular, but I wouldn't ever say he's the best in a generation. His characters are pretty shallow at times, and if I see another arranged marriage that turns out to be all sunshine and daisies I might scream. I felt like Rhythms of War was a return to form though.

    Joe Abercrombie is probably my favorite author publishing right now. His First Law series has eight entries at this point and I've thoroughly enjoyed almost every entry. The world building and plot is great, but the characters are the real draw here. Highly recommended if you're okay with a darker read. Oh, and the audiobook narrator is fantastic if you're into those.
     
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    "Best" is subjective.

    He's prolific, highly skilled, and popular.

    He'd probably make any list of the most influential/best fantasy writers who came to prominence after the year 2000.

    But it's not so easy to just give someone a 'best' crown. His works aren't perfect nor are they for everyone. Plenty of people have issues with Mistborn and might prefer Black Company or First Law or even Harry Dresden.
     
  4. RandyRanderson

    RandyRanderson Third Year

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    No. Simply because I hate his books. Others think he's the best thing since sliced bread. That's because there's no such thing as the "best fantasy writer of our time," because writing is subjective. You could search for objective measures of "best author" such as book sales, but that's often just marketing and what's well known, not a measure of literary worth. Take 50 shades of grey, a quite popular book, but one that I think many would consider to be low quality.

    There are good writers, ones that many people can agree is good and sell well, but even that is still very subjective. Personally, I don't enjoy Sanderson's novels at all. I think their pacing is incredibly poor, the world-building feels so unimaginative too me, his characters are mediocre, and I consider the way he constructs his magic system to run contrary to his reasoning behind them. But that's only my opinion.
     
  5. Rehio

    Rehio Bad Dragon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, for sure.
     
  6. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    I thought the Way of Kings was really bad, and that's the only book of his I've manage to finish (and it's not for lack of trying). I'm not actually sure why he's so popular, other than he's a modern author, and that readers seem to want a modern writer to hold up on a pedestal so they can point at those works so people can stop gushing about Tolkien, Zelazny, JKR, whoever. It's like the same thing when people ask if you've read Malazan and the start gushing needlessly over it, as if the mere knowledge of it is some secret club.
     
  7. yargle

    yargle Seventh Year

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    Ugh, another "Is X the best fantasy Y?" Thread. Unlike the other one, I'll give a more in-depth response.

    Again, completely subjective and there is no such thing as "best fantasy writer." We can, however, look at the various components of fantasy writing. At prose? No. Character? No. World-building? Up there. Romance? Ha. Pacing? No but yes but no. Work ethic? Jesus Christ yes.

    What makes Sanderson great is that he is above average at more portions of fantasy writing than most other authors but has high throughput, high planning and high process-transparency which puts him on another level.

    I'd say he is one of the best, but I'm never going to say anyone has to like his writing or his stories. That's all subjective in the end.

    Tl;dr: make threads that are less dumb.
     
  8. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    He's a fantastic worldbuilder--I cannot say that enough. Credit where credit is due, the man comes up with some really fun ideas for magic systems.

    Everything else is hit and miss for me. Sometimes he really nails a scene, other times I've been bored out of my mind wondering why this or that thing is even in the book.
     
  9. Innomine

    Innomine Supreme Mugwump ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I wouldn't even put him in my top 10. Well, he might barely squeak in.

    I've never managed to make it past the first book of Mistborn, though I have read the first three of Stormlight. I'm not gonna read #4 until #5 is almost out, however.

    The world building in Stormlight is absolutely fantastic, but his characters have always seemed all veneer and no substance to me. It's all too methodically plotted out, and everything fits too neatly into place.

    His completion of the Wheel of Time is probably his best work imo. While it's not perfect, he gave that series a satisfying ending that even Jordan may have struggled with. Not to mention, he was wielding characters that had already built up their depth.
     
  10. yargle

    yargle Seventh Year

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    My main problem with him is most of his magic systems feel very video gamey to me. Especially allomancy and ferumancy. I think his societies and religions are the high point of his worldbuilding.

    Edit:

    I'd recommend giving the second Mistborn series a read. I think it's a vast improvement over the first three in almost every way. It's sort of a detective series meets old school adventure stories in a world that's Victorian England meets Wild West.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
  11. kinetique

    kinetique Headmaster

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    He's certainly the most long winded...
     
  12. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    Having read his Wheel of Time continuation, several of the Stormlight Archive books and also Elantris, I have the distinct impression that for all his worldbuilding, Sanderson's only able to write a few personalities. This is most obvious when he's writing women.
     
  13. dudeler

    dudeler Seventh Year

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    Much less graphic, it's a bit more of a fade to black approach for sexual scenes and violence present but not discribed in nearly as much detail. The characters are usually dark. A strange mix of violent psychopaths.
     
  14. Oz

    Oz For Zombie. Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Hate to interrupt you but Tad Williams is the GOAT modern day fantasy writer.
     
  15. Phantom of the Library

    Phantom of the Library Unspeakable

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    Pretty dark to be honest, but it's more "Hollywood dark," if that makes sense. Bad things happen and they can be quite shocking, but things like sexual violence and infanticide aren't regular plot points like in ASoIaF. Still, the setting can be pretty bleak and cynical, but if you're fine with that it's a great series.
     
  16. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Supreme Mugwump

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    I like his writing a lot, that's for sure. I started reading the Stormlight Archives not too long ago and am almost done with Oathbreaker now. It's rare these days that I find myself ignoring my sleep schedule to keep reading a book (last time was probably reading The Name of the Wind for the first time), but he's made me do it almost every night now.

    Contrary to others I also won't complain about the depth of his characters too much. That might be owed to not having read much of his other work, though. (Except for Elantris and the first book of the Mistborn series I'm pretty new to him).
     
  17. Phantom of the Library

    Phantom of the Library Unspeakable

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    That's not how I'd characterize it, but Abercrombie does similar things, yes. He's definitely big on expectation subversion, but not in a Last Jedi, everything is the exact opposite of what you'd expect way. Hard to say more without spoilers.
     
  18. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    War of the Flowers is legit the best urban fantasy story I've ever read.
     
    Oz
  19. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I need to reread this. I thought it was boring as shit when I read it in my early 20s. Turned me completely off the author. But I keep hearing such good things I think I need to go back and give it another chance.
     
  20. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    I feel like in some ways, Sanderson is the literary equivalent of the MCU - he's probably never going to write my favourite book ever, but equally I can reasonably expect that I'm going to enjoy any one of his books. It'll be decently written without ever being incredible prose, I'll be engaged for the duration and a while after, but probably won't be staying up crafting elaborate headcanons for the characters, and the adventure will be thrilling and entertaining. There's a lot to be said for that, but it doesn't make him the best ever (to me, because this question can't have an answer that isn't subjective).
     
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