Review: Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson - 8/10*
Brandon Sanderson is more cannon than man. He fires out more works than any other author of fantasy. Not only does he write an awe inspiring amount of novels, but he also writes various short fictions that go alongside them. And in here, for the first time, all the major ones are collected together.
There is new material too. 'Edgedancer' has never been published before. It's the fastest short story in here, with its food obsessed heroine, despite it being one of the longest. Lift is a clever little rogue, and quickly gets into many scrapes as she plays with her magic. She is a character I think we'll be seeing much more of in the future. Of particular note for myself was 'Mistborn: A Secret History.' This has only been available previously on kindle format. It is such an incredibly clever resurrection of storytelling. The Mistborn trilogy is driven by mysterious powers; it's not until the end that we were given the full facts. Or were we? In this Sanderson reveals more of what happened beyond the mists.
If that was not enough reason to praise this collection, there's also the first issue of a comic called 'White Sand' in the middle. After I read the Reckoners series a few years back, I knew his writing would be perfect in this form. It just carries with it such flair and style. The issue is adapted from the first novel he ever wrote, one that remains unpublished. But that doesn't overly matter. In these first few pages is enough material to launch an entire series, one I'd gladly read.
I've read many of Sanderson's works, though not each and every last one. So I was very impressed to find spoiler warnings at the start of each story informing me of what series or book plots were exposed. I read them anyway, but I know some readers will be grateful for such warnings. Before this was also a preface, situating the story in relation to the rest of the cosmere. At the end of each was a postscript explaining the process behind the work along with hints for the future. I feel like I've just gone on a guided tour across Sanderson's universe and it was, certainly, a very good trip. I'm likely to go again sometime.
The collection showcases much of what the author does best though, as a returning reader, I already have a working knowledge of his world building. The stories I enjoyed the most were those that depicted characters I'd already read about. Readers who have never picked up a Sanderson book before will miss much of the subtlety and complexity of the situations. They have so many layers, and are always constantly expanding. You'd get more out of this if you read a few of his other books first. I would suggest starting with the Mistborn trilogy before moving on to other works.