Another fine job from the people over at Graphic Audio. Last year all three parts of Mistborn: The Final Empire (Book 1 in the Mistborn Trilogy) were reviewed in three separate reviews. This time you’re getting the whole story all at once.
First off, loved the political intrigue. Sanderson has a way of making the game of politics fun just in his descriptions. They aren’t complex by any stretch of the imagination, but they are easy to understand.
Full disclosure, I read a little over half this book on my Kindle. I never gotten around to finishing the ebook, but needless to say I did complete all three parts and love every minute of it. Even picked up on little details I missed when reading. This made long bus and car rides manageable and fun.
The ending is where this story truly shines. Sanderson said it before that each book of the Mistborn trilogy took a fantasy trope and turned it on its head. The Well of Ascension is no different. The way he turns a particular trope is both awesome and kind of obvious. You wonder why no one thought of doing that back when the book was first released. The first part of the third Mistborn book was purchased not too long after, on Graphic Audio’s site.
The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger the main conflict is resolved, but the final chapter poses a new question. Me personally, that’s a good example of a cliffhanger and something I strive for in my own writing.
The middle (part 2 of 3) of this audiobook/audio drama hybrid is easily forgettable. That’s probably due to the lapse in listening I took and because having read/listened to the book, it was hard to differentiate what happened in what part. An event that happened in the beginning of part three could’ve happened at the end of part two. It’s not important, but it does make reviewing these hard. People who listened to this without a 1-2 month gap have larger attention spans than I do. While I enjoy political intrigue, all the ball scenes felt out of place. The tone was too different from the rest of the story. I realize it was necessary for having the plan established in part one to work, but the way it was handled could’ve been better. The sound effects were great. Each metal had a distinct sound, but sounded familiar enough to each other that it could be identified as allomancy. For example, Iron and steel are both external metals, but have opposite effects. One pulls objects towards you, while the other pushes them away. Their sounds are both similar and different, thus adding a certain ambience to the world through the SFX.
Rating: 3.5 stars
A story with an ending that doesn’t wow, but made me go “how?” The premise is much like the one Dan Wells used in The Hollow City. A schizophrenic sees faceless people and thinks there is some conspiracy out to get him. In “Shift,” the story starts off with the protagonist in a session with his psychiatrist. They chat a bit about their previous sessions and then the story gets underway.
What makes this story different from the traditional psychological horror is its ability to make you wonder, while at the same time, ground you in reality. After all, how would you react if you found out that you could “shift” between dimensions? In The Hollow City, there is a supernatural element much like in the John Cleaver Trilogy (also by Dan Wells). However it’s not revealed until the end and that whole aspect is what takes the book from a good book to a great one. Shift has essentially the same exact plot structure, but the ending is more open-ended and has a sense of wonder that The Hollow City trades-off by making the revelation more scientific than fantastical.
Those are the two extremes and both have their merits. As for myself, I prefer concrete reality over magic or science without much of an explanation. It’s why magic systems and their rules are interesting to me. However if one looks at early Fantasy, there’s no consistency. The Lord of the Rings is an obvious example. You have to be a wizard to do magic and that’s about it. “Shift” is somewhere in between a Lord of the Rings magic system and The Hollow City.
Shift is a wonderful short audio drama that certainly packs somewhat of a punch with its ending. However, the story overall just didn’t wow me.