January Review: Storms, Souls, and Dystopias 

Greetings! Today I’ll be talking to you about some of the books I read in January 2022, as well as going over some other things concerning the Goblin Opinions site as a whole. I plan to have one of these every month, as a sort of overarching multi-book review/check in. Additionally, I’ll ideally have a new short story to share each time. There is one today—feel free to skip ahead to the end if that interests you more than the books. 

To begin, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris: Sanderson, Brandon: 9780765350374: Amazon.com: Books

I was surprised by this one. Knowing it was Sanderson’s first novel had caused me to dampen my expectations, but there was really no need to do so. I suppose it’s important to take into account that this was his sixth written work, and only the first to get published. 

While not at the level of any of the books in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive sequence, Elantris certainly held its own for me. The book begins with our protagonist, Raoden, being struck by a magical disease that results in his being locked away in a cursed city, presumably for the rest of his life. He must unravel the city’s secrets before it’s too late. Meanwhile, our primary antagonist questions the religion he serves and the morality it teaches, all whilst attempting to foil the good guys’ efforts.  

Hopefully that didn’t give away too much. But if any of the above sounds interesting to you, you may want to check out the book. Here’s my full review of Elantris, as well as one for the book’s short story accompaniment, The Hope of Elantris.

The Emporer’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novella): Sanderson, Brandon:  9781616960926: Amazon.com: Books

I know what you’re probably thinking—I need to branch out to other authors. Worry not, for this is the plan: I already have a good deal of books in store for the upcoming months, from a variety of genres and from authors whose last names aren’t Sanderson. Mostly I’m attempting to push through all his stories now, to catch all the intricacies and connections between novels before moving on to other authors. I’ll speak about a few of those later in this post. 

I haven’t read many novellas in my time, but The Emperor’s Soul ended up being my favorite story of this length I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This is no doubt one of Sanderson’s most polished works; it shows in the dialogue, the unusual yet attractive plot structure, and the characters.

Sanderson’s magic system here is top notch and satisfying to witness. His prose is unusually sharp, and conveys emotion quite well. I wrote a longer review for this novella on goodreads earlier this month. 

Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (The Stormlight Archive,  3): Sanderson, Brandon: 9780765326379: Amazon.com: Books

Among the books I finished in January was Oathbringer, yet another book by Brandon Sanderson. This 1,248-page beast of a story took me all of several months to finish, but all in all I was incredibly satisfied with the result.

I’ve recommended the Stormlight Archive in the past, and today I’ll do so again. Not just for the magic systems and the detail in setting, but also for a unique cast of characters, an intriguing and varied plot style, and a focus on philosophical concepts portrayed in an extremely accessible manner. This series always delivers; I’m incredibly excited to be moving on to the next installment.

Moving on to the next item of business, I’ll talk a little about the books I plan on reading going forward this year. The first is, of course, Rhythm of War, the most recent installment in the Stormlight Archive. Sitting alongside it is the short story collection Arcanum Unbounded, which draws together the mysteries of Sanderson’s fictional universe. But that’s about it for the cosmere, until the next Mistborn book comes out. Switching genres, I recently picked up the 2000 historical fiction novel White Teeth. Additionally, I’ll soon be starting Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first in his Gentlemen Bastards sequence. Finally, I’m close to finishing Philip Pullman’s nonfiction book Dæmon Voices, which I plan on reviewing in a future monthly post. 

A new short story is available on the site! An abnormal release, this short tale, The Winds of the Storm, which I wrote for a contest late in 2021, takes place on a dystopian, futuristic landscape. It follows a day in the life of a man as he witnesses the end of the world. You can view that story here

And that’s it. Thank you very much for sticking with me this month—let’s approach February with optimism. I hope I can continue to deliver these reviews going forward; as we all know, reading is an essential part of writing.

That’s enough about me. What did you read this month?

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