ideas to explore in the series is the titular concept of Blood Magic, and how that power and associated religion interact with the world, and the world with it. Cracks In the Ice dives deeply into that interplay, with is probably why I enjoy the episode as much as I do. Going through my pre-revision re-read, I simply thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It combines interesting world-building with strong character development, and advances the overall plot of the series while still being episodic. I would go so far as to claim it is one of the strongest episodes in season one.
From his seat in the rearranged great hall, Kiluron sat beside Doil and watched the performers, who had to be the least interesting performers Kiluron had ever witnessed. The customary furnishings of the great hall had all been cleared away, a raised platform had been erected, seating in a special, semicircular arrangement had been set forth, and odd panels and long bunches of thick, dark, heavy cloth had been hung erratically all through the chamber, all at the request of a woman who had so far spent the entirety of the performance standing with her back to her noble audience. At least the other performers were all facing the correct direction, more or less focused upon the woman who led them, but they had spent the whole time thus far sitting mostly still and make a dreadful din upon their instruments. Admittedly, the performance had only begun a few moments before, but so far Kiluron was not impressed.
I'm still very excited about the potential that this world and series holds, and just because I haven't made writing progress recently does not mean that I haven't been thinking about it, which is sometimes almost as useful. For instance, one of the threads I sort of dropped in the rough draft of the first book was the idea of the magic being dangerous to its wielders, and I think I finally solved just what makes it dangerous. It turns out that the "magic" has motivations and desires of its own, or at least an objective that does not necessarily align with that of its users.
As I said in my review of The Hobbit, during this reread I was surprised by how light that novel is; I suspect that my memory of its tone from my last reading was affected by my intermediate viewing of the movies. Or, perhaps I was merely linking it with the core Lord of the Rings books, which very quickly take on a markedly different tone from their prequel (and yes, I know that technically there is just one "book," which was split into three parts for the convenience of readers and publishers). The implications of a darker turn are heavy throughout even the early chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring, but are pivotally confirmed with the events of the chapter A Knife in the Dark.
I am very excited to present to you the first episode of a brand new season of Blood Magic, the short story series that I've been publishing for over a year now on IGC Publishing to minimal fanfare. If you're not already familiar with it, I encourage you to go over to the main Blood Magic page or any of my myriad posts on the subject to learn more. Better yet, I encourage you to start at the beginning, and read the first episode. We even have a newly revised edition here on the site, newly re-released for 2021.
I've been seeing that Sanderson was working on this novella from his website's status bar for quite some time now, but I hadn't been sure what it was (though I could have figured out without too much more research, I know). However, I was not expecting it to come out so close to when the fourth Stormlight novel finally came out, and was very excited to find that, in November, I had not one, but two new pieces of Stormlight literature to enjoy.
Supposedly, that's the end of Shannara. Terry Brooks claims that The Last Druid was the latest he intends to go in the in-world timeline. This series was supposed to radically alter the Four Lands forever, and I was expecting something big. The first couple of books were promising, with the Skaar invasion and the fall of the current Druid Order (the Fifth?); the Skaar were such a compelling, dominant force that it seemed certain that they were going to be in the Four Lands to stay.
As I mentioned in my other Fall of Shannara reviews, it is difficult to separate out a single book to discuss it when that book is a part of a series that is part of a saga stretching over decades of real world time and dozens of installments, but I will do my best. This book, quite frankly, had enormous shoes to fill: it had to be a good book in and of itself, it had to be a satisfying conclusion to the Fall of Shannara series, and it had to be a pleasing ending to the entire Shannara series. Next week, we'll do a review that covers how it did in the latter two categories, but I will do my best in this post to constrain myself to looking just at this piece.
Between working on Blood Magic and Fo'Fonas, which while very different are both larger-scale projects than anything I've attempted before, I'd like to think that I've been getting a lot better at building characters and plots. Certainly Blood Magic has forced me to stretch in this respect. Since I've been working a lot on them, I decided that I needed another, newer project to keep my writing fresh, since I find that if I sink too much into one or two projects I start to get too deep into the world and the storytelling suffers as a result.
We may have talked about "second book syndrome" before on the site. If you've read, or even watched, many series, you've probably noticed it: the first installment comes out strong, and then the second falters a little before things improve again in the third. By no means is this universal, but it is common enough to be remarkable, which is why we're remarking on it. Whether it's the result of the author trying too hard to replicate the success of the first book, or the fact that the pacing of a second book can feel a little like the pacing of the middle of a novel, which is always the hardest to keep interesting, second books often falter. Not Words of Radiance, which takes what made The Way of Kings fantastic, and built upon it to create a sequel worthy of the Stormlight Archive.