Friday, October 14, 2016

Perfect State / Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

by Brandon Sanderson
177 pgs

Perfect State and Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell are two novellas Brandon Sanderson wrote a couple of years ago, which he recently published together in the same book.

Perfect State is different from anything else I've read by him. It's got more of a science fiction feel--a la Philip K. Dick--than any of his other stories. It's a brief story about the God-Emperor Kai, who has united his entire world and conquered all of his enemies. He's over 350 years old and is trying to decide what next to do with his life (he's contemplated learning how to control the weather). But first he has to go on a blind date.

The woman he's meeting is his equal from another world, and in their short time together, Kai is forced to face the truth of his own existence and what he's really accomplished with his life so far.

I don't want to spoil the story, but it reminded me a little of The Matrix. And while it didn't have a fascinating system of magic--a trademark of a Brandon Sanderson story--it's still a very interesting idea for a world and I wouldn't mind if he decided to flesh it out more with a longer book down the road.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is the second story in the book, and is more in line with what I'm used to from Sanderson. The story is about a woman named Silence Montane, who runs a tavern in the Forests of Hell. In order to save her tavern from her creditors, Silence takes on the role of a bounty hunter and goes after Chesterton Divide and his gang. As she tracks them through the forest, you find out how the forest earned its name. This is where Sanderson really shines.

Both of the stories are quick reads--less than 90 pages each--and are well worth the hour or so it will take to read them. Shadows takes place in Sanderson's Cosmere and provides another small piece of the mosaic he has in his mind, and that he's slowly revealing through his books.


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