If you don’t know Brandon Sanderson, and you want an example of a good YA (or maybe New Adult, NA) high fantasy, you need to get to him ASAP. In my opinion, he’s one of the few unique high fantasy writers in the YA/NA fields, and he’s a word wizard. Here’s why:
Tropes and Cliches
This is something that may end up leading to a future post, but these days, YA fantasy is not what it once was. Gone are the days of The Lord of the Rings and the other classic, unique, and rich high fantasies (although LOTR I think is a blend of middle-grade, YA, and New Adult). But back to the point: YA is losing its uniqueness and its originality. Ideas are being recycled over and over and over again, tropes and cliches are hard not to find. I feel like its the same story over and over and over again.
Corrupt government. The Chosen One. Magic has been gone for centuries, and now it’s waking up again. Badass, sarcastic female protagonist. Annoying, stupid, stubborn female protagonists. Love triangles; the devilishly handsome and funny (who is obviously going to win) person and the meh person. Female protagonist who “let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding”.
These are all tropes that I can find you at least 5 versions of in YA. And when used in the same way, they become cliches. But Brandon Sanderson has a way of taking these tropes and making them feel not like tropes.
Brandon Sanderson’s books do have corrupt government. They do have the magic has been dead for centuries trope. But they’re dimensional. And that’s where the line between cliches and tropes is drawn. Cliches are the same trope over and over again, in the same exact way. Tropes are more broad, and vague. They can be different.
The corrupt governments have dimension and purpose and reasons behind them. Magic has been dead for centuries has a dimension and a reason behind it. Brandon Sanderson’s books are planned. The Lord Ruler doesn’t just want power; there is more to it.
Unique Worlds and Systems
The worlds that Sanderson creates are incredibly rich, immersive and diverse. I’ve only read Elantris and Mistborn, but they are enough the convince me. They manage to be unique. They manage to take evil and good to whole new levels. They manage to surprise you with the complexity of the worlds and the systems.
Let’s take the magic system of Mistborn for example (no spoilers). You eat metals to gain magical abilities, and each metal is associated with a kind of power. That’s definitely new, and something I haven’t seen before.
Let’s take the world of Mistborn. The evil is so evil, that the grass, leaves and trees have been brown for centuries. Flowers, colourless. Instead of water, ash rains from the sky. It’s so unique. I bet you haven’t heard that before in any YA book.
He just perfectly blends political intrigue and fantasy together…It’s just the perfect blend of A Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings. That’s why I appreciate Brandon Sanderson. He’s put so much into creating this world and into making it different.
This is unexplainable. But if you see the map of the books, each and every hill and gorge and valley and crevice and lake is there for a reason. He didn’t just put it there. It was there for a reason.
There’s a lot of geological research behind it all. And again, that’s why I love his books so much. There’s so much effort put into the detail, it’s literally unbelievable (get it?).
Realistic Plot Line
The best thing about him, or more specifically Mistborn, is a realistic plot line. Kel didn’t just decide to overthrow the Lord Ruler because he was brave and wanted to try and be unique, and be the uniquely un-unique protagonist who takes up the daring task.
It was because he heard of a way to defeat the Lord Ruler. That motivated him. It was because he heard stories of a world, long ago, when water showered from the sky instead of ash, where plants were green. That gave him inspiration. Reason. Purpose. Something to fight towards, and to fight for.
That is what makes, in my opinion, the plot line so…realistic and believable.
Immersive Writing Style
His writing style is just perfect. He writes excellent dialogue, the way he describes feelings is rich and vivid. He uses the right kind of language for the right setting and vibe. His choice of word and the setting of every word to pull off an impactful sentence is remarkable.
To quote what Arizona Republic said about Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, “The pages practically turn themselves.” That applies to Sanderson just as rightfully as to Gabaldon. His books are page turners – they’re long, but immersive. That’s why I applaud him – for keeping a reader interested in the book every second, all through 700+ pages. That’s quite a feat to achieve.
If you want to take help, youtube up; he has a million lectures on there about writing, outlining, characters, world building, etc. They’re amazing and very helpful, so be sure to check those out…But that’s it for today. Hope this was helpful. Free for comments down below. I’ll write more sometime again.