The Dark Talent

Cover of The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson. Art of a team of quirky heroes by Scott Brundage.
Cover art by Scott Brundage. Click through to read an excerpt of book one on Amazon!

Title: The Dark Talent

Series: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians 1

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Nutshell: The world is not what you think it is. You live in the Hushlands, the territory controlled by the Evil Librarians, who supress your knowledge and technology. But somewhere out there are the Free Kingdoms, a place of unbridled knowledge and wondrous technology. Start your search-

What? Yes, I said librarians. Yes, I meant those nice, little, old ladies with horn-rimmed glasses. They’re sneaky.

Alcatraz can tell you. Alcatraz Smedry was a foster child in despair because he broke almost everything he touched, but when he received a box of sand for his birthday, he learned the truth.

What? Yes, sand. It was a very momentous occasion. Stop interrupting.

His grandfather, Leavenworth Smedry, rescues him and explains that he is the last in a long line of powerfully gifted people. His cousin, Kaz, can speak in gibberish. Leavenworth himself is always late. And Alcatraz? He breaks stuff! So incredible!

What? Of course I’m serious. If I have to tell you one more time…

So Alcatraz embarks on an epic, zany, sarcastic quest to save the world, find his parents, and discover the truth. Like how penguins are rocket-propelled, how France is a deception, and how to use found objects to do almost anything.

Read this book. Read all these books. Read. Every. Page.

That is all the guidance I can give you. Good luck.

 

1 This is the fifth book in a series. The Nutshell will be for the series. The Ramblings will be for the book, with spoilers for previous books.

Read-alikes: Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events is very like this in tone. Randoms is like it more overall.Read More »

Top Ten: I Jedi

Cover of I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole. Artwork by Drew Struzan.
Artwork by Drew Struzan. Click to read a preview!

Title: I, Jedi

Author: Michael A. Stockpile

Nutshell: Corran Horn’s wife has been kidnapped. Ordinarily he would go rushing off after her, swoop in to her rescue, and they would kick rear end and take names all the way out of the enemy base. But Corran doesn’t know who kidnapped Mirax or where to find them. The galaxy is a huge place, and only a few New Republic intelligence officers know where she was before she was kidnapped. That information is highly classified, of course.

In addition, there’s some evidence that Mirax was kidnapped by someone who thought she was associated with the Jedi. Which means it might take a Jedi to rescue her.

So Corran joins Luke’s Jedi academy, to connect with the Force and his Jedi heritage. But soon he discovers that being Luke Skywalker isn’t his destiny. If he’s going to save Mirax, he’s going to have to be a Jedi on his own terms.

Read-alikes: Just about any other Star Wars book is like this one, especially the X-wings series. I also think Timothy Zahn’s Night Train to Rigel and series is similar.Read More »

Top Ten: The Icarus Hunt

A strange spaceship over a planet.
Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Icarus Hunt

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: Jordan McKell is a small-time smuggler for a crime lord. It’s not an ideal line of work, but it pays the bills. He’s between smuggling runs when he gets approached for a regular shipping job. Since he’s supposed to be an out-of-work shipper in between runs, he does what any good out-of-work cargo hauler does: he takes the job. He’ll explain it to the crime lord later.

The job does have a couple of oddities. First, the cargo is an entire ship, so he’ll have to fly it. Second, the ship is one of the ugliest, worst-designed ships in the galaxy. Third, he isn’t allowed to choose a crew. Besides his own partner, he has no say in the choice of crewmembers that are helping him. Fourth, there is something fishy going on. This small freight job might be a lot more like smuggling than he was planning. And fifth, one of the crewmembers is dead.

Read-alikes: Michael A. Stackpole’s science fiction is quite similar, as is Aaron Aliston’s. Avalon, by Mindee Arnett has many of the same features.Read More »