Arcanum Unbounded: A Review

Day 37. 96 pages, 43,253 words.

A few days back I finished reading Arcanum Unbounded, Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere short story / novella anthology. Since I have recently published a little anthology of my own with a similar (but smaller-scale … for now) premise, I was interested in seeing how it was.

I’ve read a bunch of Sanderson’s books set in different worlds, and while I’m still not entirely clear how it all fits together (is it a standard interstellar physical universe overlaid with a couple of different energy / spirit planes? It seems something like that), I really enjoyed all of these brief glimpses into the enormous expanded Cosmere he’s putting together. Or may already have put together, there seems like a lot of work behind the scenes to make all this come together.

The introductions to each piece, with the Hitchhiker’s Guide style descriptions, were also a lot of fun to me. I would happily read a 400-page book of just that stuff, though, so I might be considered a niche audience.

I originally bought this book for two reasons (aside from the curiosity regarding expanded-universe short story anthologies):

1) Sanderson’s intro to Oathbringer (Stormlight Archive #3) suggested I read the novella Edgedancer before jumping into it, and I now understand why. It provided some great background and helped to ease me back into this giant of a story since it’s been a while since I read Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2). I’m not super sure whether the city that was the main setting is the same place with the chasms around which the Stormlight Archive is set, but I suppose a similar region? And now all the Radiants are coming out, fun to see.

2) The e-book for the anthology was for some bizarre reason about half the price of the e-book for just that one short story. So yeah, I bought the whole collection, because get your shit together, traditional publishers. Sheesh.

Really cool stories. I can see how the critical response (mentioned in the Wikipedia article) talked a bit about how these stories weren’t so much stories, as deleted scenes. That’s unfair in my opinion, they were definitely stories … but they were also just very small snippets from a selection of worlds, dependent upon the info-dump introductions and then just leaving the reader in there. I was fine with that.

Highly recommended, and now I can’t wait to pick up that big ol’ hardcover and get into Oathbringer.

I couldn’t be bothered Edpooling this up, but I posted an abridged version of this review to Amazon. Just saying, because authors fucking love reviews. That’s all.

– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark after work.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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7 Responses to Arcanum Unbounded: A Review

  1. Yeah, I read that on vacation last summer, enjoyed it, made me really excited for his greater universe.

  2. brknwntr says:

    You havent read Oathbringer yet? FFS man! Difficulty picking up a story after a long absence is one of the reasons i generally re-read the series before I read the newest book. With things like the Stormlight Archive that’s still doable. and I find that once the series gets to be too bulky (8 books and up) I’ve read the early books enough times that the storyline is pretty well cemented. then I just go back and read the previous 2-3 books. I’ve been avoiding the collection because I generally abhor short story collectives. Although I admit that is primarily a result of the way I read and how I like to enjoy a story. Since I have all of his full length works and have read them multiple times, is there new information in the collection? or just world building?

  3. aaronthepatriot says:

    *company’s damnit try to be clever too early in the morning….

  4. Pingback: Oathbringer | Hatboy's Hatstand

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