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.

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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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