Brandon Sanderson, the author who will be writing the final Wheel of Time book, has a limited number of signed hardcover copies of the first book in his Mistborn trilogy available on his website for $20 each. Last month I got a signed first edition copy of this book off of (they’re all out now, unfortunately) since it should be a good collector’s item someday… plus I just love signed books. I’m a little over 100 pages into it now, and so far it is good. The Well of Ascension, the second book in the series, is currently out in hardcover, and the final book The Hero of Ages is scheduled to be released in October 2008.

Also available on Sanderson’s website is a free copy of his forthcoming novel Warbreaker. This is not a polished, finished novel, but the author wanted to make one of his books free under a Creative Commons license and also thought it would be a nice way to allow readers to contribute to the novel. It’s an interesting experiment, and I’ll be curious to see if he will do it again.

At the end of Warbreaker, Sanderson also included excerpts from some of his other books – his award-winning debut novel Elantris, Mistborn: The Final Empire, and his young adult novel Alcatraz: Versus the Evil Librarians. (The first line of Alcatraz cracked me up.)

The Book of JobyThe Book of Joby

The Book of Joby
by Mark J. Ferrari
640pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 9/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4/5
Good Reads Rating: 5/5

Now that it is 2008, I have found a book published in 2007 that is above all the others I read last year and would have been on my favorites list if I’d read it before the end of the year. That book is Mark J. Ferrari’s debut novel, The Book of Joby, a modern-day retelling of the biblical story of Job including elements of the King Arthur legends. It is not a part of a series but rather an actual stand-alone novel.

When Lucifer hears that God and the angel Gabriel are sipping lattes in a coffee shop in New England, he drops in on them to make a bet with the Creator. Over the years, the devil has placed “that same stupid bet” with God – that he can make one of his people willingly turn to evil – even though he has only been able to win two previous bets: Eve and Judas Iscariot. This time the stakes are high; if Lucifer is able to corrupt God’s chosen candidate, all of God’s creation will be destroyed and redesigned according to the devil’s instructions.

Nine year old Joby loves to pretend he is a knight from the book on King Arthur given to him by his grandfather. He even forms the Roundtable Club at his school and encourages others in the group to do good deeds and help out the other children. The future appears bright until Joby begins to have problems with school and his parents. Joby’s life only gets worse as he gets older and God is forbidden to help him no matter how much Joby pleads.

The Book of Joby was one of those rare books that immediately drew me in and was hard to put down after the second page or so. It did drag for a little while in the middle, but it picked up again almost as soon as I started thinking it was getting off track.

The story may not sound original since it is partially based on two very famous stories, but these well-known tales were intertwined in a way that formed an imaginative, unique fantasy. Certain parts of the story were predictable; however, this did not bother me since I felt that these occurrences were supposed to be clear to everyone but the characters. It did not feel like a case of the author thinking “Aha! I am so clever and nobody will guess what I am doing!” while all the readers are thinking “This guy thinks he’s being so smart but any moron would be able to tell where this story is headed.” I did not care that I was not shocked when the characters were surprised at new knowledge but just enjoyed watching events unfold and reading about how they reacted.

On the subject of the characters, I loved Joby, Laura, God, Gabriel, Michael, and even Lucifer, whose interactions with God and his angels were highly entertaining. The characters were well-drawn, and developed as the story moved along, even some who may be expected to be pretty static at this point after being alive for so long.

This was not a fantasy story that had sword-fighting, a medieval setting, elves, or any of the other tropes commonly associated with the genre. It was about one man’s struggle against greater odds, the ways in which the Creator and Lucifer tried to outsmart each other, and the hard decision’s some of God’s people/angels had to make with a little bit of philosophy on free will thrown in. The Book of Joby is a diverse book that will make you feel anger, joy, or despair at times, but keeps you smiling with the bits of humor that are weaved throughout the book.

The prose was fairly straightforward but it contained a larger vocabulary than a lot of books I’ve read recently and had several turns of phrase that made it quite enjoyable.

I would highly recommend The Book of Joby to anyone who enjoys a good book, especially if they are tired of reading generic, mundane fantasy and would like a more thoughtful story to read.


Other opinions on this book:

My favorite bookstore for speculative fiction was Clarkesworld Books, at least before it closed to my great dismay (for understandable reasons but I have to admit I was rather sad to see it go). I can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier, but it was open again a little while before Christmas and is open again through January 31! (It’s just as well I didn’t see it was open before Christmas – nobody would have gotten any presents from me this year after I spent all my money on books.)

Because of closing, it is a great place for cheap books, and they have some signed books too. This time around I ordered a signed copy of Elizabeth Bear’s Blood and Iron. Also, sometimes you can find out of print books, like the first two books in Robert Holdstock’s Merlin Codex series, which I also took advantage of. Then Storm Constantine’s Calenture and Sign for the Sacred called my name, being somewhat difficult to find in the United States. I had to seriously restrain myself from buying more, which is why it’s a good thing I didn’t know before Christmas.

In the past, I’ve gotten other signed books from there, such as the entire Prince of Nothing series by R. Scott Bakker, The Sons of Avonar by Carol Berg, Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett, and Forest Mage by Robin Hobb. Have I mentioned before how much I love autographed books?

On one of Carol Berg’s recent Amazon blog posts, she mentioned she was beginning to work on her next trilogy, an epic fantasy with the tentative name of The Sabrian Veil. She has begun writing some about her new story and the writing process on her new personal blog, Text Crumbs, which seems like it will be pretty interesting. I’ve always enjoyed reading her Amazon blog, so I look forward to reading more of her new blog as well.

I am curious to see what she will do with an epic fantasy. Her Rai-kirah trilogy (Transformation, Revelation, and Restoration) is one of my favorite series with its compelling main character and the explorations of religion, perception of reality, and truth. The first half of The Lighthouse Duology (I really need to get Breath and Bone now that it’s out!) was very good as well and Song of the Beast kept me on the edge of my seat.

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Eos books, they are going to be featuring a free e-book to download every two months. The first featured e-book is Shaman’s Crossing, the first book in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy.

Eos Announcement

Download Shaman’s Crossing

After reading and enjoying Patrick Rothfuss’s debut The Name of the Wind, many were happy to know that the rest of the series had been completed and each book would come out approximately a year apart. However, it was recently announced that the publication date was being pushed back from March 2008 to April 2009, which upset a lot of people.

In this blog post, Rothfuss explains the reason for the delay with the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle. Anyone who reads it should be able to sympathize and understand why he’s had to change the date. Other than the success of The Name of the Wind, it sounds like he’s having the year from hell.