Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009) by Brandon Sanderson

This book, and my reactions to it, are so similar to the first book in the series, that I’m just going to reprint what I said in my review of that preceding book, then I’ll add some thoughts specific to this third book at the end.

I don’t enjoy this level of children’s literature, and I find Brandon Sanderson’s humour very hit or miss, so it was unlikely I was ever going to love the Alcatraz series, but I love his other works enough that I felt compelled to read everything he’s published. So on I went to read these.

There are some likable aspects – the inclusion of illustrations, the illustrations themselves, some of the subversion of fantasy and children’s literature conventions, some of the creative worldbuilding – but overall, like I expected, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. Not a knock against the book, as I’m hardly the target audience, but the main character and their endless musings directed at the reader felt very obnoxious to me. The mentor character was likable, but nobody else was to me.

I imagine I would have enjoyed this book quite a lot when I was the age of the target audience, and it’s certainly competently written, but as could be expected, it’s ultimately not for me!

This third entry sees Sanderson unable to resist playing with some worldbuilding and magic system elements, like with his (adult) fantasy novels. I miss how the first novel had a more pronounced character arc for the protagonist, and plot that worked around it. This book, and the one proceeding it, are much more loose story wise, and Alcatraz muses on his character development more than actually experiencing it. Still, the book being in a more traditional high fantasy setting, rather than the low fantasy setting of the first two books, was interesting.

I give it two lenses, and a technologically advanced sword.


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