November releases have torpedoed my top 10! Thanks to the directorial debuts from Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and John Carrol Lynch (Lucky), my top 10 needs some serious rearranging. Other notable watches this month include Blade of the Immortal from Takashi Miike, Downsizing from Alexander Payne and Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. As we inch closer and closer to the end of the year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching my list evolve over the past 11 months. Can’t wait for the December releases, apparently there’s some Star Wars movie coming …

To check out my top 10 month by month, feel free to check out my other lists from earlier in the year. As always, I’d love to hear about your favourite movies in the comments below or come over and play at our Facebook page.

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October

- Stu

Top 10 as of the end of November:

1. Lady Bird
2. Land of Mine
3. Call Me By Your Name
4. Good Time
5. Get Out
6. Brigsby Bear
7. Lucky
8. Killing of Sacred Deer
9. I am Not Your Negro
10. Blade Runner 2049



Films I've watched this month:

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman
Murder on the Orient Express
Justice League
Blade of the Immortal
Lady Bird
Lucky
Murder on the Orient Express
Downsizing
Justice League
Borg vs McEnroe
Breathe
Wonder Wheel

Films I've watched in 2017:

1. Passengers
2. Edge of Seventeen
3. Paterson
4. Moonlight
5. Manchester by the Sea
6. Split
7. Jackie
8. XXX: Return of Xander Cage
9. Moonlight
10. Lion
11. Live by Night
12. Perfect Strangers
13. Batman (1966)
14. Rosalie Blum
15. Patriots Day
16. Moana
17. Gold
18. Silence
19. Singing in the Rain (1952)
20. Hidden Figures
21. Fences
22. The Love Witch
23. Toni Erdman
24. Fences
25. The Great Wall
26. Silence
27. David Stratton: A Cinematic Life
28. 50 Shades Darker
29. Miss Sloane
30. Trainspotting 2
31. Logan
32. Kong: Skull Island
33. Beauty and the Beast
34. Get Out
35. The Salesman
36. The Cure For Wellness
37. Monsieur Chocolat
38. The Eagle Huntress
39. Lego Batman
40. Loving
41. Things to Come
42. Farewell, My Queen
43. Power Rangers
44. Land of Mine
45. Life
46. Smurfs: The Lost Village
47. Their Finest
48. Alone in Berlin
49. Ghost in the Shell
50. A Man Called Ove
51. Ghost in the Shell
52. Colossal
53. Zach's Ceremony
54. Chips
55. Lego Batman
56. Boss Baby
57. John Wick: chapter 2
58. Fate of the Furious
59. Denial
60. Going in Style
61. Raw
62. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
63. The Osiris Child Sci Fi Vol 1
64. Free Fire
65. Get Out
66. The Trip to Spain
67. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
68. Alien: Covenant
69. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
70. Get Out
71. John Wick: Chapter 2
72. The Mummy
73. Wonder Woman
74. Baywatch
75. 20th Century Women
76. Hounds of Love
77. Ana, Mon Amour
78. The Ornithologist
79. Waiting for Giraffes
80. The Nile Hilton Incident
81. Whitney: Can I be Me
82. Taste of Cherry
83. My Year with Helen
84. Happy End
85. Ingrid Goes West
86. The Wall
87. The Hidden Fortress
88. Yojimbo
89. Wonder Woman
90. 78/52
91. Ama-San
92. I Am Not Your Negro
93. Mifune: The Last Samurai
94. Graduation
95. Barbecue
96. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
97. On Body and Soul
98. Kedi
99. Rough Night
100. Call Me By Your Name
101. The Promise
102. Porto
103. God's Own Country
104. It's Not Dark Yet
105. The Little Hours
106. The Farthest
107. The Beguiled
108. All Eyez On Me
109. Okja
110. Transformers: The Last Knight
111. Baby Driver
112. Una
113. The House
114. Spider-Man: Homecoming
115. It Comes at Night
116. Spider-Man: Homecoming
117. Baby Driver
118. Inconvenient Truth: Sequel
119. Dunkirk
120. War for the Planet of the Apes
121. Dunkirk
122. Atomic Blonde
123. The Big Sick
124. Lady Macbeth
125. Kiki, Love to Love
126. Wind River
127. Maudie
128. Logan Lucky
129. Valerian
130. Terminator 2 3D
131. Trip to Spain
132. A Ghost Story
133. The Dark Tower
134. Logan Lucky
135. The Hitman's Bodyguard
136. American Made
137. Killing Grounds
138. The Room
139. Gifted
140. The Lost City of Z
141. IT
142. Girl's Trip
143. American Assassin
144. Final Portrait
145. Blue
146. Mother!
147. Lego: Ninjago
148. Patti Cakes
149. IT
150. Ali's Wedding
151. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
152. Battle of the Sexes
153. Blade Runner
154. Beatriz at Dinner
155. Blade Runner 2049
156. Mountain
157. Heal the Living
158. Girl with all the Gifts
159. Good Time
160. Happy Death Day
161. Three Summers
162. Blade Runner 2049
163. Thor: Ragnarok
164. The Snowman
165. Killing of a Sacred Deer
166. Suburbicon
167. Brigsby Bear
168. Tom of Finland
169. Thor: Ragnarok
170. Professor Marston and the W Woman
171. Murder on the Orient Express
172. Justice League
173. Blade of the Immortal
174. Lady Bird
175. Lucky
176. Murder on the Orient Express
177. Downsizing
178. Justice League
179. Borg McEnroe
180. Breathe
181. Wonder Wheel

Episode 58! Stu and Billy are back this week to discuss Justice League.

Justice League is the 5th installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and follows on from the events of Batman v Superman. The film is directed by Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman) and written by Chris Terrio (Argo, Batman v Superman) and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron).

Fueled by their restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince unite new allies to face an even greater threat.

The team consisting of Barry Allen, Arthur Curry, and Victor Stone must face the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons, who are on the hunt for three Mother Boxes on Earth, while the world reflects on Superman's death.

Despite this formation of an unprecedented league of heroes -- Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash -- it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The film stars Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/The Flash), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone/Cyborg), Henry Cavill (Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), J. K. Simmons (James Gordon), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), and many others.

As well as the films, Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this week, and look over the latest in movie news.

We also have a special guest this week for our Justice League discussion, Garth Franklin from the Dark Horizons website!

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!





                                      Get it from Whooshkaa here


                                            Get it from Itunes here

If you want to engage with Stu and Billy more you can do so at the following: 
Stu
Twitter - https://twitter.com/stu_watches
Letterboxd - https://letterboxd.com/stucoote/

Billy
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Aqualec
Letterboxd - https://letterboxd.com/aqualec/

Garth and Dark Horizons can be located at:
Website - http://www.darkhorizons.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/darkhorizonscom
Twitter - https://twitter.com/darkhorizons






When Words of Radiance first came out, it was famously quite big. The manuscript was large enough to sink a yacht, the word count would've made Robert Jordan blush, and the final published version of 1088 pages was the largest-possible book Tor could ever have bound at the time. When I wrote my review of The Way of Kings, I said that although a doorstopper could be intimidating because of its sheer length, The Stormlight Archive was one of the rare examples of a series which needed all of its space to get the job done right.

Oathbringer, the third book, clocks in at 1243 pages for the UK/Australia edition, more than any other Brandon Sanderson book. It's the longest novel I've ever read. Some folk said it seemed an untenable length.

Well, initially I might’ve agreed with them.

Picking up right after the end of Words of Radiance, the Alethi have taken control of Urithiru, ancient city and font of knowledge for Roshar’s past. As Kaladin races to save his hometown of Hearthstone from the encroaching Everstorm, and Shallan works to uncover the mysteries of Urithiru, Dalinar forges ahead with his plan to unite the disparate nations of Roshar to challenge the unstoppable force of the Voidbringers. All the while, with the Knights Radiant refounded by Dalinar, more folk across the world are starting to manifest Stormlight powers.

As always, Sanderson’s command of plot is indisputable; the man knows how to write a roaring story with the requisite status quo upsets and unexpected narrative flourishes. Oathbringer deepens our understanding of Roshar’s past, which informs major consequences felt by the cast in the present. Concurrently, Dalinar’s mission to create rather than conquer brings solid political focus to the narrative, never getting dull or overly meticulous in its description of Alethi diplomacy and Roshar governance. Rarely have political conference scenes in a fantasy novel been so compelling.

The myth arc of The Stormlight Archive is sustained well by its connection to smaller, more personal arcs. As much as the Voidbringers and their godlike leader are a pressing threat to the world, other conflicts occasionally take center stage; one character struggles with an unhealthy substance addiction, while another has a severe identity crisis which manifests in a way that only epic fantasy can suitably manage. Every nation Dalinar tries to unify has its own issues going on, hampering the way forward for a potential alliance and deepening the already superlative worldbuilding. All the small things, overshadowed as they are by the imminence of the Voidbringers’ assault, keep us compelled.

Flashbacks also take a hard left turn this time around, with Dalinar as the focus character. The difference between his past and present selves couldn’t be starker; though Kaladin and Shallan were different people in the few years before Kings and Words, respectively, the younger Dalinar - far from being a diplomatic shepherd of mankind - is a bloodthirsty brute who longs for combat. His journey from there to here may be the best use of the flashback chapters thus far, outlining a painful odyssey to become a better man that goes to some very unexpected places.

Speaking of the journey, as mentioned above, Oathbringer is a massive book even by doorstopper standards. There’s a rush of plot at the start as we catch up to everything our heroes have done in the ten minutes since Words ended, and there’s the expected Sanderson avalanche at the end when everything hurries to the climax. Between these points is a story preoccupied with what I’d call “fantasy slice-of-life”. While there are still plot-centric things happening, a vast chunk of the book focuses on more mundane things by comparison; soldier training, minor political movements, even a little bit of farming and resource management. Though it never crosses into the dry territory that the middle of The Wheel of Time occupied, there are points where the book’s immense length can feel like an overindulgence rather than a necessity.

But then, everything snaps together at the end. It’s a common thing to say for a lot of novels, and seems a bit obvious, but it’s true. The final stretch of Oathbringer brings all the chickens home to roost, and gives greater clarity to both the engrossing, epic storylines and the few odd, discordant or banal subplots coursing throughout the book. Much like Stormlight’s ketek poetry format, Oathbringer reads like a palindrome, where everything is matched, paralleled or book-ended. (which makes sense, given the names of all 5 parts in the book themselves combine to form a ketek.) If you’d asked me during the book whether the length was an issue, I’d’ve had some quibbles, but by the end, I’d say the length is justified. In large part, that’s because of the characters we spend our time with.

To say the cast continues to be well-rounded is an understatement. Sanderson has written this series from a deeply human place, even when it comes to more otherworldly characters like the Parshendi or the myriad deities that Stormlight and the greater Cosmere saga deal with. As epic and fantastical as the series is, its cast is coloured by such realistic nuance. Their battle for the future of Roshar against godlike forces is textured by real world struggles: relationships, mental illness, substance abuse, self-doubt and troubled pasts. A benefit afforded by Oathbringer's enlarged pagecount is the capacity to explore these issues in detail. So much of the book is spent fleshing these folks out with their day-to-day dramas in amongst all the world-shattering revelations and mighty battle scenes. One character internally describes their mood in a way that increasingly seems like clinical depression; another grapples with romantic problems in a way many of us, human or Parshendi, would find relatable. As thrilling as Oathbringer’s overarching plot is, its characters offer the book’s highest merit.

While I wouldn’t call it a perfect book - some sections in the midpoint lag a little, and a couple of twists are telegraphed fairly blatantly - I'm still giving Oathbringer a full score. I'm not sure if it beats Words of Radiance as my favourite Sanderson book (a reread will probably help settle that question), but if it doesn’t, it’s by a margin so thin as to almost be nonexistent. I can safely say the book is a worthy successor to Stormlight's superlative sequel, both an important instalment in the grand Cosmere saga and a fantastic story in its own right.

But in addition, Oathbringer has solidified to me why I love this series so much: the people who populate it. This is a world that is so expansive, mystifying and awe-inspiring, but it would be lesser without featuring such enjoyable, nuanced characters who experience triumph and defeat together; folk who I would gladly spend more time with. In large part, The Stormlight Archive succeeds because its heroes and villains are richly defined and consistently compelling. Sanderson best said it himself back in 2010 when he first introduced The Way of Kings: "a great book for me isn't about the magic, it's about the people that the magic affects." By keeping its characters front and centre and giving them the time they deserve, Oathbringer proves that greatness with ease.

- Chris



Oathbringer is available in Australian bookstores on November 14th.

Review copy kindly supplied to Geek of Oz by Hachette Australia.


To celebrate the upcoming release of Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer, book three of The Stormlight Archive, Chris reviews both of the previous books. No scores at the end, but suffice it to say that they're worth reading.


---

Unite them.

These are the words that drive Dalinar Kholin, given to him in visions from the Almighty, the closest thing Roshar has - or, rather, had - to God. They urge that the storm is coming, the Voidbringers are returning, and the end draws nearer. The only way to survive is to bring the scattered peoples of Roshar - long separated by warfare, politics and greed - together into a unified whole.

Easier said than done, right?

Where The Way of Kings gradually started the process of establishing our host of characters, Words of Radiance goes deeper in what they need to do to survive. Sometimes, they may not like the answers they find.

Freed from slavery and now a leading guardsman in the Alethi army, Kaladin struggles with how to survive his new Stormlight-based powers whilst reconciling both his new station as Dalinar's bodyguard, and his rejection of the lighteyed hierocracy it's tied to. Escaping from a deadly assassination attempt, Shallan tries - literally and figuratively - to survive the natural and political wilds of a world she's still discovering. Armed with horrifying new information regarding the state of the world, Dalinar is tasked with keeping more than just his own army alive on the Shattered Plains. And nearby in the realm of the Parshendi, who reel from crushing defeats handed to them by the Alethi, a Shardbearer named Eshonai attempts a drastic plan which will either ensure her people's survival or earn them a swift descent into extinction.

Given where all our characters start, I'd almost be tempted to suggest that someone could start their experience with Words. What backstory we vitally need - save for the long unpacking of some of Kaladin's details that Kings dealt with - is handed to readers, and the status quo is almost completely changed from the one we got used to in the first book. No longer do we have to go through many chapters of Shallan struggling to convince Jasnah to take her on as a ward, or Kaladin once again suffering humiliation and subjugation at the hands of his captors.

But having Kings behind us makes many of Words' peak moments that much more powerful. The book doesn't just encapsulate the "epic" fantasy feel that the genre shoots for, but goes for deep as well. Each of our protagonists, and no small number of the supporting cast, go through remarkable journeys even while the world collapses around their ears. It’s not just that they achieve great victories or suffer horrific defeats; it’s that they do so while being well-rounded, captivating characters with a wealth of backstory and realistic shading. Even bit-part characters who appear for only a chapter or two – as well as those in the superlative Interludes between sections, where the world of Roshar is further expanded – get moments on par with the leads, thanks to Sanderson’s talent for sketching these folks so well.

The plot itself is still top notch, and on a re-read I’ve now noticed just how propulsive it is. In relation to the gradual unfurling of Kings, the main narrative thrust of Words hits the ground running and rarely lets up all the way to the end. Even when the book lowers its pace – with the nadir being an extended sequence of two characters trapped in a chasm together – the tension’s still ratcheted high through rampant foreshadowing and the assumption that a huge plot twist is probably nearby (an assumption which is usually correct). This is the rare kind of doorstopper where the meditative bits – which, in almost any other book, might be considered boring – have a habit of making you ask, “Ok, so now that we’re calming down, what’s the next apocalyptic twist we’ll be due for in a few pages’ time?”

That same narrative energy can also be a bit tiring. As much as Words wants to grab you by the lapels and not let go until it’s finished, some may want breaks here and there to digest. (I certainly did.) The book serves its characters and plot well with connective tissue and developmental scenes, but given the sheer number of revelations and upsets of the status quo, it can sometimes be a bit intense. That’s really not a kind of wholly negative criticism, mind – “This book is so good it’ll make you want to take breaks because of how good it is” – but something to be aware of. By the time of Words’ climax, which manages to outdo the triumphal crescendo of Kings, you may need a lie down.

For long-time readers of this site, it should be obvious that I love Brandon Sanderson’s work. I’ve heaped praise on his other work before, and I’ve never read a story of his that I haven’t liked; even his slightly less successful works are still head and shoulders above most of the competition. So consider the gravity of my claim when I say that Words of Radiance is, without question, my favourite Sanderson book. There might be a way Oathbringer could knock it off that top spot – at time of writing, I’m about 2/3 of the way through and have some very positive thoughts about it – but for right now, I can safely say this is the peak of Sanderson’s work thus far. The characters are deep and engaging, within a meticulously-cultivated and mercilessly-thrilling plot, taking place in one of the finest fictional worlds ever made for the genre.

It is, without a doubt, a breathtaking housebrick of a book.

- Chris



Words of Radiance is available in bookstores now in two paperbacks - Parts One and Two.


Oathbringer is due for Australian release on November 14th.

Okay, we’re rapidly approaching the end of the year and my anxiety is going through the roof. Doing this list on a monthly basis was meant to make the whittling process far more manageable; but I’m pretty sure it has only made things worse. Call Me by Your Name has been promoted to top spot for now. Much like Land of Mine, each time I reminisce about the film, I’m overcome by a wave of emotion. Surely this must be a measure of fine storytelling.

October has been a huge month at the cinemas, with some genuine contenders for “film of the year” honors entering the race. I strongly suggest you catch Good Time, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Blade Runner 2049 and Brigsby Bear. You won’t be disappointed.

Please go back and check out my Top 10 lists as they’ve evolved throughout the year. It’s been an emotional journey.

- Stu

TOP 10 as of the end of October:

1. Call Me By Your Name
2. Land of Mine
3. Moonlight
4. Good Time
5. Get Out
6. Brigsby Bear
7. Killing of Sacred Deer
8. Blade Runner 2049
9. I am Not Your Negro
10. Dunkirk



Films watched this month:

Blade Runner 2049
Mountain
Heal the Living
The Girl With all the Gifts
Good Time 
Happy Death Day 
Three Summers 
The Meyerowitz Stories (Netflix) 
The Bad Batch 
Blade Runner 2049
Thor Ragnarok 
The Snowman 
Killing of a Sacred Deer 
Suburbicon 
Brigsby Bear 
Tom of Finland 
Thor Ragnarok 

Films I've watched this year:


1. Passengers 
2. Edge of Seventeen
3. Paterson 
4. Moonlight 
5. Manchester by the Sea 
6. Split
7. Jackie
8. XXX: Return of Xander Cage 
9. Moonlight 
10. Lion 
11. Live by Night 
12. Perfect Strangers 
13. Batman (1966) 
14. Rosalie Blum 
15. Patriots Day 
16. Moana 
17. Gold 
18. Silence 
19. Singing in the Rain (1952) 
20. Hidden Figures 
21. Fences 
22. The Love Witch 
23. Toni Erdman 
24. Fences 
25. The Great Wall
26. Silence 
27. David Stratton: A Cinematic Life 
28. 50 Shades Darker 
29. Miss Sloane 
30. Trainspotting 2 
31. Logan 
32. Kong: Skull Island 
33. Beauty and the Beast 
34. Get Out 
35. The Salesman 
36. The Cure For Wellness 
37. Monsieur Chocolat 
38. The Eagle Huntress 
39. Lego Batman 
40. Loving 
41. Things to Come 
42. Farewell, My Queen
43. Power Rangers 
44. Land of Mine 
45. Life 
46. Smurfs: The Lost Village 
47. Their Finest 
48. Alone in Berlin 
49. Ghost in the Shell 
50. A Man Called Ove 
51. Ghost in the Shell 
52. Colossal 
53. Zach's Ceremony 
54. Chips 
55. Lego Batman 
56. Boss Baby 
57. John Wick: chapter 2 
58. Fate of the Furious 
59. Denial 
60. Going in Style 
61. Raw
62. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 
63. The Osiris Child Sci Fi Vol 1 
64. Free Fire 
65. Get Out 
66. The Trip to Spain 
67. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 
68. Alien: Covenant
69. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 
70. Get Out 
71. John Wick: Chapter 2 
72. The Mummy 
73. Wonder Woman 
74. Baywatch 
75. 20th Century Women 
76. Hounds of Love 
77. Ana, Mon Amour 
78. The Ornithologist 
79. Waiting for Giraffes 
80. The Nile Hilton Incident 
81. Whitney: Can I be Me 
82. Taste of Cherry 
83. My Year with Helen 
84. Happy End 
85. Ingrid Goes West 
86. The Wall 
87. The Hidden Fortress 
88. Yojimbo 
89. Wonder Woman 
90. 78/52
91. Ama-San 
92. I Am Not Your Negro 
93. Mifune: The Last Samurai 
94. Graduation 
95. Barbecue 
96. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail 
97. On Body and Soul 
98. Kedi 
99. Rough Night 
100. Call Me By Your Name 
101. The Promise 
102. Porto 
103. God's Own Country
104. It's Not Dark Yet 
105. The Little Hours 
106. The Farthest 
107. The Beguiled 
108. All Eyez On Me 
109. Okja 
110. Transformers: The Last Knight
111. Baby Driver 
112. Una 
113. The House 
114. Spider-Man: Homecoming 
115. It Comes at Night 
116. Spider-Man: Homecoming 
117. Baby Driver
118. Inconvenient Truth: Sequel 
119. Dunkirk 
120. War for the Planet of the Apes 
121. Dunkirk 
122. Atomic Blonde 
123. The Big Sick 
124. Lady Macbeth 
125. Kiki, Love to Love 
126. Wind River 
127. Maudie 
128. Logan Lucky 
129. Valerian 
130. Terminator 2 3D 
131. Trip to Spain 
132. A Ghost Story 
133. The Dark Tower 
134. Logan Lucky 
135. The Hitman's Bodyguard 
136. American Made 
137.  Killing Grounds 
138. The Room 
139. Gifted 
140. The Lost City of Z 
141. IT 
142. Girl's Trip
143. American Assassin
144. Final Portrait 
145. Blue 
146. Mother! 
147. Lego: Ninjago 
148. Patti Cakes 
149. IT 
150. Ali's Wedding 
151. Kingsman: The Golden Circle 
152. Battle of the Sexes 
153. Blade Runner 
154. Beatriz at Dinner 
155. Blade Runner 2049
156. Mountain 
157. Heal the Living 
158. Girl with all the Gifts 
159. Good Time 
160. Happy Death Day 
161. Three Summers 
162. Blade Runner 2049
163. Thor: Ragnarok 
164. The Snowman 
165. Killing of a Sacred Deer 
166. Suburbicon
167. Brigsby Bear 
168. Tom of Finland 
169. Thor: Ragnarok 



Hey guys, as you may or may not know I've started a spin-off podcast, The Sinner Files. It's the show where we confess, debate and atone for our biggest cinematic sins. Basically, the podcast takes the Seven Deadly sins (greed, lust, sloth, wrath, pride, gluttony and envy) and attaches them to popular movies. For instance if it's a film I've seen way too many times, then that'd be the sin of gluttony. Each episode the "sinner" leads a discussion in relation to the film and we all play along accordingly. It's a bunch of fun and I highly recommend you come over and check it out. The podcast is available through Itunes and for Android. At the end of each episode the sinner is required to come up with a made up sequel for their chosen film. Check out the clips below for a taste of what we're cooking up. 

Films we've covered so far include:

Top Gun
Die Hard
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
IT
The Big Lebowski 
Con Air 

Since we're just starting out, we'd love to hear from you over at our Facebook page,  come visit our Youtube channel  or email us at feedback@sinnerfiles.com 

- Stu 



To celebrate the upcoming release of Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer, book three of The Stormlight Archive, Chris reviews both of the previous books in the series. No scores at the end, but suffice it to say that they're worth reading.

---

Epic fantasy books are often colloquially called "doorstoppers". These are the stories that are close to a thousand pages in length, and could be used to solidly prop up a door, build a house or bludgeon a home intruder to death. If it's written by Terry Goodkind, it's also an excellent source of birdcage liner.

Doorstoppers can be scary even to devout fans of the genre. To the casual observer, a doorstopper's plot unfurls across a Lord of the Rings-esque amount of pagecount. They can have dense worlds full of oddly-named characters who each have magical superpowers which the reader can only keep track of through a flow chart and encyclopedia of notes. The sense of immense plot and character expansion throughout each successive book, could make a neat and tidy ending far more unlikely - can you say Game of Thrones, anyone?

Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive is the first doorstopper series I've read where the grand scope afforded to epic fantasy is both accessible, engrossing and, largely, necessary. But, as the man himself will tell you, it takes a leap of faith to get there.

On the stormy world of Roshar, there are three people. Shallan is the young heir to a crippled noble family who travels across the world to seek knowledge and power from a heretic scholar. The scholar's uncle, Dalinar, is a Highprince in the army of Alethkar, a nation whose lords seek to avenge the assassination of their king through a years-long war against the mysterious Parshendi. Kaladin is a former surgeon and military prodigy who is branded as a slave and sold into service for one of Dalinar's rivals. The three of them not only have to deal with their own problems, but also face the possibility that the Voidbringers - long described in religion as the bringers of the apocalypse - may yet be returning, alongside one or two other things that have long been gone from the world.

By the end of The Way of Kings, you might feel that that's where the real story is starting. Indeed, rereading it alongside its sequel – the superlative Words of Radiance, one of my favourite books ever written –which is where far more of the plot's forward momentum is gained, I felt that Kings was more of a lengthy precede before the narrative fireworks start going off. The character arcs are gradual and a little glacial, progressing gently but steadily. In contrast to Words changing the status quo every few chapters, Kings maintains a solidarity of setting and focus throughout much of its pagecount. When all's said and done, it can feel like a bit of a slow start.

But that's half the point; Kings is a slow-burn setup for the wonder that spills out after. I came across a recent Reddit comment from Sanderson himself, responding to a question about where to start reading his work:

'[Kings] is most certainly my hardest book to get into. It requires you to trust me a great deal before the payoffs start mounting up. I usually point people at Mistborn as a starting point instead for that reason.'

So keep this in mind before you dive in: if you're unfamiliar with Sanderson's oeuvre, you may want to sidetrack to Mistborn, Elantris or Warbreaker first, and if you're not a regular doorstopper reader, you'll want to be sitting in a comfy chair without a parachute (the latter is for the trust thing).

Kings
 is methodical, rather than laborious, in its execution. We're introduced to our three protagonists, and a host of fascinating supporting characters, in logical steps, illustrating simply their backstory and motivations with minimal reliance on exposition. The world is described - again, without reams of expository unpacking - through a natural unfurling, where we see and hear about the diverse corners of Roshar and how our heroes fit into them. The central plot, once it's pushed into motion, draws all three protagonists together - first indirectly, then more apparently as things get further - and tantalises us with satisfying narrative climaxes (which, spoiler alert, we assuredly earn). At the book's endpoint, after a thousand pages of worldbuilding, myth arc hints and character development, a number of things we've gotten comfortable with are tilted, inverted or just plain thrown away; the book's epilogue stands as a masterclass on how to do a cliffhanger ending which still leaves us with enough short-term closure for the interim.

Each Stormlight book takes a central character as its focus for backstory chapters, with soldier-turned-slave Kaladin getting the top spot in Kings. Flashbacks are relatively few, and rarely get in the way of the main plot's flow; more often than not, an event in Kaladin's youth will conveniently bear relevance to something vexing him in the present day. The other characters are also suitably fleshed out, with everyone either exploring or alluding to difficult upbringings, tragic failures and mysterious past lives. Say one thing for Sanderson: the man knows how to make real people amongst the miasma of epic fantasy.

At times, though, the real person drama does get in the way of things. Though it improves remarkably by the sequel, Kings gets a little bogged down in some personal navel-gazing and soul-searching at the expense of further plot momentum. Kaladin falls victim a lot to this – which makes sense, given that his backstory deals with angst over a lot of personal tragedy which returns to haunt him – but several other POV characters halt the narrative to deal with some slightly melodramatic personal issues. The problem’s compounded by the book’s prologue-esque feel; our characters are slowly built, and progress through their respective arcs, but the lingering feeling is that this is a tenth of the kind of development we can expect in subsequent books.

That’s really the best way to encapsulate how I feel about Kings: it lingers. Don’t get me wrong, the book is still a fantastic start to Sanderson’s magnum opus, and nearly every character is instantly memorable thanks to Sanderson’s able-handed characterisations. The world of Roshar is expansive and arresting in its detail, aided by interlude chapters dealing with one-off side characters who live far away from our protagonists. But having now reread the book, I noticed far more the languid pace with which Kings unfolds. At the same time, those who look for something pulse-pounding will find their moments, including a propulsive fifth act which brings it all together for that cliffhanger.

The Way of Kings is a solid beginning. As the man himself says, it requires trust, but I can safely say that trust is overwhelmingly rewarded by the end of the book.

- Chris


The Way of Kings is available in bookstores now in two paperbacks - Parts One and Two.

Oathbringer is due for Australian release on November 14th.