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Madeline Barnicle

Whose Hero Is It, Anyway?

The Mistborn TrilogyA few months ago, I wrote about Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire, the first novel in a trilogy. I noted that the series got off to a bang with an epigraph from someone nervous about their role as the prophesied “Hero of Ages,” and then showed a powerful magician named Kelsier encouraging slaves to rebel against their masters. The book then followed Kelsier to the capital of the “Final Empire,” detailing his plans to overthrow the regime, and his allusions to more secretive plans, such as assassinating a thousand-year-old despot, the “Lord Ruler.” Sounds pretty heroic to me.

But, I found to my pleasant surprise, Kelsier is by no means the main character of the book. That honor could just as well fall to Vin, Kelsier's new protege from the streets. Getting one expectation—oh, this book is about Kelsier the prophesied hero!—and quite a different result—never mind, it's about Vin who develops from a distrustful criminal into a powerful magician, capable of love!—is very often the sign of a well-written book.

Sanderson agrees with me. In an essay I'll discuss more later, he writes, “I’ve often said that good writing defies expectations. (Or, more accurately, breaks your expectations while fulfilling them in ways you didn’t know you wanted.)” In challenging my expectation of who the protagonist was, Mistborn succeeded. Over the course of the trilogy, however, a lot more bait-and-switches emerged, beyond just the identity of the Hero of Ages. The series provides another warning about judging a book by its cover. Literally. [note: this post contains major spoilers about the entire trilogy]


BSFME Extra: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Madeline Barnicle doesn't watch enough scifi movies for her to feel like she should really nominate a contestant for our poll, but she did want to weigh in with her thoughts about why Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the best of the Star Wars movies.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the SithMy shortlist of contenders for favorite science fiction movies is rather short for various reasons, such as my general preference for books over movies. With this caveat, announcing that Revenge of the Sith my favorite movie of the Star Wars series, never mind science fiction overall might raise some eyebrows. I'm not quite sure how much of this unusual preference is due to the circumstances under which I saw Episode III, and how much is due to Episode IV being a victim of its own success.

Revenge of the Sith was the only Star Wars film I saw in a movie theater. I was blown away by Obi-Wan's dramatic escape from Order 66 on the back of a huge dinosaur...thing, and appreciated the final musical segue. Although I had already seen some of the other films on the small screen, perhaps the scope of the big screen gave "Revenge" first place on any subsequent list I could make of the different episodes.


Coming into her own

Mistborn: The Final EmpireHaving just turned twenty, I felt a bit unnerved at the prospect of the "teen" section of the library not having anything useful for me. (This awkward feeling perhaps deserves a post of its own.) Fortunately, I remembered that Brandon Sanderson (who took over the Wheel of Time from Robert Jordan) had some original works of his own. Which brought me to Mistborn: The Final Empire.

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