Oubliette – A Mind Prison

Few years back, I decided to take some writing workshops, to learn and collaborate on how to write. The classes I joined were called prompt writing workshops, where we would be given few prompts, and some time to write a piece that would use those prompts. I really had fun in these workshops. As I was going through my bookshelf, I found the notebook where I wrote all these pieces. So here they are, some of the stories that came about from my mind. You may find these stories to be incomplete, but these are some of the starting points of many long stories that are in my mind. The prompts that were given are in bold. 

Here is the first piece, Oubliette – A Mind Prison.

Apocalypse has not been reached yet, but we were surely moving towards it. The fall of the major democracies around the world had caused a domino effect, innocent revolutions at first, but soon they were at a scale, that the republics that remained were not able to face without being eradicated. 

In 2047, the republics had shrunk pretty much to the European sub-continent or the North Americas. Europa was in a unique position. The high Hindu Kush on the east had created difficult for the revolutionaries to cross over without the fuel. The three wars fought on the mountain terrain had weakened the Asian revolutionaries. The environmental changes had made Saharan region to be the toughest desert on earth. The cold and dry Hindu Kush on the east, hot and unforgiving Sahara in the south and Atlantic on the other sides, had secured few more years of survival for Europa.

Then there were the few who still believed in the idea that a single human mind can change the course of history fought long and hard. In between the fights, they looked towards the stars in a hope of finding a better peaceful world. Among them was Pierre Mogambo – 2078 Nobel Laureate, and the world foremost authority in neuro-science and quantum physicist. 

Mogambo, as he preferred to be called, joined Cern in 2047, at a young age of 21. His papers on the quantum physics had caused a stir in the scientific community. His work advanced the creation of miniaturized quantum computers, which would fit the palm of one’s hand. Over time, the size became small enough that the most powerful self-learning computer could be powered by the light, heat or batteries if one prefers. The tiny quantum machines were perfected overtime to become artificially intelligent, and Mogambo collaborated with the neuroscientists to create world’s first computer that could emulate the complexity and intelligence of a human brain.

Around the same time, the resources around the world were depleting at an alarming rate and the jihadist revolutionaries started to look at the two republic land masses. The psychologists were trying to understand what was causing this phenomenon that changed the collective human conscience from saving the world to pretty much destroying it. And for that, Mogambo’s artificial brain was used to emulate the behavior patterns.

As scientists worked with the artificial brain, scientists started to see how the human brain is capable of forming new neuropaths. Understanding neuropaths and structures also helped Mogambo to understand how can one create ways to prevent the new neuropaths from being created, and that is what led to his Nobel prize winning invention – oubliette, a mind prison.

~~~ 1 ~~~

World was uniform. People were quiet, peaceful, and happy. Even in this perfectly manicured public park, Charles found them bound, not free.

Charles de Lint was a free soul. Dressed in one of his old time tweed three-piece suits, he always stood out of the crowd. He had a collection of those tweed three-piece suits in his apartment. The colors, he thought, I love the colors. Where are the colors? Maybe that’s why … and then he lost the train of his thought.

The peace was reached in 2084, but Charles didn’t know much about it. The times he could sleep is when the dreams would come, and went away as soon as they came leaving a sense of void inside him. Charles de Lint was a free soul.

“Charlie boy, nice suit,” came the voice from behind. Charlie had heard that voice before. The vibration seemed to be familiar to his ears.

Charlie turned, and saw a stout man walking towards him. He was wearing the simple, functional overalls, like everyone else. They were brown in color, and the front was flat, without any buttons or zippers. They were all along the side.

At least it is not the white that I see everywhere. Bill … Bob … No, No … His pupils dilated … Benito … and then his pupils contracted as if the sun had shone on them. Caretaker.

“How are you on this fine day, Magician”, Benito was still walking towards him. His eyes never left Charles, as if the gaze had frozen Charles in space and time.

That is what I was called, The Magician. And just like that, he lost his train of thought.

“I am well, Caretaker. It sure is a fine day. Is spring here already?”

“O yeah, spring started last week. Got to get those pastel three-pieces out, Charlie boy. And call me Ben.”

“All right … Ben. I was … I was just headed over to the Museum of Saturn. I heard they brought the fragment from the asteroid which is heaviest matter known to us.”

“Yeah, I heard it too”, Benito was standing next to Charles, looking at him curiously.

“Something I said?” Charles asked, Caretaker.

“No, no, no, no. Charlie boy”, Benito gave a hearty laugh, but it never reached his eyes. “You need to get those pastels out. It is spring”. He said, waving his hand at the blue skies, and then at the lush green grass. “Well, I should head out. I have an appointment. Good running into you. Glad you are doing OK”.

“Yeah.” Yeah.

Benito took the glasses out of his pocket, placed it one his face and plugged the earplugs. Charles heard faintest vibrations of sound. Benito gave an informal salute, his lips curled in a smile and turned to walk towards the park gate. Charles thought he heard him say … Nah …

~~~ 2 ~~~

I can see it in your eyes, Negotiator”, Charles was saying, “In all of your eyes”.

Hundreds of tubes faced towards him. There was nothing around them, just dark. The tubes were protruding out of the big globe, suspended in the air, like a pin-cushion. Wait … What?

Each tube had an eye at its end, glowing different shades of red, and they were all facing him now. For a microsecond, Charles caught a movement on the edge of his left eye – one of the antenna tubes quivered. And then the thoughts left him.

When he woke up, he was in his studio apartment. How long have I been asleep? He got out of his bed and walked towards the corner kitchenette. Did I dream? Again?

Ben said pastels. He poured a glass of orange juice. He took the first sip. Pastels, I should wear pastels. It is spring.

In few seconds, he had crossed his room and standing in front of his closet, full of three-piece suits. He took out the nice light gray three-piece suit. I wonder, if they will find me … interesting. After all this is gray.

He gently placed the suit on the bed, and headed into the shower.

“Good Morning Charles, on this fine day of spring. It is April, 29th, 2114. What would you like me to put on”, said female voice.

“Put on The Beatles. Hard Day’s night.”

“Going old school? Here are The Beatles”.

And Charles relaxed to sounds almost 150 years old.

 

Jatinder PS Nagi
Copyright March 29, 2014

Patangbaazi & Rau di Kheer

lohri-festivalBeing brought up in the northern part of India, brings back fondest memories of Patang-Baazi (Kite Flying Competitions) and Rau-di-Kheer (Sugarcan Rice Pudding) to mind during early parts of January – along with the great festival of Lohri.

Punjabis, irrespective of their religion, continue to practice their Punjabi Folk Religion. Respect to the seasons and the natural elements of fire, wind, water and the earth is very important. Among such rituals, is Lohri – a festival celebrated on January 13. It is dedicated to the end of the Winter season in northern part of India. The day is also believed to mark the end of the winter solstice month, arrival of spring, and beginning of the Spring Harvest season.

The last day the month (per Indian calendar) is January 13, and the sun transition into the zodiac sign of Cancer (Makar) on January 14. Makara means Capricorn Zodiac Sign and Sankranti means transition of the Sun from one zodiac sign to another. The festival, called Makar Sankranti in southern parts of India, is the day that marks the transition of the Sun into Makara Rashi (Capricorn Sign) on its celestial path.

The atmosphere is electrifying during the festival. The celebrations involve the friendly kite flying competition in northern India, during the day. During dusk, the families gather around the bonfires, and sing folk songs eating tiny sugar balls coated with sesame seed (gur di rewari), peanuts (moongfali), and pop corn. These are also offered to the fire, as an offering for a prosperous harvest season ahead.

In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. Punjabis usually have private Lohri celebrations, in their houses. Lohri rituals are performed, with the accompaniment of special Lohri songs. Singing and dancing form an intrinsic part of the celebrations. People wear their brightest clothes and come to dance the bhangra and gidda to the beat of the dhol. Punjabi songs are sung, and everybody rejoices. Lohri is a great occasion that holds great importance for farmers as this is the beginning of the harvest season for the winter crops. People residing in urban areas also celebrate Lohri, as this festival provides the opportunity to interact with family and friends.

Among the dying rituals is the visit from the kids from the street, who go door to door singing the Lohri song that tells the adventures of the Abdullah Bhatti (Dulla Bhatti) – Robinhood of Punjab, who led the rebellion against Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar.

Food is another integral part of the festival. Sarson da saag (mustard green) and makki di roti (flat corn bread) is usually served as the main course at a Lohri dinner. Some of the men wait in long lines at the local sugarcane juicing machines to get the fresh sugarcane juice, which the women use to make a rice pudding (kheer). On January 14, the next day, this rice pudding (generally served with yogurt) for breakfast and lunch to indicate sweet beginning of the new year, and spring season.

Happy Lohri, Everyone !!!

JPS Nagi
January 13, 2014

PS. Some references were used from Wikipedia.

Life, Philosophy and Beer

A meteorology professor stood before his Meteorology 101 class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty glass mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a jar of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar and of course the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and then proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the grains of sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favorite passions — things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. Play another 18.

“There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”

This was sent as a part of those annoying chain mails, which I never forward. But this was too good not to be shared with the world. Thanks to the original author.
I am borrowing this because of two reasons. One because it has been a while that I wrote something. Two because this is such a good anecdote to show people that there are things that are more important in life than they think.

“It’s fictional. You’re real”

Redshirts by John Scalzi is one of those stories which are difficult to review, without spoiling, but I’m going to try.

The story takes place in post-television 25th century future on an elite DubU ship – Intrepid. It is under the command of captain Abernathy, whose crew include science officer Q’eeng, first office Keerensky, medical office Hartnell and chief engineer West among others. Intrepid is on a peaceful mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. Sounds familiar? Well it should. During its explorations the crew encounters some hostile situations on different worlds, and quiet often there are away teams formed to deal with them.

The novel opens with some new crew members assigned to intrepid. They develop a sort of friendship while waiting for the shuttle in the bay that would take them to the ship. On reaching ship, they are take on their assigned tasks in different departments. They continue to meet when they are off duty, and found out that Intrepid has highest casualties for new crew members among any Dub U’s ships during these away missions, statistically. As they dig more and more, they find that there is some sort of space time continuum mix up where realities from different times seem to have intertwined.

I should stop now, because I think I have already said too much.

John has great ability to define his characters well and then develop them throughout his stories. This novel is no different. The new crew members Dahl (who is the protagonist), Duvall, Hester, Henson have characters that one easily understand when they interact while waiting in the shuttle bay. They do not always agree with each other. They also form a part of some of the away missions, and suffer losses. They start to observe a pattern, which the officers of the ship seem to be oblivious to. Over the course of events, their friendship, beliefs and trust for each other is tested. You start to identify with the characters, and can’t help but want them to control their own fate instead of letting the mixed up timelines decide what happens.

Redshirts does not disappoint at any place. It is a must read if you grew up with TV shows like the original Star Trek, or Dr. Who. The book is a nod to these and other cheesy space adventures of yesteryears. There are dozens of moments and in-jokes built around the worlds that are familiar and hilarious. It is darkly funny at times; even when things go wrong, John puts a smile on your face with interactions of his characters. The story moves at a fast pace, and is extremely well edited. There is nothing that does not add to the story or character development and you are drawn in. If you want to read a fun science fiction story during summer try this one.

If you like listening to books, get the audiobook. It is read by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek – The Next Generation). Wil is very impressive voice actor, and he brings this book alive with his narration. He has collaborated with the author before in Fuzzy Nation and few others.

Both the book and the audiobook are highly recommended. I give this book 5 stars; hey, anything that can keep me up all night deserves 5 stars.

Jatinder PS Nagi
July 4, 2012

Memories of the Clouds

I have very few memories from when I was very young. Still some moments are strongly etched in my mind.

When I was couple of years old, my grandfather, whom I remember wearing only white garb, used to carry me on his shoulders, walk couple of miles and to take me to a local potter who made toys out of clay. These toys were molded by hand and painted in the shapes of animals – parrots, dogs, lions, cats, or rabbits. All the toys were painted in bright colors, like reds, blues, yellow, orange, green or black. They would capture my imagination at that age.

Bapu ji, as I fondly called my grandfather, would get me a new toy, and then we would walk back home. The toy, being made from clay, would invariably break within couple of days and he would take me back to get a new one. So this small journey would happen every week.

Time would fly while riding his shoulders, listening to him humming a hymn, the periodic rhythm of his gait, and desire of getting a new toy. We would reach the potter, and I used to choose one of the toy animals. As much as the journey to the potter would be filled with excitement of getting a new toy, the journey walking back home used to be filled with happiness of holding it in my hand.

My eyes would look up in the skies, and I would try to find a cloud, shaped like the toy I just got. As soon as I would find some decipherable shape, I would point to the cloud and shout “Bapu ji, look there is a cat”. He would stop, shade his eyes using his wrinkled hand, and look up. He always agreed with me on the shape of the cloud. He would then tickle my feet, break my gaze from the sky and start to walk again, as I would giggle with tickles.

As I got older and heavier, he would hold my hand, so I could walk along. The moment I would step out of the house, I used to tell him that I would get tired. He would implore me to walk a little further, till the end of the street, where he would promise to pick me up. As we would reach there, he would ask me to go a little further. Humming hymns, pointing to new shapes of the clouds, he would keep me distracted from not feeling tired. Before I knew it, I would have a new toy in my hand, and I would pull on his hand making him go faster. Hopping, skipping, pulling on his hand, he never let go of my hand. We would keep looking for new shapes in the skies.

Summers were hot, so we would sleep on the terraces. The sun would wind down, bringing in a cooler dusk. The sky would get shades of orange, red and purple. I would lie down on the terrace with my parents, or grandparents, or uncles, or aunts, or cousins, and watch those clouds as they float by. Constant changing clouds would result in innocent arguments about their shapes. I would call some shape a horse; my cousin would say that it is a dog. The wind would melt away the white elephant before my aunt would make out its trunk or tail. And sometimes the rain clouds would appear and start pouring as everyone would rush downstairs.

While lying under the skies, I would slip into the dreams of floating with the clouds. I would never know when my father carried me to my bed on the terrace, or when my mother would tuck me in. The bird calls at the break of dawn and my mom’s calling would wake me up. The slanting rays of the sun would hit the eyes. Through peeking eyelids, the white and grey clouds would be floating against yellow or red sky.

Maybe these memories are the reason that every camera that I have ever owned, seem to turn itself up to the heavens. I am still looking for those shapes in the clouds that I used to as a kid. The blue skies seem so far away, yet it seems like so close. It carries all the memories from my childhood in its vastness – of people who were, people who are; for the people who will be.

All I have to do is just reach out.

Jatinder PS Nagi
May 25, 2012

Does the Universe talk back to you?

A good man once told me stories of two people and how they handle life’s problems, and decisions.

One of them prays and there is a method to his praying. While standing on a crossroads of a difficult decision in life, this person would turn his attention to God. He lights a candle, writes his problem on a small piece of paper, prays to get an answer, and then burns the piece of paper in the flame of that candle. In doing so, this person feels he is connecting to God and the rising smoke from burning this candle is taking his problem up to someone who will show him the way. As the smoke rises, he clears his mind of the problem, and waits for an answer or sign from Him. And every time, he has been given the answer or gets a sign from God, and feels that He has never been let down.

The second person the good man met, uses similar technique in resolving and facing his life’s problems. This person, sits down and quiets his mind – a sort of meditative state, if you may. While in this state, he thinks about the decision or the problem he is facing in life, and imagines himself standing on a beach. Then he makes a snowball of the problem, (or wraps his problem inside a snowball). With the full force, he then throws the snowball of his problem in the ocean, and watches it melt away as it is floating away from him. After a while, he starts to see the solution to his problem present itself. Our second person too feels that he has never been let down.

The good man met these people at different places and in different times of their lives. What makes this most interesting is the fact that the first person is a devout Christian, and the second is an Atheist. However, in both cases, you can see that there is a similarity in the way they approach a problem or decision in their lives. They both take their problems, and separate themselves from the problem. In the first case, writing the problem on a piece of paper is a way to take the problem out of your system. In the second case, the person imagines, in a quieted state, that he is taking his problem out of his mind and wrapping it in a snowball. Then they both send their problem to someone that they feel will provide help with an answer – towards God, or towards the world or universe, and wait for the solution to present itself.

Our good man heard these stories years apart of each other. He felt overwhelmed (and a bit freaked out) when he heard a totally different second person talk couple of weeks after the first one.

When I heard these stories, they seemed interesting to me. After listening to the two stories, I felt that our second person is not a religious person, but he sure is spiritual. He feels or believes in the existence of a higher being or the universe. I feel that in both cases the answers are inside a person. However, a lot of times we are emotionally compromised, or we are emotionally invested in a problem that we do not see the answer. In these stories, I heard that both people would separate themselves from the problem or a decision, and they can objectively make a better, informed decisions, and thus never been let down.

The key to making a better decision then seems to be looking at the problem objectively. And the universe will talk back to you.

Jatinder PS Nagi
May 6, 2012

Happiness Quotient

We have all met folks that are just amazingly happy, and others that are downright unhappy regarding who and where they are. Almost 7 months back, I was talking to a person, and he was ecstatic with where he was in his life. The positive vibes that danced in his eyes were infectious. Something clicked in my mind, and I started to take note of people I meet and myself to how happy they are. I decided to find that “Happiness Quotient” for (most of) us.

I have many ideas that are directly borrowed from my life – both personal and professional. Now that I feel is a very one sided story (mine), so I am reaching out to all of you.

I have put together a set of questions for you that will take 5-10 minutes of your time.  I will not ask you name, gender, your address, or even your email. What I do ask is if you are happy or unhappy. What makes you happy or unhappy. I have some optional introspective questions to see how well you know yourself – share why does a thing or a person makes you feel – do you flutter your eyes or do those red horns come out.

At the end of the survey, there is an option to provide me your email. If you do not provide your email, your response may be used anonymously. (Yes, I will make no attempts to find out who you are). If you want your responses to be used with your first name in the final article, then you can provide your email. I may have to contact you to get more details, and I will confirm that you are allowing us to use your name if we find your answers are fit.

So click away people.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BYGHQ37

PS. A lot of folks have mentioned that the questions are very vague. I have made them vague.
You can answer quickly or you can think a bit more.

Every Light Cast a Shadow…

A good vs. evil story with an elaborate magic system, set on the background of intriguing political & religious landscape with enough twists and turns to keep you occupied. What else could a fantasy fan want?

Brent Weeks brings the first book of his Lightbringer trilogy “into the light” – The Black PrismHe brought it a while back, I just read it.

Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor at Chromeria, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. It’s been 16 years since the Prism Wars and Gavin Guile who single handedly turned the tide of the war has kept peace with his diplomacy and wits over the seven satrapies.

Things change when the Tyrean head, Garadul, decide to break free from Chromeria, and declare himself the king. In order to make an example and show his power, he burns down the whole city of Rekton within Tyrea (his own kingdom). A 15 year old kid, Kip, is the sole witness to burning of Rekton, who loses all his friends and his mother (who was the only family he knew). Circumstances bring Gavin to Rekton and he meets Kip, whom he saves from Garadul. He also uncovers Garadul’s plot to become the king. And things start rolling from there.

The story works at more ways than one. First there is the elaborate magic system. Personally it took me a while to get the feel for it, but once you understand the magic, it is easy. The magic system is based on the light. Light as energy has seven colors. Each color has a characteristic and particular behavior, and of course light of that color is needed in order to use it. The magicians, called drafters, are known as red, green, blue drafter based on what color they can use in drafting. In the nutshell, it is materializing the light (energy) into physical objects (matter). The Prism (of course) can draft all seven colors (and few others beyond the visible spectrum). If you are intrigued, Check out Brent Weeks site (link below) for candle example he gives.

Another level this story works is the political and religious landscape. Before the Prism Wars, there were many gods (called pagan gods in the book), and the war changed everything. Now there is only one – Orholam. The White and the Prism are the religious heads of the land. Further, they, along with representatives from seven satrapies form the political setup of the land. The great city of Chromeria, is where this seat of power resides. Gavin Guile is considered as the best Prism Chromeria. Garadul on the other hand wants to get out of what he feels as the Chromerian-oppression.

This story has lot of twists and turns and not just here and there. The book reads very smooth considering the complexity of the plot. It flows so well that the reader does not realize how complex the story has gotten. My stomach was twisting as Weeks kept throwing luxen after luxen right till the very end. Last hundred pages had me biting my nails and I was shouting “Come on, don’t throw that in there now, the book is ending”.

The book ends satisfactorily and also keeps few (may be many) threads untied; but satisfactory ending all the same. It is a trilogy (as we know now), so many of the threads had to be left untied.

Now, on Brent’s writing. It has matured from the Night Angel trilogy. His style has improved vastly (for my taste) and is very engaging. He uses simpler language, unlike many high fantasy stories will use (there are pros and cons for both); but it works in this novel.

If you are planning to buy the book, then I would recommend the paperback, as it has couple of introductory chapters from the next book in the series The Blinding Knife. I have both hardcover and paperback versions.
It is also the right time to read this, as you may not have to wait too long for the sequel (it is scheduled for later this year).

For audiobook fans, the book has two options – single narrator version read by Cristofer Jean and audio drama from Graphic Audio. I have Cristofer Jean’s version which is well read from Audible.com. The Graphic Audio version is now available as a complete set (I want to get that box set). Both are great depending upon your taste.

In conclusion, this quick page turner is a must read. As always beg, borrow, or buy this book.

Click Here to visit Brent Weeks website.
Do not forget to sign up on the forums, you can interact with the author there.

Click Here to visit Graphic Audio site for The Black Prism.

Click Here to visit Audible.com page for The Black Prism.

Jatinder PS Nagi
January 6, 2012

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson…

This review is rather late, but the vast reading list I had during later half of 2011 and the release of Battlefield 3 game caused this delay. I was able to finish The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson during my vacations.

Absolutely amazing.

The Alloy of Law takes place 3 centuries after The Well of Ascension in the Mistborn universe. World has changed and Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history or religion. Mistborns (Allomancers who can burn all metals) are now found in legends and stories. Mostly, the world now has Mistings (Allomancers who can burn only one metal) or Feruchemists (who can use the metal to safe keep few traits); and few rare individuals who are both (Twinborns). The line of the allomancy is getting thin in bloodlines.

The cities are on the verge of modernization, railways are coming, horse carts will soon be things of the past. There are beaurocratic governments and few nobles have bigger hand in the government. Things have started to slip; nobel houses are competitive (similar to Lord Ruler’s times, as in Mistborn) and corruption has been creeping in.

The lands beyond the cities are called Roughs. The Roughs is where crime and criminals escape the law (and the cities). Few nobles give up the competitive life of the city, and become lawmen of the Roughs to bring these criminals to justice to create a better safer world.

One such is Lord Waxilliam Ladrian (or Wax), a twinborn of reputed nobel house. The predictability of the Roughs makes him feel safe there. His righteousness and honesty has brought many criminals to justice and that makes him a legend in the cities. An unexpected accidental death of his whole family forces him to retire as a lawman, and return to the city to take the reins of his house, which is undergoing financial troubles. In order to get his house of financial trouble, he starts to consider a mutually beneficial matrimonial alliance with another house.

But the past somehow catches up to him. The curtain is lifted from some criminal activities that are dramatically mysterious and circumstances brings him closer to one of the crimes. The lawman inside him prevails, and in order to solve the mystery of these crimes, he takes alliance with an old ally from the Roughs, Wayne, an allomancer, and a new one, Lady Marasi, a cousin of Wax’s to be betrothed. As they investigate the crime, Wax comes face to face with another lawmen from the Rough, Miles, whom he has worked in the past and who has gone rogue. Needless to say, the soup gets thicker.

Couple of familiar characters from the Mistborn universe makes their tiny appearances towards the end. I won’t tell you who they are, but keep a look out for them. It is almost nostalgic (I felt like going back to Mistborn series one more time).

Once again Sanderson weaves a story which is worth reading. In the traditional Sanderson-esque style, the details are aplenty and as the story progresses, readers get pulled in. The story reads like a fantasy and mystery set in steampunk era. There is allomancy and then there are guns, cranes, steam engines.

The Alloy of Law stands among my top 5 books of 2011, and from the author who is among my all time top 5 writers. The book does fall short – in words. The length of the book is not typical of Sanderson’ books; in fact it is almost a third of his standard books. This was something he wrote to get his mind “cleared” before going back to The Wheel of Time.

The story provides a satisfactory ending, a story set in post-The Well of Ascension, and a great introduction to the upcoming steampunk trilogy set in Mistborn universe. It does leave few strands untied.

If you are a fan of audiobooks, the book is read by Michael Kramer, who has read previous Mistborn series and the Wheel of time series. Michael does a great job and it feels natural continuation from original series. Personally, I like to listen to the book at 1.5 to 2 times the speed, because I find them a bit slower (Apple devices allow you to do that).

If you have not read Sanderson before, and are scared to pick one of his thick books, this is a great book to explore this author (be sure to read the appendix in the back to understand how the magic works in this universe).

In conclusion, I would say this is a great story, and a great book that now finds it sitting next to the other Sanderson books on my bookshelf. A must read, listen, or both for fans of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, and Mystery genres.

Click here to visit Brandon Sanderson’s The Alloy of Law portal.

Click here to visit Brandon Sanderson’s site.

Please comment, share, and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.

Jatinder PS Nagi
December 26, 2011.