Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Novella Review: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson

I've been busy of late, but still have wanted to read something in my morning commute to work. As such, I decided to peak a short, light read. Unfortunately, it ended up being so interesting that I finished it super fast! Here you'll find a brief review of the novella Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson. As a novella, I just write on my overall impression instead of going through the detailed subsections I usually do. But first, here is the Goodreads blurb to tell you what it's about:

God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai's world.

Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.

Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?

The blurb sounded promising when I read it so I picked this up shortly after release (March 31, 2015), however, I shelved it as I was reading other things and busy with work. I'm glad I went back through my list and decided to actually read it. Sanderson tells yet another intriguing tale with some cool characters and clever world building.

As a novella, there are very few characters involved, namely the Liveborns Kairominas, Melhi, and Sophie and a handful of minor characters like Shale and Besk. I'll not spoil too many details (such as what a Liveborn is), as that is a key element to the story. I will say a few things that echo what's in the blurb: Kairominas, or Kai, is extremely powerful with his magic, as is his nemesis, Melhi, with his robots. However, there is a power above them both: the Wode. That power has now asked that Kai go out and procreate, which is how he ends up with a date with Sophie, another powerful Liveborn. The interaction between Kai and Sophie, as well as that between Kai and Melhi and his subjects, drives the story and reveals the nature of the world.

It's a very interesting and very short read with a couple of surprising twists along the way. It was certainly not what I expected when I started reading, nor was it the same by the time I finished it. Character-wise, it's very shallow as the only main character is Kai, though he does develop somewhat. The plot is likewise simple as the main event is the date, with some setup and flashbacks to further develop the story. That's a limitation of the short length of a novella, though. In true Sanderson style, a lot is hinted at so it gives the impression that this story is just a small part of a much lager tale. The setting is certainly where this shines. It's reminiscent of a major franchise which will become apparent quickly as you read the story.

Overall, I encourage fans of Sanderson and science fiction in general to check this novella out. It's very short and to the point. While I prefer some of the longer stories with more meticulously created worlds, it's always good to have some light reading on hand.

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