Where C3PO and Fantasy Collide
Article first published as Book Review: Where C3PO and Fantasy Collide, Infinity Blade: Awakening by Brandon Sanderson on Blogcritics.
With the release of Infinity Blade II’s Clash Mob expansion, I thought it apt to read Brandon Sanderson’s novella, Infinity Blade: Awakening. I have confessions to make: one, I haven’t played either of the Infinity Blade video games. Two, I don’t like ereaders. Those who do, more power to you. I desire crisp pages in hand. That being said, I read this book on my iPhone. Why? Because it was only $2.99, my wife was out of town for the weekend, and I didn’t want to read for class. I also wanted the instant gratification of downloading an ebook while on the toilet. My admissions are over. With clanging swords and spurting blood, Awakening starts out quickly enough. The opening battle scene, however, is confusing for those readers who haven’t played through the games. Who is the God King? Where is Drem’s Maw? Why is an unnamed warrior running around killing people? To be fair, as I previously stated, I hadn’t played either of the Infinity Blade video games, but I believe that any novel — whether based on a video game or not — should seek to draw its readers in, not exclude them. I decided to give Sanderson the benefit of the doubt, after all; the powers that be chose him to finish Robert Jordan’s epic, The Wheel of Time. Sanderson must be a good writer. So I pushed on. That is, until, the protagonist had a discussion in chapter two with a talking mirror, a talking mirror that turned out to be a computer. A computer that was, self admittedly, running “service pack six” and told Sanderson’s protagonist to “enter the password for activation.” Wait? Wasn’t this supposed to be a fantasy novel? Again, I was confused. I exited iBooks to search Wikipedia. I couldn’t find any pertinent information as to why there was a computer in a fantasy novel. Okay, I thought, I tried. I put the iPhone down. Awakening was confusing, inconsistent, and shallow — a genre fiction that misplaced its genre. I decided it was time to read for class. But then something happened. I wanted to know how it finished. Would Siris, the protagonist, fall for the sultry assassin or be felled by her? I picked back up my iPhone and finished the rest of the book in one sitting. Now I’m not saying that Awakening is the crowned champion of ebook fantasy literature — it’s not. It’s still confusing for those who haven’t played the video games, inconsistent (especially when Awakening’s equivalent of C3PO shows up), and shallow. But if you’re looking for both escapism and reading with no strings attached, then this is the one 122-page iPhone novella for you. If you can set aside its multiple shortcomings, then Awakening whizzes by. Will I ever play the video games? No. Would I ever read the inevitable sequel? No. But am I grateful for a mindless three-hour read on a Sunday afternoon that helped me forget that I have to deal with high school students on Monday? Absolutely.