Saturday, October 17, 2009 | |

Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia is the third volume in Brandon Sanderson's middlegrade series about a boy who breaks things. In the previous two volumes, Alcatraz has learned that he has special powers, and has done some incredible things with them. He's fought the librarians in a daring invasion of one of their libraries, he's braved the famous Library of Alexandria, and its ghostly curators who want to steal your soul, and much more. This time, he's headed back to Nalhalla, the homeland that he's never seen, having been just recently rescued from the United States, a librarian occupied land. Perhaps the biggest surprise in his trip home is the realization that he's famous. Very famous. People are writing FanFic famous. It's a little much for Alcatraz, who has to battle not only evil librarians set on taking over the Free Kingdoms and enslaving them just like they've done the United States and other places, but also struggle to deal with fame and fortune that he's never had before. Will he let it go to his head? Will he be able to expose the plot of the Librarians and their supposed "peace talks" and show the king who they truly are?

There's really only one negative thing I can say about these books, and it's more of a warning than an actual knock against them. If you're not a fan of a very heavy narrative voice, these are probably not up your alley. They're in first person, written as though Alcatraz were chronicling his story, and he isn't afraid to step in and chat about random things in the middle of his story. It's all done well, and very effectively from a comedy standpoint, but it's very over the top. Now, these books are written for a twelve year old, so I might not be the best critic available, but my son's only five months old, so I'll have to do (If you'd like to wait until he's 12 and can tell me what he thought, email me, and I'll get back to you in 2022). That said, the very heavy feel of the narrator isn't for everyone. One example that I found particularly amusing was a point where Alcatraz reminds you of a scene he described from a previous book, and lets you know that it's coming, but not until book 6. This breaking down of that fourth wall might be a little too much for some, so reader be ware.

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (8.5/10) is a lighthearted, hilarious adventure from an author that I love. If you're a fan of other Sanderson works, like Mistborn or Elantris, it's worth checking out these younger audience books just to get a glimpse into Sanderson's mind. These books reveal a lot about his personality, and I enjoy the brief time I get to spend with each one (adults can blaze through each book in about an hour, maybe a little bit more with a potty break and dinner).


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