Review: Children of the Nameless by Brandon Sanderson

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The book is available for free here.

I would never have read this if not for the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. And for once, I’m glad. Media Tie-In was the Bingo square I dreaded the most – I don’t really do any media that has tie-ins and I had doubts there was anything out there I’d like. So free and short and by an author I read before…what did I have to lose?

I went in with no expectations. And despite my complete lack of MtG knowledge, I ended up enjoying it immensely – plus, it’s straight up one of Sanderson’s best.

Tacenda and her twin have been cursed since birth – one is blind during the day, the other during the night. One day, Tacenda’s protective songs fail, and her whole village is killed. Thinking the Lord of the Manor, a planeswalker who consorts with demons is responsible, she heads off to kill him. Of course, things turn out quite differently.

It’s set in a backwater village of Verlasen in the gothic-inspired plane of Innistrad. I have never played MtG so I don’t know the backstory, but the story offered enough context I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. So no need to worry. It did have some German words used as names (geists, Verlasen), which is a big pet peeve of mine, but luckily it was minimal enough to ignore.

Characters are one of the most fun aspects. Davriel Cane may be a dark lord, but at his core, he’s just selfish and extremely lazy, a great lover of naps and dustwillow tea – I loved how Tacenda was able to effectively threaten him with “think of the inconvenience!” It’s amazing. Then there’s his host of demons that he tricked into contracts they can’t fulfil who provide most of the comic relief. Tacenda is the usual more traditionally heroic contrast, honourable and empathetic.

The writing style and the humour, two of my main complaints with The Way of Kings, are also a lot better than I usually expect from Sanderson. It’s somewhat more stylistic and less windowpane, without being any less easy to read – it’s no Valente or Samatar, but this is Sanderson at the top of his game.

Does this novella provide anything genre-bending and new? No. But it also didn’t feel like it was supposed to in the first place, and for what it is, it’s excellent. All in all, if you’re in need of something short and fun, go for it – what are you waiting for?

Enjoyment: 4.5/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: anyone looking for a short, fun read, Sanderson fans
Not recommended to: those expecting something groundbreaking

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