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Brandon Sanderson – Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia

December 4, 2009

141. Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson (2009)
Alcatraz Smedry, Book 3

Read my review of:
– Book 1: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
– Book 2: Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones

Length: 336 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 23 November 2009
Finished: 25 November 2009

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed the previous two books in the series and can always use a light, fun read.

Even his Talent
didn’t prepare Alcatraz
to be a Smedry.

Summary: After growing up in the Librarian-controlled Hushlands, Alcatraz Smedry is finally returning to the Free Kingdoms. After all of the danger he has faced, one might think he’d be ready for anything, but he’s never had to deal with people treating him like celebrity, thanks both to his Smedry heritage and his time in the Hushlands. He also, for the first time, has to deal with his parents: his newly-rescued father is strange and distant, and his mother, a Librarian, is skulking around the city, and Alcatraz is sure she’s up to no good. To top things off, his friend Bastille has been stripped of her armor and her powers, and the Librarians have sent an envoy to the king, ostensibly negotiating a peace treaty… although Alcatraz will have to find out what their real motivations are before it’s too late.

Review: I’m sad to say it, but I didn’t quite enjoy this installment as much as I’d enjoyed the first two books in the series. It was still extremely clever, very fast-paced, and incredibly imaginative. However, I just didn’t connect to Alcatraz as a narrator as much as I had before, although I can’t quite point to a reason why. Maybe he was a little bit less snarkily sarcastic than usual, or maybe the shine has worn off the hyper-aware meta-narration he provides. Maybe it’s because I haven’t recently re-read the first two books (a lapse for which Alcatraz berated me at several points throughout the book), so maybe I was missing some plot or character through-lines that would have made this third book resonate more strongly. Maybe I was just not in exactly the right mood to appreciate it fully.

None of this is meant to say that this is a bad book. It’s not, at all. It was absolutely an enjoyable read, with a bunch of giggle-inducing lines and scenes and gags liberally sprinkled throughout. (I particularly loved the tips to thirteen-year-old boys about thirteen-year-old girls.) There are also some interesting developments regarding What’s Really Going On that make me excited to see where Sanderson takes the series next. It’s just that it felt like the plot was a *little* less interesting than previous, a *slightly* smaller percentage of the jokes connected, and a *smidge* of the sparkle that made the first two books such a riot had worn off. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Not as gangbusters as the first two books, but still a solidly entertaining read. Don’t start here, but the series as a whole is highly recommended to young fantasy fans, mid-grade reluctant readers, and Hushlanders of all ages who need something light and humorous after being overly oppressed by the Librarian regime.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Brandon Sanderson’s website

Other Reviews: The Intelli-Gent Reviews
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: So there I was, hanging upside down underneath a gigantic glass bird, speeding along at a hundred miles an hour above the ocean, in no danger whatsoever.

Cover Thoughts: I’ve never been crazy about the photo-collage style of the Alcatraz covers – instead of looking funky, like I think they’re supposed to, they just look haphazard and not quite finished to me.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2009 8:47 am

    Sorry this volume wasn’t as good as the previous ones – I suppose it would be hard to keep improving on the initial gag.

    • December 7, 2009 8:38 am

      rhapsody – Y’know, I think that’s totally part of it – it’s got to be hard to come up with stuff that’s new, even more hilarious, and still in character.

  2. December 5, 2009 9:28 am

    Sorry you didn’t like this one as much but it does sound like a neat series.

    • December 7, 2009 8:39 am

      Ladytink – It definitely is; they’re all good, light, very fun reads.

  3. December 6, 2009 12:38 am

    Hmm… Yeah, I don’t really like the cover either. But, I’ve heard hat this book is good(its just the sappy cover that did not catch my attention) Maybe I’ll try the series.

  4. December 8, 2009 5:13 pm

    Sounds like you had pretty well the same reaction to this one as I did to the last one. :( Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you!

    • December 9, 2009 4:08 pm

      Memory – It’s got me curious enough about what’s going on underneath the entire series that I’ll definitely keep reading, but this one just didn’t click for me. Sucks, don’t it?

  5. casey permalink
    September 27, 2011 11:28 pm

    it was a great read and i recomend it to everyone. but i do think that the cover needs some more cool stuff on it.

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