Wax and Wane: Just What Happened to Brandon Sanderson?

Wax and Wane: Just What Happened to Brandon Sanderson? June 24, 2019

The Mistborn series was the best fantastic literature of the last twenty years . . . Maybe. By the end of the last book, one imagined Tolkien if Tolkien had published as a young man and then kept growing. The first three Mistborn books were marked by creative plotting and the creation of a clever alternative magical system.

Brandon Sanderson wrote a novel rooted in Latter Day Saint theology as firmly as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was rooted in Catholicism.

It was with great hope and eager expectation that I turned to the next trilogy. The books had a brilliant idea: let the world of Mistborn develop. Imagine Gondor gone into the Industrial Age with Aragorn a distant memory. Sanderson had started with clumsier characters, to end his first trilogy with more developed leads.

Would the growth continue?

Sadly, the series that had waxed, waned by the start of the second book. The writing is better in the sense that the craft improves. He is telling us stories, but it is like the third season of the original Star Trek where the creativity was gone, but Spock was used and reused to give the fans what we wanted. Fans often know what they want, but not what will make good story telling.

Did Brandon Sanderson in this interconnected world start listening to those who could not imagine a rich, theologically complex world that he knew?

It feels like it, the world becomes false with boxes checked. Relationships that were set up in book one of this steampunk series are abandoned with a few lines in book three. The moral compass of traditional LDS theology is hidden behind “openness.”

I get it. You can sell millions of copies and have fans defend you or you can be Orson Scott Card. Sanderson chose the dullard’s way. Or so it seems to me.

I am no Latter Day Saint, but the genius of the Book of Mormon created a vibrant American sub-culture. Those of us who dissent from the doctrine of the LDS church at least honor the vigor. Sanderson had that vigor, an almost Tolkien innocence before Wax and Wane. These three books were great fun, but harmless to the spirit of the age. The first three made you think and were entertaining, the next three were entertainment.

We can all be thankful for the entertainment, but I miss the intellectual and moral challenge that Sanderson presented in the first three novels. The first three books did what few fun reads have done for me: I was shocked by the ending. I like the characters in Wax and Wane and this is the most PG grownup fantasy you will find.

Nothing offended me, but the ending bored me. You can guess it all. America changed from the first trilogy to Wax and Wane. The earlier books become potentially offensive.  Sanderson had a choice in the Babylonian Captivity of the creative: give us Ezekiel or give us the “best we can do given the culture.” Ezekiel defied the culture by giving the world endless creative imagery that defined Babylon. Sanderson did what he had to do.

Or so it seems to me.

Wax and Wane? Fun read stripped clean of meaning by the wrath of the Con complaints.

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