`The Complete Alcatraz' is a very well written and enjoyable compendium with a wry, satirical sense of humour that will simultaneously entertain adults as well as amuse children.
The highlight of the series is the first person perspective and writing style. In this way it is very different from much of Sanderson's other work (almost as if it is a different author) despite some similar themes and content. The idea that Alcatraz is actually the author and Brandon Sanderson only a pseudonym gives another level to the book and provides plenty of entertainment as the author mocks his own art form. These novels are designed to mess with the conventions of writing, make fun of the craft and challenge the reader's expectations.
The story is concerned with our world not being as we think we know it. It is based around the concept that evil librarians rule the world behind the scenes and suppress the peoples of it with lies, manipulation and sometimes force. The story is told from the perspective of the main protagonist, the eponymous Alcatraz. He is an orphan in our world who discovers he is the last in the family line of Smedry, a leading magical family in the battle against librarian oppression in this mysterious hidden world. Much of this magical world and its inhabitants are left half explained as it is gradually revealed through the cynical eyes of Alcatraz. A lot of the first book is concerned with introducing both Alactraz to this world and establishing it in the eyes of the reader.
The second volume continues in much the same vein. In many ways 'The Scrivener's Bones' is quite similar to its predecessor. Alcatraz meets family members he never knew existed, embarks upon a quest to infiltrate a library and faces a powerful Dark Occulator. Like many sequels this is expanded upon and the threat escalated. This time Alcatraz and his friends venture into the ancient library of Alexandria and encounter ghostly, undead librarian guardians. It is a worthwhile sequel and highly entertaining, but it is a bit more of the same.
The third volume sees Alcatraz venture into the Freelands so that we discover more about their society and politics. There is also more revealed about the uses of glass and the Smedry talents. The various characters continue to slowly develop as many new and interesting ones are introduced, usually with comic affect. Alcatraz continues bit by bit to learn of his family and his heritage, there is more of an insight into what drives Bastille, we are introduced to more eccentric members of Alcatraz's extended family and a bit more information concerning his estranged parents is revealed.
The final part sees Alcatraz attempt to save the land of Mokia from librarian invasion. Most of the action, therefore, takes place in the besieged city of Tuki Tuki. As in the previous novels, more members of Alcatraz's extended family and their Smedry talents are introduced, usually to highly amusing affect.
This is a great omnibus for the children's/young adult market. But any adult who has enjoyed Sanderson's other work should definitely give this a go.Read more ›