Man Versus Self

Alcatraz Versus His Own Reputation could be an alternate title for Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia, the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s madcap series for middle grade readers. Throughout the series Alcatraz has been trying to dissuade his readers from believing he is a hero, but it really hits home when Alcatraz makes his triumphal return to Nalhalla, the Free Land of his birth. When faced with his own celebrity he finds it is a handsome devil! As U2 put it in “Stand Up Comedy”:  I gotta stand up to ego but my ego’s not really the enemy/It’s like a small child crossing an eight lane highway/On a voyage of discovery. Only in this case royalty like the Smedrys eschew the highway in favor of castle-crawling dragons and Transporter’s glass!

Sanderson is a proponent of conflict on every page, and this book has it in spades. Boy versus self, man versus nature, kids versus parents, grandpa versus granny, traitors versus their own kind, and anointed one versus vast conspiracy to control the world’s access to information, of course! Comedy can be found on every page as well, my favorite being the sidenote to a sidenote about a man-eating dinosaur called the Brontësister!

This is the third of five books in the series, so naturally the choose-your-own-author raises some fundamental questions altering the core beliefs of this alternate reality. Are all librarians evil? Could Alcatraz’s evil librarian mother actually care about him? And what is the connection between the magical Smedry talents and the technological properties of sand and glass? Book four, Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, should be out in October!


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