White Sand Volume 2: Too wordy

Brandon Sanderson White Sand Volume 2White Sand Volume 2 by Brandon Sanderson

White Sand Volume 2 is, like most graphic works, a team effort: the story is by Brandon Sanderson, the script by Rik Hoskin, the art from Julius Gopez and Julius Otha, the coloring by Morgan Hickman and Salvatore Aila Studios, and the lettering by DC Hopkins. Unfortunately, in my case, quantity did not equal a quality experience.

One problem is I’m not sure Sanderson’s storytelling translates well into the graphic form. Though there are certainly exceptions (The Rithmatist for one excellent example), his works tend to be sprawling, long, dense, introspective, and highly political, none of which really screams out for a graphic treatment. In this particular case, White Sand can be quite wordy, so that too much has to get crammed in to small panels, too much gets explained in somewhat flat fashion, and the self-narration during action scenes feels forced and stilted. And, as is I admit often the case for me with graphic novels, the characterization feels thin, so that I can’t say I really cared much about what happened to anyone here. The structure too feels disjointed, with the main character shifting from interview to interview trying to gain support for his goal of saving the Diem, with the interviews interrupted by the occasional assassination attempt (handled too easily).

The art didn’t help. To be honest, I’m not sure if the fuzzy nature of most the artwork is a relic of a bad ARC on my Kindle or purposeful, but it was often muddy and ill-defined, and especially marred the action scenes so that it was difficult to tell what was happening. And the plethora of small panels on each page contributed to the issue. The artist did change toward the end, and those panels were definitely much more defined and clearer, though I can’t say the art itself did much for me.

I’m a fan of most of Sanderson’s work; he is I think an excellent storyteller if not a stylist, but here the form seems to constrain his talent, or even work against it, leading to an end result that I just can’t recommend.

Published February 20, 2018. Following the loss of most of his colleagues in a violent ambush, Kenton has become Lord Mastrell of the few remaining Sand Masters, magicians who can manipulate sand to do their bidding. With the ruling council poised against him, the hot-headed Kenton must become a diplomat to have any hope of preventing the eradication of his people forever. However, there’s another complication: assassins are coming for him from all directions, and Kenton’s only true ally is Khriss, a visitor from the other side of the planet who has an agenda of her own to pursue. White Sand Volume 2 continues the New York Times bestselling series of graphic novels, bringing a crucial chapter of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere to life exclusively in a visual format.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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3 comments

  1. It doesn’t seem like a natural melding of skills occurred here.

    Saladin Ahmed is writing several comics right now; one established character (Black Bolt) and one original character, Elena Abbott. His prose style seemed tailored to the graphic format; snappy dialogue, just enough introspective monologues and just enough direct narration to provide info without dragging down the pacing.

  2. Sorry to hear this one was a disappointment, particularly since I’m such a fan of comic books and of Sanderson.

  3. April Vrugtman /

    If there is too much text, to me that says that perhaps both the creator of the text didn’t take into account the nature of the format and the artists aren’t doing enough to set the background so that much of the text is not needed for the reader to get what is going on.

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