Review: Words of Radiance
Title: Words of Radiance
Author: Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The eagerly awaited sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Way of Kings.
Having met the challenge of a posthumous collaboration with the great Robert Jordan to complete his classic, bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time® with three #1 New York Times bestsellers in a row, Brandon Sanderson is at last free to return to the decade-spanning task of creating his own multi-volume epic, one that he hopes will make a comparable mark on the field. That epic is The Stormlight Archive and it began in 2010 with Tor’s longest, most elaborately embellished novel ever, The Way of Kings.
In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic
hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. Among those caught up in the conflict are Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, who leads the human armies; his sister Jasnah, a renowned scholar; her student Shallan, a brilliant but troubled young woman; and Kaladin, a military slave who, by the book’s end, had become the first magically endowed Knight Radiant in centuries.
In Words of Radiance their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have come to expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn to how to fulfill his new role as leader of the restored Knights Radiant, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
With this second book, the Stormlight Archive grows even more richly immersive and compelling. Sanderson’s fans, old and new, are likely to lift it at least as high on the bestseller lists as its predecessor.
I love Brandon Sanderson books, and I have come to have sky-high expectations for them.
Now imagine a book that easily soars over those sky-high expectations.
That's this book.
Honestly I'm just in shock that a book could be so...well, let's see, entertaining, shocking, emotional, witty, thought-provoking, comforting, and freaking HUGE. Just look at these status updates:
I read this book almost a month ago, but these characters and this world have taken up permanent residence in a corner of my mind (and heart). I had a really crappy day and was feeling incredibly lonely and upset, so I picked up this massive brick of a book and started reading. I got so lost in the world and was so invested in the characters that I stopped feeling upset and lonely, and I was just completely sucked in. Books that can do that are special indeed.
This book focuses on Shallan, who I loved in Way of Kings. She's as witty and stubborn as ever, but you also see how truly strong she is. There is one point where a character is complaining about how much life sucks and Shallan just looks at him and tells him exactly how it feels to be broken. And then this happens:
“He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken.
Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway.
It was the single most beautiful thing he’d seen in his entire life.” .
Yeah that part. I think I might have cried a little.
This book is intense, with all sorts of things things coming together. Szeth is still out slaughtering, the Parshendi are growing stronger, and of course, Odium is coming. You get to see quite a few chapters from the Parshendi point of view, which is very cool. You also learn a lot more about the knights radiant and how their powers work.
All the characters from book 1 continue to be awesome, and in fact all of them are even more endearing. Adolin, who I thought was a spoiled brat for most of book 1, is now a courageous and admirable young man (and also such a sweetheart). Dalinar continues to struggle with politics and his goal to restoring honor to the Alethi. Kaladin continues to have his moments of power and moments of self-loathing, but he continues to grow so much. We see more of Navani, and she continues to be excellent, and we also see more of Renarin this time around. I'm very excited for Renarin in book 3!
I don't know, this is just a beautiful story. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it gave me a lot to think about, and it made me feel happy when I was down. What more can you ask of a story?