Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: Words Of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2), by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 1087 pages, or 48 hours and 15 minutes on audio

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.
Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi. Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl. Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

My Rating:
★★★★ 1/2 
....For Being An Awesome Sequel.

My Review:
This is the kind of book that you'll finish in a week (despite it being over 1,000 pages long), and then you'll have to read it again in the not-so-distant future because there was just so much going on the first time around.

There were points in this story where I just couldn't read fast enough. Too many times I kept thinking "wait, what?! No!!!", frequently followed up with "Helllll yeah!" In addition, the characters were just plain fun to read about; in fact, it's the conflicting emotions of our protagonists that really provide the momentum to the plot, a momentum that puts your own emotions into a tailspin.

And, God! The world-building! The world of Roshar has so much detail, so much history, that I would put right there with Tolkien's Middle-Earth. It must have taken the author decades to create this place. Brandon Sanderson, I salute you!

I did knock off 1/2 a star though.

Chances are I'll like this story better the second time around, and the third installment in this series (when it gets published) might improve how I look at things, but there were a few things that bugged me a little. Just a tiny bit.

First, there's a hint of a love triangle in development. The formula for it is all there, and might develop into something bigger in the next book. You can blame Twilight for this, but I hate love triangles.

Second, the twist in the end was kind of obvious. Not a bad point, really. Just saying.

Third, I'm not sure I liked the conclusion. Once again, I'll have to read the next installment to see how everything lays out, but the ending just seemed too......neat? Not to spoil anything, but what happened to two of the characters at the end just seemed too engineered. I might change my mind once the next installment comes out, though.

Despite the minor issues I have with this story, I still loved it, and I so, so want to read it again, preferably when the third book comes out. This is a great fantasy series, and totally worth a look.  Strongly recommended for the hard-core fantasy lover; don't let the number of pages scare you away!

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