Books

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson Focuses on Dalinar’s Backstory

Spoiler-Free Book Review:

The Stormlight Archive: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Multiple intriguing points of view
  • Gripping character backstories
  • Different lifeforms than in any other series
  • Unique magic system
  • Richly developed cultures
  • Objects unique to the realm of this book
  • So many quotable moments
  • So much research put into this
  • Illustrations and other worldbuilding snippets between sections of the book
  • Quotes that introduce chapters are interesting and relevant
  • Phenomenal ending with twists
  • The interludes could be books of their own

Cons

  • No noticeable cons

Review

This series is without a doubt the best one I have ever read. From character development to worldbuilding, Sanderson knows how to weave a compelling story. Oathbringer is the third book in The Stormlight Archive. With this book, my favorite character has shifted from Kaladin to Shallan.

Psychologically, Shallan is a fascinating character. She makes alternate versions of herself such as Veil and Radiant, until she has trouble figuring out who she really is as a person. Even when she has a better grasp on who “Shallan” is, she wonders if she should discard her original personality in favor of one of the alternatives that is less broken. A big part of Shallan’s character arc is coming to terms with her own brokenness.

I should also say that I never liked the idea of Shallan and Kaladin as a potential couple. I won’t spoil who she ends up with, and I wouldn’t consider whichever choice she made to be a con for the book, but I thought I should mention that. And the reason is that I prefer Shallan and Adolin because they have phenomenal chemistry. Adolin wants Shallan, not her false personas. He is so sincere. I am not big on romance, but they are honestly cute together.

Also, Pattern as chaperone is hilarious.

“What,” Pattern said with a hum, “is a chaperone?”

“That is someone who watches two young people when they are together, to make certain they don’t do anything inappropriate.”

“Inappropriate?” Pattern said. “Such as…dividing by zero?”

The interludes between the sections of the book remain a testament to Sanderson’s solid writing skills. He made me care about characters who may only get a few pages of development here and there, but are nonetheless multifaceted and interesting. Two of my favorites are Rysn and Kaza. Rysn has been crippled from falling from a greatshell’s head and is now keeping ledgers. Kaza is slowly turning to smoke the more she uses her soulcaster. I love them both so much, especially Rysn.

The Windrunners are joined by new members, and I really appreciate the ideals that they must swear to.

Windrunner’s first ideal:

“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”

Windrunner’s second ideal:

“I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

Windrunner’s third ideal:

“I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right.”

The Windrunners are my favorite out of all the orders of Radiants.

This really was more of Dalinar’s book, just like The Way of Kings focused on Kaladin and Words of Radiance focused on Shallan. We finally learn more about Dalinar’s first wife, which is honestly amazing. Dalinar really has a strong character arc, turning from a warmonger to a peacemaker. It is his tragic and violent past that influences him in this novel, although his softer side is involved as well.

The ending was everything I could have wanted. It did not disappoint, with ample twists and tons of suspense and tension. I was in awe.

In conclusion, you should definitely read this book. Read the first two books first, obviously, but this one was amazing too. This book would be best for lovers of high fantasy.

Books

The Second Book in the Stormlight Archive is Just as Awe-Inspiring as the First

Spoiler-Free Book Review:

The Stormlight Archive: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Introduces new characters such as Lift, who are simply awesome
  • Some very quotable moments
  • Extremely well-developed main characters
  • More backstory, especially for Shallan
  • Perspectives from both sides of the war
  • Introduced new settings such as Shadesmar
  • Well-placed interludes to up the tension and anticipation
  • A worldbuilding masterpiece
  • Obviously did a lot of research

Cons

  • Couldn’t think of any.

Review

Warning: Although there are no spoilers for book 2 of The Stormlight Archive (Words of Radiance), there are minor spoilers for book 1 (The Way of Kings).

I’ll start out by saying I adored the first book in this series. The rich character development and worldbuilding, the detailed backstories, the complex and engaging plot…it truly was a masterpiece. Words of Radiance is an equally powerful testament to the powerful writing of Brandon Sanderson. It does not disappoint.

Lift is an intriguing character introduced in the interludes of this book. She’s a go-with-the-flow, thieving girl who is paired to a spren named Wyndle. She thinks it is unlucky to have your age be more than you can count on your fingers. Gawx, a fellow thief, is pretty fun too, even if I like Lift better.

I enjoyed the interludes, but their placement caused so much tension. Sanderson picked key moments to insert his interludes to up the suspense. You will be on the edge of your seat.

Rysn is another strong character from the interludes. She looks down on those who are different than her, and her mentor forces her to care for a pot of grass to try to temper her pride. She is annoyed because the grass is stupid–it doesn’t retract or move the way grass does in her country, just staying still and soaking up sunlight.

Each interlude adds to the worldbuilding. It’s brilliant.

I love some of the great lines from this book.

Spren are those ideas – the ideas of collective human experience – somehow come alive.”

Jasnah

Natural laws? Laws are of men, Kaladin. Nature doesn’t have them.”

Syl

Beauty was out there, all around. To create art was not to capture it, but to participate in it.”

I’m sorry your mystical, godlike powers do not instantly work as you would like them too.”

Pattern

As I fear not a child with a weapon he cannot lift, I will never fear the mind of a man who does not think.”

Dalinar

And all these beloved characters–they start meeting each other. Shallan has the chance to meet Kaladin and Adolin. I love love love seeing Adolin and Shallan meet. They are so awkward it’s funny. Right down to Shallan asking how does one poop in shardplate. Priceless moments. And when she meets Kaladin with the whole boot scene–trust me, you’ll love it.

We get a ton of background for Shallan in this book. I feel like Kaladin is still my favorite character, but Shallan is superbly developed. We learn more about her childhood and her brothers and father. She also takes her abilities to the next level in this book. I love to see her grow more confident under Jasnah’s leadership, demanding that the crew of a ship she is sailing on lower her down into the water to memorize the appearance of a Santhid.

Sanderson does villain points of view very well. If they can even be called villains, since they are so sympathetic and justified. Eshonai is a Parshendi and a leader of her people, who call themselves the listeners. Parshendi use rhythms alongside words to communicate, which adds depth to their conversations. They also can exist in different forms such as mateform and warform, depending on their role in society at any particular time.

It’s great that he gave perspectives from both sides of the conflict, unlike in The Lord of the Rings, in which one side of the war is clearly completely evil.

Shadesmar, the world of spren, is an assortment of structures surrounded by a sea of glass beads. It’s weird, but Sanderson manages to fit it into the novel without much problem.

There is a duel partway through the book that is easily one of the best scenes in the series I have read thus far. Loved it. Oh, the suspense! The action! The courage!

Finally, I must say that Sanderson undoubtedly did a lot of research, just like his first book. From the details of caring for wounds to the nuances of riding a horse for the first time, Sanderson knows what he is talking about.

Read this book. Obviously read the first one first, but this one will be all that you want in a fantasy.

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Books

A Rival for The Lord of the Rings

Spoiler-Free Book Review:

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is the best book I have ever read. Period. My dad suggested it for me and I could barely put it down, especially near the ending. I was visibly smiling at parts, laughing, and on the edge of my seat repeatedly. In my opinion, it blows The Lord of the Rings out of the water. Read on to find out why this is my new favorite book!

Background

Brandon Sanderson is the author of various books for adults and younger audiences alike. Some of his more famous works include the Mistborn Trilogy and Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, as well as the rest of the Stormlight Archive. He typically writes high fantasy with fantastic worldbuilding.

Summary

In the world of Roshar, three promising characters struggle against their pasts and continued threats while going on journeys of self-discovery. Kaladin, a mysterious slave with a tragic past. Shallan, an artistic young woman who seeks to become the ward of a famous scholar. And Dalinar, an older man who is trying desperately to unite the Alethi highprinces and create a stronger kingdom of Alethkar.

Pros

  • Multiple intriguing points of view
  • Gripping character backstories
  • Different lifeforms than in any other series
  • Unique magic system
  • Richly developed cultures
  • Objects unique to the realm of this book
  • So many quotable moments
  • So much research put into this
  • Illustrations and other worldbuilding snippets between sections of the book
  • Quotes that introduce chapters are interesting and relevant
  • Phenomenal ending with twists

Cons

  • I honestly cannot think of a con. Sure, it’s very long, but without that length I doubt the worldbuilding would be nearly as impressive.

Observations

  • The length of the book is 1200+ pages, but every bit is important to the narrative as a whole.

Review

Characters

Kaladin is introduced as a slave with a history of troublemaking and a host of enviable skills. The book delves deeply into his backstory in particular, speaking of his numerous losses and continued failures. If there is a character who is focused on the most in the book, I would say it is Kaladin.

Shallan is another point-of-view character, trying to become a ward of Jasnah Kholin, who is a high-ranking scholar. Shallan’s primary concern is saving her homeland, which has fallen into disarray since her father’s death. One of her most interesting skills is affixing an image in her memory and being able to draw a replica of it later on. She also draws from sight with remarkable skill.

When she drew, she didn’t feel as if she worked on charcoal and paper. In drawing a portrait, her medium was the soul itself.”

Dalinar is the third significant viewpoint character, an older man whose visions during highstorms worry him about the state of Alethkar. He has two sons, Adolin and Renarin, who are each very interesting in their own ways. Adolin goes through relationships with all the eligible young women of high enough rank quickly. Renarin struggles with physical weakness that prevents him from engaging in battle.

Lifeforms

This novel has lifeforms different than in any book I’ve read. From thunderclasts to chasmfiends to skyeels, Brandon Sanderson has a high capacity for creativity. My favorites, however, are the spren and the chulls.

Spren appear when something changes–when fear appears, or when it begins to rain. They are the heart of change, and therefore the heart of all things”

Hesina

There are musicspren, fearspren, painspren, windspren, and hungerspren, among dozens of others. Some are large and monstrous, others are like wisps, and some can even shift their form.

Chulls are kind of like large hermit crabs with rock-like shells that are used as herd animals and to pull cargo. See an illustration of one on Fandom here.

Magic System

The magic system is dependant on Stormlight. Stormlight from highstorms infuses many everyday items, the currency, and gems. That energy can then be used to perform lashings–attaching things to each other or moving objects, standing on walls, etc. Very few people are capable of these feats.

Culture

The first notable cultural difference is that men are expected to handle fighting, commerce, and creating glyphs. Yet women are the ones who are able to read and write and it is considered wrong for men to engage in these activities. There are also foods considered to be men’s food vs. women’s food.

In Alethi culture, people with light eyes are considered higher-ranking citizens than those with dark eyes.

There is also the Vorin tradition of having a safe hand, a woman covering one’s left hand with a long sleeve or glove. Uncovering one’s safehand is considered as scandalous in their society as very low cleavage. The society is medieval so there are a lot of restrictions for women and men.

According to Shin culture, one should not tread on stone and mining is an abomination. To them, a dying request is sacred. Farmers are celebrated with lavish clothes and acclaimed for their hard work. The Shin have childlike features. One of the characters in this book is a Shin assassin.

At the end of the book a kelek poem is displayed, which must be the same backwards and forwards (excepting verb forms).

Objects

Shardblades are the most interesting weapons in the Stormlight Archive. It is said that “a shardblade did not cut living flesh; it severed the soul itself.” Slicing through someone’s skin would cause no flesh damage, but would lead to numbness in the area swung through. Slicing through someone’s neck would lead to death and eyes being burnt out.

Soulcasters are objects used to turn substances into different substances. For instance, rock to smoke, or human flesh to flames. It is even possible to soulcast food, but it usually ends up being pretty bland.

Spanweed is an instrument that allows long distance communication through writing.

Quotes

But expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”

Shallan’s point of view

Well, I myself find that respect is like manure. Use it where needed, and growth will flourish. Spread it on too thick, and things just start to smell.”

Kabsal

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

Wit

Research

After 10 years of research and writing, Brandon Sanderson produced The Way of Kings. There are many aspects of the story that are realistic and well-thought-out. The medical and surgical knowledge Sanderson included in his book added to the effectiveness of the story. Even though it’s a work of fiction, I felt that I learned more about how wounds were treated after battles.

There were other thoughtful aspects such as how a soldier was told to urinate before battle so during the battle he would not be distracted. He was supposed to do that well ahead of time because armor is hard to get off and back on. Another instance of realism is that the brand that Kaladin has is scabby and needs to heal.

Extras

The illustrations between sections of the book are beautiful and contribute to the illusion of realism that Sanderson creates. Illustrations can be seen at his website, here. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are mostly made up of the dying words of random people. The reason for these quotes is revealed at the end, and they turn out to be extremely relevant.

Conclusion

If you like fantasy, read this book. I have a feeling this book will become a classic for the fantasy genre. Recommended for ages 13 at least and up, but may be better for an older audience due to length.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate books, check out my rating system.

Links

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