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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