I am halfway through the second instalment of the epic fantasy series ‘The Stormlight Archive’ by Brandon Sanderson and things are really getting intense! Characters are meeting each other, heaps of detailed lore is being thrown at us, and piece by piece some of the major plot points are coming together. I am excited to pick up Part 2 of this book and then wait until the end of the year for book 3 to be published.
Title: Words of Radiance Part 1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Date published: March 4th 2014
Page Count: 654
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.
The Assassin, Szeth, 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.
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.
The world Sanderson creates in this series continues to blow me away! In Australia the books are usually broken into two parts, which makes the daunting task of actually finishing these books a little less scary…especially as each part is at least 600 pages each! ‘Words of Radiance-Part 1’ starts pretty much where Book 1 left off. Shallan is travelling with her mentor Jasnah to the Shattered Plains to continue their research into the Voidbringers and the possible ‘apocalypse-like’ event that looms over Rosharr; Dalinar continues to try to unite the Kingdom and bring honour and meaning back to the Alethi way of life and their battle with the Parshendi; Kaladin is adjusting to life after being a slave and works to rehabilitate the other Bridgmen while fitting into his role as a Darkeyed Captain in the army; and Adolin just does Adolin things.
This book continues to deliver what the first book did- interesting characters, a detailed and incredible setting, complex lore, and a slowly building major plot arc that is promising to be mind-blowing once it reaches its climax.
Things I Liked
The plot development- Piece by piece, some of the tidbits of information and lore we explored in the first book are coming together to build the major storyline that will be focus of this series. It is a lot slower then the first book and there were some boring chapters where not much happened plot wise, but this allowed some of the background lore or character history to be explored. In this book we also learn more about the Spren, what Dalinar’s plans are to unite the High Princes and when the Desolation will occur.
Shallan’s Character-I am not going to lie, I was super bored during all of Shallan’s chapters for the majority of book 1! That being said, all of her slow character development from book 1 culminated in her becoming one of the most interesting characters in ‘Words of Radiance.’ After she was stranded in the Frostlands, Shallan has to come out of her sheltered shell and find her way to the Shattered Plains to continue Jasnah’s work and to work on cementing her betrothal to Adolin. She discovers more of her abilities aided by her Spren Pattern and learns some new talents that makes her a formidable individual, while continuing to work on her scholarship. Already her and Adolin make and interesting couple, and I am looking forward to seeing whether her and Kaladin will have some interaction regarding their shared Stormlight abilities.
The Interludes- The book is split into a multitude of different parts, with each part featuring chapters following a set of characters. However, it is the short chapters between these major parts that I really enjoyed. We follow some of the minor characters, or characters we only just meet to explore more of the world, or in the case of Eshonai, more insight into Parshendi culture and their opinions on their longstanding war with the Alethi. These short chapters add so much more detail to the story and gives us different insights and views seperate from those of the main characters.
Characters meeting each other- When two main characters finally meet I always get so excited and this book brings together some of our main characters for the first time. We see Shallan reach the Shattered Plains and interact with Dalinar, Adolin and Kaladin. Speaking of Kaladin, his relationship with Dalinar grows as captain of the guard and he has numerous confrontations with Adolin, who is not his biggest fan. It is obvious as the reader that something supernatural is liking these four characters (particularly Shallan and Kaladin due to their Stormlight related abilities) and it leaves me excited to see how they all will be drawn together to fight against the impending Desolation and return of the Voidbringers.
Things I Did Not Like
Slow pacing- I have seen some reviews say they felt this book was a lot faster then the first, but I felt differently. ‘The Way of Kings’ introduces all of our main characters and then throws them into the story. For me, ‘Words Of Radiance’, or at least the first part, slows down and delves into the plot at a deeper level. We focus more on some of the background characters or get some more information on some major things revealed in the least book.
‘Words of Radiance’ is the perfect continuation of the epic fantasy series started in ‘The Way of Kings’. Parts of the story are starting to slowly come together while new plot points are being introduced. I am looking forward to reading part 2 and then picking up a copy of ‘Oathbringer’ in November.