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Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

By / April 14, 2014 / no comments

Words of Radiance is a behemoth of a book. Both in terms of number of pages and in the scope of storytelling, everything about this second offering in The Stormlight Archives is big, bold and breathtaking.

Continuing his penchant for delivering doorstopper sized tomes, Sanderson serves up well over 1,000 pages of quality writing that enables a more than favourable comparison with The Way of Kings – no small feat given the comparison is with one of my favourite books of all time. Whereas at times I found myself rushing through certain POVs in The Way of Kings (partly due to being so emotionally invested in Kalladin’s storyline), The Words of Radiance suffers none of this with a much more consistent quality of storytelling throughout.

Surprisingly it is Shallan’s story which stands out this time round. I say surprisingly as it was her story, and character, that invoked least interest in The Way of Kings. Through cleverly used extended flashbacks, we explore a lot of Shallan’s history with her family and what led to their present situation. Suspend everything you may have thought previously, as the heart rending truth is revealed in its full complexity. Shallan’s character whilst not going through a full makeover, becomes one which is more multi-faceted than previously assumed and the added strength and depth makes for a much more interesting and enjoyable read.

The story continues on from where The Way of Kings left off with the Alethi armies camped on the Shattered Plains battling as much themselves, due to their incessant political in-fighting, as well as their Parshendi enemies who killed their King. Kalladin, who now leads his Bridge Four cohorts as soldiers within Dalinar’s army continues to struggle to come to terms with what he is becoming and how he views the Lighteyes. Dalinar continues to struggle with his visions portending the arrival of the Voidbringers whilst also attempting to hold the Alethi nation together. Meanwhile, both Jasnah and Shallan are headed to the Shattered Plains in order to warn the gathered forces of a much larger threat than that posed by the Parshendi.

Within these main storylines there are some pleasing character developments within some of the more minor characters. Within Bridge Four Moash, Teft and Rock whilst not to the fore as much as previously, develop quite nicely, although it is Lopen’s character that emerges as one of the best while also providing some humourous scenes which Sanderson pulls off rather deftly.

Also worth mentioning is the Interludes that occur through the book. While some of these read almost as standalone stories, we are able to now see how these are interwoven into the wider story and some of the ensuing storylines that these will provide will be eagerly awaited.

No Sanderson review would be complete without discussing his magic system. Those readers looking for an expansion of the magic system will not go away disappointed. Surgebinding, soulcasting and the role of sprens, shardblades, spheres and stormlight all are explained in further detail creating a much more fuller understanding of how all these things are interrelated.

For those who liked The Way of Kings, it goes without saying that you’ll likely love The Words of Radiance. The storyline is moved along in pleasing fashion, so much so that it makes me wonder how Sanderson is going to engineer a further 8 books in the series, albeit that it appears as if only a further 3 will exist within the first story arc. The plot itself, most especially with respect the Knight Radiants, continues to offer up surprises and it becomes all too easy to become fully immersed in the world of Roshar.

Obligatory pun time to finish things off. Words of Radiance is a storming good read, full of atmosphere(s) that will have you climbing the walls waiting for the next installment in the series, Skybreaker.

 

Review written by Antoxx

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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