Written By: Brandon Sanderson
Published By: Tor Fantasy
Stormlight Archive Series: Book 2
Page Count (Paperback): 1328
Audio Version Length: 48 Hours and 13 Minutes
Narrated By: Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
Link to Buy (Amazon)
Link to Book 1 Review
I think you can understand why I didn’t finish this one in time for last week’s review.
Brandon Sanderson’s ‘The Stormlight Archive’ series is one of the greatest fantasy epics of the modern age. ‘The Way of Kings’ was a near-perfect story that built up to one of the most thrilling and cathartic endings I’ve ever read. Naturally, after finishing it (which took me roughly a century), I went into the second book with high hopes. As well as the goal to finish it within a decent time.
I was not disappointed.
‘Words of Radiance‘ perfectly continues the story right from where ‘The Way of Kings‘ left off. It further fleshes out each member of the cast masterfully, especially when each of the main characters finally start to convene at the same place. The action is just as magical and exhilarating, if not more so. It even manages to improve on the pacing! This story is a fantastic sequel.
Plot: Everyone’s Favorite Tour Site, The Shattered Plains
Warning! As this is the sequel to ‘The Way of Kings’, it is inevitable that I spoil that book when reviewing this one. If you haven’t read that one, I’d highly recommend you do so before reading this review.
For a desert split into thousands of chasms, filled with monsters and at war, this place sure is fucking popular!
After rescuing Dalanar, Kaladin and his bridgemen have been freed and made into bodyguards for the man they rescued. However, Kaladin quickly finds that his job is even harder than he thought it would be. A strange countdown is being scrawled on Dalanar’s wall, all ticking down to something terrible. Worse yet, the man who made him a slave has made his way to the plains. Now, Kaladin must struggle with his lust for vengeance and his honor.
Meanwhile, Shalan and Yasna make their way towards the Shattered Plains to report their findings to Yasna’s family. Unfortunately, everything quickly goes to hell and their ship is wrecked. Shalan finds herself alone with the new Spren, Pattern. In order to get to the plains and fulfill Yasna’s desire, she must become a firm presence and a leader.
Now that Dalinar is High Prince of War, he and the rest of his family begin to make movements towards truly uniting their kingdom. Center to these plans is Adolin, who must duel with the Shard Bearers across all the camps to monopolize the Shards. But this task is quickly proving more difficult than he’d like.
Elsewhere, the Parshendi are making their own movements towards ending the war. Among these Parshendi is Eshonai, a Shard Bearer who leads their armies. But when she takes on the new and powerful Storm Form, she finds herself falling down a darker path.
All of these branches and more connect to weave the larger narrative. The story is just a little quicker in pacing than the first book, as the first book spends a long time establishing the characters and the second skips that step and gets right into it. Characters that didn’t have much depth or development in the first book get the spotlight, which makes the cast feel even more interesting.
Among these characters, Shalan is easily the one with the most development. Whereas Kaladin was the true main character of the first book, this one is all about little Ms. Davar. We see her past, as well as her complete transformation (which is literal in a few scenes). By the end, Shalan is unrecognizable as the character from the first book.
Which is good. Because frankly, I really didn’t like Shalan in the first book. Literally, every scene she had was just her complaining about how guilty she felt. In this book, she is far more active and powerful, which makes her scenes much more interesting. It’s good that she got the focus she did.
Presentation: Same Narrators, Same Quality
Once again, I did listen to the audio version. Get off my back, I’m a busy guy!
Michael Kramer is as fantastic a narrator as ever. He gives each character a unique and distinct voice, which brings the production to life. He brings each chapter that he reads to life.
Unfortunately, I still can’t say the same for Kate Reading. She’s clearly still trying, as she does give many of the characters distinct voices. Unfortunately, she still sounds very robotic and grating. As much as I love Shalan’s character development, I still can’t stand any chapter with her as the focus due to the narration.
I’m sure she’ll figure it out by book three. But I doubt it.
Voice: I’ll Put in All The Culture!
Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors of the modern age. He plays the perfect balancing act with character and world-building. Now in this book, he takes the world-building and cranks it up to eleven.
Then twelve. Then thirteen. Then he breaks the fucking dial.
There are almost no scenes in this book that don’t, in at least some small way, flesh out some corner of this world. Not all of it is very subtle in its metaphors (looking at you, Light Eye and Dark Eye metaphor) but all of them are very interesting and fun. By the end, you’ll have an intimate understanding of what makes this world tick.
If you still haven’t read any of ‘The Stormlight Archive’ series, then I don’t know what you’re doing. Sure, it’s a time investment. But for the pure quality of the story, it is absolutely worth it.
I would highly recommend ‘Words of Radiance‘. If you haven’t read ‘The Way of Kings‘, go read that one and then read ‘Words of Radiance‘. This is a fantastic series that you absolutely shouldn’t miss out on.
Plus, it’s a great replacement for ‘The Song of Ice and Fire‘. Because let’s be real: those books are never going to be finished.