Books, By the Cover

Words of Radiance (By the Cover): A Promised Showdown

Okay, this one isn’t my fault. Not one but two of my coworkers just started this book. It’s been on my mind, okay? I swear, I won’t talk about this series again for a while! At least until we get some news about Book 5.

Or my coworkers get to book 3. Whichever happens first.

Words of Radiance is my least favorite Stormlight Archive book. Kaladin acts like an annoying bitch for most of it, it’s almost entirely focused on Shallan, my least favorite character, and it has the one scene in the series that I cannot bring myself to reread. I still thoroughly enjoy the book more than most other books that I read, but it’s still the entry in the series I least enjoy going back to.

But I got to admit: it’s got a pretty sweet cover!

Once again, we’ll be using the full artwork in order to get the complete picture.

Before you read the series, you won’t have any idea what’s going on here. Who’s that guy in blue? Why is his fist glowing? Who’s that ninja-looking dude with the katana? What the hell is going on with the sky back there? Where are they? What is this book about?

But when you’ve read the first book, you know what’s going on here. Oh, that’s Kaladin! And Szeth! Are they finally going to throw down?! Oh, I’ve gotta buy this! This is going to be the coolest thing ever!

However, you’d still ask: what’s going on with the sky? And you’d be so distracted that you wouldn’t even notice all the finer details!

Let’s start with the obvious stuff. Firstly, we have Kaladin front in center. Dressed in his Bridge 4 uniform, holding a spear in one hand, and glowing with Stormlight, he looks ready to throw down. Fitting, considering who is on the other side.

On the other side of the page is Szeth. He, too, looks ready to fight. Dressed all in white and holding the Honor Blade, he looks like a ninja ready to strike. And the danger he poses is made abundantly clear by where he’s standing; whereas Kaladin stands atop the Shattered Plains, Szeth is standing atop a pile of corpses. Fitting, for an assassin.

Interestingly, Kaladin isn’t looking at Szeth. While the Assassin in White’s full attention is on the bridgeman, Kaladin’s gaze is locked forward, facing the audience. This could be a simple artistic decision to make Kaladin more easily visible, as his half of the cover is the one people will be seeing. Or it could be interpreted that Kaladin is more focused on something or someone else. I’ll leave that one up to you guys.

And in the background, the world goes to hell. On the left, we can see what appears to be the beginnings of a High Storm. On the right, we have what is very clearly the beginning of the Everstorm. Whereas the High Storm appears to be a natural, albeit intense, storm, the Everstorm is a twisted red and gold spiral, like a tornado filled with divine light.

This cover very clearly depicts the climax of the book, the final battle on the Shattered Plains. Only rather than showing us hints at the transformed Parshendi or of the Oathgate or anything like that, it focuses on the duel between Kaladin and Szeth. It makes the audience a simple promise: that our protagonist and antagonist are finally going to go for each other’s throats.

Overall, this is a very strong cover. It grabs new reader’s attention while luring in returning readers with the promise of a long awaited event. Definitely one of the stronger covers of the series. And it looks awesome while doing it. Yet another banger of a cover.

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