Tag Archives: Stormlight Archive

Book Review: Words of Radiance (Brandon Sanderson) (5 *’s)

I’ve said it before: I’m going to kill Brandon Sanderson. I didn’t want to get sucked into a coming ten book series of ginormous books as I expect The Stormlight Archive to become. I read and reviewed The Way of Kings some time ago. Words of Radiance continues the story of the Knights Radiant, the Heralds, and the world of Roshar (is it Roshar or Roshone?). Anyway, this book weighs in at 1080 pages or so. Not quite as long as The Way of Kings, but still a behemoth in its own right. I enjoyed every moment of it.

 

This is the part where I normally summarize the story. I hope you don’t expect me to do that with this one. Book Two of a series. Weighing in at 1080 pages. Four major characters and a plethora of minor ones. There’s just too much awesomeness to pack into my short review. I still think Sanderson went overboard on the developing the unique world motif, though. I’m still not sure about the moons. There’s at least two and one of them is purple. That’s about all I could gather. And I’ve forgotten what crem is supposed to be, just collected sand and mud, I guess. There’s a war brewing between the Parshendi and the humans of Alethi. There’s high storms periodically ravaging the country side (imagine a long lasting hurricane strong enough to hurl rocks and boulders). There’s hordes of spren which are proving far more integral to the story than I originally thought. Most importantly, Sanderson has been focusing on some moral ideals like honor and such. I like stories that do that, and Sanderson does it quite well. Makes me want to believe we can be better people.

 

Strengths: the writing was superb. The characters were rounded and well-developed. The conflict and crises were engaging and thoughtful. And the plot was mesmerizing. Sanderson is, by far, the best author I’ve read in a long time. Weaknesses: it might be too grand an undertaking. He doesn’t suffer from George R. R. Martin’s overabundance of characters yet, but he does have quite a few, particularly in the Interludes, and I’m not sure how all of them relate to the main story. It might get away from him. But I hope not.

 

Anyway, I’m giving Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance five stars out of five.

Book Review: The Way of Kings

I’m going to kill Brandon Sanderson. I purchased “The Way of Kings” a ways back, and started reading it. My initial reaction was kind of ho-hum; it was okay but not spectacular. But it’s 1200 pages long. And once I started, I had to read the whole thing. And I just started liking it more and more the longer I read it. Why am I going to kill him, you ask? Because it’s only book 1 in, what I guess, is a coming series ten books long. Another “Wheel of Time” type series. And the first book was 1200 pages! I’m supposed to read 12,000 pages of story! Good God, no! Although, silly me, I probably will because I like the story. Even though I may be dead by the time its finished.

Well, on to the review.

The story involves a number of subplots. It’s a little too complex to condense into a review; there’s just too much going on. There’s an assassin going around killing everybody. There’s a scholar/thief desperately trying to help her family. There’s a slave, who’s at the nadir of existence and struggling to find meaning, hope, and strength. There’s a high prince who’s trying to save his kingdom. Those are the major players; all their stories interweave in an intriguing fashion. But like I said, I won’t even try to elucidate on the story itself any further.

So, on to the strengths. Sanderson incorporates some philosophical ruminations in his work, and I like that. I was a philosophy major in college, and I enjoy the intricacies of philosophical discussion. Sanderson’s work isn’t quite the same thing as wading through Aristotle’s “Nichomachean Ethics” or Plato’s “Gorgias,” but it is still enjoyable. I also find myself agreeing with much of Sanderson’s world view (or what I think is coming across through his books). Particularly concerning the nature of nobility. Yes, the bulk of nobles are greedy, soul-sucking dirtbags concerned only with power and wealth, but there is the occasional truly noble individual aspiring towards higher ideals. Like Elend Venture in the Mistborn series, and Dalinar Kholin in this series (the name of the series is “The Stormlight Archive” by the way). It’s just so easy to disparage everyone who has wealth and power because, well, they have wealth and power. It’s nice to see that there is the occasional jewel sparkling in the slime. I just happen to like that. Also, Sanderson has once again invented a cool “magic” system, and again, I’m not sure I want to call it magic. It’s clever and cool and makes the world unique.

Weaknesses. I’ve previously mentioned this on my blog, but I think Sanderson is almost too creative for his own good. He’s created an alien world that is so different from the Earth in so many different respects, the reader has difficulty keeping track. I read the whole book, and I still don’t know how many moons his world has. He mentioned several in passing, but not often enough for me to really figure them out. He’s got a different calendar, with different names for the days of the week—I think his week may be of different length, too. The weather patterns on the world are different as well (although, that’s kind of cool). He’s got different kinds of plants, animals, and material for clothing.  Although all that is logical—it would be silly for another world to divide it’s year up into 52 weeks of seven days named Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc…–it can leave the reader bewildered. I mean, the logical end of such thinking forces one to give your alien world a completely new language, because they certainly shouldn’t be speaking English. But at that point, who wants to read something that’s unintelligible. The key is to strike a balance. Sanderson’s got 1200 pages to work with, so by the end, I was kind of used to the “rockbuds” and “cremlings,” but other basic things still escaped me (days of the week and moons among them). So, over all, I would weigh that against the book. Additionally, the enormous size of the book, is a point against it. I enjoyed the book, but I will probably never read it again. And the fact that he plans for nine more, I find almost disheartening. Finally, the plot… I don’t want to give away too much, but someone significant dies at the end of the book. He’s used that before, and I assume he’s tying it into his other books and series, but… really? It’s starting to get repetitive at this point.

Of course, despite my complaints, I intend to keep reading the series.

Overall, I’ll give the book four, maybe even four and a half stars. Good read. But long.

This review originally appeared on Shelfari.com on 7/29/2012.