Review of “Words of Radiance” (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson, Brandon. Words of Radiance. New York: Tor, 2014.

Hardcover | $34.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0765326362 | 1087 pages | Fantasy

5 stars

Words of Radiance indeed. Despite his approachable writing style, Brandon Sanderson once again manages to create a masterful epic fantasy with an intricate magic system and an even more intricate plot, slowly bringing together the threads he established not only in the prior book, but also beginning to establish hints at the interconnectivity of the Cosmere as a universe itself (although it still remains subtle for the moment).

I also like that, while he does have this large cast, he is cycling through them and giving each a time to shine and focus on their backstories, first with Kaladin in book one, and this time with Shallan in book two. And I was deeply moved by what was revealed about Shallan’s past and what she herself suffered, leading to her ultimate breaking point.

But there is still some great growth for other characters. Kaladin in particular was subject to two major revelations, one relating to a connection he has with Shallan, and I like how that continued to illustrate the trauma he has from his own past, in the midst of him developing this friendship/possible love relationship with Shallan. And generally, while some of the other characters I felt a bit less connected to than others, I really liked the way they major characters were fleshed out, especially through their relationships with one another, like Dalinar and Kaladin’s, which grew despite Kaladin’s animosity toward lighteyed people. And Adolin in particular was one I quite liked, as his flaws really come to the fore towards the end of the book. Are his actions justified? Most definitely. But it also shows why he, unlike his father and Kaladin, is not a Knight Radiant.

This book continues the work of the prior book in the series of exemplifying Brandon Sanderson’s skill as a fantasy author, managing to straddle both the complexities of world building and character development. While the plot isn’t always the most fast-paced, particularly in the beginning, it’s still ultimately a great read, and one I’d recommend to every epic fantasy fan.

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