Review of “Oathbringer” (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer. New York: Tor, 2017.

Hardcover | $34.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0765326379 | 1242 pages | Fantasy

4 stars

Oathbringer‘s premise excited me quite a bit, given that Dalinar is this book’s focal point, and there was a lot hinted about his past, and this is where it all comes to the forefront. And I think it’s fabulous how his background is written, especially given that it shows how dynamic his character is, given that a lot of the problems he dealt with happened in his past.

There were a couple things that did keep me from enjoying it quite as much as the prior books. One of them was the POV changes for the final battle, something I’ve noticed others also didn’t like. While I’ve managed to kind of work with some of the POV changes in the prior books and even earlier in this one, especially with the more minor characters, as their relevance quickly demonstrated itself, it was quite jarring to jump from head to head in that moment.

I also feel like the romantic element was not well developed, and I hope that at least part of it was intentional with it being addressed in the next book. While I’m not always the biggest fan of a love triangle, I expected there to be more payoff than Kaladin saying that he didn’t really love Shallan by the end of this book. And while I do feel the relationship development thus far for Shallan and Adolin was compelling, I was shocked that they were married already by the end of this one, given that it’s increasingly obvious that they both have personal issues, especially Shallan with the increased hints of mental illness.

However, Sanderson continues to develop the world in such a compelling way, especially in this book as we get more insight into the past of not just Dalinar but of some of the major events that have influenced the present storyline. I also recommend anyone who loves an epic fantasy with depth pick this one up.

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.

Review of “The Way of Kings” (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson, Brandon. The Way of Kings. 2010. New York: Tor, 2011.

Mass Market Paperback | $8.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0765365279 | 1258 pages | Fantasy

5 stars

Upon beginning to delve into Brandon Sanderson’ work, I’ve heard much about his Stormlight Archive series, and how good it is, although I wasn’t certain about it, given my reticence to pick up thousand-plus page books with multiple arcs going on simultaneously. However, having come to trust Sanderson as an author, I took a chance, and it paid off. I almost regret splitting my reading between this book with some other shorter books, as this was the one I really wanted to come back to.

Given the size of the book, it is one of those where he does take his time establishing the world (to much success). He once again establishes unique magic system, and touches on racial issues in a fun allegorical way, through the exploration the lives of lighteyes (upper class) and darkeyes (middle and lower classes). He also puts a cool spin on fairies with the spren.

But I think where this book really stands out is the characters, and I like how the longer length of the book allows the reader to become invested in each of these complex individuals. I like how, through Kaladin, he delves into someone who has been thoroughly beaten down by the things that have happened in his life, and this once again sees Sanderson delving into mental health and trauma in a way that is as poignant, if not more so than, Vin in Mistborn. I liked seeing Dalinar as a warlord with some regrets about the things he’s done in the past. Shallan has such a great internal conflict, in terms of her intent to steal from Jasnah Kholin, but also feeling respect for her, although the relationship becomes a bit more complex as Jasnah’s bad qualities are revealed.

This book may be somewhat daunting, but the payoff is worth it, and I am already prepared to agree with others that this series (projected to be ten books) will cement Brandon Sanderson’s status among the great classic fantasy authors, along with the likes of Tolkien. And I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a truly epic fantasy.