A Book Review of Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson


Non-Spoiler Review of Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

At last!  After our what-seems-like-forever long wait for the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive we can rejoice, spend hours reading and rereading, cross referencing and in general, geeking out.  This is a non-spoiler review, but I plan on eventually releasing a spoiler filled review after I finish that reread, cross referencing and lots of note taking that I plan on doing.  There are so many questions answered, but so many more introduced about not just Roshar, but also the cosmere.  I feel overwhelmed and so I will be taking time to parse through the books and (hopefully) try to figure some stuff out.  There are already things I have in mind that I haven’t heard anyone else theorize about, so that post will go into detail about some of those things.  I know it isn’t Friday, but I couldn’t wait to post this, and it has been a while since we’ve posted.  Anyways, to the review!

The Good:

It’s the second book (of a planned 10 in the series) that occurs in Roshar, a wonder filled world so much different than our own, and we discover so much more about Roshar, about the magical systems and the characters we have grown to love.  We learn more about the cosmere, worldhoppers, and the Shards.  Unfortunately, we don’t learn a lot.  Which is as it should be—Brandon is good at feeding us pieces to lure us along.  And to make us go back and read all of his other cosmere books again to see what we’ve missed.

I had many freak out/geek out moments while reading this book, and unfortunately my sister was busy these past two weeks and so is not very far into the book yet—so I don’t have someone to geek out with.  The Way of Kings set up several main characters—Kaladin, Shallan, Szeth, Dalinar, and Adolin—but with the exception of Dalinar and Adolin being related, and Kaladin finally meeting and interacting with Dalinar and Adolin at the end of the book, none of the characters intermingled.  What a perfect set up for Words of Radiance!  One of the things I was really looking forward to in this book was when certain characters met up.  Words of Radiance did not disappoint.  It definitely exceeded my expectations and when characters did meet up, I started screaming.  Silently of course.  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to remain calm and collected when on an airplane full of people and you just want to start shouting and laughing and sharing your excitement????

I have heard some people complain about Brandon Sanderson’s attempt at humor being very forced—I have no problems with his humor.  In fact he seems to poke fun at himself in Words of Radiance, which shows he listens to fans, tries to improve as a writer, and succeeds.  I still find things humorous, even if Shallan is trying to be witty and it comes off wrong—it is a different world and people think a bit differently.  There were also several other parts of the book where I thought Brandon was adding things to make fans freak out a bit—parts where fans maybe had speculated about and had been right, or had been wrong—but additions that made fun of fans speculations.

The artwork in the book is excellent.  The cover page, front and back inside covers, and the sketches throughout the book really add to the experience.  I have the ebook that I use on just a plain eink reader, so it is harder to look at the pictures, but they have been made available on Tor.com and I have paged through the hardcover to take a peek.  I may buy the hardcover because of how beautiful the book is with all the art.  Brandon has talked about how he wants to change epic fantasy as a genre and part of that is by including such beautiful artwork.  It works well in this series because many of the pictures are “drawn” by Shallan, but I can see it working well in other fantasy novels as well.

With so many details in this wide cosmere of his, Brandon’s books don’t always seem to be very deep with themes or else they seem to be forgotten in lieu of freaking out over details.  It may be, however, that they are so deep and involved in the whole series that it will just take us a while to discover and learn about all of them.  The ones that are there, however, I really enjoy reading and exploring.  I would say the books have more of a set of overarching themes—religion, honesty, honor, leadership, and even about the process of living life or the process of reading a story (i.e. Journey before Destination, Life before Death).

The Bad:

 I always hate doing this part of reviews.  Yes, there is always something that could be better in a book, but when you get so fully immersed in a book or a series, it is hard to talk about the bad or even think of what could be improved because you are so excited about what is good.  So much of what could be called “bad” often doesn’t detract that much from a really good book.  Of course, if a book is just overall not enjoyable, it is easy to come up with what is bad.

That being said, I can tell you that Words of Radiance is very long.  It is 1107 pages on my ebook reader.  I believe that is how long it is in print, but I know that it is the biggest book that Tor could physically bind.  I looked at a hardcover at Barnes and Noble yesterday, and it is the biggest book I have seen.  Fewer words than The Way of Kings, but it has more pages.  Of course, I love it!  But others may not.  With such a fully-fleshed out world, the book can seem slow at times, but for many that is part of the appeal.  I have noticed some people who “read” the book in one sitting after it came out weren’t fully aware of a lot of the details and what had really happened.  I assume that comes from the long time reading and probably a lot of skimming that they did.  I can’t imagine reading it in one sitting.  It was so nice to be able to savor the book and the details.

If you don’t like waiting for books to come out, maybe hold off on the series until it is complete—which may take 20 years.  I believe Brandon is going to try to put out a book in this series every 2 years or so—crossing my fingers!  Luckily he is such a fast writer we will have other books in between to keep us happy!

The Verdict:

Read, read, read, read, read!  Please read and comment on your thoughts of the book.  I am in desperate need of someone to talk to about it.  Also, you can join the conversation on Tor.com or on The Seventeenth Shard’s webpage.

This is a fantastic series that will keep you entertained and in giddy anticipation for years.  I am looking forward to having the Stormlight Archives to look forward to for so long.  Enjoy!

Written by Heidi V

Heidi is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She is an avid reader, a diehard Badger fan, and knows from experience that a good hike can solve almost any ailment. Follow Heidi @heidi_5 and DNFB @not4birds.