Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Hello dear readers, today we continue on the path of The Stormlight Archive with the second of the three currently released books: Words of Radiance.

I reviewed The Way of Kings last month and did a summary of it to refresh my memory for when book four comes out.

The fourth book Rhythm of War comes out in a few months and I am beyond excited, so I am giving the first three the love they deserve.

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Title: Words of Radiance
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Buy it here

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status “darkeyes.” Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable. 


Character Perspectives

Words of Radiance focuses more on Shallan’s story. She is a main character throughout the first book, but was second fiddle to Kaladin. Now Kaladin takes a step back and his story is more of a supporting role to Shallan.

I am not the biggest fan of Shallan, she seems foolish and selfish, but she becomes more likable in this book than in the first. Each chapter focuses on a small handful of characters, and the overlap in this book is a lot more than the first.

I like that we don’t just get current events and experiences though. We are also getting the backstory for whomever the main character of the book is. It is adding a wonderful amount of depth to the world and I am loving every minute of it.


Character Development

With each backstory we are getting, we discover the world more and more. Within the first two books of the series we explore maybe a tenth of the world, but each chapter let’s us explore a little more each time.

I also think Sanderson does a wonderful job at letting characters grow as the story continues. We already see their struggles and their fears right from the start, but then we get to explore it more, further our understanding of it as the characters come to realize them, and then we watch them grow.

Sanderson is a master of worldbuilding and I honestly don’t know of too many other authors that are able to do what he does in this series.


The Plot Thickens

Each chapter that I finish of Sanderson’s work blows my mind. He is able to take your understanding of his worlds and tear them apart in an instant.

Too often he opens your eyes more to the entirety of his realm, and its really amazing.

What makes me enjoy this book even more is that we get the “bad guy” perspective. Too often books come from the good guy’s perspective, and we don’t really get a chance to see the decisions made by the other side.

Words of Radiance allows us to explore their thoughts, their feelings, and their struggles almost as much as Shallan’s and her allies. I think that it really helps us empathize with them and the story becomes a lot less black and white, there is much more gray.


Final Thoughts

I absolutely love Words of Radiance and the rest of the series. I think it is a terrific example of what a high-fantasy book can and should be. The world is so vast and unknown, the plot so enticing and suspenseful, the magic so well developed, and the characters so well written and developed.


What did you think of Words of Radiance, or the rest of the Stormlight Archive series? Let’s talk about it in the comments, and make sure to follow me on social media for more!
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