Book Review: Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Epic fantasy is epic. I know that should go without saying, but it’s important to get that out there at the start of this review. Because Sanderson isn’t mucking about with fantasy here. The Stormlight Archive is epic at its most epic-ness. If you’re not in for the whole shebang, then this isn’t up your alley. What’s the whole shebang? An entirely different world that doesn’t just need a map to make sense of–it needs an almanac. Something to tell what all the animals and plants do, what the nations are and how their government each runs. Lucky for us, Sanderson’s recruited a team of artists to help him present his vision, but the fact remains: if all of these things sound daunting and uninteresting to you, then move along please.

Because they sound awesome to me.

I’ve always loved epic fantasy, from the days when I’d go into a public library and go looking for the thickest books I could find that didn’t start with the word Webster’s in the title. I love getting into a new world and seeing how it all works together. I love learning new names and checking family histories and wondering about connections and possible theories for why characters might be doing certain things.

Words of Radiance is very much at the head of that movement. A continual push by authors to make their worlds more complex. More intricate. More involved.

I loved the first book (Way of KIngs), though I wondered how the series would work as a whole. I knew from interviews with Brandon that he planned each to have its own flair. Would that affect what I thought of the later books? Would he be able to match the awesome he brought to the table in the first?

I’m so relieved to be able to say yes on all counts.

Words of Radiance is more Shallan’s book than Kaladin’s, mainly because it fills in her back story and helps us understand where she’s coming from. I could try to sum up what’s happening in these books, but anytime you take epic and reduce it to a paragraph, it sounds contrived and uninteresting. Just know that this book picks up right where the last one left off, continuing on the story of the struggle of a nation against a mysterious upcoming threat to the world. There’s assassins, intrigue, magic, battles, and plenty of elaborate action scenes.

I’ve read some critiques that complained the book bogged down in the middle some. That it dwelled in some of the details too much. To me, people who make that complaint don’t fully understand that epic fantasy is what it is *because* of the way it dwells on those details. But perhaps that’s just me.

In any case, if you’re looking for an excellent, in-depth read that will take a good chunk of your life and attention for the next week or two (at least), then look no further. My only gripe is that I can’t read the next part right now. Hopefully the next book comes faster than this one, now that Sanderson has the Wheel of Time out of his system.

Bring on the epic!

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