Tag Archives: Stormlight Archive

WORDS OF RADIANCE – Brandon Sanderson (2014)

Words Of RadianceA lot that I have written in my review for The Way of Kings, the first book of The Stormlight Archive, is true for this second book: it’s entertaining, it has interesting characters, the language is unimaginative, there’s too much repetition, the story tends to drag at times, and it appeals to the reader’s heroic self.

What’s different? The world-building feels a bit better, but that’s mainly an effect of being more immersed in Roshar, not necessarily better writing. All and all, the unique features of this world (the prevailing stormwinds) are still underdeveloped and don’t have a real influence on the Rosharean societies’ structures or people’s behaviour. Alethkar particularly could’ve been whatever standard medieval fantasy kingdom, except for the fact that some of the animals have shells, and some trees pull in their branches. Features like these are more gimmickry and embellishments, not stuff that drives forth the story. The storms only really play a role as a factor in the magic – storms recharge stuff with magical energy, that’s about it. And although lots of animals and plants have evolved like such and such because of the wind, knights still ride regular horses. Can’t do without horses in high fantasy, it seems.

It also turns out that the spren are indeed an important, necessary part of the story – but I still don’t feel they are well conceived. The metaphysics of this book are an awful mess: there’s a kind of platonic divide between a world of ideas and the world of humans, and some unclear stuff about the reality of God and gods. But then again, the remaining books in the series will undoubtedly clear things up a whole lot, so maybe I should refrain from judgement on the magic. Still, a true masterpiece, even as part of series, shouldn’t feel disjointed on that part after more than 2000+ pages in. So, up unto now, this series feels like B rather than A-list material.

Storywise, Words of Radiance rests mainly on one narrative device: main characters not telling other main characters of their true abilities. That gets tiresome after a while.

The finale doesn’t offer a lot as compensation, since about everything that one expects to happen, does happen. Still, I’m intrigued by the the story and some of the characters, and it will be interesting to see where Sanderson will take us in the 3rd book – there’s a lot of Roshar that remains to be discovered, and I feel that with the completion of this second book, the stage has only now been truly set. While this book was quite predictable, I have no idea whatsoever where Sanderson wants to go in the remaining 8 books of this series.

On a sidenote, the art in Words of Radiance didn’t add as much to the story as it did in The Way Of Kings. It feels a bit contrived, and it sure doesn’t come across as authentic: printing a few pages on fake parchment grey doesn’t do it for me. Final quibble: Sanderson should drop the titles for the chapters, they’re uninspired and add nothing at all.

Final verdict: recommended, if you liked the first book, and don’t mind to again read a 1000+ page novel. It’s simply more of the same indeed… not necessarily a bad thing, as it worked great as escapist vacation reading…

originally written on the 21st of August, 2015

THE WAY OF KINGS – Brandon Sanderson (2010)

The Way Of KingsI liked The Way of Kings a lot, mainly because it’s a neat and at times moving story with some lovable characters that do stuff that appeal to the warrior mage-prince that has been lurking somewhere in me ever since I was a kid.

Yet, there are some minor things that keep this book from being a literary and artistic masterwork:

The world building is good, but it feels a bit like painting by numbers at times – yet not enough to be irritated by it. Not everything feels fully fleshed out (or even necessary, like the spren), but I guess one should withhold definite judgement on that until the entire series has finished.

There’s too much repetition in the novel: certain traits of the characters – Kaladin and Dalinar especially – are repeated over and over. Some other stuff is repeated too. This makes the book drag a bit at times, but again, not enough to be irritated by it. It feels like Sanderson explicitly tries to write for an as big as possible audience: aside from the length, he doesn’t ask a lot of his readers, it’s all easy peasy.

The final quibble I had with the book is the language. It’s not bad and it does its job, but it’s stale and bland and dull. In over thousand pages, I didn’t come across one sentence or image that struck me as interesting. That’s a real shame for any book, since its artistic medium are words: The Way of Kings would translate easily into a movie, without losing anything. Also, the curse words and related expressions (“Storm you!”) are just plain silly, and they even put a small dent in my suspension of disbelief every “storming” time.

I’m eager to continue with the second book, and I guess the best is yet to come. Since The Stormlight Archive is going to be 10 books, and the story only really takes off in the final 200 pages of this first book, judging by that curve, the final couple of books should be as epic as epic can be. The Way of Kings is entertaining and solid, and as such definitely recommended.

originally written on the 7th of July, 2015