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

ASIN B00DA6YEKS moved to the more recent edition

Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin 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.

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.

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.

The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Read that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) book cover

“Brightness,” the man said as she stepped up to him, “we aren’t what you think we are.” “No,” Shallan replied. “You aren’t what you think yourselves to be.”

This is a superb, massive, sweeping work of majesty. The size didn’t put me off in the least, and I found myself devouring every bit with unparalleled relish. The structure is familiar from previous works, although I did feel that we learn a lot more of Shallan than of Kaladin in this installment. I grew to respect her more in this book too, and partly that’s to do with narrative style.

“The woman was poised, in control, but also obviously exhausted. The mask was cracked, and Shallan could see the truth.”

There’s a huge sense of something brewing in this book, and the climax, when it comes, feels comparatively short because Sanderson so deftly juggles a huge cast of complex and nuanced characters throughout. Some subplots plateau and, if they don’t resolve they at least fall into alignment as we expect, but others are clearly there for the future of the series and that’s amazing to anticipate, too.

“Vines withdrew, rockbuds closed. Grass hid in its holes. They knew, somehow. They all knew.”

I must say, the one really impressive thing I got from this book was the way in which the whole novel builds toward the conflict and discovery at the end without tying everything else down. The overarching theme is that “something is coming” but the characters still flair, brilliantly, whilst awaiting it.

“They might idolize him, but they did not isolate him. It was good enough.”

Kaladin’s scenes are not, by any means, neglected. The bridgmen are well and thriving, and the variety of spren keep the links between the characters fresh. There’s a great section with Kaladin and Shallan both in a chasm, and any other author would have surely exploited the confluence with the powers as they were. Not Sanderson, he really knows how to play a long game.

I didn’t enjoy Wit so much, and at times, I felt the comedic flirtation was too strong. On the other hand, the interleaving of viewpoints mid-chapter, especially as the pace of the action increased, was literary ambrosia, and the whole world is so well painted that it’s an absolute pleasure to be in it. Even characters like Ym made me want to read on and on, that’s no small thing.
The books no small thing either: Just looking back at this year, This marvelous, huge novel is larger than 8 books I’ve already read with some pages left over! I would happily pick up book 3 in the series right here and now if it was available, and I really cannot wait to see where the the series goes next.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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