Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: Review

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Title: Words of Radiance
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: March 2014
Length: 1088
Series: The Stormlight Archive (#2)
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: ARC

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Check out my review for The Way of Kings (book #1). The following is a spoiler-free review if you are on the fence about this series!

From GoodReads:

In the first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. Among those caught up in the conflict are Highprince Dalinar Kholin, who leads the human armies; his niece Jasnah, a renowned scholar; her student Shallan, a brilliant but troubled young woman; and Kaladin, a military slave who, by the book’s end, was beginning to become the first magically endowed Knight Radiant in centuries.

In Words of Radiance their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have come to expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn how to fulfill his new role, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.

Words of Radiance picks up a few weeks (or so) after The Way of Kings. Jasnah and Shallan are traveling to the Shattered Plains. Dalinar is trying to figure out his visions and what he true path is. Kaladin is getting used to his new life as a soldier. In this latest book, our three heroes finally all cross paths, for better or worse.

Did you love The Way of Kings? Well then, you probably already read this book and loved it. If you were on the fence after reading The Way of Kings, I am here to tell you that you need to pick this book up. It is everything that you loved in The Way of Kings but more awesome. If you haven't picked up this series, because you are not keen on starting a ten-book epic fantasy series, you should give it a go, because Branderson is fantastic and because it is much easier to read one 1000 page book per year instead ten books all at once (and you are going to want to read this series if you are a SF&F fan). 

Okay. I should probably talk a little bit about the book. You might need a bit of convincing why this series is worth your time and aren't going to take my blind recommendation. First, the world building continues to be really interesting and unique. Sanderon does a great job creating a believable universe with a distinct magic system. I don't want to into detail with the magic in order to avoid spoilers, but it is far different than anything I have read before. Sanderson also does a great job of continuing to build the world, history, and culture in each book without info dumping. I am also quite pleased that I don't feel like he is backpedaling on world building, so a plot point works out okay. I must admit the fact that he has outlined this entire series and knows where everything is going makes me happier than I have a right to be.

Second, the characters are really cool and are three-dimensional. I really like that Sanderson focuses on one character each book and gives us some more history on this particular character. I didn't love The Way of Kings, because the book focused on Kaladin. If you follow me on Twitter or GoodReads (check the column on the right!), you know that Kaladin drives me crazy all of the time. He is so stubborn at times and makes ridiculous decisions; however, these things are what make Kaladin who he is. He is true to his character. Anyway, Words of Radiance focused on Shallan. I was so excited about this, because I needed more Shallan in my life. I loved all of her chapters in The Way of Kings, and I needed more! Words of Radiance did not disappoint. Seriously, if you thought Shallan was dull, you need to read Words of Radiance

Third, the plot is really fascinating. Because this was Shallan's book, I was drawn into this book a bit faster than The Way of Kings (I had to hold myself back from just reading all of Shallan's chapters when I first got the book). Even though this is going to be a long series, I feel connected to each book. Sanderson does a great job of writing a sense of urgency even when you know we are playing the long game with this series. At the end of each chapter, I needed to turn the page and start the next chapter, because I needed to know if Shallan's latest caper was going to work, if Kaladin was going to continue to be the martyr he loves to be, and if Dalinar and his sons crazy political schemes were going to work.

My one big recommendation for this book (and this series) is buy the e-book. I felt like I was reading a textbook, because the book was so big. At the same time, the book itself is so pretty (gorgeous pictures and maps!). I really want to have a shelf with all ten books in a row. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I can't wait to read the next book. I am very happy that I decided to start this series. I feel confident that Sanderson is going to both write these books in a timely manner and will give us an awesome series.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

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