Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson is a great sequel to Words of Radiance which is my favourite of all the books.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #3
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Page Count: 1248
Audible Listening Hours: 55 hours and 5 mins
Goodreads Rating: 4.61/5
My Rating: 4/5
The Knights Radiant is officially founded again by Dalinar Kholin. We have Kaladin a Windrunner, Shallan a Lightweaver, Renarin a Truthwatcher and Dalinar a Bondsmith as the first few members of the group. Jasnah as an Elsecaller is not a member yet. The Parshendi has awakened the Evestorm that blows in the wrong direction and brought about a new Desolation on Roshar. Urithiru is the only place safe. But there are secrets hidden in the city and Shallan starts to discover them with each day passing.
The holy mission of Dalinar bestowed by the Stormfather to unite all of Alethkar seems to be a fool's errand as the political environment on Roshar keeps getting murkier. Everybody is terrified of the consequences brought about by the Evestorm. This is the worst time for Dalinar to be reminded of his past with his wife whom he has forgotten due to some mysterious circumstances.
Oathbringer dives deep into Dalinar's backstory. With each chapter, we get to know more about the person Dalinar once was and who was given the title of 'The Blackthorn' by the people of Alethkar. Brandon Sanderson tends to focus on one character in each book. The Way of Kings was focused on Kaladin and Words of Radiance was focused on Shallan. So it's natural that Dalinar will get the most spotlight in Oathbringer. In Oathbringer, we get a much closer look at the ‘Shadesmar’ and how it works.
Although I didn't care much about chapters taking place in the Shadesmar, those chapters play a crucial role in expanding the world in new ways. There were some things I didn't like in Oathbringer unlike the first two books in the series.
First of all, Jasnah's return from the dead has no significance at all. No one bats an eye at the whole thing after a few paragraphs. Then the whole Veil lusting after Kaladin and Shallan liking Adolin is just weird. I get it that this builds up tension in the scene but my heart was breaking for poor Adolin. Also, I was not a fan of the Parshedi side of things. We get many chapters from their POV but I fail to build an emotional connection with them.
There are many things that make me justify the length of Oathbringer. The pain Dalinar goes through when he realizes what he did to his wife is heart-wrenching. I hated Dalinar when his wife was desperate for him to understand her perspective and was craving his love. Then he commits such a gruesome act of violence. I was so shocked. This made Dalinar's arc the strongest. Also, I adored Renarin. He is the sweetest boy that this world doesn't deserve. I am curious to see how he becomes important in the next books. I was terrified when Jasnah decided to kill him and was so thankful when she decided against it.
I somehow predicted that Elhokar is going to die at some point as he doesn't have anything to do in the story anymore. But his death created a very unexpected reaction for me. I felt really bad for him in the end. He was not without fault but the constant need to prove himself and remaining in the shadows of others his whole life is not easy. But I am glad that his last act of sacrifice was not in vain.
Dalinar came out as the best character after Kaladin in the whole series. In the previous books, he came off as a self-righteous model of morality which makes him less relatable as a character. We were hearing about his violent past since the beginning but never shown the intensity of it. But Oathbringer changes that.
We see what he was in his early years. We get a clearer look at his life as Blackthorn. And it was gruesome. So gruesome that revelations about his past can make you hate him. Brandon Sanderson never misses the climax. Dalinar's conquering the Thrill and making peace with his past is the greatest arc this book could have. So far Dalinar has the best character arc in The Stormlight Archive series.
Kaladin's character takes a back seat in Oathbringer. He doesn't do much except infiltrate Parshedi camps. This gives him his own dilemma that is ‘Are Parshendi wrong to defend themselves by any means necessary when the humans took so much from them?” There's also the animosity with Moash. Moash killing Elhokar and Kaladin unable to stop him from doing that just keep adding to his survivor's guilt that was always present in him. Syl and Kaladin are always the best duos in The Stormlight Archive series. That will never change.
Kaladin's love triangle with Shallan was weird to me. I was so scared that this thing will ruin the bond he has been developing with Adolin. I love Adolin and I didn't want him to become an adversary to Kaladin. I was so relieved when Kaladin decided that he didn't like Shallan in that way.
Okay, I am no different to all the Stormlight fans here. I have to say I don't like Shallan. The only thing I find interesting about her is her interactions with Pattern. Her Dissociative Identity Disorder was portrayed in a brilliant way nonetheless.
Veil comes out more often in Oathbringer and lusts after Kaladin. This was interesting at first but as time passes Veil becomes really annoying. Her attitude towards Adolin is a big part of the reason behind my dislike for her. I felt the 'Radiant' alter was way underdeveloped. Her creation made little sense to me and her interactions are also confusing. I hope future books give more personality to the 'Radiant' alter.
I have to say I have a bias towards Adolin. The changes in his character are subtle but effective. His feeling of being dejected for not being a Knight Radiant and his need for respect in the eyes of his father make him a fascinating character to read about. His relationship with his Shardblade makes me wonder if he will be the one who discovers a way to bring back the Deadeyes. I will be so happy if he does that. But I also wonder if that will make him a Knights Radiant. Adolin has a lot of potential as a character and I am so excited to see where he goes from here.
I am so happy that Shallan realizes by the end of Oathbringer that Adolin is the guy for her. Even after being portrayed like a player in initial books he is refreshingly respectful and will make an amazing husband to Shallan. He has key markers that prove that he is after all Dalinar's son. I will not be surprised if Adolin becomes the one in charge after The Stormlight Archive's first era ends in book 5.
The world expanded in some interesting ways in Oathbringer. We get to see Urithiru and discover its secrets. I loved the concept of Unmade. They are fascinating. Shallan facing the Sibling residing in Urithiru called 'The Mother' was one of my favourite scenes in the book. Also, we finally get to know more about 'Cultivation'. Dalinar's encounter with her can go so many ways in the future books. This adds mystery to the plot. We get to know more about 'Cultivation'. 'Thrill' as a being is an interesting concept which has been written brilliantly that enriches the climax tenfold.
Rlain's and Venli's POV chapters were very important to the book. I loved how it gave us much-needed insight into what's happening with the Parshedi. What I still don't get is the whole thing with the Heralds. I am just struggling to understand what is their purpose. I get that they are responsible for the Shards of Adonalsium. But the thing I am most confused about is how the other Heralds are going mad when they left Talenel'Elin in Braize to get tortured until the next desolation and uphold the Oathpact till then. I hope this gets more clarity in future books.
Oathbringer sometimes goes hard on worldbuilding and verges info-dumping a lot. I can see Brandon Sanderson writing in the stream of consciousness and giving all the information in one go. Most of the time the worldbuilding for me was like ‘If it's not in the dialogues I will forget about it. I am wondering if I will remember anything by the time The Stormlight Archive #5 releases.
The magic system in The Stormlight Archive series is the most complex magic system. But I have not felt as confused as I expected to feel. Surgebinding is fairly simple. The shards of Adonalsium and the concept of Unmade is so fascinating to me. I love this thing about the series. It has the most imaginative worldbuilding that incorporated the rarest types of magic into the story.
Voidbinding is introduced in Oathbringer and has been delving deep into it. I have to say I don't care much about the fused. They are like the generic army of aliens whose existence and deaths don't matter much to me. However, I am very interested in what happens with Venli. She is the only one I care about from the Parshendi side of things.
The whole thing with Heralds is confusing to me but I think this is intentional. I have discovered from multiple interviews that Brandon Sanderson will focus more on Heralds in the last 5 books in this series. So I think he is laying the groundwork for it now. I can't wait to see what he does with the Heralds in future.
Pacing is the main gripe I have with Oathbringer. Oathbringer is the largest book in the series and sometimes I can't justify it. I am not an author or an editor so I won't know if things should be cut out of the book to shorten the length. The actual author and editors obviously know better. But Oathbringer just feels insanely big. Don't expect to binge-read it, you will break your brain. It took me 3 weeks to finish Oathbringer and that's a lot for me as I am a very fast reader.
Oathbringer however is my least favourite in The Stormlight Archive series. I think the length has to do everything with this. I understand the length was necessary for the worldbuilding and character depth but sometimes it just tested my patience. I am happy to be done with this and the good news is the next book shorter than Oathbringer. I am so relieved to hear that.
I enjoyed this book a lot just not as much as The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. This book has its moments that made my jaw drop but it has some flaws too. But I never have a bad time reading anything from Brandon Sanderson. He is the G.O.A.T of fantasy currently. Many fantasy readers might disagree. But he writes his books in an accessible way that attracted new readers to the genre. Brandon Sanderson's books are a great entry point for most readers who are dabbling into fantasy.
Oathbringer was an excellent book that expands the Cosmere into new possibilities. I am going to read Rhythm of War right away after this. I just don't want to leave this world for the longest time possible. I know I will be lost after finishing Rhythm of War and won't know what to do with my life until Stormlight #5 comes out.
Oathbringer does a lot of things well. I loved how Dalinar's character changed throughout three books in the series. Dalinar went from the most non-relatable and self-righteous character to the most broken person with a terrible past. Dalinar's arc is the beacon of light in Oathbringer. Everybody gets their due in the story. Shallan's mental condition is talked about more, Adolin remains my favourite side character and Kaladin suffers through not being able to protect people again. These things keep pulling my heartstrings.
Renarin is a breakout character from Oathbringer. He was not focused on much in the previous books. But here he goes through some major revelations. I am intrigued to see what Brandon Sanderson intends to do with his character. I have seen some fanart shipping Rlain and Renarin. I haven't seen anything in the book pointing in that direction but I am convinced that this ship is the most interesting one in all of The Stormlight Archive series.
The introduction of Unmade and Cultivation intrigues me the most. I am fascinated by Dalinar's encounter with Cultivation. This may prove to be vital in future books. The thing I didn't like is the length of the book and the pacing. It drags on in many places and goes heavy on worldbuilding. I know it's necessary but it tires me quickly.
The world of The Stormlight Archive keeps getting bigger and I am here for it. I really need an encyclopedia or I will forget most of the things in here by the time the fifth book is released.
In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.
Dalinar Kholin's Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar's blood-soaked past and stand together--and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past--even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.
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