Words of Radiance by far is the most ambitious piece of literature I have read. This has now become my all-time favourite book.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Page Count: 1087
Audible Listening Hours: 48 hrs and 13 mins
Goodreads Rating: 4.75/5
My Rating: 5/5
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.
The Assassin, Szeth, 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.
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 plot of this book is very dense. All the scenes in the book are necessary and contribute to the story. Shallan’s flashback scenes drag a bit but prove to be pivotal to the epilogue. I loved how Brandon Sanderson wrote fight scenes. His writing brings the fight scenes to life. Words of Radiance has multiple POVs but none of them were boring. I loved each and every one of them. They all contribute something significant to the worldbuilding and the plot.
The interludes in the last book took me out of the story but they are phenomenal in this book. They are more related to the plot and extremely important to the overall series and Cosmere. I think I learned to expect them at the end of every section of Words of Radiance. Since the interludes don’t venture far, it helps to keep track of the plot.
If you could count on Brandon Sanderson for anything, it will be worldbuilding. I still struggle to believe he managed to create a world this big. I don’t understand how he does it. Words of Radiance builds on the magic system called Surgebinding. Voidbinding is introduced through Eshonai’s POV.
We get to know more about other orders of Knight Radiants and Shallan’s lightweaving. There are still questions about the magic system to be explored more in later books. I personally want to know more about Lyft. Her spren is explained very little. There are teases for future books I am really interested to dive deep into. Worldbuilding is on point and I have no complaints about it.
Kaladin is the main highlight of this book despite it being a deeper dive into Shallan’s background. His character arc is the best one in this. The climax makes him my favourite of all the characters. Throughout Words of Radiance, he is constantly battling between his oaths as a Knight Radiant and his personal morals. Every ideal of the WIndrunners is directly connected with his moral dilemma. This makes for an amazing character to deeply feel for. His need to protect everyone created an interesting arc for him and I loved it.
Syl was absent from the book for a big chunk of the time. But her absence makes her more important to the character arc of Kaladin. I was constantly wondering when she’ll be back. I was eagerly waiting for her scenes. I just love her. She is the best
Shallan’s background is well explored in this book with her flashback scenes. It answers many questions such as how she came upon a Shardblade and when did she say her first ideal. Her flashback scenes slow the plot in some places if Patten is not in the scene. Shallan’s mental health is explored and we get to know more about her personality through it. The separation of her and Jasnah gave her arc room to breathe and an opportunity for her to grow. Her banter with Kaladin was interesting when they eventually meet. The initial animosity makes the vulnerability they show to each other later in the book meaningful.
Dalinar’s character grows much from The Way of Kings and I can tell that the next book will be a deep dive into his background. His journey as a changed man makes me wonder about his past. His goal to unite the nation faces many struggles throughout the book. The bad blood between him and Sadeus creates an interesting political intrigue. I felt his frustration at his failure to convince anyone to fight as one people through the pages. His character was that convincing.
Pattern is the newest favourite character from this book. One notch below Syl, but still more enjoyable than most. I loved his innocent questions about the nonsensical things humans do in everyday life. He is hilarious at times. I loved his eagerness to learn about people, especially what they are hiding under their clothes. I loved every scene he was in.
Adolin is unpredictable and that’s what makes him interesting to read. His conversations with his Shardblade are sweet and adorable. I hope to get more from his character but I don’t want him to become a Knight Radiant, at least not easily. I want him to truly go through all the burden of expectation from the people around him to become one of the Knight Radiant and carve his own path without becoming one.
Words of Radiance is by far the most intricate piece of literature I have ever read. I read adult fantasy before but nothing big like this. I am glad I gave this series a chance. There are countless scenes in this book that I loved. I can go on and on about it the whole day. The climax was incredibly satisfying and was the best part of Words of Radiance. Brandon Sanderson is truly a genius. I can’t fathom how he imagined such a thing and delivered it right in my mind.
Words of Radiance just became an all-time favourite of mine. All the characters were established masterfully and never felt boring.
In this book my favourite character was Kaladin. Syl is the highlight. She just makes the whole story more fun. This time she was not the only one. Pattern joins in. What perfect little characters! I desperately want banter between Syl and Pattern. I love their voices in the audiobook version of GraphicAudio.
Adolin and Dalinar were the best supporting cast I have read in a book for a long time. The way they differ yet share many of the same values makes their character all the more exciting. I love the scenes between Dalinar and Kaladin. The scenes are filled with the optimum amount of respect and scepticism which makes them the best chapters in Words of Radiance.
Shallan's flashback chapters were sometimes boring to me if it doesn't include Pattern but the plot twist, in the end, makes them worth reading through. All the foreshadowing for the twist was there. Shallan and Kaladin's banter is truly engaging.
The ending was so satisfying and makes me more excited to read the 3rd book in the series. I am also starting Oathbringer immediately.
“Do not let your assumptions about a culture block your ability to perceive the individual, or you will fail.”
“The only time you seem honest is when you’re insulting someone!” “The only honest things I can say to you are insults.”
“As I fear not a child with a weapon he cannot lift, I will never fear the mind of a man who does not think.”
“A woman's strength should not be in her role, whatever she chooses to be, but in the power to choose that role.”
“Jasnah had once defined a fool as a person who ignored information because it disagreed with desired results.”
“Hello, a cheerful voice said in his mind. Would you like to destroy some evil today?”
“What do you know?”
“Almost everything. That almost part can be a real kick in the teeth sometimes.”
“What do you want, then?”
“What I can’t have.” Wit turned to him, eyes solemn. “Same as everyone else, Kaladin Stormblessed.”
“The world isn't fair? What a huge revelation! Some people in power abuse those they have power over? Amazing! When did this start happening?”
“We actually killed the thing.”
“Sad, I know,” she said, feeling depressed. “It was beautiful.”
“It would be more beautiful if it hadn't tried to eat me.”
“From my perspective,” Shallan noted, “it didn't try, it succeeded.”
“Nonsense,” Kaladin said. “It didn't manage to swallow me. Doesn't count.”
“Humans don’t make sense.”
“If you’re only now learning that,” Kaladin said, “then you haven’t been paying attention.”
“Shallan, weren't you supposed to be reading?”
“I . . . had trouble concentrating.”
“So you came up on deck,” Jasnah said, “to sketch pictures of young men working without their shirts on. You expected this to help your concentration?”
“A man will find a single coin in the mud and talk about it for days, but when his inheritance comes and is accounted one percent less than he expected, then he will declare himself cheated.”
“Hmmm. Someone has a high opinion of himself. Comes with being royalty, I suppose. Like funny hats and a fondness for beheadings.”
“Humans can see the world as it is not. It is why your lies can be so strong. You are able to not admit that they are lies.”
“I wasn't complaining', Pattern complained.”
“You're an odd one, son." "The normal ones are dead in the chasms, sir.”
“Please,” Shallan said to the sphere. “I need you to become fire.”
Pattern buzzed, speaking with a new voice, interpreting the sphere’s words. “I am a stick,” he said. He sounded satisfied.
“You could be fire,” Shallan said.
“I am a stick.”
The stick was not particularly eloquent. She supposed that she shouldn’t be surprised.
“Why don’t you become fire instead?”
“I am a stick.”
“How do I make it change?” Shallan asked of Pattern.
“Mm . . . I do not know. You must persuade it. Offer it truths, I think?” He sounded agitated. “This place is dangerous for you. For us. Please. Speed.”
She looked back at the stick.
“You want to burn.”
“I am a stick.”
“Think how much fun it would be?”
“I am a stick.”
“Stormlight,” Shallan said. “You could have it! All that I’m holding.”
A pause. Finally, “I am a stick.”
“Sticks need Stormlight. For . . . things . . .” Shallan blinked away tears of fatigue.
“—a stick,” Shallan said.”
“Chana knows, I wondered sometimes how I raised that child without strangling her. By age six, [Jasnah] was pointing out my logical fallacies as I tried to get her to go to bed on time.”
“Have you ever had to choose between two equally distasteful choices?”
“Every day I choose to keep breathing.”
“The difference between a successful thief and a dead thief is knowing when to escape with your takings.”