Words of Radiance was powerful and moving and epic in both size and scope. There is absolutely no negative feedback I could give this book. This book is huge, even bigger than The Way of Kings. My “little” mass-market paperback is 1310 pages long. It’s basically a colorful brick. But it never felt like it dragged; in fact, I would’ve been completely happy with another thousand pages.
Since I was young, I have loved the fantasy genre with all of my heart. It transports you in a way nothing else does, in my opinion. And no series has ever transported me and enthralled me quite as much as The Stormlight Archive. The world Sanderson has built here is the most unique I have ever experienced. The flora and fauna are completely unique from our world. The magic system (like all of Sanderson’s magic systems) is vast and varied and well fleshed-out while still retaining an air of mystery, and the religions of the land tie into that remarkably well. All of the world-building is beyond compare, but what makes this series truly shine are Sanderson’s characters.
Some of my very favorite fantasies have focused mainly on the lives of single individuals. Harry Potter, Kvothe, Ender Wiggins, Locke Lamora, Percy Jackson, Thomas Hunter, Errol Stone, Karou, Meg Corbyn, Mercy Thompson, Bilbo Baggins, and many more (though fewer female characters than I’d like, since I can’t make myself include Katniss or Tris) have been the nearly complete focus of their stories, and I love that. But a lot of fantasies now are choosing to focus on more and more perspectives. Which is completely fine, I just end up picking favorites. In A Song of Ice and Fire, I prefer reading about Tyrion and Danaerys and Arya and Bran than I do Cersei or Jaime or the other Starks. Picking favorites just happens. But so far, that is most definitely not the case with The Stormlight Archive. Every perspective is fantastic, and every character carries their weight in the story. I never caught myself counting the pages until I got back to one of my favorite characters, because they’re all my favorites! And each character has grown so much since being introduced in the first book (which was amazing in its own right, but this one blew it out of the water) that I couldn’t wait to see what new decisions they made and how they changed. I’ve grown really attached to just about every character in the vast cast Sanderson has assembled. There’s determination, despair, romance, hatred, philosophy, stupidity, and humor. A lot of humor!
Another thing I love about Sanderson is that the man knows how to write an ending. The last two hundred pages or so were intense. There was an insane amount of action, character breakthroughs, discoveries, plot twists, new appearances and reappearances. Also, this book begins tying threads of the Cosmere together, which was SO MUCH FUN to read! There were threads in The Way of Kings, but Words of Radiance brought those a bit more to the reader’s attention and built on them further. Sanderson’s creation of the Cosmere is incredibly ambitious, and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together. Which is more than likely going to take decades. But with his work ethic and imagination, I’m excited about the future of the Cosmere instead of despairing of the long road ahead. And good news; the third volume of the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer, is available now!
(This review was originally written in February, and has been slightly updated and added to Booknest in anticipation of Oathbringer!)