When I read The Way of Kings, it became one of my favorite books of all time. When I read Words of Radiance, it supplanted its predecessor, which I find to be incredibly rare for a second book in a series. I was understandably impressed, but while I was excited for Oathbringer, I honestly believed there was no way it could be better than the books that came before it. I’ve never in my life been happier to have been proven wrong. Sanderson absolutely blew me away with Oathbringer. I don’t how he did it, but I’m ecstatic that he did.
In The Way of Kings, we got Kaladin’s back story, which I loved. In Words of Radiance, we learned about the past that shaped Shallan. Here, in Oathbringer, it is Dalinar’s turn. His past has so far been the most painful to read about in my opinion, because the man he used to be is so vastly different from the man he is today. Something I really appreciated was the fact that we were getting his flashback scenes as he himself remembered them, allowing readers to feel like they were truly making this journey step for step with Dalinar. His past is both fascinating and incredibly disturbing.
However, as with the preceding books, Dalinar is far from the only perspective we receive. We get more of Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin, and others who I won’t list because I don’t want to spoil anything. One thing I absolutely loved was the inclusion of Bridge Four chapters, from the perspectives of various bridgemen. This was a wonderful gift Sanderson included for his fans.
Watching the Knights Radiant expand and grow and even take squires was absolutely wonderful to behold. Yet again, the Words spoken were powerful and varied and moving. I love the Ideals Sanderson has created here, as I think they make for incredibly powerful words to live by for both character and reader. But sometimes those Words feel impossible to say, and we’re unable to choke them out. I like that this struggle isn’t shied away from in the series. Saying the Words isn’t easy; if it was, everyone would be a Radiant. What makes someone Radiant potential is the immense pain they’ve experienced and their ability to rise above it, even as they continue to struggle.
There was an immense amount of character development in this book, for both our main characters and side characters. Some characters struggled with their identity, incapable of accepting themselves for who they are. Depression was battled, and it wasn’t always conquered. Addictions reared their ugly heads and refused to be ignored. Demons from the past plagued their hosts and laughed at the pain they inflicted. Decisions were questioned and regretted. Everything the characters went through made them feel so incredibly alive. Sanderson showed us raw, real people, and he exposed their pain and struggles to us. But he also showed us their triumphs, which were made all the more poignant because we witnessed the fight to attain them.
In my opinion, the central theme of this book was one of forgiveness and acceptance, mostly of yourself. It’s about knowing your flaws and accepting them as part of you. It’s about not hiding who you are, even if you don’t like who that person is. It’s about owning up to your mistakes and learning from them. It’s about knowing that you’re broken, perhaps beyond repair, and loving yourself anyway. It’s about people’s powerful ability to heal other people, and in the process lessen their own pain. It’s about sharing the pain with friends, because no one can shoulder a bridge alone. It’s about crying when you need to and finding a way to laugh through the tears. It’s about flinging your arms wide and letting the sun shine on your scars when you’d rather wallow in the shadows. It’s about accepting that life is hard and imperfect and unfair and embracing it anyway.
This book moved me. I laughed and cried and raged. Its over 1,200 pages passed by too quickly, but reading it was an incredible experience. Yes, now the waiting game begins for book 4, but if the first three books are any indication, it will be well worth the wait.
I’d like to thank my marvelous friend TS for not only sending me this beautiful book as an early Christmas gift, but for being there to laugh and cry and rage with me as I read. She made an already incredible experience even more wonderful.