Review: Words of Radiance

June 5, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, High Fantasy

Review: Words of RadianceWords of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #2
Published by Gollancz Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin 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.
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.
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

 

From the moment I finished The Way of Kings I couldn’t wait to delve back into the world of Roshar. I held off until the books came out in paperback though – I am completely incapable of managing one of those large hardbacks. In holding off I was slightly concerned that I may have forgotten some of the finer details of the first book. Thankfully I found this wee ten minute recap¬†which helped to fill in the gaps – I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re in a similar situation. Obviously, if you haven’t read The Way of Kings then stop reading this and go and pick up a copy… NOW!

I don’t say this lightly but, I think I enjoyed Words of Radiance even more than The Way of Kings. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did…and I loved¬†The Way of Kings so that’s saying something. I felt The Way of Kings was in many respects scene-setting; introducing us to the world, the characters, the creatures, the wars etc. Whereas from the very start of Words of Radiance I felt “ready to go”, already invested in the characters and eager to carry on this epic journey.

At the end of The Way of Kings I felt that everything was coming together nicely, it seemed that perhaps we might find our protagonists all in the same geographic location eventually. Indeed, this is something that happens in Words of Radiance, and is something that I really liked. The separate lives of the main characters in book one gradually start to intertwine. We get some back story Shallan too which is really useful in learning more about her character – these flashbacks are a nice tangent to the main storyline.

As with The Way of Kings we also find Interludes with seemingly completely random characters. Having become accustomed to these interludes in book one, I really enjoyed these and Sanderson uses them to great effect in expanding the story.

Once more the world that Sanderson has created left me in awe. His concepts are terrific and the way he winds his story through his main characters is second to none.

Quite simply, I adored this book. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait a while longer to take my next trip in Roshar – book three, Skybreaker is rumoured for publication in July 2016. I wish my husband would hurry up and read Words of Radiance so I can discuss it with him!!

five-stars

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

September 8, 2014 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, High Fantasy

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonThe Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #1
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

 

When it comes to selecting books to read I tend to trust my favourite bloggers, booktubers and friends on Goodreads for recommendations. I also go on the advice of friends. There’s one friend in particular who has never given me a bad recommendation (no pressure Craig). He was the one that introduced me to George R R Martin and Raymond E Feist. His latest recommendation was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and so I plunged into the first book in the Stormlight Archive series, and yes, he was right again!

the way of kings

Written from the perspective of numerous characters, we are introduced to the world of Roshar. It’s a world where light-eyed humans rule and fill the upper echelon. A world where dark-eyes are common, and Parshmen are slaves.

Truthfully it took me a wee while to get into this book. I enjoyed what I was reading but I had no idea what it was all about! Slowly but surely my understanding of the world evolved and before long I didn’t bat an eyelid at chulls, spren and shardblades. So stick with it, it’s worth it!

While I really want to go into detail about this book, I also don’t want this post to be too long or to spoil anything for you. Having never read any of Sanderson’s work prior to this I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had heard great things. Wow, this guy has an incredible imagination! He has created a world that is very different from any I’ve encountered before. His attention to detail is incredible. There are so many fantastic concepts in this book, and they are all relevant. Where in other works of fantasy I’ve found myself a bit distracted by detail that isn’t relevant to the plot, Sanderson’s detail enhances every part of his plot. He even goes so far as to include hand drawn illustrations which, personally, I loved.

As I mentioned earlier we follow the story through multiple characters. The danger with this is that you learn a little about all of them but they lack in depth. This certainly isn’t the case with this book. Although I feel like I ‘know’ a couple of the characters better than others, I still feel Sanderson has provided us with a good balance.

There was a while when I really didn’t understand where this book was going. I felt like I was being told separate stories and couldn’t see how they related to one another. To be honest though, this didn’t really bother me as I was enjoying each of the character’s individual stories. However I can assure you that they do start to make more sense as a whole.

As if multiple storylines, detail and drawings weren’t enough, Sanderson even throws in some interludes which offer us a peek into the lives of other characters, seemingly completely separate from the main plot. Again, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but I really did! It helped to build my picture of Roshar.

I did have a favourite character in this book. To me, Kaladin is a fantastic character and it’s really impossible not to like him! The son of a surgeon, life has taken him from a small village through war and slavery to life as a bridgeman, whose lives many of the light-eyes see as expendable. Battling to stay alive, and to protect his Bridge team, his turbulent journey is not yet over.

Split over two parts, this book, from the outside, may seem excessively long but I assure you every page is worth it. The second book in the series, Words of Radiance, was published earlier this year. I can’t wait to read it, although I think I’m going to wait for the paperback version. 1088 pages in a hardback is going to be too hard for me to hold!

Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s work? Should I venture into his other series?

We just wanted to share this book with you! All opinions expressed are, as always, completely honest and entirely our own.
five-stars