Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: Peace Talks is the sixteenth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. All the magical powers in the world are holding negotiations to end hostilities, and that’s when Harry’s brother, Thomas, decides to do something stupid. Already caught between four very different and conflicting lives, Harry must navigate these tightropes that can’t coexist. But most people aren’t even remotely interested in peace. One group plans to use this for its own ends.

Character: On one hand, it was just so good to see Harry and Murph and the others, that a part of me just sort of relished having them back. I remember feeling like this book was good to see old friends, but that the story itself didn’t really move for me. However, just having the gang back after I don’t know how long, made me happy. I must also note (and I feel this is the right section to do this) that I sort of consider these two books to be one larger story kindly split in two reasonable chunks. They are absolutely part of one narrative arc. However since both were individual titles, I kept them as separate reviews. I think readers should read both one right after the other to get the right effect.

Exposition: I was a little surprised here because while there is exposition, I actually expected there to be more. It’s be a looooong time since we’ve seen Harry, and I for one didn’t re-read the other books to re-familiarize myself with the plot. There’s really not so much going on that one can’t catch up, but maybe this isn’t the book to start. Honestly, this book (if I understand what I think I understand) is sort of leading up to the very end of the Dresden Files, which I disagree with. There’s so many more directions for this story to go. Hopefully I’m wrong. Regardless, it’s still leading to the end of a conflict that has been building for a few books now. So new readers will, I think, be a bit lost.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: Given that this is the sixteenth book, Butcher doesn’t really expand on the world he’s been writing in. Instead, he just uses it as a launching point. This is another reason why it’s not a recommended path for new readers. It’s a solid edition to the series, though not great in and of itself.

Dialogue: Most of my favorite authors have witty dialogue. This is no different. It’s good to hear the banter between characters. It’s every bit as enjoyable as any other. I don’t really know what one would have to do to have “great” dialogue. But good dialogue is that in which the conversations express character at least (if not more than) advance the plot or provide exposition.

Description: If I’m being fair, it’s hard to evaluate something I don’t typically want to think about. I know Harry is tall. I know Murph is short. I know Thomas is handsome. I know Harry’s grandfather is old. So I have what I need to a certain degree. I think Butcher is great with fight description and scene description. But I don’t know that I can see the characters so much. I don’t personally care. I tend to want stories where I can sort of book my own cast. But then I think about Wheel of Time, which got annoying with description, but I can picture those characters in my head. I think writers should consider this and what they want readers to do when they write stories.

Overall: This book is more of a ramp up to the next, and that’s OK. It’s not a great stand alone story. I even remember feeling a bit let down when it came down to it. However, the next book (see my review next week), delivers on the promise this book makes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The Moment Perrin Became My Favorite Character

The Moment Perrin Became My Favorite Character
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for character study purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Greeting,

As I’ve mentioned, I felt the need to re-read the Wheel of Time. I’ve also mentioned that Perrin is my favorite character.

Today, I thought I’d share with you the moment that happened. It’s not a big moment. It’s not anything that happens in Book 4, where Perrin truly shines. Instead, it’s this silly little quote tucked in the middle of Chapter 31 of The Great Hunt.

This was before people knew the big secret Rand had (I try to avoid spoilers when I can). Perrin and Mat knew, as did Verin. Verin was making a pointed comment at Rand.

“Perrin realized he was staring too, ‘Well, he did not fly,’ he said. ‘I don’t see any wings. Maybe he has more important things to tell us.'”

You see, this was a great divide for me. I actually hated Mat all the way through perhaps Book 5 or even a bit later. Mat was a fool, and he was hurtful to Rand when he needed a friend most. Perrin was clearly stricken, but there he was in this moment when everyone was making someone who was keeping the biggest, worst secret anyone could ever keep, and Perrin chose to be a faithful friend.

That was it. There were other cool things, and he has much bigger and more wonderful moments, but that little part right there was the part that made me look at him and see what a true friend is like.

I know it’s a bit silly, but I have my reasons.

I got picked on a lot as a kid. I probably deserved it if I’m being honest (well, no child deserves to be picked on, but if any child did, it would have been me). I can remember just wanting someone to stand up for me. I just wanted to be seen and feel valued. That moment even after all these years, resonates with me strongly in how much it means to stand up for someone.

What about you? What was the moment your favorite Wheel of Time character became your favorite.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Revisions on 1,200 Are Going Slowly

Revisions on 1,200 Are Going Slowly

Greetings all,

Just a bit of an update today. When I sent Discovered out for Alpha Readers, I started on revisions to 1,200. The book really seems to be shaping up in a good way, but they are going slowly. There are two reasons for this.

First, I was a much less mature writer when I wrote 1,200 originally. There are things the book needs just to give it the depth it deserves. That means some additional chapters and a bit more development and (a lot more) description.

That leads to the next issue. Back when I wrote this, I hadn’t started generating character sheets like I do now. So what I’m doing is generating a character sheet each time I encounter a character. That’s really what’s taking so much time. I keep having to stop. But this is worth it. Back in those days, I really leaned into my discovery writing tendencies, which made it easy to type, but don’t help very much when I’m trying to be consistent with (or have any) description. Once I get the bulk of these character sheets generated, the revisions will go by much more quickly.

I’m still a little more than a week out from when I asked Alphas to get Discovered back to me, but I’m nowhere near done with 1,200 yet. I do plan to finish this set of revisions before doing the Alpha Draft of Discovered.

I haven’t heard any good or bad news about Discovered, and that’s fine. I only mention it because I would give you updates if I had any. I tend to leave my Alphas and Betas alone. They don’t get paid or anything, so the least I can do is leave them be. I don’t know that I’ve ever had any be late, so it’s worked.

Once I get through revisions on 1,200, I’ll get back at Discovered, and get that over to my editor for a developmental edit.

I just wanted to give you all an update. I’m working as hard as I can given circumstances, and I will keep you up to date on my progress.

As always, I thank you for your support. It means a lot to me.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Rhythm of War (second read)

Book Review: Rhythm of War (second read)
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Greetings all,

So in my effort to soak in more tidbits regarding Stormlight, I always re-read the series after I finish the newest book.

This means that after I finished my first read, I started over, and Rhythm of War marks the end of that sequence of re-reads.

As always, I try to use these subsequent reviews to focus on different things since you already have a normal review.

Reaction 1: Adolin might be my new favorite character. His arc is so endearing. Sanderson could take him to darker places, places other authors might have gone. I genuinely love pretty much everything about him. With every book, I love him more. Honestly, if Stormlight were nothing but Adolin’s arc, it might not work because of how much set up he required. Remember he was just a doubting prince early on. But man has he developed.

Reaction 2: Kaladin is back (I think). His arc took a lot longer than I’d have liked, but I feel like he’s back to being the hero I fell in love with in Book 2. With a main character, one needs multiple arcs, but with these arc exhibiting similar symptoms, even though the challenges are very different, they feel redundant. Still, he’s found his feet, and I’m happy for it. Also, best. Hoid. Motivational. Story. Ever.

Reaction 3: Still not really a fan of Shallan. So I don’t hate her like I did in Book 1, but I’m still more or less annoyed when I read her arc. It’s interesting. It has some beautiful moments. But I don’t think she has a lot in the way of redeeming qualities. I actually think she took a step back from the previous book. Her arc (at least as it ends in this book) is satisfying, but I keep finding myself wanting to skip it. I’m pretty sure eighty percent of the reason I read her arc is because Adolin is involved. For the record, I’ve been Team Adolin from Book 1.

So those are three things I figured I’d share with you all this time around. If you haven’t picked up Stormlight, you’re missing out. It’s not in my top five, but it could grow there. (Top three is pretty much set for life, but you never know. I might eat those words). It’s still very good.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Oathbringer (Third Read)

Book Review: Oathbringer (Third Read)

Greetings all,

If you’re looking for my typical review format, you can do that in my original review right here.

As for these subsequent reviews, I try to focus on whatever drew my attention.

I remember having an oddly polarizing set of emotions for Oathbringer, and this time going through reminded me of some of that, but I didn’t feel it as intently as I did the first time through. I don’t remember what I focused on for the second review or even The Thrill, which was sort of a cheat in my opinion.

What I remember is this is the book that (for me) confirms that Dalinar’s arc is one of the better arcs in fantasy fiction. I think what I come away with most is that if you are (or possibly were before this book) a fan of Kaladin’s this book might have rubbed you the wrong way. This relies on something I can appreciate in that it relies on an understanding of PTSD and how Mr. Sanderson conveyed that. If you understand that problem, then the debate is how it was conveyed, and while I do understand the condition to a degree, I think the problem is how the condition was conveyed depends how familiar one is with the actual condition.

That’s an interesting study in and of itself. I feel that this conversation is debatable. I wish it was conveyed better, and I wish there was more effort to address Kaladin’s abilities, which make it much harder for a casual reader to buy off on because it can be pretty hard to understand what Kaladin was actually going through. I personally feel it was accurately conveyed, but only to the degree I mentioned above. Now that’s awesome in the effort Sanderson obviously put forth to treat the condition with dignity, and I appreciate that. However, if I were a bug in Sanderson’s ear, I might have asked that he create the circumstances to make it more difficult for a Windrunner.

I would also argue that the degree to which I was disappointed in Kaladin’s arc was at most equal (if not less than) the degree to which I loved Dalinar’s arc.

Watching Dalinar grow from beginning to end would have created a far more complex situation than letting us get to know the man he is before we see the man he was, and that’s something some authors need to consider. A lot of writers (especially new ones) are very linear, and while that might really work in most situations, to get locked into a certain formula cuts one off from opportunities that might be even better.

Ultimately I feel this book is polarizing and depends on where fans of the series weigh their love of Dalinar in comparison to their love of Kaladin. Thankfully, the next volume brings all that back together.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

I’ve Started Reading The Wheel of Time Again!

I’ve Started Reading The Wheel of Time Again!

Greetings all,

So just a few days ago, I started reading New Spring by Robert Jordan with the intent to go all the way through the Wheel of Time.

First: It’s my second favorite series ever (Dragonriders of Pern). It’s one of only three series I’ve read multiple times (five if you count Mistborn and Stormlight separately, but I see them as one Cosmere saga). I realized that so many of the plot points had fallen out of my mind, and I don’t want that series to fade from memory. This is the beauty of books.

Second: It’s perfectly OK if you appreciate the Amazon series. I don’t. I think that series took pretty much everything I loved about Wheel of Time and perverted it by Episode Three or Four. Such an unfortunate tragedy demands I go back to the story that I love depicting the characters I love in the manner I came to love them for. Perhaps I’m being harsh. It’s better to say that I’m not of the opinion are for fans of the series. I then wonder why it was made, but the truth is obvious. This show is for people who didn’t read it. This is for a new audience. If you’re a fan of the show, and you’ve read the books, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Yes, I feel very strongly, but I’m willing to hear dissenting opinions.

So I’ll be listening to the audiobooks while driving to work and enjoying a story I’ve loved for nearly a decade now, and I’m relatively new to the fandom. I wanted to share this because I don’t actually re-read a lot of books. I tend to do this for ongoing series that force me to wait for the next installment (though I don’t expect I’ll do that for the Kingkiller Chronicles). I have to love to a powerful degree for a book if I’m going to read it multiple times.

This is more true for Wheel of Time. There’s so much depth and so many characters. I’ve read this series at least five times (and that’s a very low estimate). Each time I read it, I notice something I missed, so it feels fresh and wonderful to me. I don’t think I’ll ever absorb this series fully, but I’m going to enjoy trying.

So check back on the blog for the reviews. I don’t want you to think they’ll come quickly. I read every day, but it takes me a good long while to get through a book these days. Still, I’ll keep you up to date and maybe share something from time to time.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

He Did What? My Thoughts on Sanderson

He Did What? My Thoughts on Sanderson

Greetings all,

I’ve never kept it secret that Sanderson is my favorite active writer. It gets more complicated for me if you throw Tolstoy, McCaffrey, or Jordan into that mix, but given that they are no long with us, I can use the term active, and not start a debate.

Well, I was at work taking a break when I got an email with this YouTube video link:

Wait, what?

So when he dropped that first stack of papers, I wasn’t very shocked. I was like, “Oh, I remember when he did that with Shadows of Self!” The short version: He said he was struggling with Shadows, so he paid with Bands of Mourning and ended up writing the whole book to make sure that second on worked well.”

I vaguely remember Steelheart also happening in a way similar to that. A flash of inspiration and white space in his time ended in a novel.

After having a few days to think about it, I honestly wonder why I didn’t see it coming (not the one, I saw that ONE extra book coming). My payoff moment was that second pull, and then the following three.

I’ve seen some look at the business side of it. I’ve seen some talk about how cool it is that we’ll have a bunch of Sanderson novels to read (and Cosmere to boot). But every now and then, my brother and I will discuss something that I thought would be good to address.

Are you one of those people who thinks, “Well, great, Brandon! You write five whole books, and we’re still waiting for Stormlight Five, and God knows when you’ll get those other books written”?

I can understand that. My brother might agree with you. He’s probably more patient when those books are Cosmere stories, but every time he releases one of those, he reacts in a manner somewhat like the above.

I think the ephemeral thing I try to point out is either something one “gets” or doesn’t. But I understand it, and I’d like to try and explain it.

I’m working very hard on Discovered (about 27 chapters, 61%, through). I worked hard on Betrayed. Some people look at writing like building a home or making sandwiches or cutting hair. They see it as a mechanical process that one can do and then stop do. This leads to the belief that if one had more time to work, they’d just continue work on whatever home or sandwich or head of hair they had been working on.

That’s just not how it works with Sanderson. It’s not how it works with me either. If I had more time to write, I would get some more work on Discovered done, but I’d probably end up working on Mercer or Perception of War. You see, in this creative process, it’s not just “writing.” The process of writing a specific novel really requires a mindset. And to go into that mindset outside of the time designated (at least for me and perhaps Sanderson) is really hard. But what is pretty easy is letting my imagination run wild. When I’m actively working on a novel, I have to reign that wild horse in, and that takes energy and focus. This is how novels get finished.

Another factor is expectation. When I’m working on Discovered, I’m trying very hard to make sure it’s satisfying based on feedback and anticipation that’s been building since Caught came out. Now I have somewhere around ten loyal readers. Sanderson has somewhere around 20,000. I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to write something 20,000 people have been following for some ten years.

These secret novels of his have no expectation or urgency. They’re completely free and harmless. Sure, I bet he hopes his readers enjoy it. There’s probably some pressure because people will read these and think, “I should be reading another Stormlight book, not some random book.” I imagine Sanderson is aware that people will think that.

What I’m trying to convey is that it isn’t this book or that book. It never was. We authors work very hard, and Brandon isn’t slacking on his deadline at all.

Maybe another analogy would be working out. Let’s say for some reason Sanderson was a body builder, and we all love those (metaphorical) biceps. Then one day he goes, “check out this six pac.” When working out, it’s actually very important not to overwork certain muscles. These secret novels aren’t examples of Sanderson not putting in all the energy he should (or can) on Stormlight or the Cosmere. It’s just him making the most of his energy by working a different (metaphorical) muscle group.

I hold this belief (and if anyone could get this in front of him and ask) because I work the same way. I have far more demands on my time now than I did four years ago. But if I had that same amount of time, maybe Discovered would be out a bit sooner, but it’s far more likely I’d have a full season of Mercer done because I like having multiple projects going in multiple stages to keep me fresh.

So if you’re someone who feels a little angry that “He’s been writing all these other books and will never finish Stormlight,” please take a moment to step back and respect the process one needs to make these wonderful stories. If Sanderson hadn’t done these books, he probably would have done something else, but I doubt very seriously he’d apply much more energy, not because he doesn’t want to, but because it’s just so darn hard to keep creative energy focused on one project. When I was releasing more books per year, it wasn’t that I worked on the longer projects more quickly, it’s that I could work on more projects with that extra time.

Even while typing this blog, I’ve stopped four times because it’s just that hard to focus, at least for me.

So maybe support this Kickstarter of his. Get some new things to read or listen to, and enjoy them for what they are. Stormlight 5 is coming. I’m sure Sanderson will work very hard to finish the third era Mistborn saga and get to work on the second half of the overall Archive. Try not to see this as books you’re reading instead of Stormlight. Instead, see them as books you can read along with Stormlight.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The 2022 State of the Weech

The 2022 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

Welcome to year five of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. This is my fourth annual State of the Weech, where I talk about how the previous year went and talk about my plans for 2022.

The most important thing I did during 2021 was improve my marketing. I’ll talk about Hazel more in a moment, but without Hazel, I went from being pleasantly surprised I sold a book to regularly selling nine books a month. I’m convinced that this path is a good one. No, it’s not a fast track, but most good things aren’t “overnight” things. Steady effort in a solid direction usually yields good results, and I’m happy with what one year or so of effort has brought.

I released Betrayed. It didn’t have the response I was hoping for, but without being able to go to conventions, it’s hard to get word out. What I know is that anyone who’s said anything about it loved it, which is encouraging.

Then there’s Hazel. Now that was a success! Currently, Hazel sells about 38 copies a month. I expect that to calm a little. I tend to sell a lot of a book early, and then things die down. However, I’d be happy if Hazel continued to move at this pace. I know Collin and I appreciate every single one of you who’ve tried it.

I managed to finish the discovery draft of Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log, and I did a read-through of 1,200 in preparation for a draft I’ll do once I get Discovered to Alpha Readers.

So those are things I have done, but now I need to repeat something I mentioned recently.

I’m still writing as much as I can, but without conventions to bolster sales, money for editors and art is a serious concern. This means I’m going to make whatever progress I can, but I don’t have any real certainty on when things will come out because that just depends on how much I can save, how much I spend in marketing, and how many sales I get. So where the past years I had some pretty solid ideas on when I’d get products out to you, I don’t have that same ability this year.

But I am still working, so allow me to tell you about those projects.

Hopefully in 2023 (but don’t quote me on it): Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. The discovery draft was OK, but it needs some work. I hope to finish the next draft in the next 100 days, which is when hopeful Alpha Readers can count on reading the early version. I do hope to get it out in 2023, but that depends on the things I mentioned above, as do the other projects.

The 1,200: I talked about this recently. I’m actually pretty proud of where that is now, but it does need some work. So each time I get a draft of Discovered done, this is the project I’ll skip to until Discovered is out. This will be the next release you can expect from me baring how long it takes to save up and what smaller projects I might get done.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is my weekly Christian Science Fiction series. It’s larger than I thought (at least this draft). It’s growing in the writing, and I’m discovery writing it, which means it’ll have plenty of kinks to work out. I don’t honestly know when I’ll finish it, but once a draft is done, it’ll take its place in line for release. You can read it now if you want. I’ll do revisions and edits on it before its published through Amazon.

Perception of War: Images of Truth: I’m honestly frustrated I haven’t found a chance to finish the discovery draft. Other projects are more urgent, but as soon as Discovered and The 1,200 are out the door, this puppy is getting some work. This is a very ambitious project, but I can get the writing done, and I plan to. Again, this project is massive! So while I’m going to work very hard on it, it’s going to take time.

New Utopia: This is another older project that’s probably been sitting in a drawer for too long. It needs love, but the the next draft of this story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), won’t be done until Discovered and The 1,200 are as far as I can get them and the Discovery Draft of Perception is done.

Mercer: Now this project could move in a lot of directions because it’s a series of shorter works. I call this Dresden meets Bones, and I love the premise and basic ideas. I haven’t really played with this much in a while, but that’s only because I owe fans of Oneiros a conclusion to their story. I’ll probably start chipping away at this once in between the above projects. So you might see Season One, Episode One before New Utopia.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: This probably the “older” project that’s farthest from being out. It’s a teen/young reader book that I think is cute, but it’ll have to wait behind those much larger projects.

I’m still working my way toward 60 sales a month. Because of Hazel, I have three averages: My total sales per month, Collin’s and my Hazel sales per month, and my non-Hazel sales per month. The goal for sales per month is still 60, and that’s always been an initial goal aimed at growing after I meet it. I lose less and less each year, and I’m hopeful I get to that first profitable year soon.

If I’m being honest, I’m never going to stop writing. The eight-year goal has always been more about putting in hard-charging, never-back-down energy. It’s spending money on marketing and things like that. I’m hopeful that bears some fruit, but if all I do is write and publish stories I enjoy, that’s OK. I’ll work as hard as I can, and if after eight years, I’m not earning an income, well, I’ll slow down on the costs of publishing and focus more on the writing.

It’s hard to fathom that Bob Drifter came out almost seven years ago! Man it’s been fun!

If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.

I want to finish as I always do, by praising God, and thanking Him for all of you who read and enjoy my work. I’m blessed to have anyone enjoy my books, and a lot of you are just so wonderful to me with emails and help with reviewing drafts. Thank you.

God bless you all, and thank you for another year. I hope your hear has been amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 52 by Tite Kubo

PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 52 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo growing in power, but things seem to be going astray. What are Ginjo’s true motives, and how does Tsukishima play into the equation?

Character: There is a small plot twist here that breaks from the pattern of the previous arcs. I’m not sure it’s “enough” to be satisfying to some readers, but it was at least a break from the norm. It’s hard to discuss character in this volume because there is a plot-related reason the characters frustrated me, and that’s actually good. When characters cause readers to get frustrated, it makes them read. I don’t know that I’m the best at calling out the plot twists. This one got me, and that’s to the volume’s credit.

Exposition: This area of a story sort of held steady from the previous volume as well. An average manga doesn’t typically have a lot of exposition to begin with, and this sort of fell in the “normal” range for me.

Worldbuilding: Despite similarities to the Visard arc, this volume did expand the universe and magic system of the series, and that’s always a plus. I need the right mix of character and world building to hook me, but this at least did some interesting things and took the series in a new (ish) direction.

Dialogue: It wasn’t snappy or anything spectacular, but Ichigo is a much more dramatic character than some of his contemporaries. So there is a lot more development in the dialogue than other volumes or manga. The trick here is those who love the characters will be compelled to keep reading, especially as the plot begins to turn.

Description: I’m not sure the action here is higher than other volumes, and when there isn’t much fighting going on, the panels are more simplistic. Sure, the detail is amazing, but there’s not a lot of dynamic information in them. What action sequences are there are cool.

Overall: The plot twist that came in this volume was satisfying enough for me, but it might not be enough for others. The training is cool, and the expanded data is equally interesting if not enough to stand out as an arc.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The third time)

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The third time)
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This image was taken from Amazon.com for review purposes.  Featured image was taken from Fruitlesspursuits.com, no source was listed on the website.

Spoiler Free Summary: Words of Radiance is the second book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson.  My review for Book One is here. As Shallan Davar prepares to make her way to the Shattered Plains, her plan gets ruined before they even have a chance to begin. She’ll need to find her own way, and in the process, she’ll have to confront her greatest secret and her biggest lie. Meanwhile, Kaladin has escaped the oppression of the light eyes, choosing to align himself with the only honorable lighteyes in the world, maybe. The more he works with them, the more he fears what he thinks is their inevitable betrayal. Just as everything comes to a head, he discovers a plot that puts him on the wrong side of his oaths. What effect would breaking his oath have on Syl?

NOTE: This is my third (if not fourth) read of the book. I usually re-read books in a series like this before the new one comes out. I read this book again after finished Rhythm of War.

Since this is a re-read, I don’t want to give you information that I’ve already provided. That wouldn’t give you any value as a reader, so for this review, I’m going to focus on the characters. This book is already the best in the series (by a long shot). That doesn’t mean the other books aren’t good or even awesome in some cases, but it does mean this one still stands out.

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Photo by Nazrilof taken from Mr. Sanderson’s website.

Kaladin really steals the show here. This is supposed to be Shallan’s book, but for her, this is just the book where I stopped being so annoyed by her. Oddly, some will say Kaladin starts to annoy them in the future books (and I can’t really blame them), but not here. This book is where Kaladin becomes a beloved mainstay character. In fact, for those who feel the later books sort of let them down, I’d argue this book and how Kal progresses is exactly why people are willing to endure Kal’s struggles with him. I’ll talk more about those issues in the future reviews for the next books. For now, I want to express what a great story this was for him.

Kaladin, in this story, is a hero who doesn’t trust his good fortune, and with good reason. Every time he’s done something amazing in the past, he’s had that taken from him and been sent lower than he’d ever been. So how can he not be in a position where he doubts? This journey of a man who doesn’t trust his good fortune is unique because that fear of falling or losing is real despite not being the most overt threat one could see. Indeed most stories would have an identified villain who is in fact trying to take everything from the hero. Not so in this tale.

Shallan however, starts every bit as annoying as she was in Way of Kings. In that book, she pointedly felt like the expositional character. “Oh no, here comes Shallan and another lecture on the economics of Roshar!” However, this story gives us more on Shallan. While she’s still absolutely the characterization of Roshar, its history, and its economics, she’s also a character in her own right. Her history is compelling, and that builds sympathy.

Then we have Adolin, who I will never forget because I get so frustrated with people who do. Adolin doesn’t come into his full potential until the fourth book, but right about here is where we see him start to exist as more than a foil to Dalinar, and Sanderson openly admitted Adolin got more screen time to play that role. In this story, we start to see Adolin as more of an individual. As his goals and earnest charm start becoming clearer, he starts being a more beloved character. After this many reads of the saga, I might actually think he’s my favorite in the who series (though let’s see how Kaladin goes in Book 5). He’s certainly in contention at the moment, and that affection is born here. Adolin should be an arrogant jerk who is only after a new fling and another fight, but that’s just not how it goes. Sure, there’s a duel here where Kaladin get’s an awesome hero moment, but Adolin is all the more impressive because it’s all just him.

This book is the best book in the series because it’s the book that focuses most on the characters reaching their potential. This book shines because the characters grown and evolve, ending with them in a better place. I think the third book falls short because the characters regress. As an overall series, characters need to regress. However, seeing Kaladin regress as far as he does and Shallan do something relatively similar is actually a pretty big letdown because this book ends in a spot where we feel those characters should start to shine. That doesn’t make the future books bad, but it does explain why some may resent them and why this book stands out so well.

Thanks for reading,

Matt