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

Book Review: White Sand Volume 3 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 3 By Brandon Sanderson

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand Volume 3 by Brandon Sanderson, everything comes to a head as Kenton fights for the title of Lord Mastrell. He must earn the respect of his peers, preserve his guild, and discover the reason for the murder of his clan.

Character: I appreciated Kenton’s progression here as a rebellious son to one who better understands his father. That might even be my favorite part of this trilogy, but that’s actually a bad thing. The final fight was pretty cool. I’ll mention more about that below. I think I saw a bit more development from some of the other characters, but my issue is with one of the side characters. He has a pretty big shift in the story, and I didn’t really feel like it was natural. He had a very minor role though (in a manner of speaking), so it didn’t have that big of an impact on my opinion. It was just something worth noting.

Exposition: I think this is where the exposition was the roughest. There was a lot of data to share, and it either came up in exposition/narrative boxes or in dialogue that was a bit more Scooby Doo than I would have liked (see below).

Worldbuilding: Most of the worldbuilding was established in the previous volume. There’s a bit of a reveal here that I thought was interesting, and the political reveal (which is an aspect of worldbuilding) was believable if not satisfying.

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This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: So the aforementioned Scooby Doo. There really was a scene here were the Kenton calls someone out, and the guy gives a speech very akin to a villain’s Scooby Doo speech. The only thing missing was, ” … and I would have gotten away with it, too.” That one scene was certainly a bit corny, but the bulk of the dialogue was crisp and witty. It might have been enough to bring the quality down a few pegs, but it didn’t ruin the whole story.

Description: This was probably the place where the graphic novel adaptation was at its best. Sure, there were other scenes that looked cool to see in the other volumes, but the pace and style of this final volume. That fight was cool to watch, and the scenery and scope was brought to life as well.

Overall: I think I’m being unfair, but I can’t help it. I’m used to epic storylines with vivid description that lets me play the movie in my head. I’m used to prose and style that pull me along. I’m used to deeper plots that let me get to know a character, and this format just doesn’t allow for that. But, if I were being fair, I wouldn’t have bought this graphic novel if it wasn’t Sanderson and Cosmere, so I wanted something that felt like one of the other Cosmere books. Maybe I just wish it was a longer series. Maybe I wish the plot wasn’t centered around political intrigue (the assassins and sand magic were tertiary devices at most). It’s not a bad story; it’s just not what I love about Sanderson’s other work. I think fans of the Cosmere should still pick it up to know what happened and get to know the magic system, but it’s not his strongest story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt





Book Review: White Sand Volume 2 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 2 By Brandon Sanderson
The cover image for this graphic novel was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand Volume 2 by Brandon Sanderson, Kenton ends up Lord Mastrell by default, but the Sand Masters who are left aren’t necessarily fully supportive of him. The ruling council is out to end the guild. Oh, and did we mention the assassins? The only person he can trust (if only a little) i s Khriss, a visiter from the dark side of the planet who has her own goals. Can these two work together to save the Sand Masters guild?

Character: Kenton’s growth here is more as a leader and a negotiator, but the man who strove to earn his father’s respect is starting to see his father in a different light. I stand behind what I said in last week’s post, but character growth is definitely something we see here. Not only does Kenton grow as a character, but his journey as the Lord Mastrell causes him to grow in literal power as well. This is one of the strengths of the trilogy.

Exposition: I feel more or less the same about the exposition in this volume that I felt for the previous. The exposition blocks were more scene and background portions of exposition. The story moved fine, but it didn’t pull me along.

Worldbuilding: The worldbuilding picks up in this volume. It’s more political than any other aspect of worldbuilding, but there is some development in the magic system. That’s probably the part that interested me the most. I have to say it wasn’t quite as prominent as I’d have liked, but it was enough to keep me interested in a story that more politically driven than by mystery or action.

Dialogue: Once more the graphic novel format allows Sanderson’s typically witty dialogue to shine. It also helps drive the plot even if it’s harder to hide the expositional dumps that are normal in dialogue. The story is at it’s best when Khriss and Kenton are talking, though there are some other conversations that stand out.

This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: I felt like this volume was oddly (strangely) segmented. The idea may have been to weave the political intrigue alongside the assassin plot. So there were some incredible skirmish panels, but there weren’t the fight scenes that normally carry a graphic novel. So it’s good art that lacked the truly epic imagery that we normally find in these limited series.

Overall: This was a setup volume, and I think most trilogies would have this same style, so you can’t really hold it against this particular story. It sets up the drama and establishes a bit of mystery. I still affirm this story would be far better in a longer medium, but it’s an interesting story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: White Sand Volume 1 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 1 By Brandon Sanderson

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand by Brandon Sanderson, Kenton aspires to be a master, but he’s barely able to control on stream of sand. That doesn’t stop him from taking on a challenge only a master could overcome. No test, however, can prepare him for the events of the future. His guild is devastated by betrayal and murder, and Kenton must rise up despite his lack of power.

Character: Kenton is a fine enough character. I like his drive and effort. The most interesting part of this book is that Kenton is weak. Most stories reveal a main character who discovers a great power. Kenton is probably the best part of the story.

Exposition: So it’s here that I’ll I’m not a fan of the graphic novel format for Sanderson. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it since I finished reading it a few months ago, and I can’t really identify it except this: the graphic novel deprives a reader of Sanderson’s prose and perspective. So while the story was ok, it lacked the life Sanderson writes with even with the quality of the art. The story didn’t drag, but neither was I pulled along the way I was with nearly every other Sanderson book. Yes, I’ll probably check out Dark One, but I was surprised to realize how much I missed Sanderson’s writing.

Worldbuilding: This is a strength of Sanderson’s, and lack of prose didn’t diminish that. The world is interesting. The way the magic system works within the society is interesting. I feel like this got right what Elantris didn’t do so well for me. I am of the opinion that Taldain has a much bugger role to play in the Cosmere than it currently has, so I may think more highly of some aspects of White Sand’s worldbuilding than is justified, but at its worst, the story’s worldbuilding is comparable to most Sanderson stories.

Dialogue: Where I really missed his prose in some areas, I think the graphic novel adaptation did Sanderson’s dialogue justice. The characters were unique. The conversations weren’t just vaguely hidden expositional blocks. The dialogue was even charming in some places.

This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: This was the other area I felt hurt the story for me at least in regard to Sanderson. Sure, the art was well done, and it was cool to see the power work in a visual format, but I felt like my imagination was deprived of its ability to visualize the story. It’s kind of unfair to say about the format, but it is how I felt. I think another aspect was actually how there weren’t a lot of fights. White Sand is more of a political drama than an adventure story. It has fight scenes, but they aren’t what drive the story, so a graphic novel loses some power without a lot if great fights to give it that cinematic feeling.

Overall: I’m glad I read it, and it was an OK story, but I hope Sanderson doesn’t release that much stuff (especially Cosmere stuff) in an exclusive graphic novel format. The story doesn’t have the same power it would have in a fully fleshed out Sanderson book. However, I’d take a graphic novel version as opposed to nothing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The Wheel of Time Amazon Series is Coming! How Do I Feel?

The Wheel of Time Amazon Series is Coming! How Do I Feel?

Greetings all,

I thought I’d talk about this since the Weech news is a little light this week. As any who follow this blog knows, The Wheel of Time is my second favorite series. I think it’s brilliant. The Amazon live-action series based on those books is scheduled to air in November.

I’m not normally one to rely too heavily on book adaptations. They’re better than they use to be, but they can be hit or miss, especially for those who are truly invested in the source material.

If I’m being honest, I’m worried. I’ve read a few posts from Brandon Sanderson regarding it, and I want to hope for the best, but the correct frame of mine isn’t to think of this as a live action version of the books. Instead, one needs to think of it as a reimagining of a story based on the source material.

That’s pretty much impossible for me to do. I don’t want to watch someone else’s version of Rand, I just want to see that story played out in a live setting.

So that leaves me in a place where I already know I’m going to watch the show, but I have to keep telling myself not to expect a direct recreation (though if they do that, I’ll be ecstatic). I don’t know how I’ll feel about it. The thing is, I just want to see these characters.

Sure, they’re making some casting decisions for the sake of diversity, and I understand those decisions on some level. I think I can swallow some of those decisions. (If you want me to talk more on this, just post a comment below). What should matter more to me is that the essence of the story be maintained. However, what I must admit I want is that the actual story (not just some director’s vision of the essence of that story) be respected. I don’t need every scene played out exactly the way it happened in the book. I don’t need every character. But I do hope to see the story play out the way it did in the books. That’s why I loved it.

None of those desires changes the fact that I doubt things will play out that way. I guess I’m going to try and accept it for what it is, but I can’t express how hard that is for me.

Take the Phoenix saga. They’ve tried that twice, and twice they failed my favorite comic event ever (horrifically). I will say I thought the second attempt was better (I at least saw the entity twice). I’ll never understand how people don’t just faithfully recreate what people love.

So expect to see reviews from me (I’m not sure how often). I’m hoping I’ve grown enough as a person to at least give this a fair try. My hope is acknowledging my bias will help me be more conscious of it, and so better able to control it.

What about you? Are you going to watch? What are you hoping for? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Character Study: Adolin Kholin, The Cosmere’s Most Underrated Hero

Character Study: Adolin Kholin, The Cosmere’s Most Underrated Hero

Greetings all,

It’s been a while since I’ve done a character study, and since I’m currently through my fifth read through of Oathbringer, I’ve been thinking about Adolin.

I’ve had the chance to speak with the author, Brandon Sanderson, who is my favorite in the business right now, and people were talking about Kal and Shallan. I couldn’t help but say, “The only thing wrong with Adolin is that he isn’t Kal.”

Fanboy moment: Mr. Sanderson felt that was a good point.

You see, if Stormlight doesn’t have Kaladin, I affirm that Adolin would be the main character. In fact, Adolin would be a fine main character in pretty much any other fantasy story that doesn’t have Kaladin in it. And yet, poor Adolin is stuck behind this generation’s greatest hero. Kaladin is the greatest main character since Rand al’Thor, and Adolin can’t help but get lost in that shadow. (I’ll probably do a character study on Kaladin later, but I’m still a bit perturbed by his character given what happens in Oathbringer.)

Even in writing a blog praising Adolin, I can’t help but acknowledge why he isn’t the main character, but he is possibly one of the greatest secondary characters ever (I’d put him behind Perrin myself, but Adolin is up there).

So why not take a look at Adolin and try to understand why he’s so compelling.

The simple answer is his sympathy aspect. Adolin is loyal. He’s the picture of a good son and a model of a great big brother. He’s charming. He’s earnest. The most fascinating part of all that is how he sees himself: Not good enough.

Like his father, Adolin is his harshest critic. He’s an acclaimed duelist. He’s the planet’s most eligible bachelor, but he sees in himself flaws that don’t even exist. The flaws that do exist in him are mountains that rest on his shoulders. This leads him to do something beautiful: He tries. He tries so hard to be the sort of man he thinks everyone thinks he should be, and he’s unable to see he’s already so much more. This is what makes Adolin stand out.

When I was first reading Oathbringer, I was afraid Adolin would turn against the team. A part of me still is. How long can a man be just short of good enough before that yearning to be recognized becomes bitter? It would make for a great fall-from-grace arc, but I sure hope it doesn’t happen. I still think it might, and that has me rooting for Adolin all the more.

This is why some of the events of The Rhythm of War made me so happy, which brings me to the other point I wanted to make about this character.

Adolin does all the “hero arc” things others do in a completely original way, and when you compare his arc to Kal’s you can see the parallel. To be honest, Adolin does it all the hard way.

The trade off is Adolin’s suffering (the tool most authors use to build sympathy) isn’t as obvious as someone like Kal. This is probably one reason why I don’t hear people talk about him. Honestly, I hear more people talk about Renarin.

This image by Exmakina was taken from The Coppermind for review purposes. Please don’t sue me.

I think the fact that Adolin doesn’t suffer physically or by the loss of others is the the key, and that makes me sad. Adolin is sort of a caricature for an average person in today’s world, and we do the same thing to him that real people do to others.

We look at him and think, “Well it’s not like he’s been imprisoned or hurt, betrayed or forced to experience loss. What’s he got to complain about?”

Think about it. He’s wealthy, charming, and handsome. He must be fine right?

Except he’s not. He’s fighting every bit to be seen as his own man, a man a father and brother can be proud of, a man a woman can love, as Kaladin fights to protect those around him, but because he’s never been poor or enslaved, people just don’t appreciate him, and that’s tragic. It’s a depressing view of how people treat each other.

Yet he fights on, not so much with his awesome swordsmanship or his spren, who he’s helping to find herself. Instead, he fights on by being a kind, loyal man who does all he can.

That, dear readers, is a character worth putting on t-shirts. That, dear readers, is a main character trapped in a more-compelling main character’s arc.

So the next time you’re reading a Stormlight book, take a moment to give Adolin a bit of love.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

My Top Three Reads of 2020

My Top Three Reads of 2020

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to share my top three reads of 2020 with you all.  Goodreads says I’ve read 14 books in 2019. I’m still trending downward, but I don’t know that I read “less.” Considering how much I read the Bible, I think I’m reading as many pages as I normally do (given married life). It’s just that I’m reading much larger books. That said, I have to say 2020 was probably the weakest year since I’ve been doing this. That doesn’t mean my top three aren’t great, but I think the drop off is pretty steep. Was that the case for you all? Let me know in the comments below. This list was made without regard to publisher, format, or author.

How I did it:  I kept track of books I liked and mentally compared one to the other. Without further delay, here’s my list.

#3 Starsight by Brandon Sanderson: You can find my review for that book here.  If it weren’t for Sanderson, I probably wouldn’t name a top three. I read some non-fiction I really enjoyed, but I don’t enjoy non-fiction in the same way. He’s still my favorite. Starsight added depth the the charm of skyward, and I gain more interest as the universe (of this story) opens up. It’s still clearly YA, and so it lacks a lot of the impact his other books have, but it’s honestly growing stronger with each book. I freely admit it takes a degree of patience to read a non-cosmere book from Sanderson because you’re waiting for that next Stormlight book, but the stories are always enjoyable, and it’s a part of his style of writing.

#2 The Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: This is not a cheat. You’re free to look at all 14 books I’ve read, and if you honestly think there are two better, let me know in the comments. I’m actually a bigger fan of ROW than other readers I know. That’s because I liked the science nature of this book. Here’s my review. It was very hard to decide this between this book and number one on my list for this year. I’ll explain that later. I just want it known that after a bit, I still personally think this is the second best book in the series so far. This book doesn’t rise because it’s still just a set up. Also, this book has some super odd breaks between characters (like some cast members vanish for an entire act). Regardless, This book put everything into place, but the rewards for this book will actually be in Book 5. Sanderson is a master, and if you haven’t read Stormlight, you’re really missing out. It’s just that simple.

#1 The Burning White by Brent Weeks:  My review for this can be found here. What helped put this book over the edge was that it was the conclusion to a very good saga. A lot of things came together here in ways I thought were very pleasant. I think Lightbringer is solid. I don’t really know if it holds up against Night Angel or not. They’re actually pretty different books, so it’s hard to tell. Which ever is better, both deliver a great story that gives readers an ending that’s satisfying.

So that’s my top three. What are yours? Why? Do you have a review you can link it to? I’d love to reblog it for you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson The Fourth Read Through

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson The Fourth Read Through
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Image taken from Amazon for review purpose.

 The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson  is the first book in The Stormlight Archive. This was my fourth time reading this book. I wanted to read it before reading The Rhythm of War.

I used my normal format when I did my third read through, so for this review, I want to focus on things that stood out after four read throughs.

First: Kaladin is freaking awesome! I can read this book a million times, and I will still love every word of his arc. This arc (in and of itself) is on the same level as that of Jaxom and Ruth and Rand al’Thor.

Second: Shallan’s arc gets progressively more annoying. I actually like Shallan as a character, but that is in spite of this book’s arc. First, Shallan was the character who taught readers a Rosharan economics lectures, and that is brilliant world building, but it’s not why I read Stormlight or Sanderson.

Third: No matter how annoying, the most rewarding details are in Shallan’s arc. For those who have read RoW, her arc still has little connections that make RoW more interesting.

Fourth: As progressively annoying as I find Shallan (again, just in this particular book), I find Adolin comparatively more endearing. There is indeed a scenario in which Adolin actually becomes my favorite character. If I really had to sit down and contemplate it, he might already be my favorite. Dalinar is up there. What about Kaladin?

Fifth: Kaladin was awesome in this book. He becomes epically awesome in Words of Radiance, but the last two books really tested my patience with Kaladin. I get his character flaw. As a service member with many friends who have PTSD, I completely understand, but fantasy is typically an extreme. I’m glad Kaladin (as reported by Sanderson) has turned the corner, but seeing Kaladin at his best makes me more frustrated. I’ll probably do a comparison between Kaladin’s downward arc and Rand’s. Both are similar, and maybe some will feel differently than I do, but here I’ll say that when Rand was falling into despair, I felt sad for him. I understood his pain and hoped he’d find a way through. With Kal, I simply got more and more annoyed, and that’s not good. I’ll probably even feel more strongly about this as I read Words.

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Image by Nazrilof taken from Mr. Sanderson’s Website for this review.

Sixth:  This book currently lands at third best in the series for me. Shallan’s arc alone is enough to bring it down, but I also acknowledge I have RoW higher (number two) at the moment than other readers might. I was talking to my brother who made some good points. He wasn’t such a fan of the science lesson in the middle of RoW that is Navani’s arc. I liked the science of the arc (if not the character decisions and reasonings). So again, a lot of how these books rank for readers will greatly depend on how much they like world building.

Overall: Any book I read more than once is (at worst) very good. If I read it every time a new book in the series, I hope that speaks for the quality of the story overall. This book still had me sitting in my car for 20 minutes simply because I didn’t want to stop listening to it. It’s that powerful. I honestly hope to start reading this series with my sons soon, but my wife will want to finish reading every napkin Tolkien ever sneezed on first, which I can probably understand (it’s her favorite series).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
Buy Stealing Freedom

Spoiler Free Summary:  Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson is the fourth story in the Stormlight Archive series. The war on Roshar is in full bloom. Dalinar leads a desperately needed assault to take back territory the humans need. Kaladin is still struggling with his desire to fight. Shallan and Adolin must travel to Shadesmar to negotiate with spren who would rather avoid them. Navani is learning secrets about the tower that could change everything. Odium has his plans as well. Everything comes together as the contest of champions takes shape.

This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  I’m happy to say that Adolin and Kaladin have my favorite arcs. A while back, I wrote a blog about things I hope RoW does, and this delivers on 1.5 of them. Sanderson has wonderful and charming characters. Interestingly, at least two (and perhaps as many as four) arcs deal with specific mental disorders. I wonder if Sanderson meant this book (and maybe this series) to parallel so many mental health issues. Regardless, these characters are all awesome. I must, however, disagree with Navani’s arc. It just felt kind of stupid to me (spoilers). Not all of it was by itself stupid, but there was a final part near the end of the book that didn’t come together for me. I get the plot point, and I understand the implications of what she did, but the way it came together felt forced. Even accepting this as what I honestly feel is a weak arc, it’s still a fantastic story. It’s only in hindsight that I consider these issues, and the most important aspect of evaluating character is in the heat of the story, not days after I’ve had time to pick it apart in my mind.

Exposition: Since everything really is coming to a head, there isn’t a lot of exposition here. I imagine people reading that book before others might feel lost, but I never understood reading a book in the middle of a series. I kind of think that’s on the reader. This story is huge (about 1,200 pages), but it reads fast. The last two hundred pages flies by! There are some parts that drag as Sanderson expands on his magic system (another demerit to Navani’s arc), but all epic fantasy has some deep exposition to go over the magic system.

Worldbuilding: This has been and remains where Sanderson shines. This book expands on Roshar and, more interestingly, the Cosmere. Everything in this story is vivid and immersive, and it just gets better and better with every book. I can’t say this story hits a home run, but I can absolutely say that anyone who’s been waiting as long as I had been for this book was (at worst) satisfied with it’s arrival. This book puts the larger arc in context. For those who don’t already know, the ten books that comprise this series are actually two, five-book arcs.

Dialogue: This is actually better than I’ve come to expect. The dialogue in this story is on par with Oathbringer (or better) for the same reasons. The relationship between Dalinar and Taravangian harken to Xavier and Magneto. It’s a wonderful arc that I hope continues in this vain. This is amplified (a credit to Navani’s arc) in Navani’s story. There’s some beautiful dramatic prose delivered via dialogue that kept even the exposition meaningful and interesting.  

Description: This has all the wonderful traits of any Sanderson novel: expansive worlds, immersive scenes, and awesome fight sequences. If you like any Sanderson book, this one delivers as always.

This image of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Overall: I’d probably argue this is the second best book in the series so far (Words of Radiance). This book delivers on a few promises it has made early in the series, and it provides a thrilling plot twist that completely shocked me (in a good way). This book already has me chomping at the bit to get to Book 5!

Thanks for reading

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Book Review: Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson
Buy Stealing Freedom

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson is considered book 3.5 of the Stormlight Archive. A ghost ship is found seeming to come from the mysterious island of Akinah. What secrets does that land hold? Why are some so driven to protect them? Mysterious beings composed of cremlings seem intent on keeping people off the island, and Rysn, a shipowner, must go there. Her pet Chiri-Chiri is sick, and only a visit to its home island, you guessed it, can give the creature a chance to survive.

Cover image was taken from the book’s buy page on Amazon for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  The Lopen always steals the show for me when he’s in a story, and this one is no different. I mention him first because he’s so charming. That said, Rysn is a fascinating character. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a story where someone who couldn’t walk is the main character. Rysn is intelligent and driven. She’s sympathetic and proactive, but her vunerability (perceived (I said perceived) powerlessness) makes her story interesting. Rysn doesn’t compare to Kaladin or Dalinar by any means. It’s not an insult to her; it’s just that she doesn’t grab me the way those two do. Still, she’s a great character, and Chiri-Chiri is awesome.

Exposition: Being a short story, there simply isn’t enough time to have too much bad exposition. There are some moments that we get a bit of a data dump in the form of conversation (negotiation) or internal monologue, but the story reads fast. I think I read about thirty percent a day.

Worldbuilding: This is what excited me. First, we get to see that island that’s been teased to us. Second, we get some expansion on the Cosmere. This book really opens up the origins of the Cosmere, so if you’re a fan of it, you really should read this book.

Dialogue: This isn’t as good as Sanderson’s work normally is. It’s not bad at all, it’s just not as amazing as it usually is (though I understand this was a rather rushed story). The Lopen gets another pass here because his dialogue is always fun. I think this book falls a bit short for me because the plot hinges (as is appropriate for Rysn) on a negotiation, and that scene didn’t really sing for me. I still loved and enjoyed it, but more so because of what I learned about the Cosmere and what this book teases about future books than the plot.  

This image of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: Sanderson has some wonderful description. I’ve always appreciated how he balances good description with the pace of a story, and this is no different. I almost always feel like I’m watching a movie more than reading a book when I’m reading Sanderson, and this book was no different.

Overall: This book is awesome more so what it implies and promises about the Cosmere more than the story itself, which is probably not something Mr. Sanderson would want to hear. The book isn’t bad at all, but it was less Rysn and her arc that intrigued me than the greater implications this story offers to future books. Again, this story was good; it just wasn’t great. I will say this was a great primer for Rythm of War, and that alone makes it worth reading.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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