I was a bit bummed seeing this. It’s not new content. It’s not an alternate universe. It doesn’t provide new information. Sanderson is my favorite author in the game these days, and I’m always excited for new material. I don’t even mind re-reading it. I’m currently re-reading The Way of Kings as a way to get ready for the new Stormlight book. For people who haven’t tried any of his work (if they exist), this is a nice introduction. I’m a huge Dalinar fan, and this arc is wonderful. I just wish I had new Sanderson rather than stuff I’ve already paid for and enjoyed.
Wheel of Time is my second-favorite saga of all time. I joined the series after Knife of Dreams was out (though I started with Eye of the World), and I was hooked. I’ve read the whole series at least 14 times (1 time for each book in the series). There isn’t much news on the M.L.S. Weech front this week, so I thought I’d do a character study.
I’ve talked about character arcs a few times, and Rand is a fantastic analysis of character arc. Warning, there are spoilers here!
Characters need to grow: When we first meet Rand, we see a young man who thinks he knows how his life is going to go. He’s going to be a farmer, like his dad, and marry Egwene. He’s innocent. He’s naive. Eye of the World is essentially the story of a young man who must leave his home but desperately wants to return to it. The whole book is basically establishing Rand as a character living in ignorance (literally).
The Great Hunt forces Rand to act. Even in this book, Rand truly wants nothing more than to life to return to the way it was (a return to innocence). It is only his bond and desire to save his friend that keeps him on the path he needs to stay on. Which brings me to another point.
Characters need believable motivations: What else could keep a character moving along the plot line? Why would a character risk danger? In this case, Rand risks giving in to his power by putting himself on the Hunt. His loyalty to his friend is the motivation that makes us believe he’d do something he’d otherwise never do. The friendships established in the first book allow the reader to see that motivation.
The Dragon Reborn is such a clever tale for so many reason. Here we see Rand grow to accept who and what he is, and I don’t know that he has 5,000 words of screen time. We’re watching Rand grow from the perspective of those trying to catch up to him. This is the critical turning point. This is the book Rand realizes there is no returning to innocence. This book is Rand putting his fate to the test. He knows that only the Dragon Reborn could reclaim Callandor. I think this might be the book where people really fall in love with Rand. It seems weird to say, but this is the book where we see how heartbroken Rand is, and our hearts break with him. What do we learn about this?
Characters need to suffer: Sometimes, suffering can make us care for a character, and sometimes suffering can deepen how much we care. Either way, there must be conflict. In this book Rand is alone and struggling with nightmares and visits from Ba’alzamon. I have to admit, there was a large part of me that wanted it not to work. And that makes the story work.
The Shadow Rising is far more about Perrin than Rand. The scope of this series demands some books focus on one character more than others, and this is such a case.
The Fires of Heaven has a victory of sorts, but it’s a tragic victory. Everything is thrown into chaos, and Rand must evolve from a character who has reluctantly accepted his fate to one who must take the path he has. There’s a lot that happens in this story. The first is that Rand actively pursues his role as the Dragon Reborn. He’s acquired a plan. He’s still untrusting of Moraine, and why should he be? She’s been manipulating him from the beginning. Sure, she was doing it for the sake of the world and for his own good, but it doesn’t make her actions less manipulative. Of course, the moment he starts trusting her is exactly the moment she “dies.”
Character must be isolated to grow: This isn’t the same as The Great Hunt. First, he didn’t want to be anywhere near Moraine to begin with. Here, Moraine became a crutch. In a way, she also would have been a hinderance. Like the power these characters wield, Rand isn’t something you can direct, only something you can channel. Taking Moraine in that way and at that time forces Rand to become a leader.
Characters need evolving goals: The first three books are all about Rand trying to return to where he wants to be. Fires gives Rand a new goal and a new motivation. We still see his innocence, characterized by his desire to prevent women from dying, and even in this, Rand must allow others to die. This hurts Rand. He desperately wants to protect others, especially women, so his goal becomes morbid rather than hopeful. This is the seed that was planted for his fall.
Lord of Chaos changes Rand, and not in a good way.
Characters need to devolve every bit as much as they need to evolve: Rand’s capture and torture take someone who’s been manipulated before and pushes it to the extreme, leading him to be suspicious and distrustful of everyone. This betrayal changes Rand from one morbidly marching toward doom to a weapon. This was the most important moment since Moraine came to visit the Two Rivers.
Characters need anchors: Min and Aviendha (I’ll never see the value in Elayne) serve critical roles here. They represent who Rand used to be. They serve to give Rand some connection of love and trust that he desperately needs where others only fear him or what he must do. Rand tries to avoid this in a few ways, but Min (my favorite of the three) refuses to leave his side.
A Crown of Swords is a darker book that shows Rand descending into darkness. he does things that are “right,” but his motivations and justifications begin to darken. This book, Rand (not the Dragon) receives power. That power, like always, begins to corrupt him. He starts to want to break away from his older person. Again, motivation is key. Love and trust leads to loss and betrayal, so here, we see Rand beginning to use people and seek power rather than protect.
The Path of Daggers is a tipping point. Rand is gobbling up nations and gaining power. His actions fill him with pride and hubris, leading him to a critical battle with the Seanchan.
Characters need to fail: Failures teach characters. Failures humble characters. This particular Failure shows how far Rand has fallen, and the scary thing is, he doesn’t learn from it. Instead, he’s insulted by the failure. He’s goes even bigger.
Winter’s Heart becomes a sort of crowning moment of arrogance for Rand. He and Nyaeve cleanse the Source. Armies attack. The world watches in horror, and Rand does the impossible. It doesn’t actually do anything for him. He’s still insane. So are the Asha’men. As amazing as this is, it only means future men won’t lose their minds. At best, those already tainted will be saved from going completely mad. Rand’s falling deeper into despair, and this huge act of awesome power is great, but ultimately doesn’t do anything for Rand. He still has his anchors in the form of Nyneave and Min (and a few others). They continue to support Rand, who desperately needs that protection and that loyalty.
Many people hate Crossroads of Twilight. The plot doesn’t move an inch. It’s essentially a whole book of people reacting to Winter’s Heart. I had the advantage of being able to read straight through it to the next book, but I can understand how people who had been reading since the ’90s and wanted to see what happens next might have felt. I don’t imagine New Spring helped much either. Sure it showed us some new information in terms of back story, but we’re still left eager to see what happens next.
Knife of Dreams continues to push Rand to the edge. Everything he tries fails. Everything he tries comes to disaster. Failure isn’t new to Rand at this point, but this is different.
Characters need to be humbled: Here Rand isn’t just humbled, he loses a hand and almost loses himself to Lews Therin. The secret about his insanity is revealed. Where Rand was willing to go into the darkness for people, now it’s proven that he’s worthy of fear and distrust. This is important to show how close to the edge he is.
Characters need to appear as though they might go the wrong way: This is such a powerful writer tool and one so rarely used. We never worried that Harry Potter might become a Death Eater. We never worry that Luke would join the Dark Side. Those are great stories, but here is where Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time shine. We begin to seriously fear Rand would go too far. At this point, our fear is small, but we’re just a tiny bit afraid that Rand will simply become a ruthless overlord. Him saving the world seems farther away than ever.
The Gathering Storm brings all of this to a head. Rand is again betrayed. Rand is again hurt. Rand becomes convinced that ruthlessness and death are all his options. He seems to have lost all his faith in people and in the world. This is most obvious when he not only kills a woman, he erases her from existence and then (apparently) does the same thing to an entire building. Is it effective? Ironically, no. The whole idea of his abusive, excessive actions was to catch his enemy off guard, and it fails. Rand falls farther than ever, until he encounters his father for the first time since this saga began.
Characters need to remember their original motivations/who they are: There’s an argument that characters need to change. I prefer grow. Rand is clearly a different man than he was. He’s harder. He’s wiser. At this point he’s more sly and mistrusting. But he’s still motivated by love. In desperation, Rand returns to Dragonmount to seemingly end his own life, and then he realizes the beautiful potential in the world. Sure, one may fail over and over again, but each new opportunity is a chance to get it right. That return to hope is what saves the day and leads us to the new Rand.
Through Towers of Midnight (far more about Matt) and into A Memory of Light, we see the changed Rand. He has accepted that he is both Lews Therin and Rand. He has accepted that suffering is a part of life, but he has returned to hope. His encounter with his father and his love for his friends (and other forms of love) has become his anchor. Rather than morbidly thinking about getting the Last Battle over with, Rand instead looks to the future.
We still see the change. He’s certainly never pushed around by any woman again. He’s not manipulated. He’s powerful, but now humility and loss has tempered his ego in to wisdom.
Those are the things that made him ready for the Last Battle. We see the battle end, and Rand is a new man. Rather than going home (who can ever go home again?), he sets out to see the world through new eyes (literally). The boy who only wanted to stay home and live a quiet life has now left to live a life of exploration and adventure.
Rand is a beautiful character in an equally beautiful saga. Just writing this post makes me want to read the saga again (maybe not this year because a new Stormlight book is coming). I just thought that analyzing this story gave so much insight to how to craft great characters into great stories. I hope you found this post helpful.
A while back, I wrote a song dedicated to Wheel of Time. The recording isn’t anything near studio quality, but hey, why not? Enjoy!
I was just thinking about books I’ve been waiting forever for, and that led me to this post.
First, I’m very guilty. I was supposed to have the entire Oneiros Log done by now (Hey! I’m getting there). I got derailed on quite a few projects, and while I still produced books, I didn’t publish the titles some of you are waiting for.
The thing is, authors owe readers stories. More importantly, they owe readers the stories they’re waiting for. Now, the author doesn’t owe the reader the stories the reader wants in terms of I want Kaladin to marry Shallan, but they do owe readers the next chapter in the story.
There should be some grace in this. For instance, any Stormlight book is some 700 pages. They’re huge, so waiting two years for 500,000 words is probably fair. But what about three, four?
Readers should be patient. I think Towers of Midnight had some issues here and there because they were working so hard to get it out there. So there’s a balance between the fact that the author owes the reader another story and the reader needing to be patient.
I dream of the day someone gets mad at me for not having this book or that book done. It hasn’t come yet, though I do have a few readers who are indeed waiting for Betrayed. Thinking about how angry I was waiting for word on the next Dresden book gave me some perspective on that.
Why is this important? Well for starters, it’s very hard to gain momentum when you’re not putting out product. A guy like George R. R. Martin can make anyone wait as long as he wants because he has his money. The worst readers can do to him is say, “Well, HBO ended it, so I’m good.” Please know that I don’t think that’s the case; I’m only saying if it was, no one could really do anything about it.
However, a guy like me trying to earn a living doing this needs to make sure that he’s always ready with the next book.
I get a lot of questions about being an author, and in the context of this post, I always say, “If you’re writing a story, don’t publish book one until you have the other two books in the series ready.”
Caught and the rest of Oneiros taught me that. For starters, when you publish books in quick succession, you give yourself more visibility. We’re in a binge age, and people want that next series. However, they want that series readily available. Even as I mention the need for readers to have at least some degree of patience, I understand that people want to marathon a whole season of television. I do the same with books. I don’t want to read one book in a series; I want to read the whole series, and I don’t want to wait a year to move to the next book.
Does that mean authors are evil if they don’t release books in quick succession? No. I confess Power of Words, Repressed, and Sojourn all distracted me from the book I probably should have written. Sometimes an artist has to go where the muse takes him. You may want a book quickly, but you don’t want a quick turd. Again, there’s a balance. I finally got Betrayed ready and COVID obliterated the chance for conventions (and therefore the opportunity to make what I need to get edits done).
That led me to start working on Discovered, and I even had the chance to return to Images of Truth. I have so many things I want to release, but I live on a budget. Yes, I owe you the rest of Oneiros, and I’m getting it done as quickly as I’m able with that budget.
What about the big guys? Well, I don’t think they’re being rude either. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wonder what Martin is up to (probably editing another series). It doesn’t mean I didn’t wonder what Butcher was up to. As a reader, I found myself frustrated at the wait. As an author, I feel convicted about not having stuff ready to print.
So maybe you’re not personally waiting for Betrayed, but you might be waiting for the next Ice and Fire book or something of that sort. I agree, it is frustrating to wait. You have a right to that emotion. Authors owe readers stories, and they should be produced in a timely fashion.
On my end, I’ll start drafting Discovered on the first. Once I’ve saved up enough money, I’ll send Betrayed to Sara for edits.
So I’m curious. How long do you feel it is appropriate to wait for “the next book?” Are you satisfied if an author at least publishes something in that time?
Most people who follow my blog know I’m a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. Well, his newest book, Rhythm of War comes out Nov. 17, so I thought I’d do a blog about the things I hope to see in Rhythm of War.
SPOILER WARNING! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
1. An end to Kal’s trauma: It’s perfectly understandable that Kal had a traumatic life. That trauma came to a head in Oathbringer. I think I’ve reached my limit on Kal’s struggle to save everyone. I’d really like to see him accept that sometimes you lose people you love, and sometimes you don’t.
2. Hoid do something awesome. A while back, we heard, “Hoid would do something awesome.” I believe that was originally intended to be in Book 5, but I hope it’s in this one. What I hope is to see Hoid do some sort of cross-world magic stuff. Like using biochromatic breath or allomancy against some of Odium’s peeps.
3. I want to see how Nightblood got to this planet! Obviously we know where Vasher is but I really want to know how they came to be there and how they got separated. I’m thinking Vivenna had something to do with it. This is probably the thing I’m most interested in at the moment.
4. More intimate battles. The last book, the scope of the battle was huge, and that’s cool, but I’m more a one-on-one kind of guy. I’d really like to see a few of those. I’d also like those fights to display more of the other radiant abilities. I have a good handle on Kal’s abilities, but they currently seem to be the ONLY offensive radiant abilities. Lift I suppose has some abilities that are more visual, but even they seem more defensive in nature, but at least they’re active.
5. I want to see Odium throw down. With how powerful everyone else is, I think it’s time for a threat. I want to see Kal get his but whipped (which might contradict what I mentioned above, but if it’s to make Odium a threat, I’m all for it). It doesn’t have to be Kal, but now that the knights had a huge victory, we need to see the Odium and those he’s working with or manipulating show their stuff. Now Sanderson usually does this through subversion. If you look closely at all his books, the good guy hardly ever gets beat. It happens, but it’s rare. I’m hoping to see some bad guy flexing. I need this personally because Kal (and his order) are pretty much OP at this point. Lift is all but impossible to kill. I’m not asking for a body count, but I wouldn’t be against it. The minimum for me is to see the threat posed. I get Odium’s situation, so I don’t really expect him to do much, but I need someone on team Odium to show that maybe Kaladin and Dalinar aren’t up to the task.
6. I ALMOST FORGOT! I want to see Adolin awaken his shardblade. He knows its name now. He can hear it. I really want to see him become a knight by brining his spren back to life. I almost forgot that because I expect it, but I EXPECT it, so I really want to see it happen.
7. A reunion of Vivenna, Vasher, and Nightblood. Do I need to go farther?
That’s pretty much it. I mean there are several other things I’m looking forward to, but those are the highlights. I don’t necessarily want to see all of these things happen in the next book. (Otherwise, what would be the point of the other six?) But I’d really like to see maybe two of them. If I had to pick which two, I’d say number 6 and 3. Those are the ones I really want, but any of the others in any combination would already make Rhythm a great addition to the saga.
What about you? What would you like to see out of the book?
Starsight is the second story in the Skyward saga by Brandon Sanderson. My review for Skyward is here. Spoiler Free Summary: Spensa’s dream of becoming a hero is only the beginning. An alien visitor appears, giving her the chance to learn about the people who have kept her captive this whole time. She also learns about the entity that is even more horrifying than the thought of humans at war. What secrets will she unveil? Will she be able to protect the secrets she keeps? What doe the eyes of the starts know?
Character: Spensa is still a charming character. She’s growing, which is nice to see. I like MBot too. She’s proactive still, rather like Naruto in a lot of ways. However, she’s growing smarter. She’s forced to teach, and that gives her some tools that she needs. I honestly think seeing her growth from the last book to this one was one of the more interesting parts of the story. The cast sort of splits and expands here. We meet essentially an entire new cast. We don’t cut completely away from the other characters, but they don’t get much screen time.
Exposition: The exposition of this story wasn’t beyond what I’d expect from a first person narrative. There are, of course, some “conversations” that decently hide the information we’re provided. They’re fun conversations and also reveal character, so I didn’t mind them at all.
Worldbuilding: This novel expands on the universe and provides insight to “the big bad” everyone is afraid of. In true Sanderson fashion, “the big bad” is never really what people think it is. This is where Sanderson has always, and will always, shined. This book made me miss Rithmatist (but not enough for him to stop working on Stormlight 4). The slow expansion of the world and it’s secrets is similar.
Dialogue: This is pretty much what I’d expect from any Sanderson story (especially a Sanderson YA story).
Description: I thought the description was great. I felt Sanderson was a little understated in his description in the last story, but this gave me the “something” I felt was missing from the last story.
Overall: This is easily the second-best book I’ve read so far this year. It fulfilled a lot of the promises the first book made. It became impossible to stop listening to it (this was an Audible story for me) with about three hours to go. It was a lot of fun. The only demerit I have is the cliffhanger ending. I hate those. I will always hate those. Even with that ending, I still loved it.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to share my top three reads of 2019 with you all. Goodreads says I’ve read 21 books in 2019. I know I’m reading less and less. I’m hoping to find more time to read, but I have to find a balance between reading and writing. I’m also reading much larger books. 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 Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: You can find my review for that book here. Sanderson is probably going to be on my list every year I reads something from him. He’s my favorite author in the business. Skyward was a charming story that had a universe that intrigues me. Spin is fun. It probably fell because it’s YA. It’s a great story that I enjoyed, but I tend to be drawn to a bit more drama than YA goes here or there. Still, this book’s pages flew by as I read.
#2 Transcendence and Rebellion by Michael G. Manning: The rotation I have on reviews (I review in the order that I’ve read) means I won’t have reviews for number two or one. While I haven’t had the chance to review it, I will say this book was bitter sweet for me. I love Mordecai and his saga. I love that world. The conclusion was appropriate and satisfying. I’m just sad to see it over (like, very over). I still think Embers of Illeniel is the segment of this world that takes the cake, but Riven Gates was great in that it brought all the Illeniel generations together. There were some character decisions that I wasn’t such a fan of, and Rebellion did a decent job of sweetening the sour taste the last book left in my mouth. All in all, I love the characters so much. Listen, if you love fantasy (especially fantasy that’s just a shade darker than normal, just a shade mind you) try this who series out. These books have shown that Manning is an author who readers should wait with eager longing to write another. In fact, he has another saga out there I mean to start here soon.
#1 Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis: Again, I haven’t had the pleasure of posting that review yet, but man do I love it when a cool cover contains a cool book. If you like Dresden, you NEED to read this book! It has all the emotional feel and charm that Dresden has with a new world of magic. I couldn’t put it down, and I couldn’t wait to add its sequel to my TBR. This book has everything I look for in a great book: Great characters (plural), interesting world, fast plot, great ending. If I could only recommend one book (book, not author) for you, it’s this one.
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.
Whenever I do a review, those familiar with my blog know that I have a very consistent approach because I know what I like in stories, and I evaluate stories by what I like. I think the more someone works to understand what they like, they’re more likely to find books they enjoy and (if they aspire to be an author) write books they will enjoy.
What I decided to do today is provide examples on what books did particularly well in various categories.
Character: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I chose this specifically because of how divisive this book is in my opinion. I love it. I know people who hate it. The love and hate of this book is based entirely on how people feel about Kvothe. I think Kvothe is a brilliant character. He’s sympathetic, proactive, and highly competent. Now this is actually why a lot of people don’t like the book. He’s too perfect. I don’t think he’s a Mary Sue, but some do. Still the point is, this book hangs it hat on the main character.
Exposition: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Every book needs exposition. Sooner or later, the author has to just tell the reader what’s going on. The trick is to make sure that writers show everything they can and lace the exposition through the story. Mistborn has an incredibly complex magic system, and the world it happens in has a deep history. This book never once beats up the reader with complicated blocks of exposition. There is one “education” scene, where Vin learns the basics of allomancy, but other than that, the book weaves what we need throughout the action.
Worldbuilding: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. If you’re wondering, yes, it was very hard to not include Sanderson here as well, but Eye of the World is another example. Great stories typically have worlds that feel real. Eye of the World establishes so much with culture, the magic system, the mythos, and the setting. It’s truly masterful worldbuilding, but it’s not just worldbuilding for the sake of worldbuilding. There are books I feel that take worldbuilding too far. I don’t want to spend my life reading about the economic value of a whosit. This book balances intricate worldbuilding with the story to make the scene and universe believable.
Dialogue: Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. I’ve always been a fan of the dialogue in Koontz’s books, but I think this book is a text book for how dialogue is done. The conversations in this book are crisp and relevant, and each character has a distinct voice. Also, it’s a pretty amazing book.
Description: Betrayer’s Bane by Michael G. Manning. Honestly, I’m so finicky with description, this is hard for me. I think Timothy Zahn should also get some credit here, but Manning came to mind first, so here it is. This book has a lot of action and a lot of dramatic scenes. Manning artfully places strategic adjectives that bring a story to life without beating the reader to death with huge paragraphs of description.
There are many books that do many of these well. I don’t know that I can truly place a book here that does all of them well. I think a good book only has to do a majority of these well. I’ll even go so far as to say that, for me personally, I just need good character and low exposition, and I’ll probably like it. The point is, the more of these a writer pays attention to, the better the book will be.
Skyward is the first story in the Skyward saga by Brandon Sanderson. Spoiler Free Summary: Spensa has wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a pilot since she was a child. Unfortunately, her father is the world’s most famous traitor. He turned on his wing during an alien attack. These creatures have oppressed her planet for years, and the pilots are the ones who protect her world’s way of life. When everyone else seems to be against her even training to be a pilot, her father’s old wing mate gives her the chance she’s always wanted. However, the truth of her father’s death and the key to the aliens attacking her might prove she never should take a cockpit.
Character: Unlike Rithmatist or Steelheart (which are other YA books by Sanderson), I had to sort of turn off the adult in my brain. If I do that, Spensa is a wonderful character. Honestly, she’s just young. She’s a well-written and designed character, and she’s perfect for YA, but her thoughts and motives are a little less mature than Sanderson’s usual work. It’s still better than most YA I’ve read, but it’s probably more suited for younger readers. She’s quirky. She has a personality trait I personally find endearing. It reminds me of Sir Didymus from Labyrinth.
Exposition: Despite the first-person narrative, this story didn’t drag down too much. Sure, there was the inevitable “conversation” that established world history. There’s a backstory that might slow things down in there, but this story was a much-needed, highly-anticipated quick-read for yours truly. It moves at a perfect pace that made it hard to put down.
Worldbuilding: This has all the usual hallmarks of a great Sanderson saga. As the plot unfolds, we learn more and more about the people on the planet (and then the aliens above). Most of this story builds on the history and culture of the humans, but I hope the rest of the series expands on this universe. The book sort of feels like Top Gun meets How to Train Your Dragon.
Dialogue: As is usual in any Sanderson novel, the quick-witted, snappy dialogue helps move the plot along. It constantly impresses me the number of different personality quirks Sanderson can emphasize just in how he writes their dialogue. This books is something I’d recommend for anyone struggling to make a character sound distinct.
Description: I felt like this story had less description that usual. I’m not normally one to harp on this subject, but I would have appreciated a bit more from Sanderson on this, especially in distinguishing the lower levels of the planet from the surface. If I have a knock on this story, it’s here.
Overall: I’d say this is my favorite book of the year so far. I’ll also admit this year has been a bit tough regarding my reading. This book is good, and I did enjoy it, but I don’t know how it would hold up against any of my top three from last year. I say that to give some context. I’d say very good, but not great. It’s absolutely a fun read. It still has Sanderson’s usual charm, but it ended on a high note that has me hopeful for the series overall.
Lies of the Beholder is the third and final story in the Legion saga by Brandon Sanderson. Spoiler Free Summary: Legion’s aspects are fading away, and that’s a bad sign. Even as he draws closer to finding the woman he’s been seeking, he’s losing control of his aspects and himself. When a company approaches him with the offer of a cure, Stephen has to come to terms with the truth of what his aspects are for.
Character: This has always been an area of strength for Sanderson. Leeds is charming and witty, and those traits go well with a main character. His desire to be a part of humanity without losing what makes him unique is interesting. The plot is pretty self contained, but all the stories in the saga have been small in scope out of necessity. This was originally a pitch story for a series, so each book had to be fast paced fun, and this was.
Exposition: This story was far too quick to have much in the way of exposition. There may have been an occasional background establishing conversation, but the story moved well. This book grabs you and drags you along.
Worldbuilding: If I have a knock on this book and series, it’s that I (personally) never really understood how the aspects worked. This isn’t normally an issue in Sanderson’s work. He’s actually brilliant in his worldbuilding. Still, this story (and the series as a whole) wasn’t really designed to be epic. If you want Sanderson worldbuilding mastery, wait for the next Stormlight book. If you want something fun to read while you wait for that book, here you go!
Dialogue: This is probably the biggest selling point for this book. The dialogue for this series (and this book) is so crisp and fun. It stands on its quick wit and humor.
Description: This didn’t have a ton of description. It was there, but it wasn’t visceral. I never mind the lack in this area. I’ve never been obsessed with detail. I’m much more interested in plot and character than details. Some may want more, and I couldn’t argue with them. I just wasn’t worried about it. I had the description I needed, and I moved along in the plot.
Overall: This is the first book I read in 2019, and it’s still my second favorite so far. It’s a decently satisfying conclusion, but the best value in the story was that it was a fun, quick tale that entertained me from word one to “the end.” Leeds is a wonderfully deep character, and the resolution was satisfying. Sad to see the story end, but Sanderson always delivers!
Spoiler Free Summary: Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. My review for Book One is here. My review for Book Two is here. Dalinar Kholin has reached Urithiru. The Voidbringers have returned. However, Roshar isn’t united. While Odium’s forces gather, Dalinar must strive to find a way to get the nations to work together. But as he works toward his goal, his past begins to haunt him all over again. Kaladin returns home to face his past and learns the Voidbringers aren’t what he thought they were, in fact, they’re not what anyone thought they were. Shallan’s secrets mount against her, but the only way for her to progress is to continue to face them. Each role she takes fractures her mind again, and she must take control before she faces the challenges before her.
I wanted to do something different for this review since it wasn’t so long ago I did the original review. First off, I’m a huge fan of Sanderson. I’d read a napkin he scribbled on if he cared to sell it to me. So I wanted to point out some things I think are quintessential Sanderson using this book as an example.
The endings: Dear goodness this man knows how to write endings. They’re always fast paced and satisfying. This book is no different. To quantify it, I read the last fight in a night, maybe three hours. When I listened to it (additional readings are always done via audiobook), it turns out that’s seven hours. He drags you through. From the formation of the army at Thalen City to the last scene of the book, I couldn’t put it down, and every single event was total fan gratification. I count three “hopes” my brother and I had which were all met during that last portion of the book.
The magic system(s): Sanderson has a comic book nerd level of magic in his books. I love this because I remember being a kid and arguing who would win in a fight. I have a lot of fun theorizing what could be done with certain ability or how it might be used later. This book has a few cool new tricks, and hints at more cool stuff to come. I think anyone who loves X-Men or other superpower comic books should check out his work.
The characters: I’m simultaneously impossible and easy to please. I need sympathetic, proactive characters. Even the guy pouring the tea in this book has some degree of motivation and sympathy. I genuinely believe Sanderson has this wiki-document, and every character in it has an entire life story we haven’t seen. I don’t personally take that much effort. I’m like, “Dude, I just need someone to pour the tea.” This level of care is what separates the great from the rest, and frankly, I need to start respecting that. Dalinar and Kaladin are two amazing characters. I’m also personally a fan of Adolin, who I feels like the Dangerfield of the series. “I get no respect at all!”
The potential: What I mean by this is my favorite thing about a series (any long-format story) is the ability to theorize and guess. As I mentioned above, my brother and I had a lot of fun 1) trying to guess who Odium’s champion would be and 2) Rooting for Adolin to…well…do something he did. For the record, Ben was right, and I was wrong, but I’m very happy I was wrong. This sort of conversation starter is why shows like Walking Dead and Stranger Things are so popular. They generate conversation and fun.
Worldbuilding: Ok, this honestly isn’t something I personally love, but he’s great at it. The history, scope, and detail of this world (and the Cosmere) make a beautiful spiderweb look like a 2-year-old’s rage scribble. I don’t dislike it, but I think there are times when he’s just showing off (look how expansive this planet is). But I love the fact that I know there’s a rich history. Much like Wheel of Time, I’m interested in so much of the history. I’d rather not get that history lesson right in the middle of a book, but I’d honestly read a book about the ancient history of Roshar. Honestly, I’d read the book Way of Kings (not the actual book, but the one referenced). I’d read Dalinar’s Oathbringer, and I’d really love to get my hands on Hessi’s Mythica. I mean, I’d honestly buy those books if Brandon writes them or makes them available. I won’t read a textbook on grammar, but I’d read Mythica to learn more about the unmade (shows why my priorities are jacked).
Some of these items are things I review every time, but I want to expand on them a bit to better articulate why I feel Sanderson is simply the best in the game. I hope it adds a bit of spice to my usual Wednesday reviews.