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

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The third time)
This image was taken from for review purposes.  Featured image was taken from, 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.

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,


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,


Book Review: Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis

Book Review: Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis



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

Spoiler Free Summary:  Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis is the first story in the Monsters and Men trilogy. First, I’ve already declared this the best book I read in 2019, and I stand behind that. Janzen Robinsion is a former apprentice to a group of heroic magic-wielding heroes, but that was five years ago, and none of his friends are alive. However, he stumbles into something that will cause him to choose to continue to lay low or rise to be the hero he was training to be.

Character:  Janzen is a great character. He’s every bit as proactive as he is sympathetic. He’s competent in his own way, but his flaws lie in his stubbornness.  I wouldn’t be shocked to hear Janzen was heavily inspired by Dresden. I don’t mind this at all given how long I’ve been waiting for a new book (which is coming by the way). I was such a fan of Janzen that I bought the next book in the series. 

Exposition: Even for a first-person narrative story, the exposition is smooth. It helps that Janzen is custom made for first-person narrative. His voice and thought process brings life to the expositional content. The other note is the author does a great job of weaving in the pain of the main character’s past. 

Worldbuilding: This is urban fantasy, so he had a lot to start with. However, we get introduced to some of the magic elements in ways that move the plot and expand what we currently know. In a book full of brilliant writing, this is actually the best part of the book from a critical standpoint. Anyone will notice the great characters and clever dialogue, but to be introduced to world-expanding elements in a perfectly-timed manner is impressive.

Image taken from the author’s Goodreads page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Dialogue: Janzen as a character and the dialogue are the two reasons this feels like a Dresden book. It’s clever and quick. It keeps the reader chuckling and tearing up in all the right moments. 

Description: Like everything else about this book, the description was on point. It was visceral, activating all the senses. Davis put a lot of effort into not just helping us see the creatures (which a lot of urban fantasy writers do), but he also helps us see the characters. Side note: some of the characters have disabilities, and that brought a new dimension to the story. 

Overall: This book was simply wonderful. The characters are charming. The plot grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags your mind and heart through a range of thoughts and emotions that leave you hungry to read Janzen’s next adventure. If you love urban fantasy like Dresden, you need to read this book. 

Thanks for reading