|Words of Radiance, Stormlight Archive, |
Book 2, by Brandon Sanderson. 
Book Review by: Sharon Powers.
UPDATE: 07-09-14: References converted to numerical format for ease of finding sources.
Last week, I reviewed Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings, Stormlight Archive, Book 1. I also reported that book 2 of the Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance was to be released to book stands on Tuesday, March 04, 2014. I promised to try and get the book read and the blog post written for this week's review--well, I am happy to tell you that I made it. Here it is.
Way of Kings was a best seller, and an award winner, and obviously well-loved by many, many readers. Words of Radiance, its sequel, has been long awaited by many readers of this brand new and very popular series. My blog post book review of Way of Kings was quite extensive, and I included many, many spoilers. I did this because the book had been out for so long (3 1/2 years), and, of course, the plot and substance of the book were already widely-known.
For my review of this book, don't expect major spoilers. I don't want to ruin the enjoyment of reading the book...being surprised by the big reveals...and I certainly don't want to take away from you any "screams," "squeals," "Oh my Gods!" "No, No, Nos," or "What? What? Wait...What just happened?" moments of enjoyment. And let me tell you now, up front, there are tons of those moments in this book. I am so excited to be reviewing this book, today, so let's get started.
FIRST, WHAT DID WE BRING WITH US FROM WAY OF KINGS
INTO WORDS OF RADIANCE?:
|The world of Roshar. Looking at the map you can place Alethkar in relation to Jah Keved; see the small city/state of Kharbranth; Shinovar, far to the west--Szeth's country of origin, as well as "The Purelake" (just about center on the map), mentioned by several characters in the book, and other locations utilized in the Way of Kings (Book 1). I am particularly interested in Aimia (far left)--the location of the Voidbringer in Interlude I-3, where "Rysn" meets a Voidbringer with blue fingernails and deep blue eyes; he brought the fell curses of "Improper puns...and a stench from something [he] ate that did not sit well with [him]" (p.187). |
|TheTen Heralds, one of which is|
Talenel'Elin, Stonesinew, Herald
of the Almighty. 
We have also learned, through Dalinar's visions, that time is running out and that the "Voidbringers," and something called the "Everstorm," will soon return. We have been shown a number of people who have growing abilities that look suspiciously like powers a Radiant might have. And we have learned that assassinations have been taking place throughout the known world--they appear to be politically motivated assassinations--but the reader is not so sure.
So, we bring with us into Book 2, knowledge of the World of Roshar and its peoples, what is beautiful about them, and the problems with which they are plagued. Now let's take a look at Book 2, Words of Radiance, to see what's been happening since we last had contact with the World of Roshar.
THE BOOK--A BRIEF SYNOPSIS:
The "Assassin," or "Death in White," has been sent out into the world with an assignment to assassinate more than two dozen dignitaries and world leaders. The master assassin is unbeatable, and no matter what traps have been set for him, he eludes them, and his target ends up dead. Shockingly, we learn that one of the people slated for assassination is noneother than Dalinar, King Elhokar's Uncle. Importantly, he is the true power behind the throne.
|Sylphrena, nicknamed, Syl, bonds with Kaladin to give him|
the ability to take in stormlight. She, in some ways also men-
tors him and chides him to do what is right. Syl is an honor
spren and was attracted to Kaladin because of his honorable
behavior in the face of betrayal and defeat. In the book,
Words of Radiance, Kaladin has a severe crisis where he
has to come to grips with himself. Kaladin loses his way and
I just couldn't help feeling sad with Kaladin's choices. The
question is, will he continue on this destructive path, or
will he find his way back? He allows himself to be seduced
into looking for vengeance and falls prey to his own biases
and self-interest. Will he make his way out of this morass?
Kaladin struggles with societal prejudice against him being a "darkeyes," and former slave while trying to fill the role of Captain of the King's Guard. "Syl," a spren with whom he has bonded and from whom he can access the power of stormlight, tries to help him make better choices. Will Syl be able to help him, or will she have to abandon him because he has lost his honor?
To make matters worse, the Parshendi continue to battle Alethi forces at the Shattered Plains. The Parshendi, led by Eshonai, make a breath-taking decision that could cause the anahilation of the world as the Alethi peoples know it and unleash the Voidbringers. Shallan and Jasnah rush from Kharbranth on a ship, racing towards the Shattered Plains to raise warning about the secrets they have discovered about the Parshendi. Will they make it in time to warn everyone?
WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:
Oh, my, my, my...pure deliciousness!
|A diagram of how the Bridge Team 4 operated|
to get the bridge over one of the chasms in The
Way of Kings. Shen was a part of Bridge Team 4.
The Everstorm: Rescued with the other bridge team members, now, Shen is a part of Kaladin's team of body guards...will they trust him enough to put a weapon in his hands? Or, is Shen quietly going about his work, waiting to be "activated?" Just who is Shen, and what is he doing in the King's Guard? What part does Shen have to play in the prophesied True Desolation (also called the Everstorm and the Night of Sorrows), where the forces of Odium with the Voidbringers, will attack Roshar to destroy and exile mankind? If you recall from The Way of Kings, Jasnah and Shallan theorize that the Parshmen (and the Parshendi) are the Voidbringers waiting for the Day of Desolation to begin.
|We know very little about, "Wit." When|
we first saw him in, Way of Kings, he was
called, "Hoid." He appears and disappears
suddenly in the story, gives advice to
people, and uses his acerbic "Wit" to poke
at people with pointed sarcasm. He is a
"Worldsinger," and Sigzil's master and
teacher (until he tells Kaladin to tell Sigzil
that he has graduated and is now a full
Worldsinger). We also learn that he is
good at traveling to Shadesmar and is a
master of disguise. He can use "Light-
weaving (as he did in his story-telling to
Kaladin when he met him in the desert).
He seems to care about Dalinar, and
warns him, but also indicates his
interests may differ in important areas.
Shallan's Story: This book, this story, is very much Shallan's story, just as Way of Kings was Kaladin's story--there we saw flashbacks that took us to Kaladin's upbringing and experiences. Here, we see many flashbacks featuring Shallan's back story. We see her grow up and find out what motivates her, what causes her dysfunctionality, and we find out why the book is titled, Words of Radiance.
As you read the story, pay attention to all the references to the Lightweavers. [By the way, Hoid, AKA, Wit, has abilities similar to those of a lightweaver--you might want to look for parallels, here, too, as you read. Since Wit doesn't appear often in the story, just make a note of what he does and his apparent abilities.]
Focus on Bias: The Way of Kings shows us not only the stratification of society into classes of privilege down through to slavery, but also sexism, racism, and other one up, one down relationships of people in society. We carry that over into Words of Radiance. Sanderson, even more than in Way of Kings, draws pictures and vignettes of injustice throughout Book 2 of the series. His characters interact in a way that, to us, as readers, seems true-to-life. This has the effect of making Sanderson's world building, far more realistic.
|Truth and Lies. |
NOTE: I would really love to talk with you more in depth about Shallan and her story. I can't do that because it would just give too much away. Perhaps, after the next book has come out, we can revisit Shallan for a more in-depth analysis of her, specifically. I'm pulling my hair out on this one, folks (I really want to tell you, but it just wouldn't be right.)! I think that just about the only thing I can get away with, here, is that I think Shallan is both courageous and cowardly. She seeks the truth (courage), but she also avoids it (cowardly) because she is so afraid of what she is--I think that underneath, she already has the answers and just can't face herself--unlike King Elhokar. Her spren friend, "Pattern," says to Shallan, "Humans can see the world as it is not. It is why your lies can be so strong. You are able to not admit that they are lies" (p.947).
|This beautiful image of Shallan can be downloaded as wallpaper for your computer from Tor.com. Just click on this link:|
King Elhokar: As Shallan struggles with truth and lies, King Elhokar has his own truth to come to. Eventually, the king comes to Kaladin asking for help to be a better king, confessing that he is a bad king. (The king confronting his own truth.) Kaladin rejects the king at this point, and the king walks away dejected--ah, Kaladin. You make me feel so sad for the way you treated the king, there.
|King Elhokar seems to run every|
day, just like this runner--but,
he keeps running! 
A second Herald appears in Words of Radiance, Nin, Nalan, or Nale, the Herald of Justice. I think this Herald is one scary dude. The Herald wants to teach "_____" the "path of one uncorrupted by sentiment" (p.1063). I can't help but remember Nin in Interlude, I-2, entitled "Ym." Ym believed that all beings were "One being" (p.174). Ym also worked as a cobbler making shoes for homeless and poor children, never charging for his work.
|Hoid, AKA, "Wit," often gives advice and tells|
stories...since he is a Worldsinger. Wit has done this
in both books of the series, so far. 
Justice executed without mercy or compassion is one really scary way to judge humanity. This kind of justice does not look to see if the person has been redeemed or how much the person has already suffered. Nin is just scary. I think we will be seeing more of him in the future.
MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
What is a woman's place in this modern world? Jasna Kholin's words read. I rebel against this question, though so many of my peers ask it. The inherent bias in the inquiry seems invisible to so many of them....I say that there is no role for women--there is, instead, a role for each woman, and she must make it for herself....Do not mistake me in assuming I value one woman's role above another. My point is not to stratify our society--we have done that far to well already--my point is to diversify our discourse. A woman's strength should not be in her role, whatever she chooses it to be, but in the power to choose that role. It is amazing to me that I even have to make this point, as I see it as the very foundation of our conversation. (Shallan thought:) Highlady Kholin talked about the nobility of choice, as if every woman had such opportunity...compared to a life of fear in a house seething with anger, depression, and hopelessness. (p772)
And by the way, how will Kaladin tell Shallan about having killed her brother Helaran? With all of Kaladin's medical training why didn't he recognize that "______" didn't have epilepsy, but that something else was going on with him/her?
One Thing Not Answered: In the first book, Way of Kings, Sanderson had a scene where a "small crystaline sphere tied to a chain (p.33)" was given by Gavilar (as he lay dying) to Szeth (Gavilar's murderer) saying, "You must take this. They must not get it."? I waited anxiously for the answer to the mystery of the crystaline sphere on the chain. Unfortunately, the question goes unanswered.
Oh My God! And there is more. The climax and final pages are nothing short of chaotic, exciting, and definitely thrilling. It took my breath away--I found myself crying at one point to see how Dalinar faced his own imminent death at the hands of Szeth, the assassin. I loved his courage, the love he felt for his son, the grace and beauty he exhibited as looked at his last moments. He thought of others. In those moments, he became my hero.
MY RECOMMENDATIONS AND RATING FOR THIS BOOK:
|I loved this book! |
Thank you for joining me this week as we finally got to look at a much anticipated novel, Words of Radiance, The Stormlight Archive, Book 2, by Brandon Sanderson. Please join me next week for a look at another book. I hope you take some time to read this week and if you like fantasy novels, this book would be a wonderful one to pick up and read. My love to you all.
Until next time...
|White Rose. |
All my best to you.
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