Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

(9.5/10)

Book of the Year 2014 (see all)

I know I’m late to this particular party, but as the man who beat me to it said, I “just had to get words on a page to decompress” after finally finishing reading ‘Words of Radiance’ by Brandon Sanderson.

When Words of Radiance finally rocked up on my doorstep those few months ago, I looked at it with fear. Such a long book, and one that would no doubt leave me on another year-long (or more) cliff-hanger. I didn’t think I could handle it, but finally, after Ryan teased me with hints and my desire to read fiction came back from the dead, I finally picked it back up.

I’m so glad that I did. Words of Radiance is (almost) everything you want out of a fantasy book, and everything we have come to expect from Brandon Sanderson.

Most enjoyable, however, was the way the book concluded. Instead of perpetuating the torture of certain characters and leaving us unresolved on a myriad of time-sensitive cliff-hangers, Sanderson actually wrapped the story up, while leaving the overarching plot to draw us on. It was a wonderfully satisfying feeling to finish reading and find myself at ease, relaxed, with the resolutions and the unresolved storylines.

I won’t force a lengthy review just to be the forty-eighth reviewer to tell you how well Sanderson writes characters, builds worlds, writes action scenes, etc. It’s all been said a hundred times over, and there is nothing I can say that will add or take away from those particular attributes.

I will say, however, that I found some of his contrivances particularly forced. I won’t get into the specifics, but there are some authors who can create a story that flows naturally, and others that have to force their characters into unlikely and unrealistic situations so as to reach particular story points. There weren’t many of them, but the ones that existed were blatant and centred on major plotlines that needn’t have been so blatantly stretched out – especially in light of how the book finishes.

Brandon Sanderson has written a book that seals his spot as one of the greatest fantasy writers. No timeframe can be placed on his accolades, he’s just turning out to be that good. Words of Radiance is a high watermark of storytelling, and as the second book of a ten-book series, one wonders at the heights that Sanderson will reach by the time he is done.
Joshua S Hill, 9/10

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Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is the second volume of The Stormlight Archive, the hardcover clocking in at a colossal 1087 pages! This is a monster book, the story is appropriately epic, and I felt exhausted after finally finishing that last page. So what do I do now? I try to decompress and unwind, in the form of a review.

CAUTION: This review may spoil some stuff from The Way of Kings

The story picks up immediately after the events of The Way of Kings, with Shallan and Jasnah stuck in Shadesmar, Kaladin and Bridge Four in charge of Dalinar's guard, and Szeth murdering his way around the world. It is hard to make a short summary of the events that happen in this book, so I will try to highlight the key points - the war between the Alethi kingdom and the Parshendi comes to a head, Shallan begins working as spy and her very interesting backstory is provided, the Assassin in White confronts Dalinar, Adolin and Kaladin all at the same time, and people around the world are speaking the oaths of the Knights Radiant, manifesting strange powers that have been missing for hundreds of years. There is so much going on that it is hard to keep track of everything that happened, so I'm pretty sure I will be rereading this book at least once before the third book comes out.

With Words of Radiance, Sanderson addresses all of the issues I had with The Way of Kings, along with improving on everything that I loved about that first book. Shallan is a hugely improved character with a clearly defined purpose and tragic past that she is no longer able to outrun. The wonder with which she views the world of Roshar is still there, but now we get even more wonder as she starts to experiment with her new powers. Another improvement is the amount of screentime our heroes share with each other, with Kaladin, Dalinar, Shallan, Adolin, Renarin, Navani, Jasnah, Szeth, Wit, Sadeas, Amaram, and others all spending a lot of time together. Shallan excels in these shared scenes, often getting the better of her counterparts with liberal doses of wit and humour.

The one thing that Sanderson absolutely masters in this book, the reason why so many people are raving about it, is the epic magic-aided action sequences. From duelling shardbearers fighting for glory and shardblades, to hundreds of Knights Radiant trying to put down a Godzilla-like Thunderclast, Sanderson is effortlessly able to convey a sense of scale that few other authors have been able to achieve. The crowning glory is a climactic battle between the assassin Szeth and the spearman Kaladin, with both men powered up with tons of Stormlight, and both men pulling off crazy manoeuvres that even Hollywood would struggle to keep up with. It is as if Sanderson designed his magic system just so he could bring this one battle to life. And I'm okay with that.

With Words of Radiance, Sanderson clearly stamps his authority as the master of the "Hollywood" style of epic fantasy. It is hard to comprehend just how much stuff is going on this book, not to mention how this book impacts the wider Cosmere (the universe that ties all of Sanderson's books together). Big action set pieces of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things is exactly what I want from my epic fantasy, and Sanderson delivered beyond what I could have hoped for. I'm tired, I can barely keep my eyes open, but I can't stop smiling. That's my endorsement for this book.
Ryan Lawler, 9.9/10

Reviews by and Ryan Lawler

10 positive reader review(s) for Words of Radiance

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All reviews for Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series

The Way of Kings

by Brandon Sanderson

Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of [...]

Series: The Stormlight Archive: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 157

Our rating: 9.8 | positive reader reviews

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Words of Radiance

by Brandon Sanderson

Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from [...]

Series: The Stormlight Archive: Book 2
Published: 2014

Score: 105

Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews

12+

Oathbringer

by Brandon Sanderson

The Alethi armies commanded by Dalinar Kholin won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, and now its destruction sweeps [...]

Series: The Stormlight Archive: Book 3
Published: 2017

Score: 70

Our rating: 7.0 | positive reader reviews

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Words of Radiance reader reviews

from Someware

Best book ever!!!!

from United States

Perfection at its finest! At every twist, Words of Radiance shook me to the core, made me cry, and put my imagining of fantasy in a whole new light! Thank you for such a blessing, Brandon!

from USA

there honestly is nothing to say that all those above haven't said already, but this book is the epitome, the pinnacle of fantasy perfection. i read it over and over and i'm still not bored. i find something new each time that i didn't see before. every reread the world in my head expands. i can think of countless ways the story could go. Brandon doesn't box it in to one direction. he has created a unique place where imagination can run rampant, and even among great writers, that is rare.

from Romania

Very good book; excellent plot and a great adventure overall. Can't wait for the 3rd book in the series.

from Australia

Best book ever I have read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

from Brazil

Words of Radiance is simply perfect. Brandon made a 1200 page epic fantasy book go in the blink of an eye: there were no scenes I simply wanted to skip because they were too descriptive or were in a context that wasn‘t progressing the plot, and that is a rare talent as far as I have seen in epic fantasy, something I had only seen before when I read A Memory of Light. This book took The Stormlight Archive to a whole new level and I think this will be the series that will mark my generation of readers just like The Wheel of Time did the previous one.

from USA

So I came across Brandon's books because I was roommates and best friends with his cousin who told me, in a casual way, that there was an author in his family who wrote fantasy novels. I was skeptical at first because I was tired of all the same LOTR, Eragon, A to B journey books about orphans or random farm kids who turn out to be wizards and kings etc. After the first chapter of Way of Kings though I knew I was hooked. It was a refreshing new take on fantasy and magic, chalk full of intelligence. I just finished Words of Radiance and it left me speechless. The words on each page came to life and created a 2 month long movie in my mind that I did not want to end...but that ending...MOST EPIC ENDING I HAVE EVER READ!!!! Mark my words, by the end of this series, Brandon Sanderson will be known in history as the greatest fantasy writer of all time. He's THAT good.

from US

This book is fantastic. Better than the first and one of the best books I have ever read.

from US

The Words of Radiance is a masterpiece of a book.This book has taken me on an adventure that I will never forget. I have never read a book this well crafted. Brandon Sanderson hints and foreshadows so artfully that you will find new mind blowing things each time you read it. Full of surprises and secrets The Words of Radiance takes you for a Roller Coaster ride. Roshar is such a creative and fascinating place that it makes me giddy just thinking about it. Not only has this brilliant author created an entire world but he will captivate almost anyone who reads this series. I was on a cruise when I picked this book up and I devoured it in just about 4 days. You can bet that all I did was sleep eat and read this phenomenal book. The powers given to the characters are a mystery themselves that the characters find more about as they develop. Brandon Sanderson has this amazing talent to create intriguing magic systems that blow my mind each time I read one of his books. Not only has he created a complex magic system for this book but he created many social systems that are all unique and might seem silly but enficises a theme in his series. Power will always be abused. All in all this book is amazing and it blows my mind each time I read it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone I know.

from Canada

This series continues to be one of the best I have ever read. It's truly incredible.

from UK

Jaw Dropping is the 1st phrase that comes to mind with this book. Brandon Sanderson is the "Magic Systems guy"? Not at all! This guy is not a one trick pony. The world building, character building, back story narrative is all sublime, the pacing of the book is completely unparalleled, at times it sweeps majestically other times it is charging forward making you want to devour each page to move onto the next. I thought the first book of the series was going to be the best of the lot (as is so often the case in a purported 5-10 book series) but this second book has taken off from where the previous ended and bettered it. You are watching an emerging master of his craft and book by book he is weaving his magic and his wordsmith skills and becoming a simply breathtaking epic fantasy writer. 9.999/10 (nothing is ever perfect but this comes pretty damn close!) p.s HOID!

10/10 from 12 reviews

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