Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
Absolutely stunning continuation
on 8 June 2014
Oh my goodness, where to start with reviewing this huge and fantastic book?
I will begin by saying that I loved this book the whole time I was reading it and the ending has made me so excited for the next book in the series. I know now that Sanderson will be able to make this into something completely brilliant because of how wonderfully this has all played out so far.
So, to begin, this book is a staggering 1087 pages long but as I said in my previous review of Way of Kings (WoK from now on), the page count is perfectly justified because truly the story is wonderful. I would highly recommend this series to anyone, especially if you have previously read and enjoyed any of Sanderson's work. It may be a lot of reading, but falling into the world of Roshar again is a fantasy I can't wait to experience in the next book.
The story continues to be told from a variety of different POVs including Shallan and Kaladin. These two have certainly become the main focus of this story which is understandable when you read the things that have happened to them and do happen to the across the course of the book. Along the way we meet some of out other characters from WoKs but we lose some and gain new ones too.
Again the story is divided into sections, 5 main sections and 4 Interludes sections. The main sections are where the real plot of the story is developing and we see our favourite characters conquering evil, battling inner demons and much more. The Interludes act more as context for the rest of the world, giving us an insight into how the actions of our main characters have affected the other areas of the world. We see through a variety of characters eyes in the Interludes including Eshonai who becomes a very key character, Ym, Rysn, Zahel, Taln, Lift, Szeth, who was in WoKs and returns in Words of Radiance (WoR), Lhan and Taravangian. I would say that out of all of the characters we meet through the Interludes the most interesting was Taravangian as his part certainly explained why some of the events in the book have happened and the reasoning behind them. I also really enjoyed meeting Eshonai who I must say I misjudged as a character to begin with. Some of the characters are included in only a short burst of a page or so, others have enough pages to be as long as a chapter from the main sections so it varies a lot. I think that the inclusion of these Interludes is vital to introducing the new characters and the new trials that the world is facing because of what is happening at the forefront of the action in Alethkar.
The plot of this book has developed a fair amount from that of WoKs which is really all about setting up the world and sorting out who everyone is and why the are where they are etc. The storyline of WoR certainly feels like it is always building up to something hugely dramatic at the end of the book (which it is) and so the tension and excitement is mounting the entire way through the read. The realm is constantly being tested and they have entered a new age which no one really knows much about. New magical powers are being discovered all the time and people are changing, whether they wish to or not, into something that they cannot control. Everything is always on the edge of destruction and the whole story is leading up to something greater than we can really imagine!
One of the aspects in WoR that I truly enjoyed was the introduction of the Spren in a big way. I felt like we got a taste of what they could do in WoKs but we really had no idea of quite how everything fit together with them and what their purpose was within the story. I feel like we get to see a lot more of their abilities, morals and power throughout this story and that as their influences are made more clear they become far more intriguing and magical.
Another element which I have to mention is the illustration work which is once again included throughout the book. The style of illustration from Shallon's note book pages and the maps and details which appear to be taken from reference books are just so incredibly beautiful and so intense. The rendering is flawless and I am certain that the addition of the illustrations is why I cannot help but love these books even more.
I would certainly say that there are echoes of the Mistborn Trilogy in here and that the magical systems and the powers are so meticulously worked out that I cannot fault them. I would say that this series is exactly what Sanderson hoped it would be, his best work, and that I know the rest of the books will be just as well received and adored if Sanderson keeps this standard up!
The plot lines sometimes seem to be getting a little confusing but rather unlike The Wheel of Time books (which Sanderson claims inspired this series and you can see influences of within his work) these string are all interwoven pretty quickly and although they raise questions at some points, frequently those questions are answered, at least in part, a little bit further into the book. There is no need to be confused about the names either as they are all pretty distinct and the voice of the characters (especially the main ones) is very easy to recognise if you have put the book down for a while and then pick it back up.
On the whole I would have to say I was a little worried about whether Sanderson would be able to keep this series up to the standard of the first and whether he would be stretching it out too much across the 10 books intended, but after having read this I can confidently say that I believe this will become one of the best fantasy series ever written and I believe that I will be hooked into pre-ordering all of the future books as soon as I hear about them. If you love fantasy and epic fantasy in particular, then this is truly the series for you! I cannot recommend this series any more, so many twists and turns, but so well thought out, I would buy it right now if I were you! Highly, highly recommended and I can't wait for book 3!!