If you haven’t had the chance to read any work by Brandon Sanderson, you need to stop what you are doing and pick up one of his novels. I recently got the chance to read “Words of Radiance,” the second book in The Stormlight Archive series and found myself engrossed in a fantasy world like no other.
In “Words of Radiance” their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have to come expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will more into a new, dangerous phrase as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along; hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithiru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn how to fulfill his new role as leader of the restores Knights Radiant, which mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
Sanderson does several things really well in this second installment. He has the precious ability of building and creating worlds of fiction and fantasy so they feel incredibly real. He also can write both battles and characters very well in a believable and genuine way.
Roshar is more than just another fantasy world. It is another character in the ever evolving storyline. That kind of dedication to a mere setting is something you don’t see very often.
Similarly to A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, “Words of Radiance” features the viewpoints of several main characters allowing a more complete yet complex look at the overarching story. Having multiple viewpoints allows the reader to get a grasp of the bigger picture happening rather than just one character’s perception. Sanderson pulls the off seamlessly as he transitions to each person. You can see each character’s perception of the world around them in a dynamic and distinctive way.
One thing I found particularly marvelous about “Words of Radiance” was Sanderson’s ability to write women characters realistically. Male authors tend to have a difficulty writing females, particularly, I have noticed, in a science fiction/fantasy setting. I was SO glad to see that Sanderson treated women, you know, like normal people and not some exaggerated stereotype.
The best part of “Words of Radiance” is how the tale twists and turns and keeps surprising you when you least expect it. You think you have got it all figured out until all of sudden some small piece of the story emerges and changes the entire course of where you think it is heading.
“Words of Radiance:” is masterful, captivating, and a literary tour de force. Sanderson knows how to hook a reader almost immediately until you find yourself thinking about Roshar and Kaladin and Shallan and everyone else when you should be sleeping.