A very strong follow-on to The Way of Kings, this has more of almost everything I loved in that first volume. Expansive world, intriguing magic, hidde...moreA very strong follow-on to The Way of Kings, this has more of almost everything I loved in that first volume. Expansive world, intriguing magic, hidden secrets, and great humor, not to mention the beautiful interior artwork that adds so much to the experience.
At one point a character discourses on art, intimating that if your expectations are too high you are bound to be at least somewhat disappointed. I think that happened to me with Words of Radiance. What I love most about Sanderson's works are the powerful reversals he builds into his narratives. Whether because I am more familiar with his writing now, or more likely because of the months I spent discussing this book in anticipation of its release, I found several of the major payoffs in the story to be entirely predictable. This stole from me both the reveal when those happened, and the cost the characters paid to reach those climaxes, since I knew exactly how that cost would be recouped.
Don't get me wrong--there were still plenty of surprises, as my wife will attest from the many times I exclaimed aloud at a new development. There were some wonderful moments and great arcs. It is entirely possible that on rereading this book, when I am no longer interested in novelty, I will upgrade it to 5 stars and place it on par with its predecessor. UPDATE: As expected, Kaladin's arc was much more enjoyable for me upon rereading, and fresh details make the whole experience one to savor. Still leaving it at 4, though.
In particular, I thought Shallan (whose book this is) was excellently developed and much more likable than before. Her exploits excited me and opened up a whole side of Roshar that the other characters cannot see. I look forward to what she and Veil uncover.
There is a great deal hidden here (it is 1087 pages long, after all), so a reread is a must. If you are unaware of Sanderson's cross-series cosmere, you will find more to confuse you than was present in Way of Kings, but the book still stands on its own.
I do feel slightly cheated that neither Renarin nor Taravangian had a stronger presence in this book, but they will certainly feature in the next installment, which is slated to arrive much more quickly than this one did.
Of my predictions before the book started, I batted about 50%. I was wrong about more things than I thought. From my discussions with other fans, I have been impressed that Sanderson created such a divisive character as Amaram--many loathe him as powerfully as Kaladin does, while others are sure that he is a tragic and redeemable character. I won't say which camp I was in, nor if I was vindicated, but the decisive events of this book definitely settle that debate.
Hooray for the Stormlight Archive! For more discussion, you can find me on the 17th Shard.(less)
A really good book. Rothfuss constructs his world so that the fantasy tropes he adheres to feel fresh and almost original. I am also impressed with hi...moreA really good book. Rothfuss constructs his world so that the fantasy tropes he adheres to feel fresh and almost original. I am also impressed with his mastery of description. Next time I run out of poetic imagery I will try to remember his style. I also really liked the lyrical quality of some of Kvothe's lines. Another pro: this book contains one of my favorite depictions of dragons, ever.
The biggest disappointment for me was realizing about 100 pages from the end that there wasn't nearly enough space left for even a partial resolution of the many plot threads. It turns out that Rothfuss is playing the long game, and many of the plot promises won't be fulfilled until later in the series. I look forward to reading book 2 when it comes out next year.
I do have to say, though, that I felt there were an excessive number of chapter-ending cliff hangers and false reveals. Some of them were extremely well executed, but others seemed out of place and distracting from the natural tension of the story. There were other disappointments, too, but these were probably due more to my personal preference than to the writing itself.
I'm suspending my verdict on the story-within-a-story framework. There were places, especially towards the beginning, that it didn't quite work for me. The disconnect of voice and tone made the transitions rough, but given what we are told of Kvothe I can see how that might be the point. I'll have to wait for the rest of the trilogy to find out if the bumps were both intentional and justified. (less)
Beautiful and poetic. A story about life and a tribute to death, this book inspires love and smiling tears. Leavitt's concluding acknowledgment gives...moreBeautiful and poetic. A story about life and a tribute to death, this book inspires love and smiling tears. Leavitt's concluding acknowledgment gives the spirit of the book, and will enrich your reading of it:
"Finally, I express my love to my younger sister, Lorraine, who died many years ago of cystic fibrosis at the age of eleven. Now, as a mother and grandmother, I realize what a long journey dying must be for a child to make alone. I wish I could have walked with her a little way. This book is my way of doing so."