After the first 10 chapters: Arin is an annoying ahole. Kestrel is a boring idiot. The world is sketchy at best.
Second 10 chapters: Arin is an annoyin...moreAfter the first 10 chapters: Arin is an annoying ahole. Kestrel is a boring idiot. The world is sketchy at best.
Second 10 chapters: Arin is an annoying ahole some more. Kestrel is a boring idiot some more. We get some boring info-dumping.
3rd: At least Kestrel does something. But her stupid, petty romantic feelings more than cancel that out. Arin is the same as before. The plot has convenient turns.
Final: Now Kestrel’s the annoying ahole, but both she and Arin are at least tolerable here. The plot is okay if still predictable and unoriginal. The author’s use of language throughout is average. (less)
Hmm, not nearly as good as the second book. If I’d read this a month+ ago I wouldn’t have been all that excited about the sequel even if I would have...moreHmm, not nearly as good as the second book. If I’d read this a month+ ago I wouldn’t have been all that excited about the sequel even if I would have picked it up due to having relative faith in Sanderson.
The biggest difference is in the characterization of the two primary protagonists. Kaladin spends a lot of time being a cranky, bitter emo, and Shallan is overly naive, hypocritical, and not nearly as amusing as she tries to be.
The relationships make a HUGE difference too - hopefully it’s not much of a spoiler for the second book to reveal that the two protagonists have loads of interaction with each other and with the two main secondary charactes Dalinar/Adolin in Words of Radiance. Instead of being yet unaware of each other’s existence for some relationships, or barely having met in others. Shallan + Dalinar, Shallan + Adolin, Shallan + Kaladin, Kaladin + Dalinar, and Dalinar + Adolin all have some great moments together in the sequel.
Here, Shallan is mostly just around cold, distant Jasnah and they, like, read books and talk about them. Oh, plus Shallan flirts with this boring religious guy. Kaladin’s forming a bond with his men is pretty cool to see. Lopen and especially Rock are amusing characters who help bring a levity to Kaladin’s off-and-on existential brooding. I’m intrigued to see what Teft’s story is. As far as Kaladin’s flashback chapters go...there are too many, and they’re not as good as Shallan’s in the sequel. Adolin doesn’t really do much besides whine and act like he’s on The Bachelor. Dalinar acts very similarly to his rough ASoIaF Ned Stark in terms of being obsessed with being Honorable to the point of stupidity. Though Navani is not actively aggravating like Cat. As far as I remember, we still don’t find out what’s up with Dalinar’s directed memory loss by the end of book 2, so I’m guessing he’ll be the flashback character in book 3.
The pace is too slow because of the oft-insistence on over-exposition and info-dumping especially in the form of passages from books being read/studied by Shallan and Dalinar. I think many pages could have been cut without losing anything important or interesting.
However, ultimately it’s still better than any books of the big epic series of our day, by GRRM. And it’s better than the 3rd & 4th Mistborn books.
T10 Chapters: (view spoiler)[V (of 5 parts) K73 All the bridgemen accept Kaladin immediately as their leader. Dalinar asks him to have his men be his fam’s bodyguards. Kaladin gets terms that let him be in charge of training a thousand men. He talks to his men about Stormlight. He feels content that he’s saved so many men. IV D69 Sadeas is all like, Dalinar’s dead, then Dalinar’s like, surprise bitches I’m back. Then he trades his sword for all of Sadeas’s bridgemen. Dalinar hilariously beats up the king and is like, wtf you trumped up an assassination attempt and made everyone suspect me; also everyone thinks you suck as a king and I’d be way better. And, all gemhearts will be distributed by the throne. I K11 He almost kills himself, but inspired by Syl he makes himself bridgeleader and meets Teft. III K44 Flashback Tien is forced into the army so Katniss volunteers as tribute. IV K67 Syl guilts him into helping Dalinar’s men. He remembers watching when Tien was killed. He is conveniently powered up by the enemy’s Stormlight, which seems...weird. III K49 K starts training them, gets Teft to reveal that he was a soldier. I S8 She convinces Jasnah, with help from Yalb negotiating a price for books. II K14 He picks on Moash. Rock makes fun of him. He does drills by himself as an example. II K27 He finds $ from selling sap, shows his spear skills, and uses Rock’s cooking skills to get his men to bond. V S72 Jasnah says they enslaved the Voidbringers. (55, 44, 33, 22, 11: 5, 4, 1, 3, 2) (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Harumph. I would give this 3 stars except I hate the ending. And after three books I still find Nick and especially Allie to be frequently insufferabl...moreHarumph. I would give this 3 stars except I hate the ending. And after three books I still find Nick and especially Allie to be frequently insufferable. Like: “I am no better than Mary. I will have sunk to the worst possible place a person can go...The answer came to her like a burst of courage from a wellspring deeper than she knew she had inside herself. I would sacrifice everything I am, everything I believe.” - Girl, shut it with your hypocritical sanctimony.
Mikey’s still too obsessed with stupid Allie, Milos is boring because he’s too obsessed with awesome Mary, Jill’s character change is not believable regardless of what the book insists about the power of true love...and Clarence is a deus ex machina non-character.
Aside from the presence of Mary making the book come even close to shining bright like a diamond, Jix is an intriguing new presence and the best foil to Mary - an antihero who ends up helping people despite not being particularly invested for much of the book, vs. her antivillain whose entire purpose revolves around trying to help people...in a way that the book wants the reader to think is the evil-est evil. He also keeps the first half of the book from sinking into a black hole of drudgery when Mary’s kept occupied by her coma.
Overall I would say the trilogy is worth reading for those who think the premise is super-cool and have a high appreciation for ruthless diabolical geniuses. (less)
Not as good as the first one. With the premise all set up and the surprises already revealed, the book has classic Middle Book Syndrome.
Even though A...moreNot as good as the first one. With the premise all set up and the surprises already revealed, the book has classic Middle Book Syndrome.
Even though Allie is more wenchy than ever, now Mikey is in love with her. This is basically the exact same plot as one from an Unwind sequel - a monster-turned-cute-boy is desperately in love with a girl with a sucktastic personality for reasons discernible only to him and the author. It makes me lose my respect and appreciation for him, especially when he gets all crazily emo-jealous. A few quotes about her: “She thought about telling Mikey, but decided to keep it to herself. If he was going to act all antisocial, then there were things he deserved not to know.” “The girl was too pretty...She must be an airhead, she must be a drunk, she must cheat on tests, she must backstab her friends, and that ridiculous rack can't be real.”
Nick is a dull heroic hero type some more, though at least having wisecracking stereotype Johnnie-O as a sidekick makes his scenes tolerable.
Luckily we have a fair number of chapters from the point of view of the awesomely, endlessly ambitious Mary the Skywitch. She’s a great antagonist, and even though her philosophy and actions are highly morally questionable, I like characters who know how to get stuff done regardless of the obstacles thrown in their way. And that describes Mary in spades. It’s not the best example probably, but I’m reminded of the last book in Jim Butcher’s high fantasy series (The Codex Alera, I think?) which felt like a plodding waste of time except for the regal villainess. So much more personality than everyone else in the story that I was kinda rooting for her wicked schemes to work out. (less)
Hmm, not as good as Unwind, but better than the Unwind sequels. The weakest part of the book is Shusterman’s choice of protagonists - Nick and Allie ar...moreHmm, not as good as Unwind, but better than the Unwind sequels. The weakest part of the book is Shusterman’s choice of protagonists - Nick and Allie are both dull and annoying, with Allie leaning more towards being an atrocious waste of a human being and Nick more of a sanctimonious huffy blowhard. Much like the protagonists of the Unwind sequels, actually - which implies that Shusterman maybe needs to recycle a bit less (and improve his protagonists).
However, others are quite good - Mary especially, the Mcgill, Lief, Vari, Pinhead, Meadow. I have a feeling that even though Allie will continue to be an obnoxious little snot in the sequels, the fact that she’s the heroine will excuse her from having her faults being carefully examined. Unlike, say, the Villains of the piece.
The premise is quite original, relatively speaking when you look at the wasteland of most of modern fiction. The plot’s well-executed as well and while it doesn’t end in a way that could potentially be a final conclusion in and of itself (which is how I feel about Unwind), neither does it meander around and refuse to have stuff happen just so that the ending will be sequel bait. The latter happens way too often with these YA authors and makes it obvious that they don’t really have the story for a trilogy but are hungry for those coins so create a frustratingly unsatisfying first book in the hopes that readers will come back later for some actual plot.
Both the truth about the Mcgill and the truth about Mary make sense in the context of the preceding pages, and deserve to have sequels fully exploring the implications and consequences for everyone involved. Hopefully the reader gets to spend more time in their heads rather than those drippy “heroes.”
And one last minor note: I’m a fan of the excerpts from Mary’s various books about living as an Afterlight. They’re so her.(less)
Not only easily the best book from this year I’ve read, but better than any I read from last year. And I hadn’t actually gotten around to The Way of K...moreNot only easily the best book from this year I’ve read, but better than any I read from last year. And I hadn’t actually gotten around to The Way of Kings before I read this, so even without full context this book is great and can be enjoyed on its own. Of course, now I will read The Way of Kings; I think I was afraid that it would feel as unworthy an endeavor as, say, A Dance of Dragons because it’s a thousand pages and many reviews indicate that it’s largely set-up without so much in the way of payoff.
I mean, I have more confidence in Sanderson than Martin as Sanderson’s written multiple great books while Martin’s just written multiple great chapters amongst a collection of okay books. But I felt kinda burned by his recent books - the YA series opening books, the opener of what felt like an unneeded Mistborn sequel trilogy delaying his planned more epic Mistborn sequels...plus the conclusion of the original Mistborn trilogy which still makes me wonder if The Stormlight Archive will have an altogether disappointing ending. So I would only tackle a thousand pages if the sequel which in theory would have to have more action lived up to my general Sanderson expectations.
And it definitely does. It is not the best Sanderson, as the first Mistborn book felt like a complete world and work all on its own, and The Emperor’s Soul in its short length contained possibly the most beauty of any of his works. But hey, it’s supposed to be 10 books; gotta spread the awesome out. There’s still much awesome contained within the pages, with plot and character developments aplenty, and I never really felt like the pace was purposefully slow and navel-gazing so as to be able to fill up 10 books (unlike, say, A Dance with Dragons).
It helps that around two-thirds of the book are narrated from the POVs of just two great characters - Shallan and Kaladin - when after five books of A Song of Ice and Fire and many characters having several chapters to narrate I also only have two that I find great (Arya and Sansa). And I might already care more about Shallan and Kalladin’s fates than theirs. It helps that the rest of the cast is much better.
Some quick minus points: While decidedly far less dull as dirt and stupid as their arguable ASoIaF equivalents Ned/Robb Stark, secondary major POVs Dalinar/Adolin aren't quite as exciting as Shallan and Kaladin, so there's often a bit of feeling "When are we getting back to D/A?"
And then the minor POVs generally have a feeling similar to George RR Martin's, like, "Mmm, I hope these chapters end up proving themselves necessary in the long run, cuz they're not adding much to this book."
A not necessarily minus point is a plot point very similar to Mistborn's - an implied rendition of the dreaded (view spoiler)[love triangle. With the three involved being the main heroine who starts out more or less as just a girl who can do some neat things before turning out to be likely fated to help save the whole world; her betrothed princeling whose company she really enjoys and who's relatively uncomplicated; and a man who has a big chip on his shoulder about said princeling, who can relate to her in ways that the princeling cannot due to also having immense magic powers and a very dark past. (hide spoiler)]
More words to come probably, with more detail about the book itself...possibly not until I get through The Way of Kings.
But first, Top 15 Chapters of the book: (view spoiler)[II (of 5 parts) S34 She’s told that Tyn was behind the hit on Jasnah, and her plan to free the criminals is stupid. She has a fight with Tyn and kills her using a magicked Shardblade. Aspects of Sansa, Dany, and Arya. V S88 She gets a visit from assassin Mraize who knows who she is; he has her brothers. He still wants her as Veil to be a Ghostblood, telling her she doesn’t know who they really are. She finally lets herself remember that she was the one who killed her mom who went after her for having powers. Amaram is targeted by the Ghostbloods; he takes the Herald away. The Herald of Justice resurrects Szeth who realizes he was right about the Voidbringer return after all; he’s made a Skybreaker and gets a Blade/Spren. V K84 Kaladin vs. Moash; Syl makes herself return to K who realizes why he has to protect the king, and he gets a Shard. Szeth shows up to Adolin. IV S73 She finds that her dad’s killed her stepmom after beating the truth about her brother’s escape out of her; then her dad's beating on her brother, so she poisons and chokes him to death. III K58 He helps Adolin win an uneven duel, then openly accuses Amaram of being a thief and murderer, leading to an arrest by the king.
I Prologue Flashback Jasnah meets with assassins to try to prevent any from offing the king; she fails. IV K74 She/Kal tell each other their stories. He thinks he killed her brother. Stormfather comes to him in a vision and accuses him of killing Syl; he realizes that S has powers. V K86 Shallan’s infusing the lamps with Light; Adolin comes and sees who she is. She thrusts her Blade into the hole and teleports everyone away. K kills Szeth and smiles. II S20 She convinces bandits to try to be men again by stopping a slaughter. I S7 She sees Jasnah and the sailors being taken over and slaughtered so she magics the ship into dissolving.
II K32 The assassin comes and beats up K, Dalinar, and Adolin together. Kaladin and the assassin fall. II S28 She bonds with Tyn, practices her accents, and takes some boots when she encounters K. III K41 He recognizes how to walk on walls/ceilings, reluctantly agrees to let Renarin patrol with his men, and feels a pang that he can’t allow himself to just go out and hang. IV K71 He finds out that S has had hardships too. A chasmfiend sets upon them, he wants to fight it to let her escape so she summons her Shardblade. V Dalinar 89 Adolin kills Sadeas. More Voidbringers shall come, and Stormfather thinks the Alethi are doomed anyway. Dalinar becomes Bondsmith, and Renarin is Truthwatcher (along w/Windrunner & Lightweaver). This seems very Power Rangers to me. (5555, 444, 33, 2222, 11) (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)