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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2020)
After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage.

Now, as new technological discoveries begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

At the same time that Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with his changing role within the Knights Radiant, his Windrunners face their own problem: As more and more deadly enemy Fused awaken to wage war, no more honorspren are willing to bond with humans to increase the number of Radiants. Adolin and Shallan must lead the coalition’s envoy to the honorspren stronghold of Lasting Integrity and either convince the spren to join the cause against the evil god Odium, or personally face the storm of failure.

1230 pages, Hardcover

First published November 17, 2020

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About the author

Brandon Sanderson

399 books203k followers
Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s Soul, Mistborn: Secret History, and a brand-new Stormlight Archive novella, Edgedancer.

Earlier this year he released Calamity, the finale of the #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners trilogy that began with Steelheart .

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

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Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews42.9k followers
March 19, 2023
This review in video format is here: https://youtu.be/vzzMUk7B4Kk

Brandon Sanderson is a storming genius. Rhythm of War is another scintillating masterpiece in The Stormlight Archive series—one of my top favorite series of all time, and easily the best ongoing series right now.

I truly believe that the words contained in The Stormlight Archive will continue to establish the series as one of the most important series for epic fantasy. It’s been three years since Oathbringer was released, and there’s no sign of Sanderson’s name and fame disappearing into oblivion. It’s the other way around; Sanderson has gotten more and more popular within the past three years even though no Cosmere novels were being published within this period. And here we are once again, Knight Radiants. Rhythm of War, the fourth book in The Stormlight Archive, is here. At roughly 458k words, this penultimate volume to the first out of two sequences of the series is also the second biggest novel—the first being the 471k words of The Stand: Complete & Uncut Edition by Stephen King—I’ve ever read so far.

For the first time ever in the series, instead of continuing seamlessly from where the previous installment left off, Rhythm of War continues a year after the end of Oathbringer. But first, in a similar fashion to the previous three books, Rhythm of War starts with a prologue that shows the Assassination of King Gavilar; this time we get to witness the event from the POV of Navani’s. It’s so impressive; I’ve seen this event happened four times now, Gavilar is on its way to becoming Uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents at this point, and yet every retelling of this specific incident from a different point of view managed to bring forth a different and crucial piece of information. There are also a few changes in storytelling structure being done here; each book in The Stormlight Archive usually begins a slow-burn that leads to an explosive middle and final section; Sanderson launched Rhythm of War with an early Sanderlanche that lasted for about 100 pages long, and this successfully created the best Part I of the series so far. Just within the first 20% of the book, Sanderson has started moving the many pieces of his stories incredibly well; heartbreaking scenes have occurred, the development in the power of the Radiants was demonstrated, and I was already emotional. I am that attached with the series, and the strongly evident themes of the series—family, conviction, friendship, honor, loyalty, cooperation—that returned once again successfully pierced my feelings throughout the entire tome.

But before I get to the core of why Rhythm of War, or The Stormlight Archive really, is so special, I would like to get my small grievances with the book out of the way first. I think the sooner you know about this, the better your reading experience will be. As you can probably predict, I genuinely loved Rhythm of War, but was it a perfect book? I will have to say no. Part III of Rhythm of War was the first time in the series that I actually felt that the book should’ve been shortened. I found several scenes in Part III to be a slog to get through. True, important events and development did transpire in this section, but the way the story is being written here felt repetitive, and frankly, too long for its own good. Plus, Venli & Eshonai’s flashback chapters, which started at Part III and lasted throughout the whole book, were just far inferior compared to the flashback chapters of the previous three books. To be fair, it is tough to write flashback chapters that rivaled Kaladin’s or Dalinar’s, and I’m going to be lenient about this.

Fortunately, these are small parts of the tome; the awesomeness of Part I, II, IV, and V remarkably overshadowed my issue with Part III. I’m not kidding; Sanderson showcases why he’s one of the most highly-praised storytellers in the genre right now. The answers he gave and the questions he repeatedly provided actually blew my mind non-stop. This ridiculously high level of plotting—especially if you’re caught with all Cosmere novels, but more on this later—can only be fully realized by the greatest of authors who actually know what they’re doing with their story, characters, and worlds with utmost confidence. The burst of mind-blowing revelations he forwarded to his readers in Part IV and V, and the rewarding feelings bestowed for our investment in everything about his books, are simply unforgettable. And THIS exhilarating consistency of high-quality storytelling that Sanderson constantly achieved has once again been proved with temerity here. How? His extremely well-written characters and world-building.

Ever since I finished Words of Radiance, Kaladin Stormblessed has become one of my favorite protagonists of all time. This isn’t exclusive to fantasy novels, but out of all mediums of speculative fiction that I’ve experienced so far. And Rhythm of War somehow strengthened this notion further. For the last decade, we’ve known that Kaladin is afflicted with heavy depression and PTSD, and despite them he fought and fought. But the amount and intensity of the mental torture he has to endure within this book were lunatic. And yet he continues to fight and help people the best way he can despite his weaknesses, and I am simply amazed by his journey. His feelings and pain felt raw and real to me, and from my perspective, he has become a real friend and leader that I understand. Also, on the topic of Kaladin, I would like to encourage people to be more compassionate. Depression is more pervasive in our society lately; for the past few years, I’ve seen several readers calling Kaladin being depressed and struggling through his depression as pathetic, and I must say that’s really too harsh. I’m not saying that you have to like his character, reading will always be a subjective experience after all, but if you already know he has depression and yet still call him pathetic for his struggle, I sincerely hope you don’t ever treat real individuals with depression that way. Additionally, if you want to read about main characters who are fearless and good at everything, you’re not getting one from The Stormlight Archive. I hope Kaladin’s story and the relationship he has nurtured with Syl and the crew of Bridge Four—which deserve their own book, by the way—throughout the series so far will inspire all of us to be more empathetic.

This display of magnificent characterizations and development aren’t solely applicable to Kaladin, Syl, and the crew of Bridge Four. The biggest surprise for me was how much I grew to love both Shallan and Adolin’s story here. For those of you who know me, I think you know that I have mixed feelings regarding Shallan’s character development; to put it simply, I didn’t like how rude she was towards Kaladin in Oathbringer. But I might have underestimated Shallan’s difficulty in overcoming her past trauma, and now I have to admit that I’m thoroughly impressed and hooked by her story. This is hugely pleasant to me; I never want to dislike her character, and in this book, I actually wanted more of her and Adolin’s story. Her story was captivating, and the character development unveiled through her abilities were stunningly good. Then there’s also Adolin’s oozing positivity, optimism, and kindness which is purely precious, and this doesn’t mean that he’s not afraid to do the hard choice if it’s the right course of action. I absolutely loved their storyline; there’s no dull moment in Shallan and Adolin’s story, not even for one page. ‘Trial by Witness’ is one of my favorite chapters in the book, and their story arc contains some of the most wonderful and tension-packed scenes of the entire novel. And I’m so grateful that the almost-love-triangle subplot initiated in Oathbringer has been completely thrown away.

Then there’s also Navani’s impressive character development; I feel like this is more of her book rather than Eshonai/Venli’s, and I honestly wouldn’t mind having more of her being in the spotlight. It was super intriguing seeing her inspects and do research on fabrials, sprens, and most importantly, her interaction with Raboniel was one of the key strengths of Rhythm of War. I’m not kidding; Raboniel is not only Sanderson’s most well-written antagonist so far but also one of the best antagonists I’ve ever read. The dynamic and chemistry of their interaction with each other in the pursuit of science, truth, and knowledge were magically compelling, complex, humane, and fascinating to me.

What I do appreciate most from the world-building, though, would have to be the increasing blend of fantasy and technology. I’ve heard from several fantasy readers who are fixed on the idea that fantasy should have as minimum technology—or maybe none—as possible in the world, and magic should have no rules at all; I disagree with this. There’s, of course, nothing wrong if a specific reader prefers that in their fantasy books, but personally speaking, I found this to be a limitation to the genre. Fantasy is a genre that’s brimming with limitless potential, and if done believably and fitting to the narrative, the combination of magic with science/technology can conjure exceptional results. And that’s what Sanderson achieved in Rhythm of War.

Sanderson’s world-building has always been perpetually outstanding, that’s to be expected of him, but even with that belief in mind, Sanderson has outdone himself here on the world-building, or to be more precise, universe-building. Almost the entirety of the narrative in Rhythm of War was confined to two settings: Urithiru and Shadesmar. Please do not let this fool you into thinking that there weren’t a lot of revelations and information to learn about. A lot is actually an understatement; there’s SO MUCH content to unpack here, and if you’re caught up with all the Cosmere novels, well, you’re in luck, we’re finally at the crossroads where crossovers aren’t merely Easter Eggs anymore now. A lot of people have asked me whether it’s necessary to read the other Cosmere books before reading The Stormlight Archive. I usually suggest you have to read Warbreaker before reading Words of Radiance and Oathbringer. But now? Read Mistborn trilogy and Mistborn: Wax & Wayne series as well, or even better, just read them all; they’re all superb books anyway. I know that it can be a burden to have to read so many books if you’re in a rush to read this series, but Sanderson’s vision of the Cosmere pretty much will result in these crossovers getting more prominent as each respective series goes by. Sanderson is not just a world-builder; he’s a universe-builder, and Cosmere is his ultimate playground. Seriously, some of the most shocking events in this book were intensely exalting to me only because I’ve read everything in the Cosmere universe so far, and I hope you get to experience that as well.

One last thing before I end this review, I want to give my praises to the production value. I’ve mentioned on my YouTube Channel before that I don’t read many more physical books now due to limited spaces and budget. I tend to read more often from my Kindle now, but each physical book in The Stormlight Archive is irresistible to me; they practically have a living soul that demands me to spend my money on a physical copy. I mean, The US edition of Rhythm of War has its cover art illustrated by the legendary Michael Whelan, then there’s also the ultra-beautiful Endpaper arts (only available in the US edition) done by the always terrific Magali Villeneuve and Karla Ortiz. Last but not least, there are TONS of interior artworks illustrated by Ben McSweeney, Dan dos Santos, Isaac Stewart, and Kelley Harris. Here’s four examples of the resplendent artworks in Rhythm of War:

Picture: Kalak by Magali Villeneuve

Picture: Chanarach by Karla Ortiz

Picture: Envoyform by Dan dos Santos

Picture: Dagger by Kelley Harris

They’re gorgeous, right!? I’ll leave the rest for you to examine yourself. It’s always worth remembering that a lot of people played a role in bringing a book into its final state, especially for a book as massive as Rhythm of War. Kudos to all the people involved!

Following the footsteps of its predecessors, I’m willing to give the superlative Rhythm of War a 6/5 stars rating if I could; this is—for me—unquestionably another masterwork by Brandon Sanderson—one of the master storytellers in epic fantasy. The insanely challenging internal battles conflicts that the characters fought—whether in this book or the previous books—extensively reinforced the point that characters and superbly-written characterizations are the most vital element to my reading experience. The world-building of Roshar and Cosmere are both intricate and meticulously built, and Sanderson’s prose continues to be accessible and impeccably vivid to read. The Rhythm of War have been sung and orchestrated, but this doesn’t mean the time to hum the rhythm of peace has arrived. All the groundwork for the grandiose conclusion to the first sequence in The Stormlight Archive has been prepared, and I have faith that the fifth book in the series—slated to be released in 2023—has a great chance of becoming the undisputed best book of the series. Rhythm of War and The Stormlight Archive is a tremendous marvel for epic fantasy, and it is a series of a lifetime I’m grateful to partake in. Until the next book… Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.

P.S: I had to cut off 1,500 words & all the quotes from this review because the final word count of my review exceeded the characters limit allowed on Goodreads. You can find the UNCUT review on my blog: Novel Notions

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores!)

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Michelle, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Zoe.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.2k followers
March 28, 2023
everything. easily best books of 2020. nothing but love, honor, and respect for my ghostblood leader and my ghostblood leader anti.


you can read via youtube the first 18 chapters of this for free HERE! 💕

1.) The Way of Kings ★★★★★
2.) Words of Radiance ★★★★★
2.5) Edgedancer ★★★★
3.) Oathbringer ★★★★★

Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch
Profile Image for Chris Evans.
878 reviews40 followers
March 11, 2021
First Place: Peace Talks The Dresden Files, #16 (Unless you count Dawnshard)
Second Place: The Rhythm of War Stormlight Archive, #4

Hopefully the stragglers eventually make it.

Let's have a race. what will be published first:
Doors of Stone The Kingkiller Chronicle, #3
The Thorn of Emberlain Gentleman Bastard, #4
The Winds of Winter A Song of Ice and Fire, #6
Untitled Stormlight Archive, #5
Mirror Mirror The Dresden Files, #18

** Update: Not only has this race been going on for more than a year now without a winner. The Untitled Stormlight Archive now has a name! :O

**Update Update: We have a winner! It came down to the wire but Peace Talks edged out Rhythm of War in the end. And better news, the next Dresden Files book should come out really soon too :D
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,468 reviews9,630 followers
November 25, 2020
Got my UK signed edition Hardback and the regular US Hardback. I loved the book, although not as much as the first books. I appreciate the mental health parts as I have mental disorders. That’s all I can say without giving out a spoiler. Enjoy 😉

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Jonathan O'Neill.
160 reviews324 followers
December 14, 2020
Rhythm of War - 3.5 ⭐

Oathbringer (Parts 1 and 2) - 4 ⭐

Words of Radiance (Parts 1 and 2) - 5 ⭐

The Way of Kings (Parts 1 and 2) - 4.5 ⭐

Rhythm of War contains some of the highest highs that ‘The Stormlight Archives’ has to offer but also falls victim to Sanderson humming excessively to the rhythms of indulgence and exposition as well as some lacklustre flashback chapters. This book is too long, and for the first time in the series, I feel like it really didn’t need to be!


” Since we all go to the same place in the end, the moments we [spend] with each other are the only things that do matter. The times we helped each other.”

The production quality of this book is something that any new author could only ever dream of! The title pages, chapter headings, maps and abundance of detailed illustrations throughout the whole book are top shelf and are a credit to Sanderson’s vision as well as the talent of the ever-growing team of artists that he employs.

Sanderson did an excellent job of making the characters feel vulnerable and in genuine risk in this novel. This is something that I criticised both WOR and Oathbringer for not doing. Our characters were becoming incredibly overpowered and felt invincible with the use of Stormlight and I thought that was negated quite cleverly in this instalment.

Other systems within The Cosmere have now been woven into ‘The Stormlight Archives’ narrative so intrinsically that it would be leading one astray to suggest you could read this without having read pretty much everything else in the Cosmere. At this point, I have noticed connections to all but one of the other Cosmere novels as well as several of the novellas within ‘Arcanum Unbounded’. I mean, of course you could read this independently but, for me, one of the most exhilarating parts of ‘The Stormlight Archives’ is picking up on the Cosmere Easter Eggs scattered throughout, which have never been more prevalent than in ‘Rhythm of War’. The good news?! The rest of the Cosmere is stellar! Well? Off you go! I suggest ‘Elantris’ or ‘The Final Empire’ to begin with.

Themes regarding mental health are handled superbly in ROW. It’s clear that Sanderson has put a lot of time and effort into studying and understanding conditions such as PTSD (Shellshock), depression and dissociative identity disorder as well as autism spectrum disorder. A lot of time is devoted to our favourite characters facing their own demons but none more than our tortured hero, Kaladin Stormblessed. I would argue that any of the truly emotional moments in this book involved him and his battle against the darkness within his own heart. His pain really bleeds off the pages and I’ve never wanted so much for a fictional character to overcome their demons and just find that happy place. Not to take away from any of this, as I felt it to be a highlight of the book, but I do feel that Kal has now had, pretty much, the same arc in every Stormlight novel. He is crushed by depression and self-doubt, confronted with an impossible enemy/situation, only to inevitably overcome said hurdles by ascending to a higher level of radiance. The oaths have become a cop-out mechanic for difficult situations which our radiants would otherwise have no way of resolving. Just when everything looks absolutely hopeless, say the oaths! It’s a little like Goku in Dragonball Z. How will he defeat the enemy THIS time?! Ascend to a higher level of Super Saiyan of course, duh!

There was a very melancholic vibe to ‘Bridge 4’ in this instalment with a lot of them doing there own thing, training their own squires and what not. Kaladin being stood down. Rock going off and allegedly facing the ultimate judgement of the Horneaters. Teft six feet under. Moash generally being an evil fucktard. A real end-of-an-era feel.

“Our lives are already in chaos, This is precisely the time to make sweeping changes, when people are already adjusting to a new way of life.” - Jasnah Kholin, Disaster Capitalist

Character relationships were handled well for the most part. Close Friendships and role-model type relationships are where Sanderson thrives. Alodin w/Kaladin and Maya, Kaladin w/Syl, Teft and Dalinar. Hell, even Shallan w/Brightness and Veil. These were all handled brilliantly and made for some really heartfelt and borderline emotional moments. That said, the man is still absolutely awful at writing anything even bordering on romantic! Adolin and Shallan are repulsive. I’d rather face eternity in damnation, receiving repeated pecks to the groin by a giant version of a Duncan bird than have to listen to another brain-dead conversation between the two least funny characters ever imagined!

Another disappointment was the fizzling out of the relationship between Jasnah and Shallan! Do they even speak in this book? I don’t think so. It’s mentioned that Shallan did finish her tutelage under Jasnah in the year between Oathbringer and ROW but we didn’t see any of it. Their scenes in Oathbringer, upon Jasnah’s return, were very short and sharp considering that was one of the prominent relationships in the early stages of The Stormlight Archives. Disappointing!

Venli and Eshonai’s flashbacks were a definite weakness. I’ve heard Sanderson comment that he knew this to be the case and I can empathise with the difficulty of making these as compelling as the flashbacks in previous books. The problem is, we already knew roughly what happened during this time so there was really no mystery or suspense. You could argue that they helped to flesh out Venli’s character but not in an endearing way, they actually have the opposite effect. The only benefit that I saw in these flashbacks was that Eshonai got a proper send-off. I always thought her death was a bit abrupt and the shift from her being the main Parshendi POV to Venli taking over was a bit jarring.

Sanderson does something in this instalment which I praised ‘Way of Kings’ for resisting the urge to do. Using a setting where you have an abundance of scholars as an opportunity for immense exposition and info-dumping. I acknowledge that this is a very subjective negative to have but I found the theory on fabrials as well as the connectivity between light and sound (In Stormlight terms, the interconnection between the rhythms and the light of the 3 shards on Roshar) to be, at first interesting, but eventually repetitive, tedious and boring! If you don’t have a specific interest in this area or on advanced rhythmic concepts in real life, I can’t fathom how you’d be excited to sit through extensive exposition of these topics in a fictional setting!

Despite this particular book not being my fave of the series, I still enjoyed it and I have never been as excited for a Stormlight book than I am for book 5. There are so many ends to tie off and this book has set it up beautifully. Can’t wait!

“Wow. I am a great sword. We destroyed a lot of evil, right?”
Oh Nightblood, you sweet, innocent sword.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
700 reviews868 followers
August 31, 2021
Rereading via audiobook to savour what I've blasted through in mere days. 😄

Rhythm of War had me humming to the Rhythm of Awe. Even with my sky-high expectations for this book, Sanderson has surpassed them yet again. This book is STORMING INCREDIBLE!

For seven years since I've started reading The Stormlight Archive, I couldn't decide which title was my favourite, as they were all equally amazing in their own right. That indecision has now ended as Rhythm of War has managed to edge out the rest. Bear in mind, I'm talking about a favourite amongst favourites, as I considered all of them masterpieces and the best fantasy books I've ever read. That was how utterly, totally, undisputedly incredible Rhythm of War was for me.
"Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the heart of men."

In my review of Oathbringer, I said that it gave me the most emotional charged experience I've ever had. Three years later, now, I was presented with an even more powerful and exhausting emotional roller-coaster. I read this massive book over the course of about four days, rendered almost non-functional in real life as I lost myself in Roshar and the lives of the some of the most compelling characters to ever grace the pages of an epic fantasy book. This book was absolutely relentless in its grip on me. And judging from all the reaction on social media, the release of Rhythm of War is a blessing amidst the bleak landscape of 2020. Sanderson and his team also went the extra mile in engaging readers virtually to make up for the lack of physical tours - the sheer amount of content available from them has been staggering this year, and very much appreciated.
"For the men chatting together softly, the change was in being shown sunlight again. In being reminded that the darkness did pass. But perhaps most important, the change was in not merely knowing that you weren't alone - but in feeling it."

What Sanderson managed to achieve in this penultimate entry to the first 5-book arc of this series was built upon the strong foundation of the characterisation and worldbuilding in the past three books. The character work in The Stormlight Archive has so far been his best yet, but it seemed that Sanderson was far from being done. I couldn't believe that he could pull out even more development to the characters that we've already grown to care so much for. His representation of these characters, especially those with mental ailments, feels so authentic because he relies on a diverse range of beta readers who could better relate to or identify with the experiences of these characters. The character moments in Rhythm of War were some of the most emotionally powerful ones in the series, and there's so, so much of it. In fact, I'd say that this is the most character-focussed book so far. Regardless, I didn't feel that plot, pacing and worldbuilding were sacrificed in order to achieve that. Sanderson managed to incorporate all those while still pushing and developing his characters.
"Is he trustworthy?"
"Absolutely, he's Bridge Four."

My emotional attachment that I have for most of the cast in this series was so strong that anything that happens to them matter deeply. Almost too deeply as Sanderson was so brutal towards his main characters that there were times where my heart actually felt pained. GRRM might be brutal in killing them off, but death is easy. The way these already broken characters were dragged through literal hell as they struggled to embody the Radiant Ideals made for a lot of hurt, but it was also very inspirational with great emotional payoff. It's also one thing to be invested in characters that you've known and read about in three massive books, and quite another to be introduced to a new one that was one of the best antagonists that I've ever read about. This is something I've always appreciated about Sanderson's writing as the antagonists in his books are never just villainous caricatures. I couldn't say much at all without spoilers, save that this character was one of the most compelling and intriguing that I've come across; one that I couldn't dislike at all, and one that I could easily have rooted for if Sanderson has flipped the story around.
"No man can judge another man's heart or trials, for no man can truly know them."

While Sanderson has been occasionally criticised for his characterisation (I for one could never understand that, especially for this series), no one could ever dispute his mastery over worldbuilding. And Rhythm of War proved that he remains unassailable at the top of his game. He managed to so seamlessly marry technological advances with the magic system that the concepts actually do make sense from real world science point of view. In his interview with Michael Whelan, the artist for the US covers, Sanderson said he approached the worldbuilding in The Stormlight Archive like science fiction instead of traditional fantasy. Even more fascinating is his concept of fractal worldbuilding, where one can opt to only appreciate the overall worldbuilding from a larger scale, or go deeper and discover more complexity and details that bring everything together. To further encapsulate this concept, even the continent of Roshar is shaped like a fractal Julia set. Sorry, I'm digressing as I fangirl over what a totally awesome nerd he is.
"He hated that to every one of them, he was some kind of representation of an entire people. He wanted to be seen as a person, not a symbol."

Armed with some comprehension about rhythms from the perspective of the Parshendi, I thought that I had some understanding about the significance of this book's title. I was resoundingly disabused of that notion, and the revelation behind the true importance of tones and rhythms in this world was stunning. Anyone who is partial to the concept of music being foundational to worldbuilding will absolutely love this aspect.  I certainly did, and frequently found myself unable to fathom the depth of this author's mind and imagination.  On top of all that, fans of the Cosmere would be treated to loads of cosmere-spanning connections and cross-overs. It's so expertly done that I don't think that readers who are not caught up with the Cosmere would miss anything and could take it as just another mystery. I can certainly vouch for this because one of my co-bloggers has only read Stormlight and even without knowing what she was missing from a larger Cosmere perspective, she still loved this book. As I'm thoroughly a Cosmere fan (and Sanderson-obsessed), it made for much squealing and excitement when I spotted references or actual things related to another world/series within this fictional universe.
"Time. It is a sadistic master. It made adults of children - and then gleefully, relentlessly, stole away everything it had given."

Rhythm of War also reads differently from the rest of the Stormlight books, save for the Prologue which is another POV of the same night which started it all in The Way of Kings. There was a time jump of about one year after the last book, Oathbringer, and this book opened with lots of action. It was written to be a climax of the 'missed book' in that time jump. As such, Part One started with a bang and settled to a more contemplative tone as the main plot developed. The flashback chapters also did not appear until Part Three, to better fit into the current timeline's story.
"I've listened to ardents talk. I've been poked and prodded. I've been stuck in the dark. None of that worked as well as knowing this one thing, sir. He still gets up. He still fights. So I figure... I figure I can, too."

There had also been criticisms about how the Knights Radiant are too overpowered with their ability to heal with Stormlight. This is a fair point because when your heroes and favourite characters can't get seriously injured or die, the stakes just don't feel high enough to create tension. Rest assured that this was not the case in Rhythm of War as the knowledge, skills and/or weaponry of the enemies spelled some pretty bad news for our fellow Radiants. Without giving away too much again, I can say that for the most part of this book, the action scenes made for some really heart-pounding, panic-filled moments.
"You can bear it. You can remember it. Our weakness doesn't make us weak. Our weakness makes us strong. For we had to carry it all these years."

The Sanderlanche that everyone comes to expect at the end of his books was also different this time. Sanderson said that there's a sequence at the end of this book which was "one of the foundational scenes I conceived from the beginning. In fact, it might be the very first big scene I imagined, and my favorite in the entire series." All I can say is that it was utterly incredible, and even epic but not in the way that one might presume, especially after Oathbringer's climax. It's also my favourite of the series to date.  Far from being done, after this perfectly rendered and powerful sequence, I was then subjected to the most jaw-dropping turn of events that is going to have implications that I couldn't even begin to process, except to say "What the actual f***!"
"Since we all go to the same place in the end, the moments we spent with each other are the only things that do matter. The times we helped each other."

I've realised that I've used the word 'incredible' many times in the course of this review, but that's the one word that kept popping up in my mind when I read this book. Hence, I thought it's only appropriate that follow suit in describing my thoughts and feelings here. With four really big books into The Stormlight Archive, Sanderson doesn't appear to be slowing down in the least, but in fact, is getting better. To me, this is epic fantasy unparalleled in its quality, consistency and scope, particularly because it is so accessible given the ease in its writing style; a conscious decision made by the author so that readers can immerse themselves completely into the story as the prose disappears, leaving only images and feelings. The writing while simple is by no means simplistic, and it is always cinematic without being bloated.
"Storytelling is essentially about cheating. The challenge is to make everyone believe you've lived a thousand lives. Make them feel the pain you have not felt, make them see the sights you have not seen, and make them know the truths you have made up"

As far as I can see, this series remains and will uncontestably be my all-time favourite fantasy series. I echo my own words in saying that The Stormlight Archive has raised the bar of what epic fantasy could be to stratospheric levels and I feel extremely privileged to be part of this journey.

Journey before destination, my friends.

You can purchase a copy from: Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop.org (Support Independent Bookstores) | Amazon UK | Amazon US

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
423 reviews467 followers
November 29, 2021
This review is spoiler-free.

Dealing out as many exhilarating moments and heartfelt ones as questions to think upon, Rhythm of War is a simply stunning composition from a masterful storyteller!

Heart on my sleeve here; the Stormlight Archives is my favourite series by far. I doubt anyone will be surprised that my most anticipated book of this year was Rhythm of War. While I had the best intentions of savouring this story, I devoured it in a couple of days, but I have zero regrets!

Art by Magali Villenueve

The third book of the Stormlight Archives, Oathbringer, was a fantastic follow up to my favourite book of all time, Words of Radiance. What had me worried though was the high bar it set in terms of expectations for the rest of the series. The book was incredible in every way, and the Sanderlanch was so mind-blowingly epic, that surely, SURELY, Rhythm of War had no chance of competing with that. That right there, it makes me feel like I have not read pretty much every damn thing this guy has written, because how do I still doubt? This book is everything I wanted, hoped for, needed and MORE.

“No man can judge another man’s heart or trials, for no man can truly know them.”

Rhythm of War picks up one year after the events of Oathbringer, and while the plot is too spoilery to talk about, the reasoning behind the choice this for this time-skip seems to be revealed in the different plot structure this time around and is one of two things that stood out for me about the way the story is told. Brandon has followed a clearly defined blueprint for the first three books, with one viewpoint per chapter and pacing that sticks to a methodical gradual buildup towards that frenetic crescendo we know as the Sanderlanche. Rhythm of War, however, does not entirely follow suit, in that the one-year time-skip has catapulted the story straight into events that are immediately gripping and told at a commensurate faster pace than we are used to seeing so early, with viewpoints bleeding across one another similar to what we are used to at the end of the book, enhancing the frenetic feel of it all, sort of like a mini Sanderlanche, and lifting the tempo and excitement levels right at the start of the book. While I enjoy every second of these books and can’t count myself among any of those who have found large parts of the books boring, this difference in pacing is an unexpected yet delightful deviation from the beaten path but makes perfect sense with this being the penultimate book of the first five book arc of this 10 book series. Sanderson has always said that book five will be sort of an ending to this first part of the story, and so this pacing change makes sense with the added tension of things drawing to a midway close.

The second thing is that while the story starts with all the characters together, it soon splits into three groups of viewpoints with three different arcs that form the weave of the larger arc of this book. I think this was a brilliant narrative decision by Brandon, creating some interesting character dynamics and interactions and also letting some of the characters really come into their own. More on that soon. Furthermore, every interlude was fantastic too, although that can probably be chalked up to us being almost halfway through the series and deeply invested in it. One of the main complaints I always see with the first few books is that the interludes feel like you are stepping away from everything and following some random side story, and while I still enjoyed them, I cannot argue with that and back in Way of Kings I was definitely eager to get back to the main story. This far into the series though it feels as if any hint of such issues has faded away, the interludes feeling like pieces of the puzzle that are now making sense, giving you a clearer picture overall and becoming valuable additions to the main body, fascinating in their own right.

“Wit never gives me answers. At least not straight ones.”
“That’s because Wit is an asshole.”

As I mentioned above, the author made some interesting character choices and really blew my mind with the viewpoints of several of these. Sanderson initially said this book would be Eshonai’s book, and while we do have quite a few viewpoints of hers, this book felt very much like another character’s, who in my opinion, just about stole the show. I may have thought that I had already found all my favourites for this series, but Sanderson showed me that a LOT can still happen and there is always room for one more. And while characterisation up to this point of the series may have been outstanding, here we are shown that this genius of the genre always has more arrows up his sleeve and he knows how to step his game up. Our boy likes to grandstand, and he has outdone himself once again, giving us so much development in this regard that I have to take my figurative hat off and bow.

Before I praise him too much, let me just take a moment to glare at him, nay, to GLARE at him, for the amount of pain, torture and suffering he inflicts upon some of his characters. My poor, anguished heart. These characters are FAMILY Sanderson! Deeply flawed, broken people, and FAMILY! I feel like I suffered every harsh and unforgiving second with them and it was BRUTAL. Rhythm of War played havoc with my emotions, making some roller coasters I have experienced seem tame by comparison. Through sheer writing skill, this emotional tennis was not confined only to existing characters, but new ones too! In Rhythm of War, I have found one of the best antagonists I have ever had the pleasure of encountering upon a page. This character was so difficult to emphatically label as good or bad and it was easy to forget the side they were on, inspiring so many different emotions in me. As a co-blogger of mine pointed out though, (waves at TS) this is one of Sanderson’s strengths. It reminds me that Sanderson once said (don’t hold me to this please) that Kelsier, a hero of one of his other series, could easily be the villain of someone else’s tale. So, what is true for a protagonist can also be true for an antagonist, and it is never more evident than here.

One of my favourite aspects of Rhythm of War is that this book is more deeply personal and character-focused than any of the previous entries, with some of the most beautiful moments in the series so far and also some of the most emotionally devastating ones. Not that this is any less plot-driven or less exhilarating than its predecessors. It just feels like a deeper dive into the characters and their thoughts and emotions. In particular, Sanderson’s exploration of mental health and all its various aspects made everything so much more affecting, and the amount of research he put into this by getting feedback from readers who identify with what these characters are going through clearly shows through the experiences on-page. Something else that stood out for me is how the author is never afraid to highlight or cast a spotlight on race, gender or sexual preference. It’s a joy seeing how these are discussed or explored along with all the different cultures that are represented in this world and the diversity of the cast never ceases to amaze.

Art by Karla Ortiz

The world that Brandon has built here is ab. so. lute. ly. INCREDIBLE. When I pick up one of these books I am transported to that world instantaneously and so deeply, that it takes me at least a week to feel like I could pick up another story after one of these. It’s not that I don’t want to, but rather that I still have one foot on Roshar and just can't escape thoughts of it. It’s such a testament to writing prowess. While the world-building could easily have taken a back seat having already been so thoroughly well established and detailed to start with, Sanderson is not content with just leaving it as is here and I LOVE him for it. You thought you knew it all? YOU DON’T.

I really, REALLY want to talk about a thing that has become majorly important to the story here as it is one my absolute favourite things when incorporated into fantasy, but I can’t really, other than to say that the title of the book hints at it. (EXCITEMENT!!!) Speaking of important things, as the in-world science has steadily evolved, so has the technology, and while it has grown in leaps in bounds since Oathbringer, here the author proves his adeptness once again by seamlessly integrating science and engineering with the magical systems of this world, pushing these fields beyond their known boundaries and putting Roshar on the cusp of a veritable explosion of technological development. There is just so much lore that has been revealed, and after layer upon layer upon layer, this world is the most fascinating place we have in the fantasy genre right now in my opinion. I honestly think four books into this ten book series, there is nothing else I have read that is as developed and fleshed out as The Stormlight Archives. Ok, there’s one or two pretty famous series that I have yet to read, and many smaller ones as well, but stormfather, this is phenomenal. And the real kicker is, I still feel like Brandon is holding back and showing us only a glimpse of his cards.

“Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the hearts of men!”

As for the action, If you read this expecting the Sanderlanche to be a bigger and better version of the one in Oathbringer, you are going to be slightly disappointed. While this is every bit as good, or maybe even better if you ask me (it’s DEFINITELY better imo) this one is different from what we have had so far. It is more personally focused, featuring one of the most important sequences in the entire series and is absolutely PHENOMENAL. I freaking LOVED IT. In fact, I just reread it again. I don’t think I can say much more on it, apart from that it left me wrung out, utterly exhausted and yet blissfully happy. And then Sanderson upended EVERY. DAMN. THING. WHAT?!?! HOLY SHARDCHICKENS!! I can’t even BEGIN to imagine what’s in store for us next, but I have never been more worried for the future of the Cosmere, and I have never been more ready for the next book.

Just to quickly touch on this: the Cosmere connections and implications revealed in Rhythm of War are many and staggering. To discuss them here will turn what was supposed to be a short review (and yes, I’m well aware that plan died about 500 words ago) into a novella of sorts, so I will refrain from saying more. I do however want to suggest again, that if any readers of this series at this point have not yet read both Warbreaker and Dawnshard to please do so. Those who do not are missing out on some vital knowledge that not only helps in making certain Cosmere connections, but also helps with a deeper understanding of certain characters, scenes, and the Cosmere in general. It just elevates everything to a whole new level. And also, you can flail and scream and run around shouting things at cats that make no sense to them! I, er, definitely did not do that.

Time to wrap this up, with a thought on the prose. Sanderson’s writing is as wonderful as ever, just dropping you into the story and making the mechanics of the story fade away, drawing you deeply into the tale and delivering pure, unadulterated escapism. People often rave about many other aspects of writing, but there is no substitute for pure storytelling and that is what Brandon is at heart, a pure storyteller, and he shows it on-page.

I was convinced I was going to love this book, and I was not disappointed, but what I did not expect, was how much I would love it. And while I can see how some others may not like it as much, I personally adore it. Brandon Sanderson has once again obliterated my expectations and written another wonderful story that I will love forever. And while the Stormlight Archives is not yet halfway written, I am in no doubt as to its future status as a Fantasy Hall of Fame member. As to my new favourite book? That title now belongs to Rhythm of War.

Life before Death.
Strength before Weakness.
Journey before Destination.

You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
235 reviews3,108 followers
May 11, 2022
Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

A mind-blowingly amazing book that dishes out a constant stream of intense action, heartfelt interactions, and crazy plot development

While Stormlight Archive is one of my favorite all-time fantasy series, I thought the previous book Oathbringer was a small step down in quality from the first two books. Thankfully, Rhythm of War brings this series back to perfection that somehow turned 1,200 pages into a breeze.

This series is one of the only that I have ever read that legitimately makes me shiver from excitement, and gives me tears in my eyes from happiness. This book had several of those moments, and I will forever cherish them as some of the peak moments in fantasy history.

The worldbuilding in this book continues to dazzle me. I am simply in love with the different locations that we get to visit in this book, and the deep lore that is being developed here. Sanderson does such an amazing job at really transporting the reader into his world and leaving you with a sense of awe and wonder and giving a rich understanding of what is happening, and what everything looks and feels like.

Without spoiling anything, while I understand some readers had some negative thoughts about one of the central storylines here involving Urithiru, I thought it was a highlight of the book and I loved the intrigue that went into understanding the mystery of the tower. I also thoroughly loved the Kaladin family dynamic and the character development that went into the relationship between the family members here.

I simply cannot wait for the next book in this series, and my faith in Sanderson and this series in particular is at an all-time high.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
311 reviews1,329 followers
November 27, 2020
Please note: I don't believe my review includes any spoilers for Rhythm of War, but to be safe: minor spoilers may follow.

Rhythm of War picks up events approximately a year after the finale of Oathbringer. The Knights Radiant have continued their war against Odium's Fused and Singer armies though neither side has gained much headway. Many new Radiants are becoming familiar with their spren bond and powers. The former Parshmen, once slaves to humanity and now under the guidance of the immortal Fused, are still angry and bitter at their former captors. There have been scientific advancements on both sides as the next stage of the confrontation begins. This is where we rejoin the point of view perspectives of characters such as Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin, and Navani.

We find out promptly what the main characters have been up to over the last year, what their current objectives are, and the effects that the warfare has had on their wellbeing. People suffering from and coping with mental illness is an important part of Rhythm of War with many struggling in the war-torn society. These include main characters such as Kaladin who is trying to cope with his battle shock and post-traumatic stress disorder, and Shallan with her multiple personalities. I'm no expert when it comes to such conditions but believe that Sanderson presents them in his narrative tactfully. It is intriguing to read about characters who are heroic, world-renowned and have legendary powers, and see how this pressure and responsibility can take a toll on them. This presents these characters as more human, relatable and creates deep empathy when reading.

A complaint that some readers had with Oathbringer was that it dragged in sections. Rhythm of War begins with some incredible, heated and action-packed set pieces. Some of these opening sections introduce key Fused figures, their powers, and objectives. These early moments also showcase some of the technological advancements for the Radiants which approach Steampunk territory. After the breathtaking start, I am afraid that certain sections of Rhythm of War drag in a similar fashion to Oathbringer. Most notably are some of Navani's scholarly research segments. They are important and the payoff from them is completely worthwhile but those moments did negatively impact my overall enjoyment of this novel. I had to overly concentrate and read slowly to make sure I understood which was reminiscent of studying a science textbook.

Comparable to the other entries in The Stormlight Archive, we are presented with flashback episodes again. This time it is that of Venli and Eshonai. These sections are the first flashback moments from a Parshendi perspective, excluding the prologue from Oathbringer. They are interesting and informative, filling in gaps to the narrative we already know but this time from the "enemy" perspective. The Venli in the flashback moments is presented as what seems like a completely different character to the present day version so it is intriguing to see how and why she changed so much. Knowing what happened to Eshonai at the finale of Words of Radiance, it was enjoyable to see how she got to that point. Her final moments and exchanges are really fitting and rewarding to read about. These flashback sections were fine, although I didn't enjoy them as much as Kaladin's in The Way of Kings and Shallan's in Words of Radiance. I'd say they are on par with Dalinar's in Oathbringer and are just as crucial to the overall narrative arc.

There are many, many elements and moments that I loved in Rhythm of War. I always adore reading about Bridge Four and this time we get to know more about members such as Dabbid and Rlain which was excellent. Travelling to Shadesmar again was great too, as Adolin and Shallan venture to the honorspren capital of Lasting Integrity. (I don't consider this to be a spoiler as it is mentioned on the book's summary section on Goodreads.) Also, finding out more about Adolin's "sword" was one of my favourite parts. This time, we are given further insight into some of the main Fused players such as Raboniel, the Pursuer, and Leshwi which added to the story greatly. There are some brilliant set-pieces, dream segments, witty conversations, and duels and confrontations. One section, in particular, could be referred to as a fantasy version of Die Hard. The last twenty percent of Rhythm of War features, by far, some of my favourite moments from the entire series. The finale is outstanding and by the time I got to Wit's epilogue I was completely out of breath and my emotions had been utterly bombarded. I cried quite a few times towards the end and there are a number of tragic moments that upset me to my core.

So, after about a month of only reading The Stormlight Archive novels, I have finally completed Rhythm of War. I really lost myself in Sanderson's Roshar and this novel is another incredible entry in a stunning fantasy series. Some moments that happen throughout these pages will have the SFF scene discussing and debating them for months. Although The Stormlight Archive is due to be a ten novel series, I believe the next book will be the last of this era, making Rhythm of War the penultimate entry. Events are poised expertly at the end of this narrative for the next novel to be beyond exceptional. I'm sure this time in three years I'll be re-reading this series again before the next book and I cannot wait. The Stormlight Archive is epic fantasy at a level that is rarely equalled.

"I think we're losing, Syl said. To a guy wielding something he found in Adolin's sock drawer."

I received an uncorrected proof copy of Rhythm of War in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Brandon Sanderson, TOR Books and Gollancz.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books702 followers
November 28, 2020
I...huh. I'm as shocked as you are. I storming love this series. I'm planning to get a Bridge Four tattoo. But this was...not up to the same standard as the first three books. Don't get me wrong, it was good, I did enjoy most of it. There were some parts that brought me to tears. Unfortunately, some of those tears were from boredom.



Things that were great:

-The original cast. Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Adolin, Bridge Four, Wit, Jasnah...Brandon's clearly in their heads and hearts and every moment with them was joy.

-The immensity of the plot. Normally I seem to find books with plot that is too flimsy to keep going--books that try to run marathons on an empty stomach. This book was kind of the opposite. This ran a marathon after hitting a buffet and it was just wild how much we learned about Roshar and the cosmere.

-Most of the issues. If the idea behind Radiants is that spren are attracted to people who've been tested and tempered by trauma, this book really pushes that forward. The amount of time spent on mental and physical impairment is really unusual and commendable in epic fantasy. There were some things I didn't love--for example, having a mental illness doesn't make me inherently stronger than someone without it. *I* as a person have an amount of resilience and perseverance that can be changed daily by my environment, my health, and what I'm doing. Same with all people. You learn skills, you learn to weather certain discomfort, but I don't like pedestals of any sort. We're all in various oceans of crap, and we're all struggling against our own personal riptides, they just look different. I don't think we gain much by trying to compare what our oceans look like. If you see a swimmer struggling, just throw them a line if you can, and keep swimming.

-The weighty conflicts. What does it mean to save people? What does it mean to be free? How culpable are we with our actions? When do we determine if we've failed at something or succeeded, and using what measurements?

-The focus on science. I super loved the storyline that played out about science on Roshar and in the cosmere. More lady scientists pls!

Things that really tripped me up:

-The storycrafting. This is usually Brandon's ace in the hole. His pacing is pretty impeccable, his reveals safe from infodumps, melodrama and treading water. Not so this time. Infodumps all over the place, near constant recitation of previous action and the predicament of each member of the cast, extreme pathos left and right...it was only slightly better than Warbreaker which I did not like at all on this front.

-The plot holes. Hoo boy. There are a lot. We learn things that call for complete retcons of previously stated occurrences. The cosmere secrets and the Roshar structure did not blend harmoniously.

-Venli's chapters. Oh man. I was soooo stoked for a more listener-centric book, but these chapters were...bad to me. They were boring, told us nothing new, and only added pathos, not empathy. Ouch.

-The "twists." Pretty much the last 7% of the book was complete codswallop. It was not laid out, it did not add drama, it just made me mad about what's about to happen, and confused why we'd spent so much time setting up some other story, if this was the way this book ends.

A complete letdown, honestly. It was still at least as good as many books I've read, and I dearly love so many of these characters that we got through, But if I hadn't already had history with them, this would have been a tragic stop in my reading of the series. I'll continue on because I only have one more book in this arc, and then we'll see. But wow. I'm pretty devastated that I can't crow any longer about how perfect this series is.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
November 20, 2020
4.5 stars! Here it is: the review I've been spending the last two months of solid reading (neglecting other books, not writing other reviews, ignoring my chores ...) working up to. Hope you all agree it was worthwhile. :) Review first posted on FantasyLiterature.com:

I feel a bit dazed as I finally emerge from a truly epic STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE marathon that lasted almost exactly two months, since that fateful September day when I decided I couldn’t turn down the offer of an advance copy of Rhythm of War, despite not having yet read any of the prior three books in this series (good intentions and all, but yes, the sheer page count was truly daunting). I’ve generally been of the opinion that epic fantasy is really not quite my thing, but Brandon Sanderson has been gradually bringing me around. If you are already a fan of epic fantasy, this series gets an extremely high recommendation from me … which you probably don’t need if you’re an epic fantasy reader, since you’re likely way ahead of me in getting into this series.

Rhythm of War is a giant of a book and, like the previous installments in the series, juggles a large cast of characters, most of whom are familiar from prior books in the series, and multiple plotlines — again, most of which were introduced earlier in the series, but take some large leaps forward in this volume, with a few twists and backflips along the way. Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar are still the most prominent main characters, but they’re joined by Adolin and Navani, who are both given some much-needed character development and more substantial roles in the overall plot.

Kaladin has been a favorite character since The Way of Kings, when I found myself skipping ahead just so I could read his chapters. Early on here, it becomes painfully clear just how much he’s struggling with the aftereffects of his many battles and his failures to protect those around him. Those scenes dragged on somewhat too long for my taste, but Rhythm of War has some powerful and even profound moments describing depression and PTSD.

Navani’s chapters were more uplifting and refreshing, despite the dangers of her situation. She finds herself a unique position where she can begin to exercise and develop her scientific talents more than ever before, but there’s a fascinating conundrum: will her scholarly efforts help her people or lead to their downfall? Navani’s perspective is distinct from others in this novel, exploring the advancing science of Roshar’s magical system. Her battles with the opposing forces are more intellectual and mental than physical.

Venli, a “listener” and one of the alien race of singers that’s native to the planet Roshar (and which has a fraught history with the human settlers who arrived several thousand years ago), also becomes a main viewpoint character. Through Venli’s and her sister’s eyes, and in a series of flashbacks, Sanderson explores more of the culture and society of singers and the effect of Odium’s power and schemes on them. And, of course, King Taravangian is still scheming as well, at least on his more intelligent days. Taravangian is an entirely unique character, one of my favorites, with an unusual blessing/curse and an unexpected set of skills and methods for dealing with it.

As the plot advances, Sanderson puts the reader through a roller coaster of emotions, including some exhilarating highs and terrifying drops. Sanderson is able to craft a war that feels real, showing the motivations of people (human or other) on both sides of the conflict. When the characters we’re rooting for win or lose a battle, we can see its effects clearly. It’s a staple of epic fantasy to have a large (even immense) scale of events that shorter series can’t attain, and Sanderson fully embraces this and uses the greater scale to its fullest effect.

It wouldn’t be a Sanderson book without at least a few major plot twists. When they came, they felt like events that you could’ve (perhaps should have) seen coming, though personally I didn’t manage to predict any of the major ones. Sanderson does a great job of answering questions while also raising new ones, and in Rhythm of War, Sanderson answers (at least in part) several longstanding questions, which naturally give rise to an equal number of new and equally compelling questions. Those, along with a few (okay, more than a few) unresolved plot threads, serve to keep expectations high for future books in this series.

Sanderson is justly lauded for his intricate and imaginative magical systems, but I need to give a shout out to the literary structure of these books as well. The five-part organization of each of the books in this series, interspersed with brief “interludes” from other, often unfamiliar characters; the frequently obscure (at least initially) quotes and epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter; the way the prologue and epilogue of each book echo the others but shed new light; and more. The amount of thought and work that has gone into this series, on multiple levels, is truly impressive. They're just so intelligently written.

Overall, Rhythm of War is a strong addition to the STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and, for the first time, it feels like there’s an end in sight to the series, however distant it may be. If I have any real complaints, it’s that the immense length of these books doesn’t feel entirely justified to me; I tend to think that Sanderson could have edited them down by, say, three or four hundred pages without really taking anything material away from the experience. Still, the STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE is easily my favorite series of epic fantasy to date (yes, I have in fact read a few others). Being introduced to these characters and this world has been an illuminating and enjoyable experience, and I look forward to the STORMLIGHT books still to come.

Initial post: ARC received from the publisher!


Also I have had to sign my life away if I violate the NDA, so my lips are sealed until November. ;)
Profile Image for Celeste.
907 reviews2,340 followers
December 2, 2020
Rhythm of War is hands down my favorite book of the year, and I’ve read some truly incredible books over the course of 2020. At the moment, it’s also my favorite fantasy book I’ve ever read. That title has been held by The Name of the Wind for over a decade, but in Rhythm of War Sanderson has usurped it.
Humans are a poem. A song.
For ones so soft, they are somehow strong.
For ones so varied, they are somehow intense.
For ones so lost, they are somehow determined.
For ones so confused, they are somehow brilliant.
For ones so tarnished, they are somehow bright.

The thing that sets Sanderson apart from other fantasy authors in my mind is his phenomenal world building. There is no other author who can evoke such vibrant and absorbing images in my mind as I read. When I pick up a Sanderson book, I feel like it completely transports me, and like the real world doesn’t exist while I’m nestled between the pages. His worlds are so tangible and easy to visualize, and no world exemplifies this better than Roshar. Sanderson is also exceptional at crafting magic systems. Every single magic system in his Cosmere is captivating and cinematic, which is doubly true for the Stormlight Archive seeing as the magic system varies so vastly from person to person. There’s a science and a method to each system that makes them believable. Even with the magic system of Roshar, which seems almost religious in nature, there are rules that make sense.
“We need to remember the past.. We need to remember what we passed through to get here.”

Character development is yet another area in which Sanderson truly excels. So much of the plot in this installment revolved around divided minds. Whether that divide is between light and dark, or intellect and emotion, or the division involves hiding from the truth or the past behind a self-created fiction, almost every perspective character is dealing with an internal division of some sort. Some of these struggles are more evident and dramatic than others, for sure, but a giant part of the development for any of these characters is learning to forgive themselves and accept themselves.
“Some people charged toward the goal, running for all they had. Others stumbled. But it wasn’t the speed that mattered.
It was the direction they were going.”

I love what Sanderson conveys through his characters about the differences between empathy and sympathy. Even when we can’t understand what someone we love is going through, such as clinical depression or another mental struggle, we can still have empathy. We can still care deeply and be there for them without being able to grasp what they’re feeling. He also reminds us of the importance of having that kind of empathy for ourselves. We’re always our own worst critics, and the characters in this series exemplify that.
“Had she done harm without realizing it? Possibly. Had she made mistakes? Certainly. But she’d been trying to help. That was her journey.”

Rhythm of War also deftly addresses inclusion and prejudice. Whatever our differences physiologically, ideologically, or psychologically, we should still be able to respect one another and treat one another with dignity. Common ground is great when it can be found, and I think it should carry far more weight than our divisions. But common ground shouldn’t be necessary for us to treat other people like, well, people. That comes into play a good deal in this story.
“No one ever accomplished anything by being content with who they were… We accomplish greta things by reaching toward who we could become.”

Honestly, there is an astonishing amount of philosophy woven into this entire series, and that makes the entirety of it more meaningful to me. The blending of philosophy, religion, and science in this particular installment is absolutely fascinating. The character development is second to none, the world building is insane, the pacing is solid and the action sequences are captivating. These are all building blocks of a great fantasy series. But that extra deep dive into the crossroads of science and religion? The graceful handling of mental illness and societal failings in a way that never weighs down the story itself? Those elements are what lift Stormlight Archive from great into the realm of near perfection, in my eyes.
“Never underestimate the strength of a soldier trained to stand fast.”
“Never underestimate the simple intimidating force of a man who won’t back down.”
“Never underestimate the worth of being willing to hold. Your. GROUND.”

Music is and has always been my thing. I’m insanely bookwormy, but if I had to define myself to quickly to others, I would call myself a musician first and a reader second. Melody and lyrics are the ways in which I most capably express myself. Because of this, I should have been more excited than I was about Rhythm of War based on the title alone. But I thought I knew what that title referenced and, while ecstatic to revisit the world and characters I have come to love with my entire heart, there was something about that title that dampened my enthusiasm just the tiniest bit. I should have known better. Sanderson completely surprised me in the best way when it became time to reveal the source of the title. That particular element of the plot is in large part why this is now my favorite Stormlight novel. I can’t say anything more about it without spoiling what I view as an incredibly important plot point. What I will say is, if you’re someone whose life has been defined by music, there’s going to be some special resonance here for you.
“What is a secret but a surprise to be discovered?”

Sanderson fans have coined the term “Sanderlanche” to describe the insane epicness of how he brings all of his plot points together. There were multiple little Sanderlanches mixed into this book, and each and every one of them was incredible. Every single one packed a huge emotional punch that I found very, very satisfying. Then there was the giant Sanderlanche. I lost so much sleep, y’all. I read the last 300 or so pages in one sitting because I was physically incapable of putting it down. It was almost infuriatingly good. I’m constantly blown away by Sanderson’s imagination, work ethic, and craftsmanship.
“Our weakness doesn’t make us weak. Our weakness makes us strong. For we had to carry it all these years.”

If you’re invested (ha) in the Cosmere, this book is going to bring you a little something extra. In the pages of Rhythm of War, various stands of the Cosmere start tying together. I found this almost as exciting as the plot and character development. However, if you’re not caught up on the Cosmere and have only read the Stormlight Archive, you’re still going to be able to enjoy this without feeling lost. But if you’re a lover of Easter egg hunting in your media consumption, you’re in for some serious fun.
“Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the hearts of men!”

In my opinion, there has never been a better time in the history of publishing to be a fantasy fan. And for me personally, that is in large part due to Brandon Sanderson. His work captivates and inspires me so much, and I can’t wait to see where he takes his readership next. Is it too soon to start counting down the days until Book 5? But in the meantime, I’ll be reading whatever he puts out and rereading what he’s already given us. If you’re looking to escape from reality for a while, and would prefer to do so in a way that will lift you up emotionally and feed your soul, there’s no author I’d rather recommend.

You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
207 reviews788 followers
May 25, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

4.5 stars

“Journey before destination, you bastard.”

Whew. I did it. I finished the chunkster.

Rhythm of War, the fourth book in Brandon Sanderson’s high fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive, is massive. Clocking in at 1200+ pages, the novel is, as I said, a chunkster, and it is not a quick and easy read.

In fact, none of the books in the series are quick and easy – the first four volumes are all upwards of 1000 pages. And seeing as Sanderson has planned for 10 books total, with each being published two or three years apart … well …

The Stormlight Archive is a commitment. Plain and simple.

But it’s worth it. It’s the most phenomenal story I have ever read, and believe you me, I have read a ton of stories in my 44 years. The series is destined to be a fantasy classic.

I love it. I adore it. Every fiber of my being loves and adores it.

Having said that, Rhythm of War is my least favorite book in the series. (So far.) Now, don’t get me wrong – all my fibers still loved and adored it. But it just doesn’t have quite the same oomph as the preceding novels. And here’s why:

1. It’s a bridge book. We are nearing the end of the first arc of the series, with the upcoming Book #5 being the final volume of the front half. Rhythm of War is more plodding than its predecessors presumably because Sanderson is laying the groundwork for the grand finale of the first act.

2. The story is science-heavy. Fabrials, light, and sound are a huge focus of the story, and Sanderson explains in detail how they all work, individually and together. Over and over. And over. It bogs the novel down.

3. Shallan and Adolin. Parts of Shallan and Adolin’s storyline are way too drawn out. And when things start to finally get interesting, the duo disappears from the narrative. Literally, hundreds of pages go by before we pick back up with them, so their story feels uneven and disjointed.

4. The not-as-epic ending. Sanderson knows how to write a killer ending, and Rhythm of War’s conclusion is no exception. It’s thrilling, surprising, emotional, and cinematic. But it’s less epic than the previous three endings.

Really, I’m not complaining. I’m NOT. I’m merely nitpicking and comparing.

Rhythm of War is amazing, as is Brandon Sanderson. His creativity and vision are unmatched. I enjoyed every minute of my trip to Roshar, and I am so sad to have returned home.

Book #5 can’t come soon enough.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for Geek Furioso.
99 reviews3,167 followers
December 3, 2020
Definitivamente me ha parecido mejor que Juramentada. Me ha gustado que, en cierta medida, ha sido un libro más relajado que los anteriores, con acontecimientos más contenidos sobre sí mismos pero influyendo más sobre los personajes y el propio mundo. Hay cosas que no me han acabado de gustar (el pasado de Eshonai y Venli se me antojaba un freno de mano a la trama, y me hubiera gustado que la trama de Shallan y Adolin hubiera tenido más peso) pero en conjunto me ha gustado. Y Dios, soy muy fan especialmente de que por fin se haya empezado a hablar sobre la salud mental de Kaladin y cómo necesita ayuda. No puedo esperar al quinto libro.
Profile Image for Catherine⁷.
340 reviews718 followers
January 16, 2022
RHYTHM OF WAR IS HERE!!!!!!!! https://youtu.be/hvkLZh1xHJM
This was such a roller coaster of a book that became a huge comfort for me this week. I have so much to say but also don’t know where to begin and feel like I can’t say enough.
The themes of this book, including mental illness, colonialism, racism, division among groups, were explicated so well. I especially loved seeing how Sanderson approaches healing without using his magical world as a “quick fix.” Healing is a constant process that never truly ends. JOURNEY BEFORE DESTINATION FELLAS.
These characters are developing so well and I’m so excited to see their journey. I’m sure my heart will continue to crack for these books. Reading these books is the moment of a lifetime. I can’t wait for book 5.
This book made my cry SO MUCH. Chapter 80 was one of my fav chapters EVER. And that PEAK HOLY STORMS. I can’t express how much I love Kaladin. I’m so grateful for Sanderson explicating his depression so well. It is so beautiful to see myself in a character like Kaladin.
Profile Image for Alexandra Elend Wolf.
581 reviews258 followers
June 4, 2021
100 stars.

“We don’t always see strength the right way […] Weakness doesn’t make someone weak, you see. It’s the opposite.”

As much as I loved this book when I read it, as many emotions as I was led to have from the incredibly beautiful, raw, and honest depiction of trauma and healing writing this review is something that has intimidated me to no end for a long time.

This was such an incredible book that I feel like anything I say about it won't be able to make it justice and will never be able to even hope to truly express how I feel. Nevertheless, I must try to impress in this place just what I loved about this book and just why I am so incredibly in love with it.

Among all the wonderful things I loved is the fact that it was incredibly emotional and dealt with hard themes and subjects in a human, honest, realistic way that captivated me to no one. Yes, they were really well handled and, therefore, rewarding to see but also deep-cutting and hard-hitting for what they need to be considered before entering the book as it threats with: depression, suicidal thoughts, disassociative identity disorder, grief, and self-worth ideals and they are very integral parts of the story and the character arcs that we go through.

“We can never know another man’s heart, Brightness Sylphrena, but we all know what it is to live and have pain.”

Entering the book I was not sure of what exactly I was gonna encounter, considering the way things were going in the last book it seemed a bit difficult to really know what I was getting into, the action and emotionality from the get-go was certainly not what I had in mind.

Since the opening of the book, we go right on to the intense and fast-paced kind of action that such a complicated situation entails at the same time that everything happening is purposefully setting the stage, furthering the plot, and introducing new elements that will have plenty of time to play their part through the rest of the story.

There's no space for preparation or time to waste. It starts with a bang and it certainly sets the mood for the rest of the arc.

Not to say that there aren't plenty of, well, relaxed is not the right word but close enough, moments where the focus changes and we certainly can't be in a constant state of fight, but after that initial action scene, we get the rest of the physical intensity more sparsed through the book. There plenty enough of them strategically set to relieve some of the tension that builds up until the last part of the book that is a much bigger production than even the beginning.

It's, definitely, well-paced and balanced between the many things that are happening.

“So good with words. Humans are like persuasionspren. I can’t speak with one of you without being changed.”

As many Sanderson books there is a lot of technical and scientific in-world aspects at play at all times in this detailed and ancient world. While we have always have had some time to explore those aspects this one is the one where we get to dive more deeply into the whys and hows.

That is the direct result of the fact that Navani is one of the major narrators and her curious and inquisitive mind takes us to try to find answers to many important questions.

Before this book I had liked her character well enough but never really paid her that much attention but, I must say, having had the opportunity to dive into her mind process and getting to know her better had made her one of my favorite characters in the series, up there with Dalinar, and that is saying a lot.

The way that she sought and discovered many of the facts that we see was engaging and curious and while still being technical and complex I could mostly follow them, and that was just mind-blowing at all times.

I always enjoy getting to discover the parameters and boundaries of new worlds and how they work and the amount of detail and exploration that we can see here is delightful and, yes, it made me need to take small breaks in order to process all the information. As compensation, now I feel like we are finally starting to understand this world a bit and leaving the era of mysteries and shadows.

Alongside Navani's journey I had a lot of fun and, as difficult as it is to choose, I do think is probably the arc that I enjoyed the most. Though, saying that definitively is a bit too hard.

“[…] that your actions define you more than your intentions. That your goals and the journey used to attain them must align.”

There were so many different, individual, plot threads to follow around, all of them adding so much to the world and story and incredibly enrapturing that I feel like I ran a marathon trying to keep up with it all.

Adolin, being one of my favorite characters, didn't disappoint in making me incredibly interested in everything that was going on with him. Though probably the most subdued of them all and more centered on introspection rather than action it spoke to me and, for the same reason that it was so internalized, gave me a lot to think about.

His journey shed interesting light and clarification on plots that we have had since the beginning, and I am a total sucker for the really interconnected stories, at the same time that it offers new details and ideas to play with and consider.

One of the things that did break my heart was the fact that Dalinar isn't quite as much in this book as he was in previous ones. I suppose I could have expected it considering that a good chunk of his story was dealt with in the previous book. Still, he makes great attributions and had one of the most shocking moments ever.

There is, undoubtedly, a lot to unpack and see with all that he is dealing with and the way things are going on, especially as we start preparing for the mid-series break where things are bound to be cardiac all the way down.

I can hardly wait to see just the way that they will end up combining and creating a concise picture.

“Do you know what the humans gain by being so forceful? In reaching to seize before they are ready? Yes, their works crumble. Yes, their nations collapse from within. Yes, they end up squabbling, and fighting, and killing one another. But in the moment, they are the sprinter who outpaces the steady runner. In the moment, they create wonders. One cannot fault their audacity. Their imagination.”

Villains are always a very integral part of a story, a villain can make or break a story doesn't matter how well constructed it is. So the fact that we are introduced to one of the coolest villains I've ever read, and that we had so much time with them through the book, was the best threat I could have ever had.

Raboniel was just so hard to decipher and with such veiled intents that I just wanted to keep reading and reading of her. She certainly made the book thousand times more interesting and engaging.

She is cunning and calculating and very smart making her a chilling opponent and not someone that you can easily thwart or anticipate and a formidable adversary is always one of the best things that can happen in a story.

Just the level of insight that she allowed us to have into the immense history and legend of this world was worth everything.

“It will [get worse] but then it will get better. Then it will get worse again. Then better. This is life, and I will not lie by saying every day will be sunshine. But there will be sunshine again, and that is a very different thing to say. That is truth. I promise you, [redacted] You will be warm again.”

As previously mentioned, mental health takes an immense importance in this book and makes the whole experience a lot gloomier and daunting for its troubles.

The fact that Sanderson had to actively add a lot more comedy and look for ways to make it more palatable and a little less likely to make everyone incredibly distressed, should really tell you a lot about just how heavy and dark the book can get.

I can not insist enough that it is not a book that you should enter without being prepared and in a stable mental place in order to take care of yourself and positively enjoy the experience this book is gonna take you with. Because the story, the characters, the experience, have a lot to give.

For me, it was an enlightening and reliving experience that allowed me to connect and understand the characters and world in a more profound way. It was a cathartic experience and one that filled me with hope and light.

All the research and careful construction that Sanderson did while writing about these hard subjects were clearly felt and much appreciated.

“We are the listeners. We will cast off everything – including our very forms if we must – to find freedom.”

The flashbacks that are always such an integral part of this series were a bit different this time around than anything I was used to.

For one, we had already seen some of the things that we were being shown, although, the different perspective did color and offered different insights into the whole story. We also have the fact that they started later than any of the others, which had me thinking they weren't gonna show up at all for a little while.

I greatly appreciated the way they were different and unique compared to the rest of the flashbacks but still added so much context to the story I didn't remember a bunch of the things that we are re-showed through them and that was nice, at the same time the things I did remember felt more complete and fuller because of the added perception and that made me enjoy it a lot more.

It is impossible to forget that it also allowed us to have one of the most beautiful scenes through experiencing them. As little as they actually added to what we knew of the story and the events that have transcurred beforehand they did make them fuller and richer because of them.

“Who is a better swimmer? It’s the sailor who has swum his entire life, even if he encounters rough seas that challenge him. Who is the stronger man? It is the man who must pull himself by his arms. And that swordsman with one arm… He was probably the best in raw skill. He couldn’t win because of his disadvantages, but he wasn’t weaker than the others […] Tell me. Who is the strongest of mind? The woman whose emotions are always on her side? Or the woman whose own thoughts betray her? […] Our weakness doesn’t make us weak. Our weakness makes us strong. For we had to carry it all these years.”

Then, of course, we have that incredibly intense and anxiety-inducing ending.

After the ever creeping and growing tension experienced through the book the breaking point of it all was as satisfyingly sharp and heartbreaking as you could expect.

Filled to the brim with action and liberating moments I couldn't stop gasping and crying through it all. Really, if I were under any more stress I'm sure I would have developed a condition without fail and missed everything.

I love, love, love everything that went down from beginning to end, there's no doubt in my mind of it. However, the epilogue has to take the cake in the most shocking and stressing revelation that I have ever encounter. The prospect of what is to come based solely on how little I'm still able to grasp from it just makes my stomach turn and my blood freeze. I certainly cannot wait to see how it actually develops in the next book but, for the moment, it still has the power to shock me.

Part Five of the book was certainly the epitome of everything we have seen through the series.

“Radiant? How? How do you still fight?’
‘The same you do. One day at a time, always taking the next step.’”

I've already started to prepare for the next book because I'm certain that without the proper care and assistance I won't be able to survive it. I mean, it's enough that I have to endure the cruel wait till the moment I can rejoin my favorite characters but, I suppose, I should as well be ready for it.

As much as I love making theories and assumptions as to what can happen I certainly can not even stomach the idea to start thinking to in-depth as to all the absolutely terrifying and painful scenarios that could arise and surge from the state of things right now. Especially after the slightly more settled and relaxed way things are.

However the case, I'm more obsessed than ever with this world and I'm glad that this book surpassed all the unimaginable expectations I had placed upon it. It may have taken me a while to finish, but it was an incredibly worthwhile and important time that I needed to take.

“The Ideals don’t fix us, sir. You know that. We have to fix ourselves. Perhaps with a little help.”



I was blown away by this book in every single aspect. Not that that surprises me, but it is of note, of course.

By the end, I was babbling-mess and had my emotions going through the roof in the most satisfying of ways.

After having the highest of expectations for this one I can safely say it surpassed anything I had imagined.

The review intimidates me to no end, so it'll take a while to come, but I am so excited to write it at the same time. Because this book deserves the best review there is.


I have no words to describe just how happy starting this book makes me, like, I am down-right giddy with excitement... but I'm also really, really nervous.

The last book came out about three years ago. I read it two years ago and it nearly destroyed me. This one is bound to shatter me into tiny, little pieces. I have a lump in my throat with the feelings that just the thought of starting to read it produces in me.

I'm gonna enjoy every second of it and just let myself be transported on a wonderful journey... I hope I'm still alive by the end so I can share with you all my thoughts on it, but we'll see.

Stunned silence.

That cover is so PRETTY!

Seriously, it's truly gorgeous. My eyes have been blessed with its beauty. I'm so glad I pre-ordered this because I can wait to see it in person.

I'm dying of how beautiful it is.

We have a title people!

Just this tiny little detail can transform me into an excited mess. I'm not ashamed of that fact. Not. At. All.

The waiting is drawing to a close.
Profile Image for Hank.
795 reviews73 followers
December 13, 2020
With apologies to all who love Sanderson's excruciatingly, mind numbingly intricate world, that sucked. That easily could have been cut in half and probably even more. Sanderson has now reached the point that all mega-authors inevitably reach, which is don't-have-to-listen-to-my editor-anymore. Sanderson's capacity to create a universe that is impossibly full of characters, limitless scenarios and wonder is pure genius. He is way smarter than I ever will be.

His current capacity to tell an entertaining story within that universe is small. How many times can we rehash details about Shallan's split personality? How many times do we need to watch Kaladin angst over not being able to save everyone? How many more times are we going to rely on the bridge 4 emotional crutch set up roughly 4000 pages ago?

There were some spots. Adolin's trial was eye poking out boring but the end was quite good. Navani's arc was good throughout but the over explanation of the science was, again, mind numbing.

Sanderson mailed it in and I am done unless someone I trust tells me book 5 is very different. This was an odd DNF. I read the first 40 chapters, a few more in the middle and the last 20 (thank you Allison!)
Profile Image for Luffy.
862 reviews722 followers
January 7, 2021
Rating this book takes me back to 2008, when I rated the movie The Dark Knight 6/10 stars. And now I'm giving the book of the year for many people, 1 star.

I admit to not understanding the story to even half completion. Lots of chapters are subtle. The epilogue is representative of that. But I can only relay what I could understand.

I found many of the stories in the book to be as unsatisfying as Soulcast grain. The book, for me, was indeed, a dirty trick. But I'll be there when book 5 comes chugging.

I give the 1 star rating after huge deliberation. I understood the most easy conundrums in Rhythm of War. I claim the foreshadowing of Adolin's dead sword as one of the meagre rewards.

This book was incompatible to me. I am glad it pleased so many, and I'm not glad that I can't explain my stance better. But there have been great books that I've understood. There have also been mediocre books that I've worshipped. Thus is the life of this reader.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,975 followers
December 1, 2020
After reading this very long novel, there should be some kind of fatigue. I mean. I think it's longer than SK's The Stand. So a reader OUGHT to be drained by the attempt. But no. Not this time.

All these Stormlight Archives rage over me like the world-storms within the novel, recharge my heartstone, and make me utter all four oaths.

Seriously. There should be a warning label on this book. "Careless consumption will lead to fandom."

Okay, to be fair, I was already a huge fan of Sanderson for, like, forever. But ever since reading the last three books of WoT, carefully managed under his hand, I've known that he had all the chops. After reading almost EVERYTHING of his, since, and slobbering all over the place to get my hands on his OWN epic masterpiece since book one, to get the fourth at this point is something of a...

Okay, let me say it.

We're a cult. A completely mind-blown cult. We're all so invested in this story, have drunk ALL the kool-aid, and we're willing to walk off all the cliffs (or chasms, if you will,) to get the next one.

And it totally satisfied. Oh, not only that, but it twisted all our expectations (or at least mine) and tore me to shreds, and made me despair. And then it built me back up again, made me wonder how the hell they were going to get out of this for a long time before subverting all my new expectations yet again.

Let me just say this: Sanderson is a master storyteller. He knows what he's doing every step of the way. He keeps tossing that coin and tells us it's all a trick even while he's pulling yet ANOTHER fast one on us and we not only enjoy it, but we beg for more of this strange covenant.

Or I might just say that we're all addicts and the IDEA of Sanderson in our heads is on par with a huge bank. In our heads, we just know that it can never fail. And if it seems to, our confidence is so huge that we make SURE it doesn't fail, and then, when our heads catch up to what's actually going on, we realize, out of the blue, that it was ALL A RUSE and he played us all yet again.

Or maybe I'm just reading WAY TOO MUCH into this. :)

Suffice to say... WOW, WHAT A BOOK! :)
Profile Image for Twila.
128 reviews115 followers
January 19, 2022
EDIT 18/01/22:
I’m not one to lose myself too deeply in internet discourse over controversial books, but over the past year since this book has been released, I have had my fair share of discussions and am well aware of what many think of it.

I believe a lot of the disappointment stems from the expectations readers initially had. In Oathbringer, the world expanded way beyond The Shattered Plains we started the series in, introducing us to new countries and people. To read Rhythm of War and discover that the events are set primarily in Urithiru, with much of the war being relegated to a slightly reduced struggle when compared to the previous novels, will have the book feel small despite it being the largest of the series.

If I take a moment and step back from my feelings, I guess I can somewhat agree that not as much happened in Rhythm of War compared to its predecessors.

However, there’s one simple reason this is utterly inconsequential to me and never impeded my love for this book: Kaladin Stormblessed.

Every honor he’d been given seemed to highlight how vacant his life really was. Titles couldn’t fill a room with life.

Every detail of his arc is stunning, at times overwhelming. His story is a blow directly to the heart: a realistic and profound exploration of many of the ways depression can manifest itself in someone. His is a masterfully assembled picture and painted as to feel so real that I felt closer to him than perhaps any character I’ve read before. If I say that it evoked a feeling of helplessness in me that all I could do for him was close my eyes and weep, I wouldn’t be doing a disservice to my reading experience. Not only did I find him personally affecting, but he was handled well narratively speaking as well.
His entire life had been a futile effort to stop a storm by yelling at it. The storm didn’t care.

Simply superb.

Graphic Audio: So many changes! VA changes, SFX changes, etc. that really break the continuity established in the first 3 audiobooks. It’s frustrating because the original VAs were perfect for their given roles and have become THE voices of these characters to me. I understand Covid made it so that a lot of the cast was unavailable to return, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow. Complaints aside, the grand production of this audio still makes every scene much more enjoyable than they would be otherwise and going through this series without GA wouldn’t be the same. Still worth a listen if you can justify the cost.

OG Spoiler Free Review:
I have been giving this book a lot of thought over the past few days, trying to settle my thoughts. Even now, I hardly know where to begin. But this is a Stormlight Archive book. What else can really be said besides that it’s big, it’s bold, it’s brave, and at the same time, it’s stunning. It is an incredible blend of an impressively technical world with an emotional resonance that will stick to your ribs and remind you why fantasy is the best.

Ambition and innovation, I think, has always been the foundational descriptors of this series. Brandon has always been a masterclass storyteller, but Rhythm of War truly finds him at his most ambitious yet if you can believe it. This novel did something completely new for this series. It chose new places to focus, but, even so, it still retained the old devotion to mass spectacle with an epic conceptuality that makes this the series we love so much.

For me, the beauty and the genius is that it was a little more personal. It was a little more intimate. I have honestly read way too many books this year with no heart, no soul, no nothing. Here, Brandon really has mastered that astonishing ability where he can create the essential moment with the lasting image. There were so many scenes that hit hard. You could feel that exquisite type of joy or misery or pain that twists your gut into that knot like all the best stories do. Without going into spoilers, it’s a book that directly confronts so many of the heavy and unpleasant emotions that weigh so many of us down. This, for me, is what made Rhythm of War truly poignant and brilliant and perfect.

I love this book and I firmly believe that this is the best book Brandon has written. Completing it left me with an almost giddy exhaustion that reminded me that the types of books I’ve always loved were exactly like the one that was in my hands right then. And I am BEYOND hyped to see how and if the streak of genius will continue.

This review really only skimmed the surface of what I loved. This was an amazing book in every way that it could be amazing. To me, it represents another leap forward for fantasy and for what we should expect the genre to do when it’s not restrained by its countless tropes.

PSA: Brandon has always said that his series can be read on their own, that you weren’t required to read his previous books to understand them, but as of Rhythm of War, I’ve begun to disagree. This book has started to focus on integrating the utter sprawl of the parallel cosmere worlds at large with the planet of Roshar and there will be many points where you won’t have the necessary information to put clues together if you have no knowledge of them. I can’t express how highly I recommend reading as much of the cosmere as you can before reading Rhythm of War.

TL;DR Rhythm of War was stunning. It was everything and more that I imagined, and if I had to describe it in one word, I would say beautiful: beautiful world-building, beautiful pacing, and especially beautiful characters. This is a book that will stay with me for a while, that I will think of often. Honestly, I couldn’t have been happier. On to book 5, shall we?
Profile Image for Anna [Bran. San. Stan].
262 reviews82 followers
March 12, 2023
2023: Re-read with my SO via GraphicAudio! Mission "share-the-Stormlight-love" accomplished!

2020: Mind: blown.
Tears: shed.
Awespren: sighted.

Sanderson the literary god-genius has done it again.

Singers vs. humans/ humans vs. humans/singers vs. singers:
The lines of the conflict continue to be blurred – it’s not good vs. evil like, say, in Lord of the Rings. There are so many layers and questions, complicating the view of right and wrong and it’s just absolutely brilliant. (It’s also disturbing to see that the two major “sides” (singers/humans) are really not all that different from one another, having a similar hierarchy to their society built to benefit those in power. Why am I rooting for the humans again? Oh, right, Odium’s plans = bad.)

Character development: (No plot spoilers!)

Psychologically it is also brilliantly done: Kaladin’s path to speaking his ideals over the course of this series perfectly mirrors his own personal development and it just constantly hits me how amazingly it all fits together. Even though Kaladin’s observation that he had lived four lives in five years is made in Oathbringer, those words still stick with me. How many lives are we up to now?

I also loved that Kaladin’s relationship with his father is further explored and some issues are resolved. Though it was hard at times to see how Lirin views and treats Kaladin, especially considering how he suffers from depression and PTSD, again Sanderson makes the psychology behind it work, leaving you appeased and with an understanding of Lirin’s mindset.

At first, I was a bit resigned that there is yet more of Shallan’s past she is repressing, but the revelation of this final (?) piece of her past is one of the six occasions that had me tearing up.

We see Adolin becoming more his own man, trying to be of use in this world of Radiant powers while not pretending/aspiring to be a carbon copy of his father, the Blackthorn. And can I just say I love how supportive and understanding he is towards Shallan and her multiple personalities. I just wish we‘d seen more of him; he was notably absent from the narrative for long stretches.

Another character you love to hate and hate to love at various points in the course of this series and another example of how blurred the lines get. And I sincerely hate how good Sanderson is at toying with the reader’s sympathies that way.

Navani’s desire to overcome her feelings of inferiority by proving herself a true scholar nearly proves to be her hamartia and I am honestly never sure if I like her or not. Despite her intelligence she comes off a bit... naive at some point and that really bothered me.

As for flashbacks, this time we are taken to the beginnings of Venli‘s ambition and though they are probably my least favorite of all the flashbacks (my favorite is Kaladin, followed by Dalinar, then Shallan), they are still amazing, offering more perspective in how the Listeners came to use the old forms of power that would return the very gods their people once abandoned.

So.... We finally get plenty of answers and, yes, yet more questions which we will hopefully get, with even more questions, in 2023. [2023 update: it’ll be 2024]

Though I HATE THE WAIT, I am thrilled to be part of this epic fantastic journey and I am very much DREADING THE DESTINATION – the end of this first five-book arc of the Stormlight Archive, which is the most brilliant and amazing fantasy series ever written.

Anna, Bran. San. Stan.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
June 9, 2021
When you read your most anticipated book of the year and it meets or surpasses your every expectation where do you even begin with your review?

Well, I guess we will start at the beginning and in the prologue. The story opens with Navani’s PoV to let us see her in a whole new light. On the night Gavalar was killed she learned a few interesting things and we see how broken their marriage really was. The goals we thought he had for the shattered plains
I have discovered the entrance to the realm of gods and legends, and once I join them, my kingdom will never end. I will never end.”

With Sanderson I have learned that there is always another secret and he is a master at doling them out. RoW was no exception to that so many implications for both Roshar and the Cosmere both. At the revelation of who the true head of the Ghost Bloods really is I almost dropped the book in shock.

There are so many building and emotional scenes throughout this book. So many tender and caring moments, so many infuriating ones. After this book I understand the Fused a little better and the goals of some of their people. Like all enemies there are those that are not all bad they are just people caught up in the middle of a war trying to stay alive.
“Extinction is the natural escalation of this war,” Leshwi whispered. “If you forget why you are fighting, then victory itself becomes the goal.”

Kaladin, oh Kaladin. I love the bridgeman and everything he has done in the series but his story while done well is a little bit of a struggle for me. He has battleshock really bad and has pushed through so much of it but it has become too much and Dalinar, seeing how much he is struggling needed to take him out of the main fight. Kaladin is lost through most of this story trying to find a new purpose and searching for a way to both heal himself and still keep his oaths so he doesn’t hurt Syl. But in true Sanderson fashion you know there will be the big moments for him still in this and the Bridgeboy is going to find a was through it somehow. Chapters 105 – 110 were the most emotional for me in this entire series. I absolutely loved the moment that Kal got in them. It was exactly what he needed and so well done I sobbed through most of it.

Shallan also had an extraordinary story. She is dealing with some of her own issues including that currently she is alternating between three people Shallan, Radiant and Veil. Adolin is probably the best husband ever as he takes her exactly as she is split personalities and all. They do have a fun and interesting marriage as he interacts with all of her personalities differently. Her story was really one of the more interesting in the book as she tries to overcome things perceived as weaknesses and being pulled in so many directions.
“Adolin is right,” Veil said. “He’s always been right about you. Tell me. Who is the strongest of mind? The woman whose emotions are always on her side? Or the woman whose own thoughts betray her? You have fought this fight every day of your life, Shallan. And you are not weak.”

Adolin has grown on me so much from the semi spoiled child I thought he was way back in Way of Kings. He is truly a man now and I love how great a friend he is. He is really a great person and I get so excited when I think of him and Maya and how they together might change everything.
“Adolin?” Kaladin said as he changed. “Your first thought was to get Adolin?”
“I needed someone you couldn’t intimidate,” she replied. “That list at best includes three people. And the queen was likely to transform you into a crystal goblet or something.”

He really is there for his wife, his father, his friends and his country. If there is anyone that can help bring a deadeye back, I think it will be him. I do love that he is rebelling a little against Dalinar as he becomes his own man.

Navani is really at the forefront for much of this book. She has always been brilliant but due to some obligations and a husband that showed zero support she had been beaten down throughout the years. Her storyline ended up being one of the most exciting in the Tower as she both fought and worked with the enemy. It will make sense as it is very complicated. She really has come into her own and I thought she did a great job with the information she had. Navani is a fighter and she fought a hard battle in this.

Dalinar, well he had his hands full too with the war and trying to learn how to be a bondsmith and what that actually meant. It is time for him to step back from the actual war into more of a leadership role. It is amazing his transformations. He is the one who will have to deal with Odium and the movement on that front totally has me concerned about him going into the last book in this set of 5. It should be pretty epic since we are now down to the wire. Dalinar is a really great leader and I wonder if he will be able to make a new Oathpact, hopefully a better one that doesn’t leave people stuck on Braize being totured.

All of our characters go though so many things in this and I was stuck to my seat needing to know all the things in this book. There are so many great moments:
People I loved (too many to name)
People I loved hating (Taravangian and Moash you know what you’ve done)
Relationships I am rooting for (Adolin/Maya, Adolin/Gallant, Adolin/Shallan, Kal/Syl, Jasnah/Witt :P)
Characters I sobbed to say goodbye to (sheds a lonely tear)
Characters I cheered for as they had their big moments (Navani, Adolin, Shallan, Kaladin, Dalinar, Rlain etc etc etc)
Cosmere information that will have me pondering for awhile after this

It was a fantastic ride and Mr. Sanderson has definitely outdone himself again. There is so much to worry about going into the next book capturing the final 10 days. I’m so nervous for all these characters that have become completely real to me. It will be a journey I look forward to.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,430 reviews985 followers
June 9, 2021
4.5 stars

How do you even review a book that is 1,200+ pages long?! Especially when it's the fourth book in a series and you don't want to give spoilers for the book or the series in general. So here's my very vague impressions/review:

- In the beginning I was getting a little bored at times with the war talks, 'scientific' developments, mental health issues, and flashbacks.
- But then by the end of this book I was seriously invested in every single one of those storylines (with the exception of the war stuff, but luckily there wasn't much of that)
- Despite reading detailed recaps of all the previous books, I still had to google the heck out of some stuff. Once the whole series is complete I would like to reread all the books back to back so that I can fully absorb all the details.
- I legit cried at points in this book and I am generally not a book-crier.
- I don't think I will ever read something this immersive and complex and captivating as this series.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,798 followers
Shelved as 'on-hold-ill-get-to-it-one-day'
November 17, 2020
the worst slump of my life thinks she can live rent free?? not when sando is involved bish. i'll see you in 3 weeks

I'm FREAKING!!! stoked!!! I've forgotten so many details but oh my god i've missed this series so bloody much 😭😭😭😭
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews153 followers
December 1, 2020

No, that’s not up for debate.

Sanderson in this book has really shown and highlighted his strengths in the fantasy genre and as reaffirmed the fact The Stormlight Archive is currently my favourite series being written currently. It is genuinely so masterful in so many ways and I loved this book so much from beginning to end. Even the tone and feel of this massive novel is epic in all proportions and it tells a tale filled with grandeur, heroes, and so much pain. The way Sanderson deals with mental health and writes characters is virtually unmatched by the majority of authors writing today. Both Roshar and the Cosmere as a whole has some of the most well-done worldbuilding in all of fantasy. The way this novel ended gave me the literal chills and let me just say, Sanderson has done himself good here.

See, I’m a huge fan of Sanderson and he is my favourite author at the moment - which doesn’t mean all his books are my favourite, as some are certainly weaker than others, but overall, as a whole. Now, is Rhythm of War my favourite book in the Stormlight Archive so far? Well, it’s hard to decide as these books are all so storming fabulous in every sense. A part of me wants to say that Words of Radiance is still my favourite because that book is simply fantastic and I adore the character work in that book, but either way, Rhythm of War is not far behind at all. In fact, these four books are incredibly hard to rank as they are all fantastic novels that all have so much to them and this is a series that I will reread and reread again, both when new books in the series continue to be released, but probably also in between when I need something that I know is fantastic.

I did have some problems and as incredible as this novel was, it also wasn’t perfect in my eyes, and there were some things that I wanted more of, or that perhaps could have been better. Firstly, there was a real lack of Adolin and Shallan, and those two are some of my favourite characters in the series(and all time) and they just completely disappeared during part 3, and only made a brief appearance in part 5. It was sort of odd in that they sort of just didn’t show up for a good four hundred pages, especially since I loved their storyline. Shallan goes through some really pivotal moments in here character development that I thought were handled incredibly well and really enjoyed the direction her character went in in this novel. Adolin is just great as always and sometimes, it is so wonderful to have a character that is just always so polite and heart-warming to read about no matter the circumstances.

Unlike the previous novels, there is a year-long gap between Oathbringer and this book in regard to the plot, which I found interesting. On one side, I am really glad that we probably skipped many mundane parts and to push the story onwards instead being bogged down, while on the other side, I also wanted to have been there for some of the events that are described to us that occurred during the year-long time frame that passed.

The pacing in this book is sort of odd at times. It started with an absolute banger with a super riveting first one hundred pages that served as a brilliant opener, before it went back to the more usual pace that I am accustomed to with these books. There is sort of a halfway climax point that was just so good, before things picked up again during the ending, which I’ll come back to. I have heard that people feel that the book could have been shorter and while yes, I agree, I also just love this world, so while it technically should have been shorter and it could have told the same story, I also don’t necessarily want it to be shorter just because how much I love spending time with these characters and spending time in this world.

Kaladin’s journey in this novel, is well, clearly something that’s for sure. Kaladin is a phenomenally written character that has so much depth to him and I appreciated the way his story was handled. He has gone through so much hardship that I want him to stop suffering and to settle down and honestly, for him to go to sleep without worrying about protecting everyone for once. What can I say, he’s a character that I love immensely and his story so far from The Way of Kings until the ending of this book has been nothing short of total brilliance.

This is Venli’s and Eshonai’s book and whilst I enjoyed their backstory chapters - which oddly enough did not start until part 3, which was almost half-way through this book, they also weren’t overly strong. Out of all the characters’ backstories that have been explored this far, my favourite has certainly been Dalinar’s followed by Kaladin’s. I’m going to have to say that as much as I enjoy Venli as a character(who really gives a lot more insight into the Singers), her backstory chapters were sort of weak and for now, they are probably on level with Shallan’s backstory chapters. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy them, but rather, compared to especially Dalinar’s backstory, it wasn’t as strong. Like I love Shallan as a character but found her backstory chapters to not be the most interesting, even if they do provide detail into her backstory. I’m glad at the way that Eshonai’s story ended, as she is an interesting character that was quite mysterious, especially during TWOK and for most of WOR and it was great seeing at how her story ended.

Two characters that shined in this book was Navani, and a antagonist for this novel, Raboniel. A lot of time is spent following Navani, and while some of it is slow, the pay-off is so storming worth, like my goodness it is simply stunning. Even though Raboniel is a villian, she was just such an expertly written character, that for all intents and purpose, was really more morally gray instead of straight up evil, which only made her more engrossing to read about in my view. Also, the ending with these characters was just absolutely brilliant.

There was a fair bit more worldbuilding in this book, as well as the introduction of new technologies using these fabrials and stormlight and honestly, I’m glad it has moved on from more typical fantasy(not that it was in the first place). There’s also more easter eggs and hints to the overall Cosmere and to be frank, it had me squealing in excitement at how everything in coming together, even if there is a long way until Mistborn Era 4. It’s just so cool at these little things coming together and while someone can easily enjoy this series without having read anything else in the Cosmere, I would say that to get all, or at least most of the references, one should probably read both Warbreaker and Mistborn(At least Era 1 plus Secret History) to get the full context of everything.

The ending was nowhere near as dramatic or climatic as the ending in either WOR or Oathbringer, but that was expected as Sanderson himself has stated that this would more be a WOK ending. I mean, I loved it so damning much, like, my goodness, each of these endings in these books has just been out of this world in their ingenuity and stakes. It’s just brilliant and there’s not a lot more I can say other than that.
I also so deeply appreciate the fact that Sanderson, who is a white Mormon man is incorporating more and more diverse characters and views into his novels. Jasnah, who can step on me because she’s amazing, is asexual and Sanderson has confirmed this, and it is pretty obvious in the text, so I think that’s really cool. Many of these characters also do have darker skin tones and there’s different religious views as well and I think that’s just great. Yes, it is the bare minimal and so little compared to the YA genre and what it’s doing, but fantasy has really been behind in diversifying the genre, especially in regards to the big, big authors(yes, authors like N.K Jemisin or R.F Kuang now have bigger names, but nowhere near on the level of say Tolkien, Jordan, Martin, Rothfuss or Sanderson), so I do believe this is a step in the right direction.

So, yeah, I love this book, and yeah, it’ll probably end up being one of my top three reads of the year, so that’s pretty dope and yes this is a longer review than I normally write, but then this is a massive book. 10/10
Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,493 followers
May 30, 2022
This is the best thing I have ever read, definitively. I'm struggling to process my emotions right now. I never thought a book could do this to me, affect me in a way this devastating. I've cried SO MUCH over these characters, it's bad.

Edit: I instinctively looked for the next book and then remembered. I've been reading this series for almost a year now. This feels so wrong. When, Branderson, WHEN??

Review to come...
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
725 reviews1,204 followers
October 27, 2021
[4.5/5 stars] Rhythm of War was a satisfying addition to the series, offering a lot of cool new revelations. Not the least of which was finally learning how to properly spell “rhythm.”

I seriously can’t figure out how these 1000+ page books never feel as long as they are. Every page yields something of value and while I prefer some characters and settings to others, never once have I ever been bored while reading this series. Even on the reread! Probably even less so then. And that’s another thing – I almost never reread books (too many on my TBR to justify the time) but have zero compunctions reading these several times over in preparation for each new release. Considering how colossal they are, that’s a huge time commitment and should illustrate how much I love the series.

This novel felt more narrowly focused than the previous three. There weren’t a lot of new world discoveries and most of the story took place between only two different locations. I missed the adventure a little, but what it lacked in breadth it made up for in depth. It boasted more academic discoveries, particularly advancements and insights into fabrial construction and uses, which essentially meant we gained more knowledge on how the magic system of this world functions (more than in the previous three books combined). I ate up every moment, but I can see how those more drawn to the action scenes might not have enjoyed it as much. We also learned a lot more about the Spren and I love that even after everything Sanderson has revealed about them, they still seem enigmatic. It’s those kinds of gradual reveals/payoffs that keep me coming back for more.

I’ve read so many books that these days something really has to stand out for me to carry more than a vague imprint on what the story was about. And names? Forget names. At least, I do even while I’m actively reading a book (my brain takes a general impression of each name enough to tell the characters apart and that seems to suffice). But this series is different. I recall the tiniest details. I remember even minor characters names. I feel a connection to the characters (rare, indeed). My mom joked that it’s probably only because of the large page count, which no doubt helps, but I think it’s also that they sing to me on another level and I actually want to carry them with me beyond the pages. All the characters are interesting and fun to read about. And it’s surprising to me how much I value them considering they’ve always lacked a bit of complexity and depth. You get what you see with Sanderson’s characters, with just enough profile exploration to balance all the other elements he does so well. Somehow, it just works.

All that said, this was probably my least favorite so far (not by much) because I was missing a bit of that exploratory appeal even though it made up for it considerably with its academic focus. And is it just me, or did the writing feel a little rushed? Like things weren’t quite as flushed out or detailed as they used to be? Even so, I loved all of the revelations, and there were a few key scenes that still have me reeling. I can’t wait to see how the first arc of the series wraps up in the next installment.

Recommendations: among my top three series, this is definitely a must-read for fans of the fantasy genre.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

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The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1) by Anthony Ryan Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1) by Brian McClellan The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1) by James Islington A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1) by Daniel Abraham The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley
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