Eric Mesa's Reviews > Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2018-sword-challenge

If I had to reduce this chapter of The Stormlight Archive to one sentence that describes the thesis: Everyone in Words of Radiance believes he or she is working for a righteous cause and, therefore, the ends justify the means. This ethos guides Kaladdin, Amaram, Dalinar, Sadeas, The Ghostbloods, the Parshendi, Jasnah, Szeth, and even Shallan. I think the difference between heroes and villains in this part of the story is between those who are willing to grow and look for a way better way to achieve their goals and those who remain fanatical.

We continue to learn more about the history of Roshar and why things aren't as "magical" as they once were. I'm used to reading trilogies, but this first arc is a quintology and so it makes sense that the story does not move as quickly as a second volume might in a trilogy. And I hear from others that Oathbringer may be a bit of a slog - again because there's yet another book after that before we get to our first climax and resolution. So while a lot of this book has the feeling of setting up the chess pieces, Sanderson still packs in plenty of character growth and inter-book climaxes. While book 1 gave us Kal's backstory, this one slowly reveals Shallan's. And while the FINAL reveal was telegraphed a mile away, that was a brutal story to read. Oh man! When she's finally able to hit Kal over the head with it after he keeps acting like she's a spoiled brat, Sanderson makes her win feel very earned. Also, finally Sanderson takes Checkov's Drawing Abilities off the Mantle. I was wondering during the whole of book 1 why Sanderson gave her this amazing drawing power for no reason. Yeah, she uses it to see the Eldritch Abominations that it's revealed/implied also haunt Elhokar, but I thought it was lacking use for how much he focused on it. Speaking of which, I really love Shallan's witty retorts. Her scenes courting a certain someone are great and her back and forth with Kal is also great. (Although as I tweeted - and was agreed upon by the owner of Sanderson Army - I anti-ship Shallan and Kal. All the tropes seemed to be pointing to her falling for him instead of her betrothed and that would have been so hackneyed!) And it was fun how Sanderson made Pattern's rise to sentience completely different from Syl's. I also think Sanderson does an excellent job of conveying a sense of sympathy from the other side of the war.

The book has a lot to say on the idea of gods and what humanity does with powers granted to it. I think we may get more insight into that in the next book or two. I do like the system Sanderson has set up where oaths really mean something. So often they're treated flippantly in the real world. Although, on the flip side we have Szeth taking his oaths perhaps a bit TOO seriously. And so, while it's not unique in fantasy, Sanderson finds a way to make it his own.

As with the last review, here are things that I noticed are Sanderson Cosmere tropes that appeared in the Stormlight Archives:

Magic revolving around what an object considers itself to be (eg Shallan and the Boat in this book, The forging of art and other objects in The Emperor's Soul)\\

Witty girl at Court (Shallan, princessses in Warbreaker and Elantris)

Animal Life changed somehow (other than Shinovar, most animals like we would expect are considered mythological; Nalthis in Mistborn Trilogy 1)

***

Well, after this I have a couple handfuls of Cosmere books/stories remaining:

Edgedancer
Sixth of Dusk
Oathbringer
Mistborn: Wax/Wayne Trilogy
Allomancer Jack
Shadows for Silence
Mistborn: Secret History
White Sands Vol 2
Arcanum Unbounded - whatever extra material wasn't in the short stories and novellas I've already read by this point.

That's the order I intend to tackle them in and then I'll be done. But, given my pace, I believe Wax/Wayne four (or at least Mistborn Era 2 book 4) should be out by then.
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2018 – Started Reading
May 9, 2018 – Shelved
May 9, 2018 –
2.0% "A return to that fateful night"
May 9, 2018 –
4.0% "More surprises in Shallan's chapter. I like how her character is evolving."
May 10, 2018 –
5.0% "Unit cohesion"
May 10, 2018 –
7.0% "Dalinar and Shallan need to compare notes!"
May 11, 2018 –
9.0% "The plot keeps expanding in exciting ways even if I'm scared for some of the characters."
May 11, 2018 –
10.0% "Title-drop!"
May 14, 2018 –
11.0% "Scary time for Shallan, but good demonstration of the way the magic works. Reminds me a bit of the magic from The Emperor's Soul"
May 15, 2018 –
12.0% "“A snort is not a chuckle,” Syl said. “I know this because I am intelligent and articulate. You should compliment me now.”"
May 15, 2018 –
13.0% "Two crazy Shallan chapters. One moreso than the other."
May 16, 2018 –
14.0% "Fun with training, then possible trouble"
May 17, 2018 –
16.0% "First chapter for this update:
Awesome chapter about Parshendi society - so illuminating

Second:
“Long ago, there was only One. One knew everything, but had experienced nothing. And so, One became many—us, people. The One, who is both male and female, did so to experience all things.”"
May 18, 2018 –
17.0% "I *think* I found Hoid among the Reshi.
Also:

Rysn blushed furiously as a group of people ran past ... bare as the day they were born. Young men and women alike, uncaring of who saw. She was no Alethi prude, but . . . Kelek! Shouldn’t they wear something?

The robes were tied with the front open enough to show that the “king” definitely had breasts. “We are led by a king,” the newcomer said. Gender is irrelevant.”"
May 21, 2018 –
18.0% "I love the way in which this book takes us now onto the side of book 1's enemy to show us what they are going through. It is masterful writing with a rich history that pulls in all that is great about a master like Tolkien, but then also makes a good story rather than just a dressing for his history."
May 21, 2018 –
19.0% "Those are some Final Fantasy-level swords in the image between Shallan and Adolin's chapters."
May 22, 2018 –
20.0% "Exciting duel"
May 23, 2018 –
22.0% "A little more of the world fleshed out with Kal on guard duty. Also, even though I'm trying to avoid spoilers - Syl seems to say something VERY important as a throwaway line. (tiny piece of god)"
May 24, 2018 –
23.0% "Illuminating Shallan chapter. (See what I did there?)"
May 25, 2018 –
24.0% "Fun training session and the limitations of Kal's powers"
May 29, 2018 –
25.0% "More from Shallan's past and a current Shallan chapter. (With another one coming up!)"
May 30, 2018 –
28.0% "Some awesome Kalarin and Shallan chapters. Can't wait to see what happens when all the principals come together. Especially remembering what Navani wrote in her journal."
May 31, 2018 –
29.0% "Although a 5-book arc gives Sanderson so much space that some have complained the next book was so slow it was hard to push through, I do like that it gives us space for the comic relief of horse training. Yes, there are some plot threads that move a bit forward here, as well as either foreshadowing or a red herring, but mostly it's just funny."
May 31, 2018 –
30.0% "Good Adolin chapter and well-timed to remind us to have sympathy for him and his POV."
June 1, 2018 –
31.0% "Things potentially just got very complicated for Shallan thanks to her accomplice"
June 1, 2018 –
32.0% "A little more into Sadeas' plan"
June 4, 2018 –
33.0% "Tyn continues to complicate things.

Kal feels odd about the coming storm - both literal and metaphorical."
June 6, 2018 –
34.0% "I thought we were going to have to wait the entire book to get the confrontation promised at the end of the last one. But here we go and it's a real doozy!"
June 7, 2018 –
35.0% "OH MAN! With my reading all spread out, I'd forgotten there were allusions to the fact that Shallan would be able to do what she did. So it came as an even bigger shock. But I do love the effect it had on Vathah after the way he was treating her."
June 7, 2018 –
37.0% "Well, that interlude was pretty great. So many things coming now! The Listeners have changed!"
June 8, 2018 –
38.0% "I love the idea of scientific experiments on magic principles"
June 8, 2018 –
41.0% "Shallan may be my new favorite character. Her finagling her way into the camp she wanted was awesome."
June 11, 2018 –
42.0% "Another trip to Shallan's past.

Then another great chapter of Shallan's wit and she has a good wit sparing partner in Palona."
June 13, 2018 –
43.0% "Complexity keeps building"
June 13, 2018 –
45.0% "Shallan learns and Shallan's dark mission. Also her drawing powers are finally having some use. I was wondering why Sanderson had set that up in book 1."
June 14, 2018 –
46.0% "Sanderson knows when to have twists and when to just be straightforward. The attempt at the balcony turns out to be straightforward. I'm going to laugh if it's Mraize that Kal ends up meeting."
June 14, 2018 –
48.0% "“I see,” the messenger said softly. “You do not yet understand the nature of lies. I had that trouble myself, long ago. The Shards here are very strict. You will have to see the truth, child, before you can expand upon it. Just as a man should know the law before he breaks it.”"
June 15, 2018 –
49.0% "Mention of the title of novella - Edgedancer. Interesting, because the next (currently unwritten) novella is Wondersail. I wonder if the Roshar novellas cover the true story of the lore of that world."
June 15, 2018 –
50.0% "I enjoy Shallan's back and forth with Pattern."
June 18, 2018 –
51.0% "Balat said. “That kind of talk is disrespectful. Love . . .love is like a classical melody.”
Shallan grinned. “If you end your performance too quickly, your audience is disappointed?”
“Shallan!” Balat said."
June 18, 2018 –
52.0% "Shallan and Adolin's date was so much fun to read."
June 19, 2018 –
54.0% "The highstorm and a reveal about the numbers.

An anti-climatic meeting on the plains. Good feint there, Sanderson."
June 20, 2018 –
56.0% "Kaladin finally reaches his true powers.

Shallan does the same with hers.

A reveal of how many are going for the same goals. A reveal of how Shallan, Kal, and Amaram are connected."
June 27, 2018 –
59.0% ""indigenous...have no real concept of assassination...Hunters are too valuable, and so a ‘war’ ...will involve a lot of shouting and posturing, but few deaths."

“She’s far too young for me, child,” Wit said.
“That’s right,” Adolin said with a nod. “Stick to women your own age.”
Wit grinned. “Well, that might be a little harder. I think there’s only one of those around these parts, and she and I never did get along.”"
June 28, 2018 –
60.0% "OH man! Crazy duel! It kills me to have to stop to go to work"
June 28, 2018 –
62.0% "OH Sanderson, showing us victory and then snatching it away!"
July 2, 2018 –
64.0% "Awesome interlude with Lift:

"Stealing regular stuff was no fun. She wanted a real challenge. Over the last two years, she’d picked the most difficult places to enter. Then she’d snuck in.And eaten their dinners.

...

Only superrich folk built fancy doors. You needed money coming out your ears before you spent it on a door.""
July 2, 2018 –
65.0% "Szeth and then a scary Eshonai chapter"
July 9, 2018 –
66.0% "Another song from Wit!!"
July 10, 2018 –
68.0% "Pattern hummed. “I’m sorry that your mystical, godlike powers do not instantly work as you would like them to.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought you didn’t understand humor.”
“I do. I just explained . . .” He paused for a moment. “Was I being funny? Sarcasm. I was sarcastic. By accident!” He seemed surprised, even gleeful."
July 10, 2018 –
69.0% "Iyatil dresses and sits like Vin from Mistborn. But is it the woman Wit said was unpleased with her?

Anyway, fun to see Shallan on her mission."
July 11, 2018 –
70.0% "Shallan completes her mission. Another view into her past."
July 11, 2018 –
72.0% "Dalinar levels up again

***
"If you listen to the stories about him, it’s like everyone expects him to glow in the dark and piss nectar. That stinks, to me, of someone who works too hard to maintain his reputation.”

***
"I have discovered a place that I must be, though to be honest I’m not exactly sure why I need to be there. This doesn’t always work as well as I’d like it to.” - Hoid traveling to another planet?"
July 12, 2018 –
74.0% "So sad for Syl and Kal. Oh Sanderson,you make me feel these feelings about these fictional characters."
July 12, 2018 –
76.0% "Kal and Shal spend some time together. Man, I just want to take a day off and finish the book."
July 13, 2018 –
78.0% "Some character growth for Kal. Also, is there a word for anti-shipping? Because I anti-ship Shallan and Kal. It's just too obvious if they end up together."
July 13, 2018 –
79.0% "Will they make it?"
July 17, 2018 –
81.0% "The circumstances of a death in the Davar family revealed.

Kal comes to a sad realization.

Shallan finally gets to reveal some of what she knows to people who need to know it."
July 17, 2018 –
83.0% ""And composing new poems for Her Majesty—though honestly, Lhan avoided that sort of thing. It seemed like work."

....

"To age truly was to suffer the ultimate treason, that of one’s body against oneself."

I'm fascinated by all of the curses people get when they bargain for a blessing from The Nightwatcher.

Heh, where else can you get probability discussions in fantasy?

There's a HOID POV CHAPTER COMING?!?! YES!"
July 18, 2018 –
85.0% ""‘Honor’ is a word applied to the actions of men from the past who have had their lives scrubbed clean by historians.”

Just under 200 pages left. Probably a couple weeks at the page I'm going."
July 18, 2018 –
86.0% "Finally, Navani is debriefed."
July 19, 2018 –
87.0% "The return of a bridgeman. Things are about to do the Sanderson Avalanche - or so it seems."
July 20, 2018 –
88.0% "A frank conversation between Kal and Elhokar"
July 20, 2018 –
90.0% "Definitely in the depths of the avalanche. OH is it hard not to just take off from work and finish."
July 23, 2018 –
91.0% ""Now that he’d made the decision, shouldn’t he be focused, confident, energized? He felt none of that. He felt wrung out, confused, and uncertain." - GOOD. I like more realistic characters"
July 24, 2018 –
92.0% "Nothing to say. Just extremely anxious since Sanderson has killed main characters before."
July 24, 2018 –
93.0% "Awesome power-up scene!"
July 25, 2018 –
94.0% "The COVER! It is a scene!"
July 25, 2018 –
95.0% "THAT WAS AWESOME and poor Szeth"
July 26, 2018 –
97.0% ""They made him look slightly less intoxicatingly handsome, though there was a rugged “I punched a lot of people today” quality to that, which was fetching in its own right."

then, another chapter or so later....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! NIGHTBLOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE HIM. Will he be featured in the next book? I guess we'll find out!"
July 26, 2018 –
99.0% "Once again Wit seems to be speaker for Sanderson on the nature of creating. Last time - who do we says is the best - the most original. This time on art and expectations.

OMG CRAZY REAVEAL RIGHT AT THE END!"
July 26, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-sword-challenge
July 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

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