Okay, this is finally happening. I’m ranking The Stormlight Archive as my number one favorite book series of all time, overtaking the throne previously held by Mistborn trilogy, and I don’t think this will change anytime soon. The Gods of the Cosmere knows how much I love the original Mistborn trilogy but Brandon Sanderson really raised the bar for the epic fantasy genre sky high with this series.
Words of Radiance, only the second book in The Stormlight Archive series and the sequel to The Way of Kings, managed to build upon almost everything done by its predecessor and improve every element necessary to become a masterpiece. I’m certain the title of this book almost literally reflects its content; each word is structured to give radiance to your life simply from reading them.
The story still told from multiple POV and while still remaining mostly character driven, it’s much more plot centered this time. Starting with the countdown mentioned in the beginning of the book, you’re made aware that there will be a lot of twists and turns coming. The plot kept me glued to the book from cover to cover; it was so addictive to read and I couldn’t wait to know more and see what happened with each page turned.
As I mentioned before, each book will shift its focus more on different specific main characters, and this time the focus rests on Shallan.
Picture: Shallan And The Chasmfiend, by emmgoyer7
Sanderson again managed to make me love a character who I wasn’t the biggest fan of in their first book appearance. The first time this happened was with Steris from the Mistborn spinoffs, and now the same exact thing happened here with Shallan. Her character development in this novel is stunning, to say the least. She’s funny, lovable, and intelligent; it’s also really intriguing to see her relationship development with Kaladin, Adolin, Jasnah and Pattern. Her past is explored completely and the revelations in relating them to her current “smile” are very heartwarming.
Even though there’s a huge amount of development in and focus on Shallan, in my opinion the best storyline still comes from Kaladin’s POV; he’s the main hero from The Way of Kings and from my perspective, the true main protagonist of this series. After seeing his background and development fleshed out in the first book, it’s really interesting to see how he develops into an even more amazing character by the end of this one, and Stormfather he did. Not only do the most intense and interesting plotlines come from his POV, but every single epic and badass moment literally involve his actions and existence.
Picture: “Honor is dead but I’ll see what I can do” by Vargasni
The world-building level improves again as there are more creatures, mythology, lore, and magic systems explored in this book. The scale of the world remains as grand as ever, and by now I think I know more about Alethkar, the Shattered Plains, than I know about my real country and its history. (I wish this is an exaggeration but it’s not.)
The magic systems this time are explored in much more detail than in the previous book, especially in regards to the classes Windrunner and Lightweaver. I won’t give too many details on the magic system itself, because the book could do that for you. To simplify it, Windrunners deal with manipulating gravitational pulls and Lightweavers focus on creating illusions. A great example of the Windrunner ability could be seen from a PS4 video game called “Gravity Rush”. Look it up if you want to strengthen your imagination, or if you think the magic system will confuse you somehow, but here’s an image preview of what I’m talking about.
Knowing the premise of the magic systems and simply from looking at the front cover of the book, you can predict there will be epic action sequences. There is much more action this time and nothing can even compare to the climax of this book. It’s honestly one of the craziest and most epic climax sequences I’ve ever read so far, even better than The Hero of Ages from the Mistborn trilogy or The Way of Kings. There are so many things happening in the last 150 pages of the book that I’m surprised I could still write a review for this. Remember my praise for the climax to The Way of Kings? Well, this one is superior by far, so prepare yourself to be mind-blown completely. Here is the front cover of the Polish version of Words of Radiance if you need more convincing.
Like in the previous book, the only con I have about this book is again, it’s not long enough and the sequel to this book is not out yet. 1090 pages long and filled with a whopping 400k word inside, and yet when I flipped the last page and closed the book, I still craved for more. When the realization that the sequel isn’t here yet dawned on me, I was crushed.
Binge reading this series inflicted me with a symptom which I called “The Stormlight Archive’s Hangover”. Basically, it means I can’t start another epic fantasy other than this series for a while without the implication of giving them an unfair rating. My heart and soul still remain in Roshar, with the characters I care about deeply because of Sanderson’s writing; which always made every detail so vivid and immersive.
Words of Radiance is the perfect example of the kind of experience I’m looking for in a book. It’s the reason why I read and why epic fantasy will always be my favorite genre. The epic fantasy genre has The Lord of the Rings in the past, A Song of Ice & Fire in the present, and for the future, this genre has The Stormlight Archive series to look forward to. By the conclusion of this series, I’m sure it will surpass both those series mentioned; it already has for me. The Stormlight Archive series is the mark of epic fantasy at its best. There’s absolutely no reason you should skip this series if you’re a fan of epic/high fantasy genre; I really hope we could go through this series together, telling stories and living these tales with our future generations.
I’m really glad I read Warbreaker first before reading this as two specific characters from there made an appearance here!
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)
Review originally written on December 16th, 2016