Book Review: Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive, #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive, #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson

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Cover illustration by: Ben McSweeney

Cover designed by: Isaac Stewart

Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book #3.5 of 10)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 272 pages (ebook)

Dawnshard is a magnificent warm-up to the upcoming Rhythm of War.

Dawnshard is a novella, or short novel, in The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. I think many of you have known that I am a devout fan of Sanderson’s Cosmere universe. No, seriously, I love the Cosmere universe so much that I actually felt annoyed when Sanderson decided to focus on Skyward instead of finishing Mistborn: Wax and Wayne series first. But let’s get back on topic. I knew Dawnshard will be a wonderful book, and I knew it will provide character development and other necessary information for the future of the series. What I didn’t expect, however, was that it will shed light on so many Cosmere hints and revelations.

Dawnshard takes place after Oathbringer and before Rhythm of War, it follows the story of Rysn as she’s tasked to go to Akinah. I haven’t read any previous chapters released for Rhythm of War, but I know for sure that the events that happened in Dawnshard display immense implications for the future of Roshar and the entire Cosmere universe. It is frankly insane. I just don’t know how Sanderson does it. This novella exceeded Edgedancer in every possible way, and I’m so pleasantly surprised by how important it was on the grander scheme of the Cosmere.

“That was the thing about omens—they were made up. Imagined signals of something nebulous. So why not make them up to be something positive?”

I never thought about it before, but Sanderson’s decision to put Rysn and Lopen as the two POV characters in this novella is such a brilliant move. Approximately half of the book takes place in a seafaring travel section, but it was never boring; Sanderson developed Rysn, Lopen, Cord, Huio, and also include stunning revelations about Cosmere in this section; entire book, actually. One of the things that Sanderson tried to do carefully in Dawnshard is to make sure the representation of disabled characters—mainly paraplegic—is done right. He has consulted and did his research. Now, I will not be presumptuous and say he has done it well; I believe this can only be judged by someone with the same issue, and I’m not. However, I would like to digress that this book made me feel more empathetic towards them. One of my younger brother’s legs is disabled since he was born, and this book occasionally made me stop and think about what he went through growing up.

“Everyone else pranced around without ever having to worry they were a burden to others. Never remaining in the same place—when they longed to move around—because they didn’t want it to be a bother. They didn’t know what they had. But Rysn knew exactly what she’d lost.”

Do note that this doesn’t mean that Dawnshard is a gloomy book. I think Sanderson’s books, all of them, aren’t like that. Sanderson always makes sure to include positivity in the bleakest of moments, and this feeling of invigoration I got from reading his books is something that I’ve come to truly appreciate from his works. This is why Lopen’s POV matters more. Lopen was hilarious in the main novels, and I personally found that Dawnshard deepens his characterizations further. Come to think of it, Lopen reminded me a lot of Wayne—another supporting character I loved—from Mistborn: Wax and Wayne series. I loved the positive attitudes that he brings with his existence; he genuinely just wants the people around him to be happy.

“But it’s nice to make people laugh at you for something you do, and not something you can’t control. You know?”

However, as much as I praised Rysn and Lopen, I have to say that the most pleasant surprise in character development, for me, was Huio. I didn’t think of him as remotely important in the main series so far, but Dawnshard successfully and efficiently established him as one of the supporting characters to watch out for. The same can also be said for Cord, Chiri-Chiri, you know what? Consider what I just said moot point because it applies to practically everyone now. I’m just seriously impressed with Dawnshard; I liked Edgedancer but Lift infuriated me non-stop there, and she made me hate the word ‘pancake’. Not only the overall content of Dawnshard felt so much more important to the scope and main story of The Stormlight Archive, but it also extrapolates the importance of having a positive mindset in the daily course of our lives. Superstition or bad omens are a big theme in Dawnshard, and Sanderson showcases examples of why sometimes bad omens can be turned around by simply shifting our mindset and perspective.

“You could always defeat gloomy Passions with optimism and determination. Even the worst highstorm dropped fresh water.”

One last thing before I conclude this review, which somehow ended up being longer than I expected. I’ll make this as spoiler-free and vague as possible, but if you’re caught up or understand the mechanism behind the Cosmere universe, Dawnshard is about to stun you with many mindblowing insights. One of the biggest hints is the implication that materials from other worlds in the Cosmere could be traded and appear in different worlds now. Aluminum is here, and I’m sure it will be as well in Rhythm of War and so on. Think about the usage of Aluminum in Mistborn series. From reading Oathbringer, we knew this could happen, but to see it appearing here (unless I’m mistaken) is truly a sign of great things to come in Rhythm of War and pretty much all future Cosmere books. Also, if I have to mention a growing and worrying issue from reading The Stormlight Archive so far, it would be that the characters and their healing power have become way too powerful. Well, Dawnshard has pretty much exhibited how this issue will be negated; several counter-mechanism has been shown, and our beloved characters will probably suffer more. Soon.

“Sometimes you need to accept what you’ve lost, then move forward. Then you can instead realize what you’ve gained.”

It’s astounding to me that there’s still so much about this relatively short book I could talk about here, but I’ll stop for now. I hope the day will come when Rysn becomes one of the main characters in the main novels. In less than 300 pages, I already preferred reading Rysn as one of the main POV characters compared to Shallan. There, I’ve said it. I would like to say that Dawnshard isn’t mandatory to read, but I can’t. Honestly, I’m still shocked and amazed by all the revelations I attained from reading this short novel. Dawnshard is an incredible appetizer before we devour the next main menu in The Stormlight Archives: Rhythm of War. More importantly, this is a must-read volume for many of us who’s adapting “Journey before destination” in our lives as we make our way through traversing every single piece of art in The Stormlight Archive and Cosmere universe. Needless to say, this is an amazing novella/short novel. Last but not least:

I am ready for the Rhythm of War.

Currently the ebook of Dawnshard is only available for Kickstarter backers. If I’m not mistaken, the ebook will come out next week on Amazon and other stores. The physical copy will be published next year.

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