Published: March 6th 2014 by Gollancz
Format: Paperback, 1088 pages
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From the bestselling author who completed Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series comes a new, original creation that matches anything else in modern fantasy for epic scope, thrilling imagination, superb characters and sheer addictiveness.
Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from a past civilisation that can win wars.
As the world tips into a war for control of the mythical artifacts of power made from Shard, characters are swept up into new dangers which will threaten their integrity and their lives.
Huge, ideas-filled, world-spanning fantasy from a master of the genre.
Perfect book is perfect.
It’s taken me over a year, but I’ve finished Words of Radiance!! I’m so excited because this book is seriously AMAZING, Sanderson’s best work yet!
Now, you might be wondering that if it’s so good then why did it take me so long to read it? Well, because it was so good! First, I went back and re-read The Way of Kings, which took a some time, and then I started on Words of Radiance. I loved it so much that I decided I would read a few chapters every weekend so that I could savour the amazing prose and world-building. I think I was trying to prolong my experience with this book so that I didn’t have to wait so long for the third book.
The Way of Kings was Kaladin’s book and Words of Radiance is Shallan’s. That doesn’t mean Kal doesn’t make an appearance – he has lots of point of view chapters and it was wonderful watching him grow into his powers and face some of his demons. However, it’s Shallan Devar that really shines in this book. As she discovers the extent of her powers and makes the dangerous journey towards the Shattered Plains, she uncovers secrets that could change the world. The very first meeting between Shallan and Kaladin is hilarious. Shallan has a very mysterious past, and readers slowly uncover it through a series of flashbacks.
I think the part of the book that will stay with me for a long time is a chapter that switches rapidly between Kal and Shallan as they use their powers and simultaneously, but in very different ways, discover secrets that have been hidden from them. It’s a powerful sequence that showcases the very best of Sanderson’s writing.
Words of Radiance has point of view chapters from Dalinar and Adolin as well, and sprinkled between them are the ever-so-intriguing interludes, which take us inside the mind of the mysterious Shin Truthless and (excitingly) Eshonai, the Parshendi Shard-bearer. I have always loved the clever techniques that Sanderson employs to show us what is happening all around this amazing world he has created, and the interludes are my favourite.
The magic system is primarily based on a white glowing substance called Stormlight because it’s generated in the ferocious storms that plague the planet, which certain gifted people can inhale and then use to change the world around them. The powers they have resemble those that the order of the Knights Radiant, an order of powerful knights from times long forgotten of whom very little information remains. The world expands gloriously in Words of Radiance, with the characters not only exploring the limits of their powers, but also uncovering the secrets of the past. We learn more about the Knights Radiant, their swords and their powers, and about the Voidbringers and the Desolations. But we haven’t uncovered everything yet, and more mysteries have been introduced (which is unsurprising, since we’re only a fifth of the way through the series).
Sanderson has also put a lot of thought into the cultural and religious differences between the different regions of Roshar. One of the more interesting things about this world is that men are exclusively expected to take part in warfare and farming and women are allowed to become scholars and historians. The art of writing is restricted to women, and so the women are archaeologists, engineers and researchers. There’s a flippant line from one of the male characters that basically points out that it must have been a woman who wrote down the Alethi edicts and that she ensured that men do all the dangerous jobs while women get to live in relative safety, which I found interesting. However, the interludes take us to other lands where the rules are completely different, including a place where all citizens can write essays to become the leader and a council chooses the best candidate.
Words of Radiance is absolutely breathtaking, and fantasy fans are missing out if they’re not already reading The Stormlight Archive. I love this story-world and its characters, and am excited because there are eight more books to come! I can’t wait to see what Sanderson dishes up next!