Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Published: Tor Books (Mar 4, 2014)
(5 / 5)
Words of Radiance is the second installment of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. If this is your first Stormlight Archive novel, you should probably go check out The Way of Kings as this review contains a few spoilers! If you read and enjoyed the first volume, the second will blow your mind!
Where The Way of Kings establishes the detail rich world of Roshar, complete with a large assortment of characters, Words of Radiance expands upon that depth a hundred times over. Words focuses on the backstory and adventures of Shallan Davar while continuing to tell the story of war, The Everstorm, and the Knights Radiant of old.
Dalinar’s of visions of impending doom combined with Jasnah’s predictions of the nature of The Parshman take center stage, crafting a meta-story that drives Words forward. Kaladin and the Bridgeman may have become permanent fixtures in Dalinar’s camp, but it’s Shallan’s story that steals the show.
The character depth and development of Shallan Davar is unparalleled in any fantasy character I’ve read to date. From her mysterious past to her new beginning, her trials and journeys across the deadly world of Roshar are explored in-depth. You’ll be reintroduced to the conflicted female protagonist through the dark lens of her past.
Kaladin may follow honor, but Shallan’s life is one of mystery. What does this mean for the once-great Knights Radiant? Kaladin’s morality may be black and white but Shallan’s Veil will prove that that there’s multiple sides to every hero.
Words of Radiance obviously tells the tale of the possible reforming of the Knights Radiant. New characters blessed by Stormlight arise, threats from secret societies and dark forces threaten to upend the Kingdoms of the world. Dalinar, Shallan, Kaladin, and Adolin are all part of it. Interestingly, we also learn more about the individual high princes, their goals, motivations, and fears.
Religion and its role in modern Alethi society was a big issue in The Way of Kings, but Words of Radiance breathes new life into those ancient conflicts. Almost every question the reader may have about the past Heraldic Epochs and Vorinism is answered through the use of methodical and well timed storytelling. Every chapter ends on a suspenseful note.
In Words you’ll have a chance to see life and survival on Roshar through the eyes of a multiple side characters. The readers will also see the world through the eyes of a Parashendi general, a fearsome soldier named Eshonai. Through her, the Parshendi become more than an enemy to be feared. Their entire culture, society, and past is laid bare for us.
One of my favorite side characters was revealed during one of the many interludes. A young girl known as Lift, ignorant to the ways of the world, possessing rare powers granted by Stormlight use. Although she’s a side character, Lift’s character and setting were impressive.
The major difference between Words of Radiance and the first novel is the tone. No longer is Surgebinding a thing of legend. One must accept that others like Kaladin will exist in the same world. All things considered, I think Stormlight still handles magic sensitively in comparison to the author’s Mistborn series. The powers fit each character’s life perfectly.
Side stories such as Shallan’s adventures at sea and Wit’s visitations are a humorous, endearing, creative and foretelling.
At 1,088 pages, Words of Radiance never slows down. Even if it does have a broader scope than the first, the narrative is tightly crafted and as goal oriented as The Way of Kings.
In some ways Words of Radiance is even more interesting than the first novel. One thing is for sure: if you’re fan of The Way of Kings, you owe it to yourself to read Words of Radiance. Quite possibly one of the best fantasy novels ever. 5/5