Review: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive II) by Brandon Sanderson

Guys. GUYS. I think I have a new favourite series OF ALL TIME. Oh Storms!

What a story! After much indecision, on my part (about five minutes of it) I decided to jump into Words of Radiance or WoR mere moments after finishing The Way of Kings, which took me 6 weeks and 2 attempts. But, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to see what became of the strong and noble Dalinar (my boy!), brave and honourable Kaladin, Syl the philosopher, Shellan the misguided theif and loveable manwhore, Adolin.

Not you Sadeas. You have no honour, I was secretly hoping a highstorm had blown you off a plateau to your death in-between books, but no such luck. I suppose you were still necessary for this book.

Fair warning, I’m doing my best not to be spoilery, though I can hardly see how you could write a review for this without a few spoilers. So, continue at your own risk.

I’ll start with Shallan since this is her book, and I’ll admit, I did not care for her particularly in WoK I groaned every time one of her chapters came up. But, it would be unfair of me to hold that against her, and truly, I found her character growth to be favourable, especially given the circumstances of her childhood. Now that we all know about her (and it’s bloody shocking) , her past, and even current motives are somewhat more acceptable. Girlfriend has had it tough. Though her extracurricular shenanigans have me somewhat concerned.

“He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken.

Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway.

It was the single most beautiful thing he’d seen in his entire life.”

But now she has a Spren. Who I LOVE. I don’t know if reads as well in print, but in audio, he is adorable!

Also, I love Shallan and Adolin as a couple – they balance each other out nicely in my opinion. RELATIONSHIP GOALS. Though, I have an unnervingly strong feeling they aren’t going to last, unless one of my Adolin theories happens to be correct, and I’m bad at theories, sooooooo. Anyone who has read this can tell you that there is a love triangle afoot between Shallan, Adolin and Kaladin – and I beg you, Brandon Sanderson, if you can leave it out, please do. No one likes a love triangle! Plus, where there is a love triangle, you know that something has to give, so I have grave fears for our leading lads.

Onto Kaladin, and let me start by saying I LOVED Kaladin in WoK. I thought he and Dalinar were two of the best written characters I have ever read, and went into WoR with huge expectations (see my first status update). Boy, was I ever disappointed when old Kaladin spent roughly 80% of this book playing the victim, and using his past to justify his poor choices along the way.

Dalinar, does all he can to give Kaladin a purpose as well as space to heal, but in Kaladin’s arrogance, he doesn’t even see it.

“But soldier,” Dalinar said, “you’re walking quite a line between helpfulness and insubordination the way you treat me and mine. You have a chip on your shoulder the size of a boulder. I ignore it, because I know it was done to you, and I can see the soldier underneath.”

This is the sort of terrifying warning a parent would give. I tell you, if that was me, and the person who had trusted me to protect his family – who had raised me well above my station, had given such a calm warning, I would have bloody well pulled my head in, on the spot, and apologised for all of my ungrateful idiocy. The really sad thing is that whilst Dalinar trusts Kaladin almost implicitly, the opposite cannot be said. When Kaladin went to Dalinar for help, he didn’t trust that he could be honourable, didn’t give him the moment to consider – to find the truth himself, before wiring Dalinar off as just being another light eyes with no honour. Dalinar should have sacked his ass long ago.

Kaladin’s actions and choices had me hammering my head against my steering wheel a few times, with many a “Oh, Kaladin” and a shake of the head. The thing is, Kaladin knew what needed to be done all along, right bak to when he father was trying to teach him:

“Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it was right. If nobody starts, the others cannot follow.”

In his broken, hard done by state, he misses the point, of everything, and makes a decision that is not his to make, forfeiting his bond with Syl. This all leads into one of the best and most important scenes in Words of Radiance, and a revealing discussion with Zahel (!) And, it was about damn time Kaladin wised up.

1. “The king was Dalinar’s Tien.” Duh. Also, tears. I had been waiting for him to realise, lamenting his stupidity. Oh storm! Feels!

2. “If I protect…only the people I like, it means that I don’t care about doing what is right.”

Duh.

3. “I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right”

Then, a bunch of shit goes down, Kaladin’s bond with Syl is renewed as a result of learning his third ideal, and her desire to remain with him. He is mine…I claim him Then Kaladin went all season three Korra on us, and it was amazing.

“You sent him to the sky to die, assassin. But the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them, as I now claim your life.”

BAD. ASS.

Ah, Adolin. I spent the first half of WoK thinking Adolin was a selfish, spoiled brat who was unnecessarily mean to his awesome father. As the book went on though, I began to appreciate him, and indeed, by the end of it all, I was definitely an Adolin fangirl. A lot of that had to do with him standing by his father, ignoring pressure and ridicule that would have broken the resolve of a weaker man. But, Adolin is a Kholin, and a Shardbearer. He is his father’s son, and more and more we see that coming through.

Early in the book, we learn he is to be betrothed to Shallan, which came out of nowhere for me, but okay. He seems totally amenable to it.

” People think I know a lot about women. The truth is, I know how to get them, how to make them laugh, how to make them interested. I don’t know how to keep them….I really want to keep this one.”

Naaaaaw.

I wonder if Brandon Sanderson meant for Adolin to have such a major role in this series – just based on what we read in WoK. It feels like he may have started as a somewhat minor character, but has grown into one of the mains – like Sanderson enjoyed writing him, so more of his story cam. But, then again I have some theories regarding this particular princeling, so perhaps not.

I found it hard going during parts I and II whole Adolin and Kaladin were at odds, Adolin sneering ‘bridge boy‘ at Kaladin, Kaladin just being a whiny sook, I just wanted to yell, “I like you both! Why can’t you just be friends?!” Then there is a cool ass duel, that sees Adolin pitted against FOUR shardbearers – including one of his supposed mates (asshole). It is after this, that if you still had any doubts about Adolin’s character, they surely would have been settled. He has been wrong, he knows it, and will go above and beyond to make amends with sincerity. This is where you see the man he has the potential to be. And it’s a good one.

“Wait. Are you wearing cologne? In prison?”
“Well, there was no need to be barbaric, just because I was incarcerated.”
“Storms, you’re spoiled,” Kaladin said, smiling.
“I’m refined, you insolent farmer,” Adolin said. Then he grinned.

That is it. That’s the moment. Now they have bromance, trust, and admiration. Now everyone pray that doesn’t change.

On a very serious not, Adolin’s final chapter….I felt as though I should be cheering, but instead, felt nothing but fear. Fear for Adolin. Where will his story go now? What can be proved? What hidden? I’m worried. Adolin has proved to be an intensely passionate character. We’ve seen this, not only in the way he falls easily for women, but in his loyalty and protectiveness of his family, the way he duals, so loss of control isn’t all that surprising. But, it was deeply troubling. Pray for Adolin Kholin!

That thing with Renarin – DID NOT SEE THAT COMING

It seems that every time Dalinar Kholin speaks, my heart breaks, and most everything he does is a powerful. Every time you think him beaten, he finds a way to turn it into a win. Every time you doubt his honour, he makes you a fool for thinking it. Every word from his mouth is a poem, his strength – a dream. So it seems only natural when we learn of his important bond – the culmination of all those visions. Who’s crazy now??!! I have a bunch of questions regarding those events, but I expect them answered in due course given that Dalinar’s book is next.

Speculation Bozanza.

Hey Szeth, what did you say the name of your sword was? Hmmmm.

And, Moash, Moash, Moash.
Oh, and someone else has gone and pulled a Jon Snow on us.

Overall – this has been more of a character analysis than review. Who knew? And, overall, this book blew my expectations to Jupiter. In WoK, there was so much world building and set up that I could be forgiven for saying it was a touch dull. Wonderful, but on the slow side. WoR however was full steam ahead and I loved every storming moment! The interludes bothered me, but only in the sense that I have a short attention span.

Let’s just say, I almost want to be a Shardbearer MORE than I want to be a Jedi. Almost.

Who’s up for a re-read??

PS: Some of the fan art out there for this series is incredible. You should have a look!

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