The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times best seller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.
Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes". Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.
Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.
The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Listen to that book and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.
©2014 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
I read, I write; I listen
In the first book, “The Way of Kings,” we were introduced to the world of Roshar. It is a world of magic and aliens where hurricane-like storms lay savage to the world every few days and all of its inhabitants must adapt their lives accordingly. It is a world at war between the human armies led by High prince Dalinar Kholin and the Parshendi, a humanoid species. We were introduced to Jasnah, who is a renowned scholar and the niece of the High Prince Dalinar Kholin, her student Shallan, and Kaladin, a slave that by the end of Way of Kings is beginning to become the world’s first Knight’s Radiance in centuries.
If you haven’t read/listened to ”The Way of Kings,” I would strongly recommend that you do before going on to this second book, “Words of Radiance.” If you have read/listened to the first book I would recommend a review of TWOK before going on since it has been over four years and the second book starts off right where “The Way of Kings,” left off.
At 48 hours and 15 minutes this is a long book, in fact Brandon Sanderson posted on his blog that he wrote the manuscript under the working title “the Book of Endless Pages.” He was referring to the endless learning set forth in his first book but it seemed appropriate given its length; but don’t let the length of this book deter you as I listened the hours seemed to fly past. This is an amazing book.
“Word of Radiance” focuses on four characters: Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, and Adolin. In TWOK Kaladin was the main character and is still very prevalent but this book reveals more about Shallan. Like “The Way of Kings,” Sanderson interlaces the present with the past, developing the background on the main characters’ while moving the plot forward.
This is only book two in a ten part series and even though I can’t wait for the next book I found the ending satisfactory.
I word about the narrators, I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading and I thought they gave another great performance.
When I wrote my (too) short review of the first book in this series, The Way of Kings, I ended it with this sentence: "This book is so good I will gladly listen to it again as a refresher when book two comes out!"
Well I am back to say that I followed through on my promise and it was worth every second. The Stormlight Archive is epic fantasy at it's best and Sanderson shows why he is at the top of my must read/listen list. Here I am fresh off of investing close to 94 hours of my life listening to books 1 and 2 of the Stormlight Archive and I am ready for more.
The world is rich and deep, the characters are complex, and the magic systems are true Sanderson - well defined, unique, and interesting. All of the main characters are back and the story just gets bigger and bigger. For most authors the end of this book would be a satisfying conclusion to any series but it is obvious that this one is just getting started. Sanderson set the bar so awfully high with the Mistborn series that I am truly impressed he was able to surpass himself with the Stormlight Archive.
Veteran narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are back and once again breathe life into all of the great characters. It was a pleasure to listen to them both for 90+ hours and I can't wait for book three. These two know epic fantasy and combine with Sanderson to form a perfect highstorm of epic proportions.
If you like fantasy books then you will feel like a kid in a candy store here. It is time for you to run up to the counter and plunk down your credit(s) to enjoy this wonderful experience. You won't find more hours of entertainment for so little cost anywhere else. Of course you should start with The Way of Kings but be assured that 94 listening hours later you will find yourself back at the candy store counter standing on your tip toes and holding up another credit. Of course, I will be standing right next to you. :)
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
This is what motivates my review: I have just spent over a month listening to over 80(!!) hours of The Stormlight Archive, and I find myself wishing for the next book. Usually, I need a break between audiobooks in a series, not so here, despite the length. So, as far as compelling listen-ability is concerned, this is a clear winner, well-read and fun as well!
You can stop reading here, if you want, since I feel completely justified in the five stars, but, still, there are a few issues, issues that mostly come from it being such an obviously EPIC epic. First, Sanderson is up to his usual trick of making an elaborate magic system with complex internal symmetries as a key driver of the plot. To an experienced Sanderson reader, some of the story is just waiting for the twists and turns to play out. How they do so is always interesting, and this is Sanderson's best yet, but, still, there are many echoes of Mistborn/Steelheart/Elantris, etc. The result makes elements of the plot a little obvious at times, though some occasional twists help keep things fresh.
Second, since this novel covers so much ground and is full of (occasionally exhausting) detail, Sanderson's squeamishness about issues like sex or desire stand out in a particularly glaring fashion. Fight scenes and horrific murders are portrayed in great (and well-written) detail, but the novel goes full young adult when discussing other forms of human interaction. I am not talking about a lack of anything graphic, but the complete modesty of the characters, especially the non-married characters, gets in the way of character-building, makes Kaladin and Shallan feel less well-rounded than they should be.
Still, Sanderson doesn't do grimdark (like Martin or Abercrombie), and it is nice to have a good old fashioned fantasy series, full of mysteries and destinies and action, to explore. I will be waiting for the next!
This is, easily, the most enjoyable audiobook I've ever listened to. The narrator's are the best in the business, but the book itself stands next to it's predecessor (Way of Kings) as being one of the best fantasy epics to date. Wheel of Time had it's merits, and Sanderson has obviously been inspired by Robert Jordan's long-form fantasy series (he wrote the last few books after Jordan's death). That being said, Sanderson has fully surpassed his mentor in the epic fantasy genre. His description is perfect, and doesn't drag on like RJ's, remaining interesting as Sanderson masterfully weaves it into more pressing material. This series, the Stormlight Archive, is unforgettable. I hope to be buying every new outing in the Archive for years and years to come.
They say the retail on this book was $55. After listening to it, I would have paid that much to hear it. That I got it for 12 bucks just boggles my brain.
Thanks Audible. Seriously. An absolutely incredible book worth DAYS of enraptured entertainment for less than I would spend going to see a 90 minute Hollywood film that I would have enjoyed far less.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. His development of unique characters, worlds and systems-of-magic are perhaps for many of us without parallel in modern writing. It is in the actual writing that I am sometimes left frustrated. The story-telling is superb and keeps me coming back there's no question about it. I finished the book in less than a week and that after spending the previous week reading Book 1. Every available and non-sleeping moment was spent with the book. But there was always something missing... something that said this is still just not a literary work. Maybe it just seemed to me to be a bit too commercial. But Sanderson is young and I have no doubt that his writing will mature even more and I will come to a completely different conclusion about his place in history and the body of works considered great literature.
The production and narration by two premier narrators was excellent.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
I suspect that Sanderson's story ideas always begin with the creation of a complex and fascinating new system of magic, for it is in this above all that he excels. Mistborn is the prime example, of course, but now he is dazzling us with an entirely new magical structure with the Stormlight Archives, and just to pass the time and keep his mind limber perhaps, he has added Steelheart for good measure. I do admire the way he begins with a simple, basic premise and then develops it ad infinitum, exploring all the imaginative ways the system can be exploited and stretched by his characters.
And, speaking of characters, Sanderson is no slouch in that department either. His two principal protagonists in this series, Kaladin and Shallan, are a nice mixture of powerful and vulnerable, both as combatants in the epic struggle and as human beings trying to negotiate the traps and dead ends of their own personal natures. Both are sometimes exhausting in their intensity and emotional obtuseness, but we care about them and when they soar they take us with them in exhilaration. And happily they are surrounded by at least a dozen other believable principal characters who elicit chuckles and sneers and sometimes wide eyed surprise from us just as the dynamic duo are becoming a bit tiresome in their single-mindedness.
Sanderson's incredibly complex plots which delve more and more deeply into his fantasy historical construct are, for me, a trifle tedious at times. They are amazing in their imaginative breadth and depth, but I just cannot care quite that much about the serpentine development playing out over the eons of his creative antiquity no matter how beautifully constructed they may be. I also have a small problem with his penchant for resurrecting characters who should be well and truly dead. Nor does he use language nearly so artfully as Abercombie or Guy Gavriel Kay. Nonetheless, he puts more than enough wonder and delight on my plate to keep me coming back again and again without complaining too much about the occasional over-seasoned brussels sprout. I look forward to the next installment with high anticipation.
"Not all those who wander are lost" -JRR Tolkien
Easily one of the best. I would look forward to driving long distances alone just so I could continue the story.
I sometimes regret starting this book series as it is rumored to be at least 10 books. Since Sanderson likes to juggle 5 different books series simultaneously, there is no telling when he will finish it! It will be like A Song of Ice and Fire all over again....
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Is it even possible to say enough good things about this novel? Or, to say anything that hasn’t already been said? Sanderson is a marvel. This is a massive novel that reads like a book half its page length. The story rarely dragged, even the interlude chapters that irritated me in the first book, in Words of Radiance were fun, interesting, and whimsical. More than that, they actually started to make sense in the overall, emerging, story. The story is also tight and focused, almost exclusively following the central characters through the primary storyline. Unlike most fantasy novels of this length, there are no lingering subplots, no secondary characters to drag to the central story off in different directions in order to drag out the plot and lengthen the drama. On top of all this praise, hard as it is to be believe, but I feel like Brandon Sanderson is growing as a writer. His novels are not only becoming more complex but his writing is growing more intricate and sophisticated, no longer relying on typical descriptors or dramatic queues that so often make high fantasy stories predictable. More than this, Sanderson does not rely on graphic violence, graphic sex, or out-of-place profanity the way other working fantasy writers do. While it doesn’t bother me in other books, it is often used as a crutch to prop up weak writing. As for narration, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are simply put, the best American fantasy narrators in the audiobook industry. This series is a must-read for any fan of high fantasy.
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