Book two of the Stormlight Archive.
From the best-selling 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.
©2014 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
You know you've found something special when the first book in a series is excellent ... but the second book is even better. WORDS OF RADIANCE is one such second book, and is a strong indicator that the Stormlight Archive as a whole is going to be Brandon Sanderson's masterpiece. As an encore to the extraordinary and enthralling THE WAY OF KINGS, WORDS OF RADIANCE raises the bar to dizzying new heights. This book's depth, complexity, scope, and sheer heart and gutsiness make it a joy to experience.
In order to write a great fantasy novel, you must first have a great plot and great characters, and in WORDS OF RADIANCE, Sanderson has achieved this with such style that it appears effortless, seamless. THE WAY OF KINGS was the starter's pistol, and WORDS OF RADIANCE shows Sanderson really hitting his stride. The plot expands and deepens like the chasms of the Shattered Plains. The scope of the story increases exponentially, yet never quite becomes too unwieldy or difficult to follow. And excitingly, the final scenes open up whole new horizons to be explored in future books.
Character development in WORDS OF RADIANCE is also first class. I have to admit that in the preceding book, I found Dalinar's character to be rather bleak, but WORDS OF RADIANCE makes him much more three-dimensional and therefore likable. On the other hand, I loved Kaladin and Shallan from the very first time I met them. However, in WORDS OF RADIANCE, both of their characters blossom even further, revealing unexpected depths. They are both such engaging characters because they are both, paradoxically, so deeply scarred, and that is something every reader can empathize with in their own unique way. Through the characters of Kaladin and Shallan, Sanderson poses the questions: How far can a person be pushed before they break? And once broken, are there means they can use to continue to function as human beings? WORDS OF RADIANCE sums up Kaladin and Shallan perfectly: "Contradictions. Those were what made people real." In the end, that is what it comes down to: These are great characters because they are so very real.
For a fantasy novel to be something truly exceptional, it has to have something even more than a great plot and great characters. There are just so many fantasy novels out there - and so many of them are either simply ordinary, or perhaps good, but very few are extraordinary. So when I'm reading a fantasy novel, I'm always looking for something truly special about it, something that it does better than all the rest and that marks it as one of the greats. In the case of WORDS OF RADIANCE, I believe it is the book's deep and heartfelt exploration of important human issues that most emphatically sets it apart from the crowd. There are a core group of themes that are not just explored but are attacked from every possible angle, so that thematically, the book reveals more layers than an onion. It is one of the great paradoxes of literature that real-world issues are often most effectively tackled in the fantasy genre. Brandon Sanderson has been particularly adept at this throughout his career, but never more so than in WORDS OF RADIANCE.
Class difference seems to be a theme that has long been close to Sanderson's heart, and it has its most overt airing yet in WORDS OF RADIANCE. As Kaladin says to Shallan: "'It's the fault of your entire class. Each time one of us is defrauded, enslaved, beaten, or broken, the blame rests upon all of you who support it, even indirectly.'" But in a sign of authorial maturity, the question also arises: If class does separate human beings, does humanity, in the end, bind them together? WORDS OF RADIANCE also asks many questions about the concept of justice, questions such as: Can life pay for life? Is killing ever justified? Is there any real difference between killing and murder? Anyone interested in arguments about corporal punishment could do a lot worse than read WORDS OF RADIANCE.
But there was one theme in this book that truly captured my imagination. This theme, put simply, was the nature of lies, but not in the way we would normally think about it. It takes a being from another dimension to articulate it most succinctly: "'You [humans] are abstract. You think in lies, and tell them to yourselves.'" Not only is the way in which we create our own self-images and our images of others a matter of perspective, and therefore a slightly different experience for every person, WORDS OF RADIANCE demonstrates most profoundly and movingly how we use lies to protect ourselves. Both Kaladin and Shallan lie to themselves and others in order to salvage their own sanity in the wake of unspeakable brutality. And this made me think long and hard about the millions, perhaps even billions, of people throughout human history who have been forced to do exactly the same thing.
Fantasy books as a genre suffer under the stigma of being unrealistic and therefore somehow less than other genres. But as far as I'm concerned, great books can come from any genre, and need only fulfill one overriding criteria: Great books must make the reader THINK. From now on, I shall be holding up WORDS OF RADIANCE as my proof that fantasy books can do exactly that, and do it very, very well.
At 40 hours long some might say it's a bit long winded but I was gripped right to the end.
The lead characters development from hero to slave and back to hero
When, despite the prejudice he suffered from Eihokar and his peers, he puts himself in danger to save his life
Can't wait for the next book in the series
As always with Sanderson, WoR provided a superb interweaving of culture, magic and history. Michael Crame truly stepped up his performance, providing a broad and credible range of emotion, particularly for those characters in their moments of haunted agony or disbelief. Kate Reading unfortunately did not provide believable character readings, save perhaps Shallan and Jasnah, often making the characters seem too old, too young, too rigid or generally vapid. Still, the overall effect of the narrative and delivery was extraordinary and well worth every dollar.
Brandon has a way of story telling that is always captivating. I'm used to every now and then having a chapter that you just have to push through to get back into the exciting text but Brandon can just keep the good stuff coming.
I'm a fan of Michael's narrations and he has again done a great job of giving the characters depth and expressing their feelings through his voice. I have to admit that I had to adjust to Kate a little but before long I didn't even notice what initially bothered me.
Overall it is a fantastic listen and well worth the price. I mean I've paid more for half the duration and quality.
Absolutely. As I got near the end of the book I had a little anxiety attack at the end of each chapter fearing the words "This is the end of book two"
The rescue of Delenar from the assassin in white. Predictable and a bit cliché, but glorious, triumphant and perfect.
What a great team, I enjoyed listening to them both in The Wheel of Time saga, and they do the same brilliant job of giving each character their own voice and life.
I really enjoyed this book, a must listen for any fantasy fan.
The ideas behind the stormlight archive are really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series. I was very excited to read this one as well and am eagerly looking forward to others. Each book is written from the point of view of several characters with one of those characters being the pre-eminent one in the book. In the first book that was Kaladin and in this one it is Shallan.
I found Shallan to be an unimpressive character - overly self absorbed and tiresome coming across somewhat pathetic. I was continually waiting for the sections from her point of view to conclude so I could become enthralled again in what Kaladin was up to. Perhaps the female narrator didn't help to make her seem worthwhile.
The story is awesome and well worth reading for anyone who enjoys fantasy. The world is rich and complex and well thought out. So much so that even though the sections of Shallan leave a lot to be desired, the rest of the book more than makes up for it.
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.
This is definitely not a stand alone book. It is better than the first one in my opinion. This review is similar to the first book review.
Story - This does not start off slowly as all of the groundwork has been set in the first book. I liked that not everything was explained. If the characters see a creature then they see it as it is to them, perfectly normal, if the creature needs explanation then the author uses very clever devices to describe them.
Narrator - Tells the story in a good way. He neither detracts nor adds to the story which is great because this story is good enough to stand on it's own. He uses inflection and accents that a not over the top to distinguish between characters. It seems that with this new book he was looking forward to it too. I liked the way he really "got into" the story here.
I enjoyed this very much and am looking forward to more.
Absolutely in the top 5.
When Kaladin was trying to save the king and faced down Moash even as he was in such a terrible physical shape. He was not about to give up. I gave him real props for that.
And when Dalinar tricked out Amaram re Kaladin's story. And whenever Lopen had something to say - he is FUN-NY!
Their nuances for the funny bits make the funny bits funnier. Their performance of the character's voices made it easier to understand their personalities; Sadeas is a prime example - he sounds slimey and underhand, a perfect fit.
Air-sick lowlanders! lol
I really like that the characters are humanly flawed. Kaladin is still finding his way, and filled with a lot of conflict about the whole light eyes/dark eyes dynamics. I groaned in disappointment when he agreed to help kill the king, and again when he gave Moash the shardplate and sword. That was a dumb move. But it was great to see that he has to struggle to get to where he has to be, and not just wake up one day all perfect and superheroish.
"Outstanding - again!…and very much worth the wait."
I think Brandon Sanderson might just be a genius! He is the wordsmith who has surely bonded the High Spren of storytelling. Ok, contrived comment, but I just couldn’t help myself- also evidence as to why I am a reader of these books rather than a writer, but I can certainly appreciate good craft when I see it.
The Way of Kings was one of my early forays into the epic fantasy genre, and it got me hooked. I have since worked my way through many other series in this genre, with Peter V Brett, Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, and Robert Jordan added to my list of favourites (and probably in that order of preference too) but, in excited anticipation of this sequel, I listened again to Stormlight book one….and in my opinion, it’s still the best!! Indeed it was even better on the second listening as I noticed so many more clever nuances I’d missed on the first pass…..and so my expectations for book two of the series were set very high. Happily, Words of Radiance didn’t let me down. It didn’t miss a beat; it just kept right on where Way of Kings left off. The pace never let up, no “padding in the middle” (my pet peeve when it comes to sequels) and not once in almost 50 hours of listening did a character say something out of sorts or disappoint me for the sake of a convenient plot twist (although perhaps Shallan could have managed one of her quips when she realised she wasn’t the reason for Kaladin’s chasm survival after all!).
I love these characters, and after two books in the series I feel l really know them. They are so well developed as individuals – both their strengths and shortcomings (the narration helps too – it’s been consistent across both books, and the attitude in the tone of the narrator definitely contributes to their characters).
There is humour in this book too – I found myself grinning on more than one occasion: the banter between Kaladin and Adolin, Shallan’s quick tongue, Rock’s observations and Wit’s….well…..Wit’s wit (and I have to admit it, but I so haven’t sussed Wit yet? Just when I’ve decided he’s one of the good guys, there’s an interlude and I’m thrown again – but he is just so likeable!!) .
The plot twists and turns, with new teasers with every interlude – never predictable. The label of epic is more than justified. Sanderson is definitely a master story teller – how does he do it??
Another thing that has always set Stormlight aside from other fantasies in my mind is the sheer enormity and originality of the “new world” that has been created. This imagery is augmented in Words of Radiance. Whereas with most fantasies I can see references or nods to our known cultures, with Stormlight, Sanderson has managed to create a whole new ecosystem too. Also, typical of Sanderson, the magic system is thoroughly conceived and cohesive. It truly is a whole new world, and it’s all very impressive. Overlay this with Sanderson’s creative story-telling and plot weaving, and you have a very enjoyable journey.
In a bid to understand a little more of what makes Sanderson tick, and how he manages to conjure such imagery, I went to brandonsanderson.com (I was also fishing a little - looking for hints at what might be coming next - I was bereft at the characters having deserted me for another few years). Apparently he started work on Stormlight over 15 years ago, and has written “hundreds of thousands of words worth of worldbuilding for it”. This level of investment and preparation clearly shows – it’s manifested as an epic, satisfying experience for his readers.
Although Words of Radiance ends with many, many loose ends and much left unexplained, it’s still a very satisfying cliff-hanger.
Regarding the narration; Michael Kramer is brilliant as usual, and even Kate Reading gets her pronunciation of key names correct this time. (I think she's better than she was in book one? I know many reviewers didn't like her, although I was ok with her).
If you haven’t yet read Way of Kings, you could possibly jump right into this series with this book, but you’d be short-changing yourself. Do start at the beginning. Indeed, I almost envy you if you’re still at the start of this journey – it is a treat. Hopefully it won’t be another four year wait ‘til the next instalment, but I have to admit that I might just be prepared to wait longer than I would like if the quality stays this high – these books are so intricate and detailed that I would fear the implications of simply “churning them out” (although with 5 books planned for this series, and another possible 5 as a sequel, shorter intervals would be appreciated – I need to still be around to read the last instalment!).
"The kind of book you miss when it ends."
Quite simply one of the best of the best.I'm not going to give a long review as there are already plenty of good ones out there, this is really just to add my recommendation to the growing number of others. The first story in the series was 5 stars but both writer and narrators have somehow managed to improve even on this. You do need to read the books in series order and the series is planned to span 10 books. I can't wait for the next one.
"Six Stars Worth of Radiance!"
If ever a curriculum is designed for the subject of “Epic Fantasy” then the Stormlight Archive will undoubtedly be required reading. It is purely and simply that good. Other reviewers have said it all. The scope and breadth of this work by Sanderson, the originality of the world, its ecosystem, the highly original combat and workings of magic in this series are all second to none.
As an avid reader though that doesn’t make a book without great characters but here too Sanderson excels with as varied a cast as you could want backed with genuine depth and complexity. An author that invests so much in the characters, background and story is a rare and wonderful thing. Sanderson can still be ruthless though. The fact that you become so attached to these wonderful characters means that when something significant happens it really hits home and there are a couple of seriously jaw-dropping moments in this book. Moments that genuinely felt stunning in their impact such that you hardly hear the next few minutes of the story.
The fact that the book only very rarely to me seemed to drag in any way whatsoever despite its gargantuan length is incredibly impressive. That’s helped by the fact that not only are the characters so multi-dimensional, each with their failings and strengths but also that there is considerable humour. Rock will remain a favourite character of mine for years to come. There is also of course action which is incredibly well-detailed and moves with genuine pace and excitement. During the “disadvantaged duel” scene I almost felt like I was standing on a football terrace cheering my favourite team rather than just listening to an audiobook.
The narration is very good. Kramer, is as sublime as ever and I think either I’m getting used to her or she has improved but I felt much more comfortable with Karen Reading’s performance too. She actually tends to be better when involved with the characters as opposed to descriptive narrative. There were a couple of parts where there were short passages taken by each of them in quick succession. Having the different narrators voice the same characters so close to each other did feel a little incongruous. All that said, I would hope to see the same pair back for the next volume.
In summary, if you are after genuinely epic fantasy packed with original ideas and a story with depth and no few twists and turns then the Stormlight Archive is for you. Sanderson’s diligence and patience is paying off in a huge way. Of course as mentioned by Robyn (possibly the best fantasy reviewer, highly recommended too) this is set to be a five book series with possibly another five as a sequel. It’s a big investment in time, but it’s far more certain to bring you a return than anything your banker can recommend!
Now, how do I give this six stars?
"Strong second instalment"
The characters are believable and you never get bored or lose interest in the storyline.
They read well together and bring the characters to life
If you liked the first book then the 2nd instalment continues on in the same entertaining way. Recommend for those who need a long audio book to listen to and like to get immersed in a storyline and characters.
Had me gripped.
The plot, the narration, the pace - fantastic. Theres a lot to it (many hours) and I covered a lot of ground dog-walking with my headphones on without noticing.
Kaladin is my favorite character. His development has been magnificent. He is finally becoming the man who he was supposed to be and witnessing it has been a really fun ride.
Kaladin saying the words left me speechless and those around him as well. I actually held my breath when it happened and only released it when the moment was passed.
Yes. I cannot wait for the next one. I had my brother read the series in print because he doesn't like audio books. He loved it. I have come to the conclusion that the Storm light archives is my favorite series and unquestionably the best set of purchases I have made from Audible
"another classic from Brandon Sandeson"
Excellent fast pace, keeps you on your toes throughout
good storylines well read would recommend to anyone who likes a good action fantasy novel
awesome read!!!!!! once you start you wont stop!!!!!!!!
"Amazing read gripping all the way through!!"
I would rate this book as a 10
The story line is gripping,you can't help but love the characters. I love how each character has their own background and how they are connected to each other. But then there are characters you know nothing about but you love their flare for example Witt one of the characters he is so funny and interesting but WHO IS HE what's his connection to this story brandan sanders best get move on I'm dying for this next instalment !!!
No but they are fantastic they brought these characters to light the only quibble I have is that kate reading changed accents for the ship crew in this book from what she did in the first it confused me.
The words of a radiant .. Life before death strength before weakness
PLEASE hurry up with next instalment I'm having withdrawal symptoms and I only just finished it lol. Any one who listens to this book will understand how good it is on a level with game of thrones
"Carries on from the Way of Kings.. Just Excellent!"
I will certainly be listening to Words of Radiance again, as like the first book, I'll be listening to the whole thing again before the next book!
I can't compare Brandon Sandersons' writing style or stories to any other author, as all his books are always very unique, the worlds and the way the "magic systems" work are different in so many way to anything else I've heard of.
But I would certainly put this and all of Brandon's work along with the likes of Robert Jordan and Joe Abercrombie, my other 2 favorite authors of this gener.
Any of the big battle and fight scenes, I won't mention any, so to avoid spoilers, however Brandon writes them so well, you really don't want to pause it part way through, you have to find somewhere quiet to just take it all in!
One of the things that makes this so good are the narrators, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, are without exception my favorite narrators. They have the ability to make every character sound individual
the only thing that was a little odd, was the way Kate said "Sadeas" the odd thing was it was only for a very short period in the book, Kate was pronouncing it really strangely... then started saying it properly again!
Anyway, these 2 are the best, I've loved their work from the WoT series and it was because i like their narration so much, that I hunted for other books they'd narrated and them came across Brandon, so for that,they can do no wrong in my eyes!!
"Did not want it to end"
This is a great second installment. I was mortified when it finished as I will now have to wait 3 years or so until the next book.
My favourite character from the previous book is Kaladin and his abilities and story are given even more attention here. I did not greatly enjoy Shallon's part of the story in the first book but it is much better in this. Her back story is fleshed out and she gains a personality/
The voice acting it excellent and never once detract from listening.
If you enjoyed the first book, you will love this. It is even better.
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