Words of Radiance (2014) by Brandon Sanderson

‘Words of Radiance’ is an adrenaline pumping page-turner from the mind of Brandon Sanderson. Part two is in his ongoing, ‘Stormlight Archives’ series, this book shows us the epic struggles that Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, and Adolin overcome. Told from the point of view of these and some other characters, the book manages to build on the incredible world and story that ‘The Way of Kings’ established.

I remember when I read ‘The Way of Kings’, the rush, thrill, and joy I felt during it. There were moments where I audibly whooped and cheered and where I groaned in fear of what was to come. The feeling was so powerful that I had to use all my willpower to resist jumping onto the next book right away. I did so, so as to pace out the Sanderson experience. But this week I finally returned to ‘Words of Radiance’ and I think I finished it in about five days. Spending the last day only reading.

The story has a diverse set of characters from unique backgrounds and fascinating pasts that you wish to learn more about. But if that were not enough, they all find themselves facing increasingly poor odds in the most hostile of settings. Sanderson maneuvers them over a chessboard like a master, constantly keeping us guessing as to how things will escalate next while still delivering cathartic moments.

This is probably the part that I love the most about the books. We know, as readers, that some characters will eventually succeed. We do not know at what cost or how. Sanderson maximises on these unknowns like a master and constantly surprises us with how he resolves conflicts. Which is impressive in and of itself however he also manages to deliver excellent endings. It’s not a surprise in that it’s just a bait and switch, it’s unexpected AND rewarding. This makes me feel valued as a reader.

I would love to read the next book but I shall of course be holding off on that for the time being. It helps that ‘Words of Radiance’ ends in a satisfactory manner, leaving certain questions unanswered while still progressing the plot. This way the book manages to feel whole in itself and not like just another piece in a long running series that is always setting up the next mystery while not giving anything in return.

I highly recommend anything this modern master of high fantasy writes.

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