The Stormlight Archives – When Good vs. Evil becomes messy

1080 pages. 1.5 days was all it took to burn through book 2 of the Stormlight Archives, after powering through the first in a week.

Fantasy is a huge risk. The story will almost always be interesting, but it is tough for it to be something special, something memorable. I’ll be reading this series for quite a while.

The book had a straight set of 5 star reviews from your friends. It has 4.75 out of 150,000 reviews, one of the highest I’ve seen. It’s not perfect obviously but its pretty freaking close.

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Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first two books in the Stormlight Archive (The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance) have the POV of a washed up general who’s trying to regain his sanity, a brilliant soldier unjustly sent to slavery, and a witty, sheltered girl who escaped an abusive household. Three entirely different perspectives on the world from three people who have something to prove, and something to learn. All of this in the backdrop of a tedious war stemming from the assassination of a king, vague hints to some sort of “Desolation” to end the world, and an opaque history of a great betrayal by an ancient order called the Knights Radiant. And that’s just the beginning.

What I liked

  • Brilliant character development/backgrounds as the author does appropriate flashbacks that explains what motivates them to move or hate.
  • The world is so well developed – different physical elements, societal roles, secret societies, various governments that characters learn about as they progress.
  • Unbelievable ups and downs, so much r/nonononoyes in book form.
  • It’s sense of right and wrong is somewhere in between Game of Thrones (honor is dead) and Lord of the Rings (a clear line of good and evil)

Additional thoughts:

  • A pleasant break from the popular human/elf/orc/dwarf/undead framework.
  • To me, this is a fantasy novel with similar quality, meaning and style to the manga One Piece. Brilliant character development and backgrounds that explain imperfect decisions in the past and allow characters to be honorable in the present. It’s world is already fleshed out, but the main characters discover more and more as they go.
  • Extremely witty conversation, especially from the female lead, Shallan. 21st century banter is applied to high fantasy (similar to The Witcher 3, a recent fantasy RPG) and I actually like it quite a bit. It doesn’t try create its own brand of fantasy banter and makes the characters relatable.

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