I finished Words of Radiance last night–here is my review from GoodReads.com:
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
I’ll keep this brief and spoiler-free: I really liked it, then I really hated it, and, by the end, I loved it. I have been waiting for this book every since I finished the 2nd read of the Way of the Kings. The first read of the Way of Kings didn’t really grab me, but the second read did. I’ve been hooked every since.
When I first started reading this one, I liked it, but by the middle I didn’t. The difference between this book and the Way of Kings is that this one is essentially Shallan’s story. Kaladin still has a significant place, but he’s not the focus of the story in the same way he was in book 1. As I identify with Kaladin more than Shallan, that was frustrating. By the middle of the story, I felt that Kaladin was acting out of character based on his characterization in the Way of Kings. The book was really frustrating. It got so bad that I had to take a three week break from the book. But I finally came back to it this past week–and I’m glad I did.
Based on Brandon’s podcast (Writing Excuses), I *think* I see that he wanted to bring his character back low to set up the ending, but the way it was written was very difficult for me to take–not because of the “suspense” but because it felt as if Kaladin was acting out of character. In book 1, Kaladin could make mistakes, but he was a “reflective” character. He would reflect on situations, good or bad, and then take actions. For most of book 2, Kaladin did almost no reflecting. He would still act, but there seemed be little reflection on his actions before he did them or after he did them (unless it was negative reflection called for by the plot). This left me very dissatisfied.
The last third of the book, however, seemed to rectify the problem for me. The last third of the book seemed to get more balanced. Instead of the 75/25 split it seemed happened through the first part of the book, the ending seemed to restore the balance of the novel to a more equitable 60/40 split (with the 60 going to Shallan–we are learning her backstory after all). I was fine with that–I like Shallan (I just like Kaladin a little more). But more importantly, the ending had much more “reflection” on the part of both of the leads–not just with Shallan. That’s what I was missing–the thinking/feeling of the soldier/surgeon figure that Bk1 set up and seemed missing in most of the book.
I won’t spoil the book, but I will say that I was very pleased with the way the book ultimately turned out. You learn a LOT more about Shallan and Kaladin, and the plot spins out in a very exciting way. I will be looking forward to Book 3 in the Stormlight Archives series!
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