Yet another corker from Brandon Sanderson. This enormous audiobook kept me gripped from start to finish, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
..Show More » An aside: The sheer size of this epic audiobook (45.5 hours) does make me wonder why the publishers of the Game of Thrones audiobooks cannot release them in one purchase per book such as this, when Brandon Sanderson's epic is fully 15 hours longer...
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, b..Show More »ut 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!).