Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2)
by Brandon Sanderson
Cover Artist: Michael Whelan
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765326362
Date: 04 March 2014 List Price $28.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The much anticipated sequel to The Way of Kings has finally arrived. The future of world depends upon the emergence of a new group of Knights Radiant. There are forces that will try to prevent this from happening. In order to become a knight, people will have to learn and accept the tenants of the various orders.
The action mostly revolves around a few characters. Shallan is the daughter of a house in trouble, her deepest secret will be revealed. Kaladin has risen from the bottom, but he must overcome is past. Adolin has been prevented from dueling, he is finally given the chance to prove his skill, but his enemy is more cunning than he imagines. Eshonai is a Parshendi shard bearer, she looks for a way to help her people, but the cure is not what is expected. There are several other minor points of view including Szeth the assassin who continues to rampage around the world following the orders of those whole hold his oath.
The Stormlight Chronicles has an interesting magic system. The system is powered by mana, stored in gems, that is replenished during storms. As the Words of Radiance progresses, more of the details emerge as characters learn what they can do. This is similar to the slow reveal of the rules in Sandersonís Mistborn series. Although Sanderson has notes at the end related to the different classes, when he follows the development of the talent in the story, it is much easier to follow how the powers work.
Sanderson does a nice job with his character development. Each main character has strengths and weaknesses. He is also developing secondary characters that may be able to come to the fore as the story arc progresses. Each of the first two novels told a complete story, but they are part of a much greater arc, so much is left unresolved.
Although I tend to avoid discussing artwork, I need to note the high quality and usefulness of the interior artwork. The sketches and designs supplement the story, they are not just pretty pictures. They describe forms, clothing, and notes. Stop and look through them.
The complex story does not lend itself to picking up the story in the middle. New readers should start with the first novel, The Way of Kings. Fans of Sanderson's other works, Robert Jordanís Wheel of Time series, and Daniel Abraham's The Dagger and Coin Quintet should find a lot to enjoy here.
I like the series so far, but there is a long way to go in the coming eight novels. Fortunately there is a lot of information to learn about the different magical orders, the voidbringers, and the fate of the original knights radiant. The addition of characters should make for an interesting journey. I hope that since Sanderson has planned for a long series he can continue to avoid the plague of some long series, the books where nothing happens.