Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive)
by Brandon Sanderson (Read by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer)
Review by Scott Harkless
Macmillan Audio Audio CD ISBN/ITEM#: 9781427233073
Date: 04 March 2014 List Price $84.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
High Prince Sadius's betrayal had left High Prince Dalinar Kholin and his entire army to die in battle against the humanoid Parshendi. Were they not saved by the Bridgeslave Kaladin and his mysterious power, they might have all died. So now Dalinar is done playing games on the shattered planes, he must end the high princes games and lead his armies deep into the shattered planes. Meanwhile his son's fiancé Shallan must follow her mistress Jasnah Kholin's orders in order to find the secret city of the Knights Radiant and stop the return of the Voidbringers. Captain Kaladin must speak an oath of honor and become a Knight Radiant before the Everstorm comes.
The world itself is richly detailed. Long time readers of Brandon Sanderson's work will recognize The world of Words of Radiance, the second book in The Stormlight Archive series after The Way of Kings as nearly its own character. Every aspect of the world is well thought out, and echoing themes in many of Sanderson's work the mystery of how a world could become a storm swept wasteland and what happened to the Knights Radiant is every bit as interesting as the main plot. The strangeness and technical nature of the world and Sanderson’s magic blurs the line between fantasy and Scifi, and may make this work appealing to fans of both.
This book finds these characters balancing on a knife's edge between greatness and disaster. Dalinar Kholin chose to shun political power for fear of what he might do, yet his nephew's incompetence in ruling and his visions from the almighty may force him to become a King. Shallan must embrace years of dark secrets and the power of lies to uncover the truth. While darkeyed Kaladin must overcome years of bitterness at the abuses of the lighteyed caste in order to act with the honor of a true Knight Radiant.
These conflicts examine some very complex themes that often are ignored. Is honor an archaic concept and how right is it to take power? Can one look at the darkness and learn to control the lies we tell ourselves in order to make truth? Can one really do what is right when one is consumed by hate and bitterness? These themes are central to the story and vigorously explored without coming out as preachy.
The choice in this audio version to use two actors, Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, gives this audiobook an organic feel a single reader might not have. The contrast between the smooth yet lively reading of Shallan with the gravely reading of Kalidan leads to a feeling of chemistry that is a joy to listen to. The only problem is one of format. This recording comes with some 38 CDs meaning this work may be longer than a single roadtrip. Also, for the large number of CD's contained the box is somewhat flimsy and may fail before a listener may get through the audio CDs.
The only other critique this reviewer has for this book is that Shallan in personality and description seems similar to female leads in many other of Sanderson's works. Also, when the book has any periods that drag they are multiplied in their length by the recording. Lastly, the work does have some reliance on Deus Ex Machina. Small complaints, and all things Considered I would suggest this work for anyone who enjoys creativity and great fantasy. I would suggest this format to maybe that group of friends or that family who is going to a great convention far away or anyone who could use a lot of fantasy in their daily drive.