Book two of the Stormlight Archive.
From the best-selling author who completed Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series comes a new, original creation that matches anything else in modern fantasy for epic scope, thrilling imagination, superb characters, and sheer addictiveness. Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from a past civilisation that can win wars.
As the world tips into a war for control of the mythical artifacts of power made from Shard, characters are swept up into new dangers which will threaten their integrity and their lives. Huge, ideas-filled, world-spanning fantasy from a master of the genre.
Brandon Sanderson’s brilliant second instalment in the epic fantasy series The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance, rivals anything dished up by other masters of the genre. In this thrilling audiobook, various factions vie for control of the magical Shard artefacts whose mysterious power is in great demand. As war looms on the horizon, aristocratic dynasties struggle for power. Available from Audible, Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive, Book 2 is narrated by the team of Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, and is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.
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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, but 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!).
Quite simply one of the best of the best.I'm not going to give a long review as there are already plenty of good ones out there, this is really just to add my recommendation to the growing number of others. The first story in the series was 5 stars but both writer and narrators have somehow managed to improve even on this. You do need to read the books in series order and the series is planned to span 10 books. I can't wait for the next one.