Overall Plot: Seven years ago, King Gavilar was killed and the Parshendi people took responsibility for it. So for the last seven years, the nobility of the humans have been fighting the Parshendi on the Shattered Plains. But there is something called the Everstorm that’s coming and there are people who want the lost Knights Radiant to be founded again. We follow a few characters as they discover their powers, learn their past as well as see the vast world as this looming threat comes.
This huge series has been around for a few years now and while it takes at least 3 years for each volume to come out, it’s completely worth it. Sanderson follows in the footsteps of authors like Robert Jordan with creating a vast and large world that’s detailed and cool. While they are large, it is easy to follow. I listen to the audio book for all of these volumes because it’s easier to get the story done; I just don’t like towing those big books around all the time. They also take me about a month to listen to, since I am busy and don’t have a lot of audio time. But I hope this series review can show you guys what this series is about, some art work and hopefully you will read this amazing series too 🙂
Story Structure: So these books have the main story that you follow (part one, part two, etc.) with artwork in between. But you also have interludes before the beginning of the next section of the story. These interludes follow minor characters and just mainly show you what’s happening in another part of the world (Roshar). A couple minor characters do make more than one appearance as the series goes on, but if you don’t always remember the interludes. Sanderson is very good at showing you what’s important, but guiding you if you don’t remember something. Here are some art work examples in the story (nothing spoilery):
Main Characters: Kaladin, Dalinar, Shallan, Adolin (Dalinar’s son) and Jasnah (Daughter of Gavilar and Navani, niece to Dalinar)
Minor Characters: Elokhar (Current king, son of Gavilar and Navani, nephew to Dalinar), Lift, Wit (not quite as he seems), Navani (Gavilar’s wife) and Szeth (The Assassin in White), Eshonai (a Parshendi warrior)
The Way of Kings: Book One
Published: August 31, 2010 by TOR
This first book focuses on Kaladin, a young man whose the father of a surgeon in a small town. When his young brother is drafted into the army, Kaladin also goes to protect him. While being in the army, a lot of awful things happen that cause Kaladin to be forced to be branded as a slave and also dangerous and sent to a war camp on the Shattered Plains. There, with the grueling routine of these men, he’s down on himself until Syl, a spren, bonds with him. With renewed vigor, Kaladin starts trying to get the men in Bridge Four to realize that there’s more to live for. We also see Dalinar Kholin (pictured on the cover), uncle to the current king, as he experiences strange visions of the past. Many of the court people think he’s crazy with these visions, but there’s so much more to these visions than Dalinar thinks. Shallan is in this story, but her story is more minor. She’s from a distant city and she goes to become Jasnah’s assistant to steal something she has in order to pay her family’s debt. That’s the basic premise of this first book without giving too much away.
I first listened to this book clear back in 2014 while on vacation, having loved his other books. While this is 1000 pages, these books never feel that long. You get sucked into these people’s stories; you see how broken they are, how they struggle with adversity but also how they find ways to try and be better. Kaladin is a broken man from the things that have been done to him. But as he tries to help Bridge Four become strong and refuse to give up is touching; these men come from all different beliefs and backgrounds and I loved seeing these men come together. You also see how the nobles that fight on the Shattered Plains are manipulative, lazy and no longer caring for the reason why they fight. I know this does sound a bit vague, but the less you know going into Sanderson’s stories, the better.
Some people have complained about this first book being slow, but I respectfully disagree. Sanderson builds the world, politics, magic, characters etc in stages so you don’t get everything dumped on you like other books do. While the pace itself can be a bit slow to introduce you to what’s going on, it’s never boring as you learn little things along the way.
Words of Radiance: Book Two
Published: March 4, 2014 by TOR
This second volume picks up with Shallan’s past in the beginning, with her family situation and an inkling of the secrets she carries. This introduction makes Shallan the main person we follow and see the most growth from, like how Kaladin (on the book cover) was the first book. But you still get plenty of Kaladin, Dalinar and the others in it as well. Kaladin tries to help protect Dalinar from the “Assassin in White” who continues to kill across Roshar. Dalinar keeps having these ominous visions and tries to figure out how to make the famed Knights Radiant return as the whispers of the Voidbringers come. That’s the gist of book two without any spoilers. This book was my favorite in terms of humor and seeing more of Kaladin and Shallan’s story arcs. Both have great witty dialogue together and you see many epic moments that show both of them as key players in this book. I also loved delving into the secrets of the past and seeing the struggle with getting people to listen to you and what is actually truth compared to myth. The ending is still my favorite of the three books so far; that’s an ending that will have you both nervous and yelling in victory.
Edgedancer: A Stormlight Novella
Pulished: October 17, 2017 (in it’s individual form. It was previously published in his Arcanum Unbounded collection in 2016)
NOTE: This must be read after book 2 because Lift, the main character we follow, appears in Words of Radiance.
This novella follows the funny and quirky girl called Lift, who receives Stormlight by eating lots and lots of food. We follow her after she leaves the Azish empire and she learns of someone whose killing people with powers. Lift is hilarious; she has the body of a young girl, but she’s very random at times and there’s more to her than just her silliness. She has some great showdown scenes and someone makes an appearance in this novella that I didn’t expect. This appearance also carries into book three. While this isn’t really required reading in this series, the smaller bits of information and the ending do make more sense if you read this before book three. While parts of it did drag for me, the ending was always great as with his books.
Oathbringer: Book Three
Published: November 14, 2017 by TOR
This third book immediately follows the events at the end of book two as Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Jasnah (shown on cover) and many others keep preparing the Everstorm and the Voidbringers to come. This book follows Dalinar as our main lead, as you finally understand why people feel certain things about him and don’t always trust him. His past links the present events perfectly and the level of emotions in this book is just staggering. I felt for Dalinar, with sometimes seeing him as a true monster down to a man whose been through so much and how his sacrifices make him who he is. This book can be a bit slow in some spots to some due to the many scenes of politics between Dalinar and the other nations, but it’s necessary to show how the whole world is affected by this coming Everstorm and Voidbringers. Personally, I think this book is my favorite in the series due to having such a great balance of action, emotion, redemption, shattering revelations and a good amount of answered questions until the next book. Of course, some major threads are still left open for the future books, but I love that Sanderson still gives you conclusions to many smaller details about plot elements or characters by the end. One small con is that I felt like Shallan didn’t feel as authentic as she did in book two. I kind of understand why she is the way she is, but I prefer her moments in book two more. But this book satisfies so many things and I applaud Sanderson for ripping my heart out, then mending it again 🙂
Final Note: I know that I haven’t explained the magic system in this series. I didn’t do that because I want leave it as a surprise for the reader; Sanderson does a much better explanation about his own stuff than I can. I also had a hard time explaining these books without getting into spoilers, even if they’re minor. Since this series is so massive, it would be really easy to spoil things and nobody wants that. If you guys have any questions about these books, I’ll gladly answer them. I do also recommend going to Sanderson’s website and Wiki page (at your own risk) if you want to learn more too. But if you’ve enjoyed his other books, I really recommend this massive series. It’s fun, action packed, masterful world building and endearing characters that I still think about. I hope you guys liked this review 🙂
Have you read this series? If so, have you caught up to the newest book? Whose your favorite character?