This pre-release review is specially approved, and contains no Oathbringer spoilers for any of its pre-release materials. It does contain some Words of Radiance spoilers that are also mentioned in the Oathbringer synopsis.
Oathbringer is my favorite book.
I know this will seem like an empty statement. We are on 17th Shard, after all. Loving a new Brandon book--especially a new Brandon cosmere book--is par for the course. But, with that said, I've thought about this for a long time, and I truly cannot think of a book I've read that has made me feel the things Oathbringer has. It has the highest highs, the lowest lows, and moments where your eyes go wide in amazement.
"Is this really happening right now?" you'll say. Yup. It is. This is the third book of the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer. I don't think I can overhype this for you. This is the best thing Brandon has written. It isn't even close. I imagine it might just be your favorite book, too.
Oathbringer is a colossal 450,000-word book, longer than Words of Radiance. (Remember when Brandon said Way of Kings was long because it needed to be long, and the next books would be shorter? Bwahaha.) Is it too long? No, there's absolutely no fluff in this book. It's jam packed with so many things. Oathbringer is all killer and no filler. Every scene feels like it belongs. I'm a guy who loves a tight plot--even more than I love worldbuilding--and this book is beautifully crafted. You won't be bored at all.
Brandon walks a fine line of things of having events feel natural, but also doing some very unexpected things. There are things that happen in Oathbringer that I didn't expect we'd get until the back half of this ten book series. It's shocking what all happens in this book. Things vaguely referenced that many casual readers probably missed become absolutely central. Brandon explains these elements carefully, so even if you aren't up to speed on the craziness of Stormlight speculation, you won't feel lost here. There's still a depth to the book if you are heavily invested (get it?), and it holds up on a reread.
It's astonishing that Brandon crafts something that feels so natural and effortless, because there are a ton of characters in Stormlight. Brandon juggles viewpoints really effectively and we see new viewpoints that add to the world a lot, but we never forget about our main characters. It's probably for this reason that this book feels so tight, because you'd think there's so much space in a book this big, but there's so much to do. Every viewpoint is precious and there's a huge amount to explore. You might even say it is almost too fast, maybe!
This book is Dalinar's book, and we get a large flashback sequence from him. It has a lot more flashbacks than Kaladin and Shallan, and honestly I feel like we could have had more than we got, but Oathbringer is a lean story and everything has its piece in the grand story arc.
Even though it's huge, when you read this book you'll see it really is one book. Everything is connected. Even though this could really be three shorter books, it's one connected whole. It cannot truly be split. It's one glorious, beautiful whole.
Of course, Brandon has always been known for his worldbuilding. He's been introducing us to the world of Roshar slowly, which sounds hilarious to say considering The Way of Kings had a big learning curve. But seriously, Roshar really has insane depth. Ten Orders of Knights Radiant, Ten Heralds, Ten Oathgates, who knows how many Desolations that happened millennia ago, the Recreance, the Voidbringers, and three Shards on Roshar. There's so much, and those are just the highlights. That alone is enough to keep us going for ten books, but wait there's so much more. How foolish of us.
Oathbringer changes so much about Stormlight Archive. We get killer lore in Oathbringer. Things you've wondered for many, many years will be answered. You can really tell Brandon has been worldbuilding this for a long, long time. Things are insanely complex, but also, everything makes sense. There's so much clever, subtle foreshadowing that few have picked up on. Roshar is huge, deep, and you really can get lost in it forever, now more than ever.
The beautiful thing is even though we get crazy lore in this book, there's new, absolutely freaking insane puzzles that we never could have expected. Seriously. You all have no idea. It's bonkers. How deep will the lore be just by book five?
Words of Radiance ended with the summoning of the Everstorm, which would bring back the ancient enemy of Roshar, the Voidbringers. If you were worried about the Voidbringers being boring or one-dimensional villains, worry not. There's a huge amount of depth to everything with the Voidbringers. Nothing is quite as it seems.
It's hard to explain how crazy Roshar is after everything we learn and everything that happens in Oathbringer. Simply put: it's bigger, more epic, and crazier than ever. But Oathbringer never is self-congratulatory on its lore; it is all in the service of this amazing story.
Speaking of amazingness...
One of Brandon's signatures in his writing is the Brandon Avalanche at the end of his books, where pacing gets very fast, and everything happens all at once. It makes for some amazing endings. You might thinking that you know Brandon's tricks. You'll know how this book goes down.
Hah. That's funny. No, you haven't seen an ending like this one. If you were to compare Words of Radiance and Oathbringer's endings, it's not even remotely close which is more awesome: Oathbringer by a mile.
The crazy thing is that this book has three separate climaxes. Part One alone has a completely satisfactory conclusion that you could read and say, "Yes, I got my fill, that was awesome." It has another. And then it has the grand finale.
Let me try to explain:
It starts with us finally seeing [REDACTED] go [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. Then it turns out [REDACTED] didn't [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED], but [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. You get [REDACTED] and it's immediately time for [REDACTED], and it's this epic [REDACTED] right away. Oh, and not only is it [REDACTED] [REDACTED], but just [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED] is [REDACTED].
It turns out [REDACTED] was the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] was [REDACTED] to be [REDACTED], and for a moment you [REDACTED]. All in [REDACTED] [REDACTED] was so [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] makes [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. All the while, [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] are in [REDACTED] (because of [REDACTED]) at [REDACTED], fighting [REDACTED] and trying to get [REDACTED], but the [REDACTED] refuses to [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] tries to get [REDACTED] to [REDACTED], but [REDACTED] keeps [REDACTED]. All the while there's [REDACTED] [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. Oh also there are [REDACTED], because why not, clearly more needed to be happening.
But then, [REDACTED] (the actual chapter title), [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED].
[REDACTED] just [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED], or [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] faces [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], and it is so [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED]. [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED], reaches [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED] to [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED], and they are [REDACTED] into the [REDACTED] and it's so freaking amazingly awesome. You see [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. Oh, and that's just the first half of the avalanche because then [redacted for swearing] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] with [REDACTED] and it's just insane. The most intense thing ever.
Hmmm... something tells me that isn't going to come across well with me needing to redact all of that. I did actually write that paragraph, but there was so much happening that it's just a small snippet of how crazy it actually is.
Despair. Triumph. The feels are so real in so many ways. It's amazing and perfect and ties everything together brilliantly.
This is by far the best Stormlight book and the best book Brandon has ever written. I'm sure there will be some characters’ paths that some will not exactly love, and stuff will definitely break your heart, but I think all of it is necessary and fit perfectly. Brandon's learned so much since Mistborn and The Way of Kings, and it shows.
Was it worth the wait? Damnation, yes. I know it's so painful to wait, but given how ludicrously complex this book is, I think Brandon should take his time to outline these. (He's said recently he's outlining Stormlight 4, which he said could take a year and a half, and I do not doubt that.) These are colossal undertakings and I can definitely see why Brandon would get exhausted writing them, even if he loves what he does.
I have some worries about the Stormlight Archive as a whole, but they are good problems to have. With Words of Radiance improving on The Way of Kings, with so much more happening, and Oathbringer bringing it to a whole new scale, will the next book be even better? Well, I didn't think it was possible to top Words of Radiance, and that was totally foolish thinking about it now. So, let's consider the alternative: what if the next books are so amazing that the first book is the weakest one? All in all, many of you are here because you loved The Way of Kings, but I imagine some were turned off from that one, and it could be hard to introduce our friends to this amazing series with The Way of Kings. Still, I suppose if our biggest problem is that the later books are so incredible that the earlier ones pale a bit in comparison, that's a pretty good problem to have. I'd happily take that over a beginning that has all the good stuff there, and then have pointless sequels afterwards. Things are looking really great here, both this book and the series as a whole.
Oathbringer is, I daresay, a masterpiece and I can't wait for you to read it.
Edited by Chaos