Last night I finally finished the book and I was blown away. That was an excellent read and I am left extremely satisfied. I'm going to stop the review right there because I have lots of comments and questions that will sum up my thoughts, so I don't want to repeat myself. This blog is going to be where I keep track of my WoR questions as well as just general comments on the book, the series, and the 17th Shard website itself.
SPOILERS! Yes, they will be in this blog. Don't read past here if you haven't finished the book entirely.
17th Shard Stuff
As long as we are on the topic, I feel like throwing out a reminder to members of the 17th Shard that including that huge spoiler tag on all of your posts is not necessary. In the Stormlight Archive board you are supposed to put spoilers under a spoiler tag. In the Words of Radiance board, you never have to type the word "Spoilers!" Ever. That subforum even includes a description that if you are reading the content you are expected to have read or there is no pity for you. Every other topic in there right now has a big spoiler tag for no reason and I find it supremely frustrating, hahaha. But I recognize it is with good intentions, attempting to help out your peers. Just wanted to clarify.
Anyway, Words of Radiance. It was incredible. I am increasingly impressed with Brandon Sanderson's writing ability. I've always been a big fan of planning and interweaving all plot points - a characteristic that is fundamental to his writing style - but in this book I was most impressed with the pacing of the story than anything else. It reminded me a lot of the ending of Memory of Light, but I think this one turned out better. It was a lot more synchronized.
I have another suggestion for members of the site, and mostly the site admins. I think we need to reevaluate and put into words what is "appropriate" for members to say on this site. I am mostly talking about swear words. I have seen members chastised for using swear words in their topics and posts, and I think it is a little bit overzealous. Obviously the site admins make the rules and there is no arguing with them, but if you consider that this site is based on the writings of an author who uses some of those words in his books... The people reading these posts have seen the words before. I think that the site should use those writings as precedent. For example, many of the stronger words are substituted for local cuss words in a clear attempt to keep things decent. However "damnation" is used plainly in the book a few times, so I don't think it should be looked down upon if members on the site use the word. This isn't an urgent problem with the site at all, but I do think it should be considered.
The ending of the book was great, but it did leave me feeling like we had solved nearly every single problem.
-The Parshendii seem to be pretty dead.
-Sadeas is dead.
-Our main characters have gotten over their fears and outted themselves as KR and the organization has been refounded.
-We have someone in a stable relationship (haha kinda) with the Ghostbloods.
-The Assassin in White is no more. He has been reborn and we are not yet sure what will come of it. He'll not have his Surgebinding abilities anymore, but he is running around with a Herald and Nightblood, so who knows.
-Urithiru has been found.
So like... all of those were really 2 book problems. Still on the docket:
-The Everstorm is going to be transforming the parshmen into Voidbringers. That is a biggie, obviously, but it is a fresh problem. I big one intended to occur after we had some KR, and it wasn't really around before the very end of the book.
-Nalan and new Szeth. We have seen Nalan killing Surgebinders, but Szeth seems to be under the impression that the only way he is not going to kill himself is to right his wrongs or at least be a better man. Let's hope that doesn't involve him picking up Nalan's whacked out sense of justice (yeah... it will).
-The Diagram and that whole plot.
OK, I'm going to get into quick notes on the Diagram.
-Mr. T makes it when he is brilliant and it seems to be working fairly well but we already know it isn't near perfect because of the 7 factions comment he makes and because he couldn't have really known about Kaladin being there for Dalinar and he really wanted Dalinar dead. Unless he suspected that somehow, but that could be an excuse for literally any event that occurs, so I'm not going to use it.
-Current Members of that entire unit, the Sons of Honor: Gavilar, Restares, Amaram, Taravangian, Graves and his team including Moash. I might be leaving some out, but dang that is a lot of big hitters so far. Some of them may not even know they are working with the others, but I believe at least the big names do based off of all of Graves comments.
- I am crazy intrigued by the idea of the Diagram and Taravangian's abilities. It is a such a fun plot device.
Brandon fixed something in this book that pleases me greatly: I like many of the characters much more. Some of the more irritating traits have been honed, bringing authenticity and originality to characters where I viewed it previously as an obnoxious character flaw.
Shallan - I liked much more in this book. She had several of those elements in the Way of Kings that came across as obnoxious. Her attempts at humor and wit were more frequent in this book, but didn't feel nearly as forced. Massive credit went her way (and Brandon's way) in this book when she was able to gain some backbone and embrace her strength as a woman/adult/human being/whatever but not become bull-headed and arrogant. I went through most of the Wheel of Time books really disliking the female characters because once they all embrace the same strength, they immediately become overly stubborn and unhelpful in nearly every situation. Something that should be a triumph for the characters ends up setting them back an aggravating amount of the time. The scene when Shallan works through Kaladin's problems in the chasm - agreeing not to get upset and to maintain a level of understanding - that was a big moment for her in my eyes. She is also able to admit that she can be wrong - proven while looking for the Oathgate and having parts of her map wrong - which is another trait I am grateful for. It is refreshing. Of course it helps that she is a little more active in this book, what with all the sneaking and disguising, but that really didn't play as much of a role as her drastic improvement in attitude.
Adolin- I also had no interest in Adolin as a character before this book. The snotty/spoiled trait was far too accentuated in the first book in my opinion (though I guess seeing him grow does feel good). Surprisingly, he kept his head and made good decisions through most of this book. Another example of a character being proven wrong, accepting their faults and actually changing for the better. As much as I am happy for his changes and general increase in likeability as the book progresses, the Sadeas murder has me a little confused. I cheered a little bit, but it was really distracting that he could do that and still be up for a position as a KR. I only know this because Brandon said some Orders would be cool with it and applaud the move (he mentioned Dustbringers I know). Meanwhile Kaladin's spren literally dies just considering letting a murder happen. I understand I guess that it directly goes against protecting for Kaladin, but how does any KR get away with actual murder after saying the first Ideal? Journey before destination would kind of screw with that move, wouldn't it? Maybe different interpretations, I suppose, but that kind of makes the first Ideal seem weak to me.
Kaladin - Still my favorite. Love that he got out of his moody phase. The entire plot felt a lot like Rand's ordeal in WoT, and while it came sooner, I felt very similar when Kaladin got over it and got happy again. Syl is still the best, too. I was walking around my house and felt really anxious and worried for some reason, and after thinking on it for a while, I realized it was because the night before I had stopped reading during Part 4 where Syl is still missing and considered dead. It gave me stress throughout the next day and I didn't even know it, hahaha. They are a good team and I'm glad to see that Brandon is going to make them work for it, because Kaladin is very clearly his favorite, and I don't want him to be too overpowered. The scene where he gets Syl back and says the next Ideal might be the most memorable in the entire book for me. It was great. Also the Shardspear/changing Shardblade form had me fist pump in the air like a madman. What a great way to give the fans what they want (because he made us want it so bad, I understand) and do it quickly. It feels like all of the KR just gained some Green Lantern abilities in my mind, and I'm all for it. Can't wait to see what his return to Hearthstone is like.
Dalinar - He was in the running for my favorite character but he fell just barely behind Kaladin, though he did a great job in this book too. I like that he keeps his cool and is always fair. I know some people wouldn't agree there, but he makes all the decisions I would and doesn't bully people when they make a stand for what they believe in. Kaladin and Shallan stand up to him multiple times - hell, even standard bridgemen do - and he respects their needs without bulldozing them using his station as an excuse to have things go his way. Makes him very likeable. Bonus that he is given credit for being very clever a couple of times - a feat I don't think he accomplished in the first book. Love the scene where he is just like "Hey guys, what do I have to do if I want to go bond God as my spren?" and then just goes up and says 2 Ideals like he's reading cheat codes from a magazine."Cool, yeah, it went well, I'm a KR now. *Stormlight sucking*"
Renarin - Still could not care less about this kid. I saw a thread arguing why his decisions make sense and why this and that. "Oh he is secretive by nature! Oh if you look at it in this frame of mind..!" I'm aware that he has a mental problem somewhere, but it doesn't change the fact that he has been overall unhelpful and generally annoying in every scene yet, except for when he was helpful with proving Dalinar's sanity (one idea voiced) and when he pep talks Adolin (twice). Every other time I have found him distracting at best. If we don't see a lot deeper into his mind soon, I hope we see a lot less of him.
Jasnah - She's great. My hope is that the whole "she's always right" deal doesn't get out of hand. I like a character who can keep things moving, and she seems to be a few steps ahead of the game, but I don't want everyone to rely on her too much. I would like to call that at some point she is going to figure out pieces of the Diagram before they happen and totally blindside Mr.T at some point, who is going to have a new respect for her when she works around the god he thinks he was on that day.
I was right on a few, I think. I called that the Shin had the Honorblades hidden away, I called (though I found many did) that Szeth had an Honorblade, and I don't have 100% proof, but I'm almost certain now that the other chart is a Voidbinding chart and the symbols are the spren that activate specific forms. Pretty happy with those. Haven't looked back yet at what else, but those I can recall.
- I'll lay one down, as written above, that Jasnah will out-maneuver the Diagram at some point.
Here is something I noticed and wasn't particularly happy with: multiple characters gain abilities in this book and then just completely stop utilizing them. Kaladin learns how to stick people to walls and then he doesn't use it once in combat or anything like that. Shallan learns how to Soulcast, acknowledges that Jasnah is gone and she is going to try to learn herself, and then never tries. What is with that? I was really hoping that those would come into play somewhere. Shallan Soulcasts the boat, but that is like chapter 7. Then never again. I would have appreciated some use (even over-use) of the ability before another takes over entirely.
I would like to give a shout-out to the members of 17th Shard that really see through the smaller details in these stories. I've read Warbreaker and I would never have guessed that Vasher is Zahel. I noted that he was probably a worldhopper (ever since Wheel of Time I have looked for characters that speak in unusual ways), but I would never have put all of it together on my own. I am a little dense in those ways. Maybe it also has something to do with my hunger for the main points of the story, but still. That is only one example of the great catches I see on here every day, and you are doing the rest of us a favor by sharing.
I'm going to keep writing as I reread and stuff, but I figured I'd give it a good start at least. Feel free to comment if you bother reading this. It is meant for my organization mostly, but if anybody feels like my opinion is worth their time, lemme know!