E-Harmony

Does Words of Radiance deserve its Goodreads rating?

20 posts in this topic

Before I read the Stormlight archive books for the first time I saw or heard somewhere that WoR had the highest rating on Goodreads of any fantasy book. I loved the Way of Kings and was extremely hyped to get to WoR based on the reviews and love it was shown by fans.

I loved it, but was also let down at the same time, and thought there were aspects of the story for me personally that mitigated the extreme positives of the book and I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads. This is completely up to personal taste, but I think either Way of Kings being the introduction to the world with a fantastic story in its own right or Oathbringer with expansion of the world and tighter character exploration with a fantastic story as well actually deserve better ratings (although I have a shared response to Oathbringer about the ending as I do Words of Radiance). 
 

I also think it is difficult to evaluate single books in the Stormlight archive versus books in completed classics like Wheel of Time, LOTR, Mistborn etc since we know where all those plot threads end.

Im going to link the full WoR review (~9min) below I’d like to hear your opinions, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but I’d love to know if it is your favorite, what makes you like it more than the first and third books!

 

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As of now I agree. In my world Way of Kings is a perfect fantasy book and OB is the coolest book I've read since my Clive Barker days. WoR was the least memorable of the 3 after one read for me...but I jumped from the wheel to stormlight. Stormlight was the first 3 books from Brandon I had read beyond the last 3 of the wheel. I read them back to back to back (they had already been released) then I jumped into his other works. In my situation I'm most excited to re read WoR because there was a lot I missed in terms of the Cosmere. I didn't start Hoid spotting til the 2nd book of Mistborn. And after reading Warbreaker well....

 

 

Edited by Eggdogg
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I think it was rated the way it was since it really introduces the magic. TWoK did somewhat but WoR did most of it. Just my thoughts. Also, the ending was pretty good.

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I'm somewhat surprised that WoR is/was the highest rated fantasy book of all time on Goodreads.  On these forums, I don't remember a lot of unalloyed praise for the book, so I would have expected a score of 3.8-4.2 overall.  I guess that shows how selective memories of a subset of fans of a particular novel can be flawed and not representative of the truth.  (For instance, there is a years-long thread about how people hate Shallan and skipped the scenes, hating Moash is a meme at this point, and on my initial read-through there was a 50% chance that if I hit a Kaladin scene I put the book down.  On subsequent re-reads, though, the positive feelings I have for it remain the same, while the negative feelings have largely been smoothed out.)

In my opinion, Way of Kings is the better written novel of the three, but I vastly prefer Words of Radiance--I solidly maintain that the Chasm Sequence is the finest writing Sanderson has ever done, point blank.  While great in its own right and with possible the single greatest moment in his Sanderson's writing so far, Oathbringer is a bit too ponderous and dangerously large and so suffers somewhat in comparison.

All of that said, Goodreads is notoriously terrible and unreliable, so take any rating there with the largest grain of salt you can imagine.

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I'd say out of the three books we have so far, WoR has the best second half of the three. First, the duel where Kaladin jumped in to save Adolin. Then Shallan and Kaladin getting dumped into the chasms and their return journey. Capped off with the final battle against the Parshendi. People often go off their immediate feelings when giving ratings and those usually connect with what they've read more recently than not. I'd definitly say the first half is not as strong as the other two. Out of the three it's also the book where the three main viewpoints are relatively close to each other, which just feels easier to read than them all being spread out. 

If I were to vote which is the best overall book, it's tWoK. If it were best pacing, it's WoR. If it were most interesting reveals and best finale. it's OB. 

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49 minutes ago, Eggdogg said:

In my situation I'm most excited to re read WoR because there was a lot I missed in terms of the Cosmere.

Oh for sure, rereading Oathbringer right now and picking up on so much Cosmere stuff it’s crazy, I know there’s a lot in WoR too I missed

45 minutes ago, Chasmgoat said:

Also, the ending was pretty good.

I liked everything except the Kaladin flying to the rescue again, and the Superman fight between him and Szeth but that’s just not my taste of scene I guess. I much preferred the disadvantaged duel as a fight scene

39 minutes ago, kaellok said:

All of that said, Goodreads is notoriously terrible and unreliable, so take any rating there with the largest grain of salt you can imagine.

For sure Brandon’s books get higher ratings due to the age of his fans, how popular he is etc. I rated all 3 books 4 stars which I think is fair (I fully anticipate it being a 5 stars series overall though when all is said and done)

22 minutes ago, Harrycrapper said:

f I were to vote which is the best overall book, it's tWoK. If it were best pacing, it's WoR. If it were most interesting reveals and best finale. it's OB. 

I think I’d agree with this for the most part. And yeah WoR the very ending of part 3 (the disadvantaged duel) to the ending is phenomenal so that does probably factor in the rating

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Alright, here's my opinion of WoR. WoR is my favorite fiction book. Ever. Everything about it is awesome, and I would have rated it six starts if I could have. The thing I enjoy the most in Brandon's books is character interaction, and I think that WoR is better than any of his books at that. Many of my favorite character moments in the series are contained in WoR, whether it's Shallan and Kaladin's first meeting, their argument when Shallan was trying to get an audience with Dalinar, Kaladin telling Wit the story of Fleet, Shallan and Adolin's first date, or of course the absolutely perfect chasm scene. The action scenes were awesome, the dueling scene was amazing, Kaladin finally swearing the third oath was incredible, and the final duel with Szeth was the perfect capstone to end the book. The characters acted intelligent and consistently, and I had no real problems with the book.

I'll also say that the only case in which a book does not deserve its rating is when the people who rated it are being dishonest. The whole point of a rating is to find what most people think of a book, and if it has a rating that high, then most people must have enjoyed it.

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1 hour ago, Nameless said:

I'll also say that the only case in which a book does not deserve its rating is when the people who rated it are being dishonest. The whole point of a rating is to find what most people think of a book, and if it has a rating that high, then most people must have enjoyed it.

I agree with you overall, although I think how popular Brandon is skews it a bit, especially when Goodreads allows ratings of books before they’re released (RoW currently has a 4.5 rating)

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In my opinion, Words of Radiance is the best of the three. I loved the first one, but obviously it didn't delve into as much as magic as the other two. Oathbringer was great too, but it got a little slow at times. Words of Radiance pulled some really strong feelings out of me, especially when Kaladin redeems himself near the end. That's got to be one of my favorite scenes of all time.

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17 minutes ago, Knight of Iron said:

In my opinion, Words of Radiance is the best of the three. I loved the first one, but obviously it didn't delve into as much as magic as the other two. Oathbringer was great too, but it got a little slow at times. Words of Radiance pulled some really strong feelings out of me, especially when Kaladin redeems himself near the end. That's got to be one of my favorite scenes of all time.

I’m rereading Oathbringer now and loving it so much more on the second go around now that I’ve read Warbreaker and Elantris. Need to do the same with WoR and see if I like it more the 2nd time

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7 hours ago, E-Harmony said:

 

Before I read the Stormlight archive books for the first time I saw or heard somewhere that WoR had the highest rating on Goodreads of any fantasy book. I loved the Way of Kings and was extremely hyped to get to WoR based on the reviews and love it was shown by fans.

I loved it, but was also let down at the same time, and thought there were aspects

 

Firstly, the Goodreads ratings are very generous. 3 stars means that it is ok, when at other places, a 3 star means it's passable.

Secondly, for any sequel, you need to discount the rating somewhat, as most people go to the sequel only if they liked the first book.  So, it is a bit of preaching to the choir.

You would be better off looking at the rating of the first book to get an idea of it.

And finally, people will have different opinions. Other fans including this forum respect your opinion in not liking WoR so much.

I have other popular books I never got to sequels to because I never liked the first book:-

Dresden

Gentlemen Bastards

 

It happens.

I love WoR.  Excellent scenes.  I have heard the audiobook over & over 10 times or more.  Is it the best ever fantasy book that I have ever read? No. It will be somewhere in the top 10 though.

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Wax said:

Gentlemen Bastards

Look, I get this is off-topic, but I am shocked, shocked whenever I find someone who didn't love The Lies of Locke Lamora

*cough*quicklywhatssomethingicansaythatsontopic*cough*

21 hours ago, Wax said:

Secondly, for any sequel, you need to discount the rating somewhat, as most people go to the sequel only if they liked the first book.  So, it is a bit of preaching to the choir.

This is a really good point.  It can swing the other way, though, if fans go into the sequel and aspects of what they loved about the original are changed or altered then they may come away hating it.  Either way, though, I think the point that we should expect to see extremes of opinions of sequels when compared to the original seems a logical assumption

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6 hours ago, kaellok said:

Look, I get this is off-topic, but I am shocked, shocked whenever I find someone who didn't love The Lies of Locke Lamora

I am shocked myself when people don’t try The Curse of Chalion despite my recommending it a million times. Oh well, people will always have personal preferences :P

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2 hours ago, Wax said:

I am shocked myself when people don’t try The Curse of Chalion despite my recommending it a million times. Oh well, people will always have personal preferences :P

The Curse of Chalion is soooo good!

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On 11/2/2020 at 11:39 AM, E-Harmony said:

Before I read the Stormlight archive books for the first time I saw or heard somewhere that WoR had the highest rating on Goodreads of any fantasy book. I loved the Way of Kings and was extremely hyped to get to WoR based on the reviews and love it was shown by fans.

I loved it, but was also let down at the same time, and thought there were aspects of the story for me personally that mitigated the extreme positives of the book and I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads. This is completely up to personal taste, but I think either Way of Kings being the introduction to the world with a fantastic story in its own right or Oathbringer with expansion of the world and tighter character exploration with a fantastic story as well actually deserve better ratings (although I have a shared response to Oathbringer about the ending as I do Words of Radiance). 
 

I also think it is difficult to evaluate single books in the Stormlight archive versus books in completed classics like Wheel of Time, LOTR, Mistborn etc since we know where all those plot threads end.

Im going to link the full WoR review (~9min) below I’d like to hear your opinions, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but I’d love to know if it is your favorite, what makes you like it more than the first and third books!

 

Nice job on the video!

My own thoughts on the matter: 

Words of Radiance does everything I like in a sequel - it digs into the world a bit deeper, pushes the characters farther, contains different yet still incredibly satisfying action, explores new ideas, and contains fun character interactions. 

Deeper worldbuilding - I know you said that the story still takes place in the Shattered Plains for the most part, and you're absolutely right. But through Shallan arriving there, we get to meet new brightlords, see new warcamps, and overall gain a new perspective on something we hadn't seen before. When we see Eshonai's perspective, we learn that there is so much more to our enemy and why they're fighting than ever before. There's mystery on those plains, and we finally get to explore them. To me, this was a great example of vertical worldbuilding instead of horizontal worldbuilding. 

Words of Radiance has the best pacing as well. The Way of Kings is a very steep entrance price, and while things happen, it becomes clear for some readers that there's not really an end-goal that the Sanderson is working towards. It's a lot of set up and promise with very little payoff. It's the illusion of movement (I'm pretty sure there's a WoB about this). Oathbringer, while not the same, is similar for large chunks of the book. Each "chunk/book" feels very different from the other parts, and it creates a feeling of...not sloppiness, but fracturing. This isn't true, of course, and I very much enjoy the time we are able to spend with our characters just living, but these are complaints I've heard and I sympathize with. (I'm not sure I agree with them entirely, however.)

Conversely, Words of Radiance gives a deadline for its characters and some intrigue around it. The countdown isn't perfect, but it works. (And unlike TROS' countdown, WOR's countdown takes place over a logical amount of time and allows the characters to worry about it without forcing them to go on time-wasting side-quests. And it actually matters.)

Shallan's character is explored in great depth in WOR. I've seen more than a few fans go from "she's boring - can I skip her chapters?" to "Shallan is my new favorite character/she's so interesting!" Dalinar gets this treatment in his book, yes, but I don't see as many posts about increasing opinions of him as I do for Shallan. 

The action is better than TWOK's action scenes, if not on a technical level, then on a sheer awesomeness factor. Four versus one, Szeth vs Dalinar leading into Kaladin's Superhero Landing and the two fighting above and within two raging storms...yeah, I can see it. I do think Oathbringer tops WOR in terms of action, but when WOR received its ranking, OB had yet to come out. 

And we saw so many "dream" character interactions! Kaladin and Adolin, Adolin and Shallan, Shallan and Kaladin, and quite a few more! You mentioned Avengers movies in a sort of dreading way, but there's a positive superhero aspect too - when all of our favorite superheroes meet for the first time and team up to take down the villain! 

 

But does this answer the original question - does Words of Radiance deserve its Goodreads rating? Honestly, I'm not sure. But I know that I think that the rating of the book reflects the quality of the story, and apparently I'm not alone. 

 

 

Edited by Use the Falchion
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6 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

But does this answer the original question - does Words of Radiance deserve its Goodreads rating? Honestly, I'm not sure. But I know that I think that the rating of the book reflects the quality of the story, and apparently I'm not alone.

I agree with pretty much everything you said and appreciate this perspective a lot. The vertical Worldbuilding point is a really good one, and my reading those books back to back is probably playing into why I was wishing to see something else in WoR. 
 

Doing Oathbringer reread right now and I see what you mean about the fractured nature of the different parts but man I’m loving it so much more the second time around. I think Brandon’s character introspection is so much tighter in this book and the pacing of each chapter so far has been pretty much perfect for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending of Oathbringer, I think my taste isn’t the huge scale set piece action scenes, but it’s very possible I’ll feel differently the 2nd time around. 
 

WoR definitely has the best dream character pairing scenes. So far when the main characters have been together in Oathbringer it’s felt stiff or like the tension is a little forced, I.e. Kaladin and Jasnah when they first meet

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I have just re-read the series in anticipation for RoW, and I'd probably put WoR at the top of the three. 

TWoK was fantastic, but it was ultimately a lot of good world building and a simple but cathartic story. It was an absolute joy to read, but I couldn't wait to move on, to see how the story continues to develop again.   

WoR had so much more story and momentum. Many amazing character interactions and arcs - finally our main characters all meet and interact. Watching how the dynamics of our main characters get establish and changed - i.e. Kaladin/Adolin, Kaladin/Shallan, was by far the best part. My biggest issue with the book mainly how Kaladin's POV went from my favorite to probably the least of the 3 (though still alright). 

Oathbringer was actually a tough read - and I wanted to skip through a lot of the first part of the book (aside from Shallan's POV and Kaladin in Hearthstone). The momentum built in WoR (plot-wise and character-wise) came to a screeching halt. It wasn't so much the slower pace or expansion of POVs, but the separation in connection of our 3 main characters. It's hard to describe, but after all the revelations from the end of WoR, it felt like we were missing scenes and conversations on our 3 main characters connecting in regards to this changed world, etc. It felt like we skipped past tons of important reactions and drifted right into the mundane. The second part is alright though. 

Edited by Topgoon
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5 hours ago, Topgoon said:

Oathbringer was actually a tough read - and I wanted to skip through a lot of the first part of the book (aside from Shallan's POV and Kaladin in Hearthstone). The momentum built in WoR (plot-wise and character-wise) came to a screeching halt. It wasn't so much the slower pace or expansion of POVs, but the separation in connection of our 3 main characters.

Yeah I feel you on this, I’m at that part of the book with the Moash POVs and since I’m on a reread and know how that turns out it’s not nearly as engaging as the first time. I absolutely love these Bridge 4 POVs though they’re very emotional this time for me. But yeah it’s definitely slowed down a lot from Part 1 of Oathbringer. I know it starts to pick back up again soon all the way to the ending. Very interested to see how RoW is structured and paced 

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21 hours ago, E-Harmony said:

Yeah I feel you on this, I’m at that part of the book with the Moash POVs and since I’m on a reread and know how that turns out it’s not nearly as engaging as the first time. I absolutely love these Bridge 4 POVs though they’re very emotional this time for me. But yeah it’s definitely slowed down a lot from Part 1 of Oathbringer. I know it starts to pick back up again soon all the way to the ending. Very interested to see how RoW is structured and paced 

Ha, I remember finding myself disengaging with the Moash POV too. I can see why this part is in the book - how it's necessary for the eventual payoff and big moment. But during the process of reading, all I can think of was "didn't we just do this plot line with Kaladin a few chapters ago?"   

I too quite enjoy the Bridge 4 POVs. They were fresh, short, and impactful. Lots of great character moment, and sort of the reaction to the "new world" I wanted to see more from the main 3.  

Very interested to see how they follow up the big finish in Oathbringer in RoW too - I wonder if they'll slow it down again. 

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14 hours ago, Topgoon said:

Ha, I remember finding myself disengaging with the Moash POV too. I can see why this part is in the book - how it's necessary for the eventual payoff and big moment. But during the process of reading, all I can think of was "didn't we just do this plot line with Kaladin a few chapters ago?"   

I too quite enjoy the Bridge 4 POVs. They were fresh, short, and impactful. Lots of great character moment, and sort of the reaction to the "new world" I wanted to see more from the main 3.  

Very interested to see how they follow up the big finish in Oathbringer in RoW too - I wonder if they'll slow it down again. 

That's a good point about it being a repeat of Kaladin's POV from Part 1, they do feel very similar. I only just today read what Dawnshard is going to be about, I feel like RoW will start slower and end the last half of the book at an insane pace true to Brando form. I'm not prepared for whatever these "mysterious events" Brandon keeps talking about are :wacko:

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