Update 7/13: Tonight Brandon put out Stormlight 4 Update #9 which says much of what we say here, elaborating that Isaac and Peter have "months" of work left to do on the book. He also said the Stormlight novella's title will be announced tomorrow, and there's a livestream Thursday. He reiterated plans we've reported here: Songs of the Dead revision this week, then after, Skyward 3, and Lost Metal starting January 1. After that, then it's Stormlight 5 time, which will be roughly the halfway point of the cosmere.
Last night, Brandon finished his work on Rhythm of War, the fourth Stormlight Archive novel. On a screenshot saying "The End," you can see the word count is 459,629 words, which is a bit longer than Oathbringer's 454,000 words. Brandon shared in a Facebook comment that there are 112 chapters, plus interludes, and the prologue and epilogue.
Brandon also said in his post that though the book releases in full on November (specifically, November 17th), preview chapters are coming before then. His tweet says "preview chapters soon." Hooray!
Now, in previous news posts, some commenters have asked why they can't just read the ebook of this next week, so I thought I'd explain some things to the best of my ability as to what is happening next for the book. Please, anyone in the comments who know more than I do, comment away, I'd love to know more! Though Brandon is done, there's a lot more work to be done from people on Brandon's team as well as Tor. First up will be typesetting the Word document to look like an actual book. Then there's proofreading that needs to be done. There are Tor proofreaders, Peter (Brandon's assistant), but also there is a "gamma read" which is a proofread pass to a bit of a wider set of people, similar to the beta read. These books are really long, and even with so many eyes on the book, there are still typos in the final result. This is a super important phase. Nowadays, with Dragonsteel Entertainment being a reasonably big operation, Brandon doesn't need to micromanage this step, and Peter can deal with this. So while Brandon is done, the text isn't quite done yet.
What else? Well, we need the art to all be finalized. I'm not exactly sure when the art needs to be turned in, but with every Stormlight book, there's tons of in-world art. Art takes a long time. I imagine plenty has been started already, but it might not be done quite yet. After all, we still don't have the US cover art. But I imagine the sheer weight of interior art takes a long time.
Next up, there's the audiobook. Over half of Starsight's sales were audiobooks, if I recall correctly, so this is likely a large fraction of the audience. Oathbringer's audiobook is 55 hours, 5 minutes. I have to imagine actually recording it, doing multiple takes of sections, and editing it takes a very long time to record these mammoth audiobooks. Coming off editing Shardcast taking triple to quadruple the time for me to edit those, I have to believe the audiobooks are a huge undertaking.
Of course, the audiobook can be recorded once the text is finalized, and once the art is done, printing can begin. You might still ask why you can't read the book after the text is finished. That's a fair question! But it occurred to me: the New York Times Bestseller list is a huge deal for advertising a book. From my understanding, you want to release all the editions of the book at the same time so they all count to the bestseller list. It would be a bad look to have the fourth Stormlight book not be a #1 bestseller. So, there are some important economic and industry reasons why we can't read it immediately. It sucks, but it is what it is.
I know the wait has been brutal, but this is actually very fast for us to get the book out by November, and lots of people are putting in a lot of effort to get it to you.
Still, we'll get preview chapters soon, which will be great! In Brandon's recent newsletter, he released a brand-new chapter of Rhythm of War, and if you sign up for the newsletter, it'll be sent to you! You can discuss it in our Rhythm of War spoiler board!
Article image: the Gollancz cover of Rhythm of War, by Sam Green.
Edited by Chaos