I couldn’t get my hands on this book fast enough after finishing Way of Kings and eagerly dove into the next 1,000 pages of the series. For those of you reading on, please be aware that this is indeed the second book in the Stormlight Archive. I don’t provide any spoilers for this particular novel, but you can probably assume a few things about the first novel based on what I say below.
The action picks up not long after the end of the previous book and once again focuses primarily on Dalinar Kholin, Kaladin Stormblessed, and Shallan Davar. Arguably at the center of all the action, Dalinar opens this book with a major target on his back. Seeking to protect the legitimacy of the throne, he embarks on an ambitious plan to change the course of the war against the Parshendi for good, perhaps permanently altering the Alethi political landscape in the process. Meanwhile, as the members of Bridge Four adjust to their new lives and positions, Kaladin finds his faith in Dalinar and King Elhokar severely tested when certain past events begin to figure prominently into shifting present day alliances. Finally, Shallan and Jasnah Kholin have set off for the Shattered Plains with information vital to the Alethi war effort.
I absolutely loved this and had a really hard time putting the book down. At one point I exclaimed to my wife that even though I was already 870 pages in, I was really worried I wasn’t going to get enough before the ending. The world created on Roshar is immense and absolutely fascinating. In addition to the main story, there were once again a number of one-off chapters depicting people and places somewhat removed from our heroes. I really enjoyed this variety of perspectives and appreciated finally seeing the world through Parshendi eyes. By the end of the book it is quite clear we’re gearing up for a major conflict in the next installment. It will be interesting to see how the new Surgebinders develop their skills.
What really made the story for me though where the characters. The main ones were all well written and interesting, though it did take a bit of time before Shallan and Dalinar’s son Adolin grew on me. I know there’s a lot of readers out there rooting for a love triangle, but I find them well suited for each other and don’t find that potential story arc that interesting (yet at least).
Kaladin, however, is without a doubt my favorite. He’s an easy guy to root for, not just because he’s both honorable and a total badass, but for his personality as well. His relationship with Syl is simultaneously funny and rather touching and in combination with his spells of depression serves to humanize someone who might otherwise be an overly intense character. Although I most definitely want to see him get vengeance for the wrongs done to him, my biggest hope is that his circumstances have changed enough that he can better channel the anger and resentment he carries. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he develops his personality and powers throughout the series.
Another character I have particularly enjoyed so far is Wit. He gets very limited page time, but I just can’t get enough of him. He’s obviously a major player in whatever events are happening in the larger Cosmere and spending time with him always feels like getting a peek into the inner workings of this universe. He also has some of the best lines in the series and makes several excellent plays on language.
I can’t wait to find out where the series goes from here and am already getting started on book three, Oathbringer. Certain developments in this story also have me looking forward to the next Mistborn book, since it seems there may be a major connection between the two worlds (though only someone who’s caught up on that series would notice). Pretty safe to say I’ll be reading a lot more Brandon Sanderson novels.