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  1. #1

    Words of Radiance - Discussion With Lots of Spoilers

    Just finished! While I really enjoyed it, I do find that its becoming overly complicated with too many mysterious factions doing mysterious things, and I'm not sure its as tight as Sanderson's other works.

    Reactions/questions:

    (1) What the heck was up with Seth being recruited by that Herald? I thought all but one of the Heralds put their blades away, and presumably thereby became normal & mortal. If they stayed powerful and immortal by giving up their blades, why would they continue to go through whatever that tortuous process was that was described -- a process which clearly broke the one herald that did go through it? Also, if the Heralds are supposed to be paragons of virtue, you really have a Herald that kills someone for a 40 year old crime when they have lived an exceptionally virtuous life thereafter? Why would the the Herald be focusing on surgebinders that committed crimes, when those same surgebinders could be useful against the Voidbringers? I also noted that it was quite odd that the Shin would let someone they considered crazy, deviant or whatever keep one of the Honor Blades.

    (2) I was dissappointed with Renarin becoming a Radiant where he had no point of view chapters, and any emotional journey of learning he went through was far from apparent. What words did he have to say, what did he learn?

    (3) Did anyone else have the sense that Adolin is going to go downhill fast and perhaps become the champion of Odom? Hope I'm wrong, that would seem very odd to me.

    (4) What was up with Elhokar seing the Cryptids for a bit and Kaladin "scaring them away"? That one was a headscratcher.

    (5) Its baffling that Gavin was supposed to know what was coming because he was given a vision, and the vision apparently made him say something stupid to the Parshendi, which precipitated the whole thing. And the other king, the one the Nightwatcher gave occassional super-smarts too, you'd think he would have just come up with a speech to the Listeners about the dangers of stone form, the old gods and whatever else;

    (6) Which mysterious group does Brightlord Amarin belong too, do we know?

    (7) If the Ghostbloods arent evil, they sure have some odd methods. If they believe they have the knowledge to prevent the apocolypse, why would they kill Jasnah without even trying to talk to her?

    (8) Going out on a limb here to guess, but if your a radiant with the power of getting annoying visions (Renarin's Truth-order whatever it was called) I'm guessing you'd be jealous as hell of the Wind Runners.

    (9) Do you guys think Sanderson tried too hard to make the surge powers original? I mean, the power to be frictionless - for reals? The power to have seeds grow fast enough to break a window, or your spren make a ladder type thing for you?

    (10) Not loving the concept of "the Diagram" -- the plan could have just as easily have been to bring back the Radiants and inspire people to follow them. Hard to see how the plan of "get everyone to fight and kill each other and unify the pitiful survivors" is better.

    (11) Stormfather doesnt seem to really make a lot of sense and/or I just dont like him;

    (12) We never found out what blessing the Nightwatcher gave Dalinar did we?

    (13) Sadeas' final position/goals as explained to Adolin seemed moronic for someone supposed to be cunning. I mean seriously, the Radiants are back, all glowing and teleporting everyone everwhere, the Voidbringers were seen by tens of thousands of soldiers, and he is going to convince people that Dalinar is pulling a fast one? Didnt he just want battles that matter?

    So much going on, I probably have 50 other thoughts and reactions, questions, but that is enough for starters!

  2. #2
    I thought it was a good book as i said elsewhere there were some parts that make me cringe or just plain annoy me in it. Overall i enjoyed it it is well worth the read i like books with a heap going that gives you further enjoyment coming up with theories about who is who and what going on there.

    here's my thoughts/opinions on your questions

    1 - That is Nalan herald of the skybreakers from what i understand they were the one's that didn't abandon the their oaths. He is justice and believes this above all else. The sword he gives Szeth is nightblood from warbreaker a weapon that waaay more powerful than any sharblade. Also Zahel the swordmaster is Vasher from warbreaker how he lost nightblood is a mystery.

    2 - i guess this supposed to be somewhat of a suprise or twist. He is a truthwatcher he would have said the first words but i doubt anymore yet maybe the 2nd but maybe not as he hadnt got rid of the shardblade yet

    3 - No i don't think so. I had a theory that maybe odium could influence people with shardblades but i don't think that's the case anymore.

    4 - i think they disppeared because kaladin had Syl around him and they hid from Syl since these 2 sprens races are in conflict with each other.

    5 - i think he was getting visions similar to dalinar possibly was from honor and the stormfather. I think that Taravangian didn't go to see the nightwatcher till after king Gavilar had died so he hadn't written the diagram yet.

    6 - i have considered the envisagers but i believe it's the Son's of honor due to his "men of honor" and they're opposition to the ghostbloods. Also king Gavilar was a member

    7 - Not sure what their aganda is

    8 - I don't think so their was only a few odrers of KR that were combat orientated the rest were more of scholary nature which i think suits Renarin just fine.

    9 - I like that he does that one of the best thing about sanderson is his unique magic systems not the same old D&D style. To be fair growing vines from seed is one of the 2 surges lift has which is regrowth. This is a healing surge but also what makes everything live and grow. The Spren becoming what she wants i think is somehwat an interpretation of a sword much like how Syl can change into shield spear or whatnot.

    10 - I think the diagram is influenced by Odium much like how Ruin changed writing in mistborn.

    11 - He is a highspren and a larger splinter of honor. He is bound by hnor to bring the storms which obviously have a purpose as it brings the storm light. He hate mankind and the KR because they killed so many spren which are all part of honor shard therefore his family. He is the bondsmiths spren as you klnow due to Dalinar bonding him. It is mentioned that there is only ever one or two bondsmith's at any time this is due to there only being one spren the stormfather

    12 - I always just assumed it was that he wanted to remove the grief over his dead wife and what he got was somehwat ironic as the his curse was the same to remove the grief nightwatcher took all his memories of her aswell.

    13 - it was somewhat a weak ending to Sadeas i thought he would be a bit smarter than that. But i'm glad andolin killed him it was starting to piss me off how sanderson kept letting sadeas walk all over people was about time someone just rid of him.

    I don't know if i missed something at the end there (i have audiobook version) but what happened to his wife and gaurds? did they walk away and let those 2 have a private conversation/fight?

  3. #3
    Pub - thanks for your thoughts! Lots of interesting ideas, don't agree with all of them, but interesting. I was happy to hear your point 10, that the diagram is corrupted by Odiom, it feels right and explains a lot.

    Others:

    1 - I still don't understand. All but one of the Heralds broke their oaths. One comes back, trying to do the typical Herald thing - Tylan-el or something like that. Pretty sure Tylan-el is the one that died during the last Herald battle and therefore didn't break their oath, and was reborn during the next cycle, albeit without sanity. Nalan is NOT trying to do the typical Herald thing.

    3 - Still think Adolin becomes the champion of Odium. He is going to fall apart when he loses Shallan to Kalidin. And then at a later point things will get complicated when Shallan learns that Kalidin killed her brother.

    4 - Yeah, probably, but what is up with the weak willed king apparently being selected by the Cryptids in the first place? I guess he did sort of come to accept some fundamental truths towards the end.

    5 - Still seems kind of circular -- if Gavilar doesn't get the visions, he doesn't say the stupid thing to the Parshendi and things don't happen the way they did.

    12 - I don't think we know yet. Dalinar does NOT currently seem the type to go to the Nightwatcher just because he was grieving. Admittedly, he was very different before Gavilar died, but still think we are missing something there.

  4. #4
    Call me Scott
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    Hi Guys,

    1 - You are right, that Taln / Talenel was the only Herald that died and kept his oath. The others that broke their oaths stuck around (they are immortal, I guess), and it appears they all became somewhat twisted by the decision they made. So, while Nalan is a Herald, at this point he's probably not the same kind of man he once was. Also we've probably already met some more Heralds or will definitely meet more along the way.

    2 - Brandon has said that Renarin will get his own book, so I suppose we'll learn through flashbacks how he became a KR.

    3 - You could be right. I definitely think Adolin is on a downward arc and is going to see his easy life crumble around him. But Brandon has said that there are some orders of the Knights Radiant that would be perfectly fine with his actions at the end of WOR. The general consensus is that he will become broken, bond a spren, and become a KR at some point.

    5 - I think we'll find out that Gavilar was much more in the thick of things than we know right now. What was the black sphere he gave to Szeth when he was assasinated? There are some interesting possibilities there. We know he was in league with Amaram. I'm guessing he wanted the Parshendi to do something like they ended up doing in the end anyway, and that is why they killed him.

    7 - There is still alot to learn about the Ghostbloods, Sons of Honor, the Diagram, and all of the other groups and factions that we now have seen come into play. I like this aspect of the series a lot. It will be interesting to find out their various origins, goals, and how they all interweave with one other.

    12 - I wouldn't be surprised if Dalinar's dead wife somehow had a role in things that are happening.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Pub View Post

    1 - That is Nalan herald of the skybreakers from what i understand they were the one's that didn't abandon the their oaths. He is justice and believes this above all else. The sword he gives Szeth is nightblood from warbreaker a weapon that waaay more powerful than any sharblade. Also Zahel the swordmaster is Vasher from warbreaker how he lost nightblood is a mystery.
    From where did you deducted that Zahel is Vasher from Warbreaker? It seems that I missed that part . I read on forums that most of Sanderson's novels/series take place in the same universe, but the connections are not clear to me...

  6. #6
    deductions were made based on the fact that he described as looking like him, the way his sayings are all about colours. Also there's a part in the book where he says he expects to hear a voice in his head referencing nightblood. It's also clear that nightblood the sword is on Roshar so he may have lost it on Roshar

  7. #7
    I don't understand why my image of Kaladin is always as an African. Are any of the characters in these books black?

    I also curious about the Hoid/Wit conversation with Jasnah at the end. Why did Tanavast buy him a drink? Where did they have this drink? What was the drink? Should Hoid be world-hopping while intoxicated? Is that why the 17th shard is looking for him?

    And wtf is going on with Tylenol? Does it take a while to break out of the post-desolation sleep groginess? Or did Tanavast spike his drink?

  8. #8
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    I don't understand why my image of Kaladin is always as an African. Are any of the characters in these books black?
    Roshar is a massive continent in the southern hemisphere of its planet. The Reshi Isles may be near the equator, and possibly northern lands like Iri, so it's likely people from those climes are darker-skinned. That's assuming things work on Roshar like on Earth, which is not a given.

    I also curious about the Hoid/Wit conversation with Jasnah at the end. Why did Tanavast buy him a drink? Where did they have this drink? What was the drink? Should Hoid be world-hopping while intoxicated? Is that why the 17th shard is looking for him?
    The drink was almost certainly on the planet Yolen, and we'll probably see this in the Dragonsteel series, which is the Big Series Where Everything Is Explained (think of the role of The Dark Tower in Stephen King's universe, explaining all the weird little connections between the books) and we meet the various gods/Shards before they become gods/Shards.

    Even at Sanderson's current rate of production, we should see the Dragonsteel books in about 10-15 years And no, that's not a joke.

    I read on forums that most of Sanderson's novels/series take place in the same universe, but the connections are not clear to me...
    Briefly:

    Spoiler:
    1. There was a powerful deity/magical force known as Adonalsium. This force was native to Yolen, the homeworld of humanity in Sanderson's Cosmere universe (Earth does not exist in this setting).
    2. This force was shattered into sixteen Shards of extreme magical force. These Shards included the forces of Cultivation, Devotion, Dominion, Endowment, Honor, Preservation, Odium (hatred) and Ruin.
    3. Each Shard can be taken over by a human. However, the Shard will always turn the human into the embodiment of the Shard's power. For example, Ati, the holder of Ruin, was originally a kind and gentle man who was turned into a force for destruction.
    4. These Shards were then scattered over ten 'core Shardworlds'. These worlds included Ashyn, Braize, Nalthis (the setting of Warbreaker), Roshar (Stormlight Archive), Scadrial (Mistborn), Sel (Elantris and The Emperor's Soul), Taldain and Yolen. There are other 'minor Shardworlds' which are much less important. Humans already lived on some of these worlds but on others (like Scardial) the Shardholders created them in imitation of the original Yolenese humans.
    5. The Shards mostly stayed put on their particular planet, and the magic system(s) of each planet were derived from the Shards and Shardholders. However, one Shardholder, Rayse, the holder of Odium, decided to destroy the rest. He travelled from world to world, killing the two Shardholders on Sel and splintering their Shards so no-one else could use them (the AonDor, Skraze and Elantrian powers are derived from those splintered Shards). He then arrived on Roshar and did the same thing to Honor (the Stormfather may be a splinter of Honor, or a very powerful spren in his service; the highstorms may have been sent by Honor to hold Odium at bay). However, in the process he was attacked and imprisoned by Honor's forces, apparently on the planet Blaize (one of Roshar's sister-worlds in the same system), where he has been for 4,500+ years. The voidbringers appear to be loyal to Odium, or at least allied to him.
    6. It is possible to travel from world to world using the Shadesmar. This is known as 'worldhopping'. The most famous worldhopper is Hoid/Wit, who has appeared in every one of Sanderson's Cosmere books. Hoid seems to have his own agenda and likes to intervene in local affairs, often for inexplicable reasons. He is resolutely opposed to Odium.
    7. There is an organisation called the Seventeenth Shard which seems to police the Shardworlds and recruits from the ranks of people involved in major events on them. By the time of Stormlight Archive, the Seventeenth Shard seems to have gotten fed up with Hoid (who may be an ex-member or former ally) and their leader and Hoid are exchanging shirty letters in both books whilst three agents of the Shard are trying to track Hoid down.

  9. #9
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    Beginning to think Brandon has magic powers, because this is third time I've tried to comment on booků and first two disappeared into the electronic ether.

    Enjoyed it, but thought it was a step down from some of his other stuff (e.g. First in series, or "The Emperor's Soul".)

    I was initially surprised that a couple of guys in another thread said they had packed in part way through, citing Shallan's dialogue as a major issue. I sympathised with them well before the end.

    Other things that limited my enjoyment: "death and resurrection" cliche repeated way too often, too many characters being racketed up in magic ability too quickly, and magic system becoming increasing vague with no clear limits.

    And a couple of major plot strands (at least) that didn't remotely convince. The first of those was Sdaeas's "career" from beginning to end. It wasn't remotely convincing that he could OPENLY betray Dalinar (resulting in death of thousands), and that King and Dalinar would take line "Carry on, old chumů here's my best sword as a reward". Nor was final scene between Adolin and Sadeas remotely credible.

    The second was events around Shallan moving the plateau. Given her ability and experience up to thenů about as likely as me winning Irish lottery (NB: I don't buy a ticket). But so well telegraphed that event also had zero tension.
    Last edited by jackdaw; March 20th, 2014 at 01:49 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by jackdaw View Post

    I was initially surprised that a couple of guys in another thread said they had packed in part way through, citing Shallan's dialogue as a major issue. I sympathised with them well before the end.
    I find her parts largely difficult as well. I got through them just because there are so many expository moments that pop up.

    The first of those was Sdaeas's "career" from beginning to end. It wasn't remotely convincing that he could OPENLY betray Dalinar (resulting in death of thousands), and that King and Dalinar would take line "Carry on, old chumů here's my best sword as a reward". Nor was final scene between Adolin and Sadeas remotely credible.
    I agree about the first part. And I would like to agree about the Adolin/Sadeas endscene as well, but it was so wonderfully cathartic that I'll accept it.

    I'm not a huge Sanderson stan and I've found some of the assertions regarding his character building to be inflated. Let's be honest, he uses the same basic formula with all major characters i.e., they are broken.

  11. #11
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    The Stormlight Archive Book 2: Words of Radiance

    The world of Roshar is under threat. A mysterious assassin is slaughtering the rulers of the nations. In the east, the armies of Alethkar and the Parshendi are clashing on the Shattered Plains. Signs are appearing that the evil voidbringers are returning to bring about the Desolation, the destruction of the civilised world. But there are also signs that the Knights Radiant, humans empowered with amazing abilities, are returning to stop them.

    Words of Radiance is the much-delayed second volume in The Stormlight Archive series (expected to last for ten volumes) and the sequel to 2010's The Way of Kings. Brandon Sanderson's work on this novel was delayed by his commitment to completing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time sequence. With that accomplished, Sanderson is now free to focus on his own mega-epic and bring out future novels in a more timely fashion; the third Stormlight novel (working title: Unhallowed Stones) will likely follow before the end of 2015.

    Like much of Sanderson's work, the novel balances traditional epic fantasy tropes with highly original and interesting worldbuilding, logically well-thought-out magic systems and hints of a much grander plan lying behind everything. Whilst only the second book of The Stormlight Archive, this is also the eighth novel set in his Cosmere universe (following on from Elantris, Warbreaker, the four Mistborn novels and of course The Way of Kings). Whilst previously the Cosmere links were fairly subtle and mostly of interest for Easter Egg hunters, in this series they are much more overt. Hoid (aka Wit), who only appeared in minor cameos in the other books, plays a much more important role here.

    Words of Radiance is also big. At over 400,000 words, it's the longest epic fantasy novel published since George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, approaching 1,100 pages in hardcover (so yes, the UK paperback will be split for publication next year). It's an immense novel, not because an enormous amount happens but because Sanderson lets events unfold at a fairly relaxed pace. We only have four major POV characters (Shallan, Kaladin, Dalinar and Adolin) and a whole host of minor ones in remote parts of the world that we flit between. The minor POV chapters are highlights, with Sanderson crafting each one almost into a separate short story set in the midst of a grander tale. The story about the trader who has to make a bargain with a bunch of people who live on the back of a vast creature dwelling in the sea is effective, as is the story of a young burglar who turns out to be more than she appears. Whilst these stories are enjoyable, they also feel a little random sprinkled throughout the longer book, especially since their consequences may not be explored in full until the second half of the series.

    The main narrative, unfortunately, is much slower. After we spent most of the first, 1,000-page volume on the Shattered Plains we then proceed to spend most of the second, even longer, volume in the same place. The first book had the advantage of introducing the location and its weird alien landscape, but by at least a quarter of the way through Words of Radiance the setting has lost a lot of is lustre. Fortunately, the end of the novel suggests that we have left behind the Plains and won't see them again, which is well past time. The interludes show that Roshar is a fascinating, well-designed and evocative location and getting to see more of it in future volumes rather than just one broken landscape will be a relief.


    Whilst the story is slow to unfold, it does at least move things forward significantly. More Knights Radiant appear, we learn more about the world, its history and its cultures and there are some surprising and shocking deaths (although at least one of them turns out to be a disappointing fake-out). Readers of the other Cosmere books will also have a head start in working out what's going on, which is good for them but possibly a little unfair for more casual readers. Up until now - even arguably including The Way of Kings - the Cosmere stuff has been optional background only, with it not being necessary to read every book in the setting to enjoy the next one. Words of Radiance is the first time I felt like being familiar with the Cosmere was necessary to fully appreciate what the author was doing. This is made clear in no uncertain terms when the novel ends with an event which will won't make much sense unless you've also read Warbreaker.

    On the character side of things, Sanderson is definitely improving novel to novel. Shallan, the least-developed character in the previous novel, takes centre stage here and becomes a much more rounded and interesting figure. Her forced humour and defensiveness, which was previously just annoying, is fleshed out a lot here as we get to know the reasons for it. Given it's not something he's known for, Sanderson successfully turns Shallan's story into an effective and unexpected tragedy. Adolin also graduates from 'heroic buffoon' to a slightly darker, more complex character (though not until quite late in the novel). Kaladin's unrelenting emoness continues unabated (despite his transformation into a fantasy version of Neo from The Matrix), but he's a much less dominant character this time around and he does lighten up as the book goes on, which is a relief. More problematic is the dialogue, which often feels clunky and sometimes incongruous. Roshar isn't Earth or even particularly reminiscent of any of our own time periods, but the use of modern language and terms ('awesomeness', 'upgrade') may be distracting for some readers.

    Sanderson's signature magic systems are present and correct, though it's possible he's gone overboard in the Stormlight books. There are something like thirty magic systems on Roshar (even if they are variants on similar themes) and the relationships between Surgebinding, Lashing, Truthspeaking, the Old Magic and so forth are not very clearly defined. It also doesn't help that some of the magic systems of the other Cosmere worlds are also alluded to (one character is even a Misting from Scadrial, the setting of the Mistborn novels, though he barely appears). Whilst previously Sanderson has outline his magic systems with clarity, here it feels like he's been taking some lessons from Steven Erikson and just decided to drop the reader into a confusing maze which they have to work their own way out of.

    Words of Radiance (****) is a good book beset by minor problems: dialogue issues, a languid pace and often irrelevant-feeling (though often individually fun) side-chapters. At the same time it features much-improved characters, superior worldbuilding and some impressive action set-pieces. I don't think Stormlight is ever going to be as era-defining an epic fantasy as The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire and The Malazan Book of the Fallen are, with Sanderson sometimes definitely 'trying too hard' to match those stories for scale and scope and missing their strengths with character and plot, but it's still a readable and fun series. One thing I think Sanderson definitely needs to do with future volumes is make them smaller, trim the fat and give a more focused story each time. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

  12. #12
    Is that your review Werthead? If so, well done as usual.

    I still think you can skip the cosmere stuff if you want. WoR features so many mysterious factions doing mysterious things for mysterious reasons, that you just kind of have to deal with it. Cosmere doesnt really explain a high % of stuff thus far, although I agree it might be more important later.

    I think what your reacting to is captured by your comment about Sanderson straying into Erikson-like territory on magic systems. You could have said the same thing about the large number of mysterious factions doing mysterious things. Sanderson is trying to keep a vastly greater number of balls in the air than he normally does, and its definitely more than a little disoreinting, conjuring an atmosphere that is somewhat Erikson-like.

  13. #13
    "But so well telegraphed that event also had zero tension."

    This could be my review of the entire book. Nothing touched me, except possibly the change of Eshoneth. Kaladin's diellemma and choice were also incredibly obvious, as was Shallan's great secret and her confrontation with it. While killing major characters, a la GRRM, can be cliched, Sanderson seems to be writing a Star Trek episode in which none of the leads die. Danilar going to be killed by Szeth?--Nope. Moash and Kaladin face off and both walk away, and then, to top it off, Jasnah pops back up.

    I enjoy Sanderson's creative ideas and good pacing, but his characterization, painful dialogue, and somewhat obvious plotting were disappointing.

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