Review: Oathbringer

oathbringer_cover-finalTitle: Oathbringer (2017)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 1,242
Series: The Stormlight Archive #3 (Series Tracker)

The hype surrounding Oathbringer was deafening in the fantasy community in anticipation of its 2017 release. I’ve read most of Sanderson’s work and am fascinated by his massive Cosmere universe. That said, Oathbringer was mostly a letdown. I enjoyed The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, but just felt a total disconnect when it came to this book.

The most frustrating part is that I can’t quite put my finger on why I disliked it so much compared to the previous books. Was it too long? Was it unfocused? Was it too uneven? Did it spend the most time with the characters that I like the least? Did the scope expand too much? Do I have Sanderson fatigue? Or was I just in the wrong headspace to connect with this massive tome? Perhaps it was a combination of all of these issues. Either way, I could not become invested in this story until after the 1,000th page, and by that point, the strong ending could not salvage everything that had come before it [Although it did keep this book out of the 2-star range].

I won’t abandon this series yet, as I’m still intrigued by Sanderson’s world and concept, but if there isn’t some sort of story/character shakeup in the near future, my reading experience of future installments will continue to be a trudge rather than a sprint.

★★★ out of 5

Review: Arcanum Unbounded

91DTLL3xxtLTitle: Arcanum Unbounded (2016)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 672
Series: Cosmere (Series Tracker)

Here are some brief thoughts on each story of this collection:

The Emperor’s Soul – 3.75 – A beautiful story, which I very much enjoyed.

The Hope of Elantris – 2.5 – A decent short story; leaves me nostalgic for Elantris.

The Eleventh Metal – 3.0 – A nice primer for the Mistborn books that gives further insight into Kelsier’s backstory.

Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania – 4.0 – I loved the humor and style of this one. The call-and-response nature of the story and footnotes was very funny.

Mistborn: Secret History – 2.0 – This was disappointing; it’s an addendum to the story that feels unneeded.

White Sand – 2.25 – Features great artwork, but it’s a bit spatially disorienting. The written companion was much more clear, but the overall story was just okay — a simple, mostly interesting story.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell – 4.0 – I really dug this one. The world, the concept, and the execution were all spot on.

Sixth of the Dusk – 3.5 – I thought this was well done and I enjoyed the dynamic between the protagonists on a cool island/jungle world.

Edgedancer – 3.5 – Light in tone, and a bit too goofy at times, but it hits some satisfying emotional notes. It’s nice to see a new character and a new part of Roshar.

I read most books digitally, but owning this in hardcover is a must for any Sanderson fan. It’s really a beautiful physical book — the artwork, the layout, and the overall furtherance of the Cosmere through visual representations is a sight to behold.

★★★½ out of 5


Review: Words of Radiance

4c0b23458f5f8842c123386dfd9f37d0.jpg.b306f89f87c897671815e8470276f5f2.jpgTitle: Words of Radiance (2014)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 1,087
Series: The Stormlight Archive #2 (Series Tracker)

Brandon Sanderson’s follow-up to The Way of Kings (see review) is an ambitious and impressive display of epic fantasy storytelling. This is an expansive and detailed world that keeps growing with each additional book. Speaking of growing, this 1,000+ page monstrosity would certainly benefit from a tighter edit, but at this point Sanderson can publish whatever and however many words he chooses. Luckily, the story moves along at a decent pace, and I was never left bored with the book as it progressed, but it did take several hundred pages for the story to grab me.

The story features characters in a Good vs. Evil struggle, and almost all of them want to be on the Good side, but some attempt to better the world through Evil means. This adds an interesting wrinkle to a classic trope. While I’ve enjoyed following the heroic journeys that many of these characters are on, it seems that they lack the depth or authenticity that would allow me to truly care about them. I think I was spoiled by reading so much Robin Hobb in between books in this series.

My qualms aside, this is another enjoyable installment in an epic series that I’m excited to move forward with. 

★★★★ out of 5

Review: The Way of Kings

Title: The Way of Kings
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 1,007
Series: The Stormlight Archive #1 (Series Tracker)
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Summary: In the world of Roshar, hurricane-like tempests called highstorms pound the landscapes with unrelenting ferocity. Under threat of constant storm bombardment, plants recoil and humans hide away waiting for the clouds to clear. The Way of Kings delves into the lives of several characters fighting battles both large and small on a journey to preserve some semblance of humanity in the midst of a brutal, unceasing storm.

Review: Having read the majority of Sanderson’s Cosmere novels in the past several months, The Way of Kings leaves everything else in the dust in terms of scale and ambition. This 1,000+ page tome is the first in a series of ten planned Stormlight Archive novels (ambitious, indeed). Sanderson lays the groundwork for a potentially groundbreaking work of high fantasy in his initial offering. I felt the need to pace myself, as the story unfolds slowly but not in a boring fashion. I very much enjoyed reading about the main characters, their motivations, and their moral dilemmas; such well developed backstories led to a much deeper sense of connection with the characters. The book starts a bit slowly, and the pacing was a bit uneven, but the conclusion was a barrage of rapid fire twists and satisfying payoffs. The plotlines raised countless questions and with each answer came a branch of five new questions, but that is to be expected from a series of such depth. I’m very excited to see what the future holds for this world, its characters, and how Sanderson continues to weave this tale moving forward.

★★★★½ out of 5