Fantasy, High Fantasy
The Stormlight Archive, Book # 2
March 4th 2014
April 5, 2020 April 19, 2020
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.
The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.
Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.
About the book
Words of Radiance is the second book in the epic saga The Stormlight Archive by Sanderson. This book begins right where the first ended with Kaladin who moved to Dalinar’s army and is no longer a bridgemen even though he and his team continue to be called as such, especially by Adolin, Dalinar’s eldest son.
Shallan, on the other hand, is traveling to the Shattered Plains with Jasnah to find the legendary city of Urithuru, the ancient place of the Knights Radiant. In addition, they must bring a message to the King because the Voidbringers are returning and when they return they could trigger the Everstorm. We also have different points of view in this book, but the main ones are always Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar and Adolin.
The Alethi are still at war with the Parshendi but Dalinar started to wonder why they are at war. By now it seems that the aim is only to take the gemhearts found in the greatshell and not to avenge his brother, King Gavilar’s death. So in this book we see the path that Dalinar takes to get the Alethi army back on the right track.
What I think
I must say that I liked this book more than the first because I found it less boring and faster in the narration. In the first, the part where Kaladin becomes a bridgeman is a bit boring or at least I found it that way, because reading pages and pages of him running under a bridge is a bit slow and in this case slow for me means boring. But here, it doesn’t happen, despite the long battles and the various migrations (of Shallan).
We are also getting to the heart of the magical part of the book and therefore I think I liked it even more for this reason.
I like that we find the titles of the books in the books themselves or let me explain it better: for the first book “The Way of the Kings” was the book read by Dalinar to which he refers to, to save the kingdom, in this case “Words of Radiance” is the book that Jasnah gives Shallan to understand her nature. Now I wonder if this will be a common thread for the complete saga. Will a book called Oathbringer be present that someone refers to in the third book? In addition to being the name of Dalinar’s sword.
The structure is like the first volume, divided into six parts, with interludes between the parts. Sanderson’s style is phenomenal, it gets you into the head of the characters by telling you their stories in different parts, then finishes a part and inserts interludes that seem to mean nothing at the moment, but instead give excellent ideas to understand the world in which we are. In this case, among the interludes, I really liked Eshonai’s point of view as in the first book I liked Szeth’s point of view so much, as we see the point of view of a Parshendi and therefore we see how they are in reality and we don’t have only the Alethi’s point of view on these characters. It is true that she herself is a bit of a “double agent2, but despite this, having the point of view from both sides is right. Sanderson writes a lot and his chapters are full of details, and in fact the book is 1200 pages long (at least the Italian version is), but his words are so engaging and evocative that they never bored me. We find ourselves immersed in the Shattered Plains and it is as if we were in the midst of the chasms with Kaladin to prove his powers.
Kaladin in this book, as in the first, has a phenomenal path. He is also the head of the king’s defence and Kholin family against the Assassin in White who brought death among many of the world’s highprinces. He is still in charge of bridge four but now he and his comrades are soldiers in Dalinar’s army and no longer Sadeas’ slaves. This character has a bit of “it’s always my fault, I had to predict what happened and therefore punish me”, but this doesn’t mean he’s a martyr. He is such a beautiful character that when he is in danger or has to overcome difficulties, you can only side with him and encourage him to win.
Dalinar is the king’s adviser (and uncle) and some people think he is a better ruler than the king himself. He is trying to re-establish the Knights Radiant and for this reason he wants to understand the visions he has during the Highstorms. Many believe him crazy, because he has visions but he undaunted goes on with his project.
Shallan, Jasnah’s pupil, as mentioned is traveling to the broken plains, both to find out more about the mysterious city, and to warn the king and Dalinar of the threat of the Voidbringers, but above all because she is Adolin’s betrothed. Also in this book we find out more about her past, her family, her mother’s death. A bit like the first book was Kaladin’s past, here it is Shallan’s turn. (Who will be in the next volume?)
Then there are other characters such as Dalianr’s two sons, Adolin and Renarin, who will also have their own interesting path in the book, especially Renarin.
Yes I will continue with the series. The “magic” part intrigued me so much even though these books are heavy “bricks”. I also believe that the series improves with each book, I found the second volume clearly superior to the first, everything is more organic and also the twists inserted better. I think I can see that some time has passed between the writing of the first and the second.