The Stormlight Archive, Book 2
Synopsis: Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.
Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin 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.
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.
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.
Review: I must firstly say that I have not read the first book of the series and it is true that it is usually quite difficult to read fantasy novels out of order. Yet when I received the book, my friend Blodeuedd has lavished praise on the first volume. So after a little talk with her, I did not hesitate one second to get into this new story. I do not really know what happened in the previous volume, or if certain events are recalled here, but despite some points a little fuzzy on the world, I took great pleasure in reading this novel and I wasn’t as lost as I thought. I think, I also need to add that this novel is probably the biggest book I have ever read, yes because it is almost 1100 pages.
Something often bothers me in fantasy and this is the number of points of view, given my pretty terrible memory. Yes because I forget everything fairly easily, and I often only really enjoy one of the characters that we follow. Yet it was not the case here and I really liked all the POVs, and all the characters we meet. They all have something to show us, all different, and we always hope to discover more about them. The character I liked the most is none other than Shallan. This woman is really fascinating and always full of resources. After being abandoned by the only person who could help her, she finds herself having to manage her entire existence and many secrets that could save the world. And while she will also cope with her new powers and the lies she makes to achieve her objectives, she must also convince the king of the looming threat closer and closer. Shallan is a strong young woman, full of imagination and who never gives up. She evolves dramatically in the novel, from a young woman without insurance who does not really know how to enforce those around her, to a strong woman who does not let herself being pushed around. It was really interesting to see all the steps that she had to cross throughout the novel. We also learn many things through flashbacks, the story of her life and what her family has endured. I must say I was really surprised at the end of the history when we finally learns the truth about her father. I did not really expect that.
But that’s not only that, and I also took a great pleasure in following Dalinar, this man who is trying to save the kingdom as best as he can, although he does not really know whether his decisions are finally the best. And yet, many people follow him, including his son, a womanizer and who yet remains good in all circumstances. We also have Kaladin, this man who was betrayed by his friend and who can finally take revenge here. A man who has been broken, and yet who is trying to do the best thing. Despite his mistakes, he knows what he must do and will do anything to get there even if it is something very difficult for him. Fortunately, he will always be accompanied by Syl, who will help and advise him in all circumstances.
Many things are started here, and a large number of responses we are given. The world that the author has built is truly amazing and we can only admire all the details he has made while he is letting us discover the story. I also let you discover for yourself the story built throughout the chapters, as it’s well worth it. The novel was a very nice surprise, and I must say I am curious to find out what the author has presented to his readers in the first volume. I’m also curious to see what he’ll reserve us for the future. We thus find here a great fantasy novel that will appeal to many people I’m sure.