It took me a while to get back to this series after the immense first book that was The Way of Kings. At 1,258 pages, it was a lot to swallow, and took me a while to read. The series is an investment of time, but well worth it. I am almost at the point of saying that the second book is better than the first. Almost, but not quite.
Here is the Amazon summary:
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.
As you can see above, Words of Radiance is just over a thousand pages long, so it’s not quite as long but still up there. And I found the same hitch that I did in the first book; that is that I probably could have cut a hundred pages or so and not missed them. There were several scenes of minor characters and back story that added depth and richness, but also felt like it was someone of a detour in the story.
At the same time, there were some really great battle scenes and a couple of assassin attacks that were well worth reading through. And Sanderson does a great job of world building and character building. “Immersive” is the world a student used to describe the first book when I saw him reading it last year. And that’s what you want in a fantasy series, especially one this long.
Despite it’s length, and the fact that I would have the tendency to cut some scenes, I would have to give this the whole five stars. Very well done, Mr. Sanderson.
Five stars out of five.