Writing a massive series such as the Stormlight Archive takes a major commitment on the part of the author (you’ll note above that it’s not only the third and hopefully final book in the series, but weighs in at a hefty 1,255 pages). It’s also a major commitment by the reader. That’s why when my student writers talk about writing book series as their first attempts as novelists, I try to dissuade them. If the first book doesn’t work, you need to move on to something else.
If you’ve read my other reviews of this series here, you have seen that I have loved this series. That especially goes for Sanderson’s ability to create worlds. One other person I talked to that was reading the series referred to it as “immersive.” The first and second books were in the 1200-plus-page size as well, and I felt they could have been a couple of hundred pages shorter, but overall, they kept my attention throughout. And I gave them good marks.
But how do you end such an expansive, complicated, in-depth series? That’s the rub, isn’t it, and that’s the problem we run into here. This book, the third and final in the series, is more complex, more mystical and more mind-boggling than any of the others. And I struggled to keep going through it.
There’s a term in writing we use: the payoff. Will the reader invest time in the book in exchange for the payoff of getting a great ending? And the longer and more arduous the journey, the bigger the expectation is for the ending. This book was lacking in that department, and I was sad about it. The conclusion was open-ended (I hope I can say that without that being considered a spoiler) and there were a lot of unresolved issues unaddressed. That may have been intentional by the author, but I found it unsatisfying.
In any case, I found that the lack of a payoff tells me I won’t be coming back to this author for other series, despite how much I loved the first two books.
I give this three out of five stars.