Words of Radiance - Book 2 of The Stormlight Archive - by Brandon Sanderson
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.
No Spoilers for Words of Radiance (pinky-promise)
It should come as no surprise that after I reviewed the first installment of The Stormlight Archive, The Way of Kings, I immediately went and got the second book. (And am now currently waiting for Amazon to deliver book three.) This is shaping up to be an excellent series, and I know for a fact that, as soon as I finish book three, I'm going to be a burning mass of rage and impatience while I wait for book four in 2020. (Fun fact: there are ten books planned for this series.)
While Way of Kings focused primarily on Kaladin's story, with flashbacks to him growing up and joining the military, Words of Radiance focuses on Shallan. This makes sense as, out of the three main characters in series so far (her, Kaladin, and Dalinar), she's the one who undergoes the greatest change in this book. A lot of it is her learning how to use her magical abilities, the way Kaladin learned to use is. While Kaladin's powers are about "Lashing" and strength, Shallan's powers are kind of like Loki's from the MCU. She can create illusions. The problem is she needs to be able to balance the lies she tells with what the truth is, which involves delving into some pretty nasty secrets in her own past.
Also, she finally meets the other characters (after a shipwreck that delays her for half the book) and gets an arranged betrothal to Dalinar's son Adolin. Now, this little rom-sub is really cute. Adolin likes how Shallan is different from the other girls, Shallan likes how Adolin is hot and a decent human beings--unlike all the other men in her life--and they're just really adorable together.
What is not cute is the hints Sanderson is throwing about a possible love triangle with Kaladin. I want to give a firm no on that for multiple reasons, the first being that love triangles are inherently lazy, and Sanderson is better than that. The other reason is that Kaladin and Shallan work amazingly well as pseudo-siblings, not a romantic couple. Kaladin's first positive thought about Shallan is that she reminds him of his brother. And him silently stewing like an older brother while Shallan and Adolin make kissy faces at each other is the funniest thing.
But that's a problem for another time. As I said, Sanderson has only hinted at that, and there are eight more books in this series.
Bottom line: this book is just as good as its predecessor, expanding on the world and characters. We see things from the Parshendi side for the first time, which is really fun. Kaladin has to decide whether or not they should assassinate the king--you'd think that'd be an easy answer, but while the king is no Joffrey Baratheon, he's definitely the cause of a lot of problems. Dalinar learns that running a country is similar to running a babysitting service. And Shallan goes from adorable cinnamon roll to adorable badass. It's a fun time all around.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!