This is probably the lowest I’ll ever rate a Sanderson book.
As all of you are well aware, I am a huge Sanderson fan. The Mistborn series is my favorite series of all time, and I genuinely am blown away with Sanderson’s writing. I have been hearing on and on how The Stormlight Archive is EVEN BETTER than Mistborn and how I am going to love it. Did that actually happen?
This book is hard to summarize, but basically, it set in the world of Roshar where things called Shardblades and Shardplates are highly sought after and wars are started for them. Our main character is in one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, and he is a slave. Kaladin is a bridge leader, and he is trying to save his crew while also struggling with his past.
We also follow Dalinar Kholin, who is one of the commanders on the Shattered Plains, who is troubled by strange visions and he doubts his sanity.
Lastly, across the ocean, Shallan is a noble woman, who is studying under Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece, and is planning to steal from her a really powerful object.
If you thought that sounded complicated, that’s because it is. There’s so much going on. While Sanderson is a master at world building, you can’t help but feel lost here. The world is so well imagined and it seems so vast and well developed, but you are just thrust into it, without little warning. It’s quite hard to keep all of the things happening in mind, and it’s a struggle to keep up. So while I can entirely appreciate the fact that the world is so well built, I can also be frustrated by it. It’s a double edged sword really.
While we’re talking about the world, I’ll just say it – I find it wildly uninteresting. Mistborn comparisons are inevitable, so I’ll just make them. I am so underwhelmed by this particular Fantasy world. I was instantly hooked on Mistborn. I loved it from page one, even though it is as confusing as this at first. However, this book never fully gripped me, world-wise. The magic system is not that exciting, the general mythos of the world is not that exciting, the whole setting is lack lustre for me.
My copy of this book has just over 1200 pages. YES, THAT MANY. And I started feeling invested in the story at page 500. That’s a whole book of just build up, world and plot set up. It’s tiring. Nothing happens in those 500 pages. And the story really starts being interesting at page 700. There’s just too much of it. While I appreciate the intricacies this allows, it was a struggle to get through it. If this wasn’t Sanderson, I would have given up on it. But I did push through, and I was awarded for it. I am now invested in the story and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the characters. Kaladin is probably the main figure, and he is the most developed one. I really liked him, and I enjoyed learning both about his past and I was really interested in seeing how he came to be who he is.
Dalinar’s arc was wildly uninteresting at first, but as the story progressed, I found myself enjoying his storyline a lot more. He is a very trustworthy, honorable character, and I tend to enjoy characters like that. There’s an aura of an experienced warrior he exhumes, and I appreciated the way that was written. I also enjoyed the rest of the characters on the Shattered Plains, both in Kaladin’s part of the story and Dalinar’s part of the story.
Naturally, Shallan was my least favorite character. I don’t like the way Sanderson writes female characters. They’re annoying and just don’t feel genuine. And there’s always a lack of female characters in his novels, which is a shame and it’s annoying.
I did enjoy Jasnah’s character a lot more. She is a scholar, the no bullshit kind, which I appreciated quite a lot.
Brandon Sanderson is a master at writing powerful and impactful endings and this one is no different. The way he brings every thread together, and the way he just surprises you is masterful. The ending totally made the book for me and made everything click together and now I actually can’t wait to read the second book. Well done, Sanderson.
Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed with this as I hope I would be. As I’ve pointed out above, I had a lot of issues with it. However, the story does pick up at a certain point in time, and I really became invested in it. Meaning, I am now super excited to get to the rest of the series. But the world building is masterful. If you ever thought you’d read good world building, you didn’t. This throws every other book out the door. So I’d say, if you’re a huge Fantasy fan, pick this up and give it a try, but if not, I’d say go for Mistborn, you won’t regret it, and just skip this one. It’s a great set up for the following books, but on it’s own? Not that great.
Final verdict: 3.5 stars
I’d love to hear from you – have you read this? Or any Sanderson? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
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