Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is the second installment in the Stormlight Archive. Finally, and I mean finally it is here! The Way of Kings was one of the best works I’ve read from this author and I’ve pretty much read them all. Coming in at 1000+ pages, I knew this was going to be another long but awesome journey. The Way of Kings was perfect in nearly every way and if there was an author that could make lightning strike twice, I am definitely placing my bets on Brandon Sanderson. However, it is to my great disappointment to say that Words of Radiance is nowhere near the level of its previous brethren. Things just felt different this time around as the pacing is much, much more slower and Kaladin, the main character who was so beloved in the first book, just feels different and its definitely not for the better.
In The Way of Kings, the readers really bonded well with Kaladin as we read through his trial and tribulations. It was dark, gritty and the plateau runs provided a heart pounding experience. Everything was vivid and “in your face”. In Words of Radiance, the book now focuses on Kaladin and a lesser character in the first, Shallan Davar. Well believe it, she’s no longer a minor character. Trust me. The story pretty much alternates between the two and although it did seem quite interesting at first, I would have wished for the author to pick up the pace in certain areas. Nothing heart pounding really happens in the beginning. And when I say beginning, I’m talking about a whole lot of pages for a book this size! Szeth is a very important character yet we hardly get a glimpse of him throughout Words of Radiance. I was quite upset at that. Since it has been a few years of reading The Way of Kings, the author can’t expect us to remember every single characters back story. For Shallan, Kaladin, Adolin and Dalinar, this wasn’t so much a problem since we get dropped hints here and there of their past. The only problem was with Szeth.. If the author could have squeezed in bits and pieces of Szeth in between chapters, that would have been great.
One of the biggest disappointment I would have to point out is that Words of Radiance actually reads and feels like a YA book. That in my opinion is not good at all. The dialogue and how Kaladin/Shallan behaves at times are a bit childish and not what I remember from The Way of Kings. For example, did Kaladin actually says “Bah” a lot in the first installment? I get why Kaladin always seems gloomy and grumpy here after what happened in the first book but that just adds to my point about this feeling like a YA novel at times.
While Words of Radiance definitely moves the story forward, I just felt personally that the execution was a bit poor. Did it feel like a 1000+ pages of filler? Definitely not. Is it all that bad? Not exactly. There are obviously some pieces here and there that are quite memorable. But for every piece that was enjoyable there is one that is not. For example, one of the fight scene with a chasm fiend was pretty awesome but then I was let down when it came time to fight with one of the main Parshendi warrior.
I just have too much respect for the author and hence, I can’t give it a bogus score just because I’ve read and admired a lot of his previous works. It’s very hard to justify giving Words of Radiance anything more than 3 stars. It definitely pains me to say so though. I just can’t but wonder if the author just got too much on his plate to really focus on the Stormlight Archive. The guy seems to churn out books every year like a candy factory. In my opinion, it will take a massive effort on the author’s part to reel me back in this series when it comes to the third installment.