Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
I could never really summarize what is going on in this book. It is too big it is too much. The scope is amazing. As usual with Sanderson, his imagination is a wondrous thing. He is the type of writer who is the reason I read fantasy books. Fantasy is supposed to be about the fantastical, and while this book does use some familiar tropes and narrative conventions, it is the details that make it transformative.
I am compelled to start my review by looking at the end of this book.
It ended exactly the way an installment for a multi-volume book is supposed to end. The characters have grown and deepened. A battle has been won. But we are left with the knowledge that a war is still left. A sense of excitement and anticipation has been triggered for what we've learned and what has happened ... as well as a sense of foreboding for what is coming.
In the first book, I was admit I was very much laser focused on Kaladin. He is the main character in my mind since so much of the book is told from his perspective and he is getting the "hero's edit'. He is absolutely worthy of it. He isn't perfect -- he's cynical and gloomy -- but damned if he isn't reeking with honor. I love that kind of guy. He has a destiny and before he can reach for it, he needs to learn some things the hard way. He does in this book. He has to let go of some of his own prejudices and his own bitterness. When he does it it worth it. He comes into his own in a spectacular fashion that for me was worth the price of the book.
But while Kaladin is very much central to the series, this book felt more like Shallan's coming out party. Shallan is another main character in the series. With the first book I will admit I was very impatient with Shallan's journey. Her passages in the first book weren't as immediately interesting to me and she took precious time away from Kaladin. For the same reasons I was beginning to resent her in this book as well. I just was not impressed with her... it felt like the author was trying a little too hard with her. For someone who had led a very sheltered life, her reactions to some situations seemed too sophisticated, the ease with which she navigated some situations too facile. Her infiltration into a shady underground group seemed odd and had me wondering why. But Shallan grew on me. I finally did come to enjoy the way her character evolved and I especially liked the way her relationship built with both Adolin and Kaladin.
And Speaking of Adolin. Since my focus has been so sharply on Kaladin and Shallan, I didn't pay as much attention as I should have on the other equally interesting characters. This book has a large chast of characters. Some are walk ons or extras others have hefty supporting roles. Adolin and Dolinar are two of the latter. These two are stealth characters who get a lot of page time and before I knew it I was just as invested in them as I was in the two mains.
Dolinar is the uncle of the present king and is desperately trying to unify his fractured country so they can face the real danger that is on the horizon. At it's base this book is a typical epic fantasy. Great Evil/Desolation if coming to wipe out mankind unless a group of chosen ones can get it together to stop it. As in many fantasy books, a lot of the characters are so busy focused on their own petty battles that they are blind to real danger looming. Usually only a handful of people really know what is up and their warnings of doom ahead are often disregarded. Dolinar is That Guy in this book.
He is a deeply honorable man who is pretty much (inadvertently) responsible for Kaladin realizing his potential once Kaladin and his crew become part of Dolinar's guard. Adolin is his son who is also a warrior who is one of the few who believes what his father is saying. As a noble, Adolin is automatically a figure of suspicion for the lower born Kaladin who scorns him for him "soft" upbringing. The two men clash and distrust and basically act like a pair of squabbling infants. But as I was reading I liked them both so much I desperately wanted them to become friends. I sensed a great bromance in the making if they could only see in each other what I saw in them. Well, that happened. And it was spectacular.
I will admit that there were some parts that weren't 100% fab. There is a point where I think the plot gets a little too busy. There are so many factions, counter-factions and subgroups that I lost count. While I am sure who i am supposed to rooting for, I am a little confused about who I should rooting against?
Still I was so pleased by this book that I won't be upset when I have to re-read it before the next book comes out.