The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson


Books

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Orthos wrote:
It's very clear that Sanderson has improved since writing Mistborn. And I'm saying that as someone who adores Mistborn and its world and characters; I just picked up Shadows of Self (second book in the new Wax and Wayne series) last night actually, on that note.

proceeds to bookstore at a quick jog


I enjoyed shadows, but mistborn is still probably the best trilogy of all time.


Freehold DM wrote:
Orthos wrote:
It's very clear that Sanderson has improved since writing Mistborn. And I'm saying that as someone who adores Mistborn and its world and characters; I just picked up Shadows of Self (second book in the new Wax and Wayne series) last night actually, on that note.
proceeds to bookstore at a quick jog

I loved Mistborn, but this series is what cemented Sanderson as my second favorite author (behind Gaiman)

Shadow Lodge

Caineach wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Orthos wrote:
It's very clear that Sanderson has improved since writing Mistborn. And I'm saying that as someone who adores Mistborn and its world and characters; I just picked up Shadows of Self (second book in the new Wax and Wayne series) last night actually, on that note.
proceeds to bookstore at a quick jog
I loved Mistborn, but this series is what cemented Sanderson as my second favorite author (behind Gaiman)

Same here really. Mistborn made me love the guy's writing and be willing to read anything he put out. Stormlight Archive put him on par with Pratchett vying for the spot of favorite author of all time.


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Quote:
He was the editor and wrote a few stories, but wasn't really responsible for most of where the story went and so on, right? At least the omnibus I have credits him as editor, but not writer (or he wrote one story? Something like that.).

If you think of WILD CARDS as a TV series, GRRM and Melinda Snodgrass are effectively the "showrunners" who are in creative control of the series, plan where the story is going to go next and make all the final decisions, but the actual writing is then given to other writers to do.

Quote:
I frankly don't think he's nearly as good of a writer as Sanderson.

I like Brandon and his books, a lot. But if you look at the variety of richness of Martin's career, his achivements in multiple genres and in both book and TV, there's really no comparison between them. Especially in areas like dialogue, where Sanderson is only rarely effective, and sometimes is a bit wince-inducing, whilst Martin is probably the most quotable living author writing in fantasy.

Quote:
I think it's fair to say ASoIaF has been spinning its wheels in books 4 and 5, and most likely because they weren't supposed to happen. After the end of book 3 we should have skipped forward 5 years, but for some reason he decided to write them out. The result was two books in which not much happened... Now he's got that out of the way, hopefully the pace will pick up again in the next one.

Sort of. The five-year gap was never supposed to happen, was introduced because the kids weren't growing up fast enough (the first three books last about 18 months but were supposed to cover more like 4-5 years between them, which ironically the TV show has done instead), was then pulled when it didn't make sense, and then Books 4 and 5 basically became a combination of material that should have been skipped in the gap, new material and material from after the original gap. Straightening all that out has been a problem for George (massive understatement).

Quote:
I enjoyed shadows, but mistborn is still probably the best trilogy of all time.

MISTBORN is a very fine, tight and nicely-designed series, and the sequel books have been pretty good. I think STORMLIGHT is definitely better-written, but it's also less well-paced and I don't think the STORMLIGHT characters are as vivid and on the same level as the MISTBORN team. Part of the problem is that Brandon is building up a whole 10-book series here and he has a lot of characters, subplots and chapters in Books 1 and 2 which are not going to become relevant until much (much) later in the series. STORMLIGHT is also going to cross over with the rest of the COSMERE mega-setting. Some will likely see them as features more than bugs, but these are things that can bog down the STORMLIGHT books and it's why they are so absolutely massive when they really don't need to be.

Having said that, they are still really good books. It's also worth remembering that ALL of Sanderson's solo, non-YA fantasy is set in the same universe, with crossovers and Easter Eggs between the books. That means that ELANTRIS, MISTBORN (all of them), WARBREAKER, THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and quite a lot of his short fiction is all set in the same universe, as is the forthcoming WHITE SANDS graphic novel. In fact, characters from MISTBORN and ELANTRIS actually show up in STORMLIGHT (under new names), there's one character who appears in every book (if fleetingly) and you really need to have read WARBREAKER before the second STORMLIGHT novel for it to entirely make sense.

For comparisons with MALAZAN (another 10 book series), THE WAY OF KINGS is certainly better than GARDENS OF THE MOON, but DEADHOUSE GATES is comprehensively, comfortably and utterly better than WORDS OF RADIANCE. Erikson got a hell of a lot better between his first two books (to the point where I sometimes suggest to people that they skip GARDENS, as you don't necessarily need to read it first).

For "Best Fantasy Trilogy of All Time", the only real claimant to that title I think (given that LotR is actually a single novel) is Jack Vance's amazing LYONESSE trilogy. For recent fantasy works, I'd also rank Joe Abercrombie's FIRST LAW trilogy as on the same level as MISTBORN, with a far weaker opening but with a much better ending. Elizabeth Bear's ETERNAL SKY trilogy from last year was also incredible.
It's also only very arguably fantasy, but Bernard Cornwell's WARLORD CHRONICLES trilogy is also utterly fantastic.

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
I like Brandon and his books, a lot. But if you look at the variety of richness of Martin's career, his achivements in multiple genres and in both book and TV, there's really no comparison between them. Especially in areas like dialogue, where Sanderson is only rarely effective, and sometimes is a bit wince-inducing, whilst Martin is probably the most quotable living author writing in fantasy.

In the end though, this is an opinion, one that people can choose to agree or disagree with.

Liberty's Edge

Orthos wrote:
Quote:
I like Brandon and his books, a lot. But if you look at the variety of richness of Martin's career, his achivements in multiple genres and in both book and TV, there's really no comparison between them. Especially in areas like dialogue, where Sanderson is only rarely effective, and sometimes is a bit wince-inducing, whilst Martin is probably the most quotable living author writing in fantasy.
In the end though, this is an opinion, one that people can choose to agree or disagree with.

I see you're new to the internet and fandom...


Fantastic books. Can't wait for the third.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'll be completely honest and say that Alloy of Law is my favorite Sanderson book. I really had no idea that he had even started a sequel series to Mistborn, so when I was at the bookstore hoping he'd randomly released Stormlight #3, and came across a paperback of it, I snatched it up and finished it that afternoon. It fits one of my genre niches (punkless steampunk if that makes any sense), and the pre-WW1 tech level is more fun than I would have anticipated.

I'll wait to pick up the sequel book, though, until it hits paperback, because waiting a year is better than paying 15 more dollars.

Shadow Lodge

Alloy of Law was extremely fun. I classified it more as "magic Western" myself but I see where you're coming at it from =)

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Magical western is exactly what I meant.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Peter Stewart wrote:
I loved Malazan, but I'd warn any new reader that the first 100-200 pages of Gardens of the Moon are a slog. Erikson throws the reader into the world with none of the context or explanation prose of most other writers. You are largely left to learn the meaning of proper nouns and the nature of various systems and characters as you gain context in the world. It takes some time.

I had a lot of problems getting past that, while listening to it I kept feeling that I missed something because I had no clue what was going on.


Dragnmoon wrote:
Peter Stewart wrote:
I loved Malazan, but I'd warn any new reader that the first 100-200 pages of Gardens of the Moon are a slog. Erikson throws the reader into the world with none of the context or explanation prose of most other writers. You are largely left to learn the meaning of proper nouns and the nature of various systems and characters as you gain context in the world. It takes some time.
I had a lot of problems getting past that, while listening to it I kept feeling that I missed something because I had no clue what was going on.

I feel you. I picked it up and put it down a couple times before I finished it. Loved it when I got into it, but it took time.


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Werthead wrote:
For comparisons with MALAZAN (another 10 book series), THE WAY OF KINGS is certainly better than GARDENS OF THE MOON, but DEADHOUSE GATES is comprehensively, comfortably and utterly better than WORDS OF RADIANCE. Erikson got a hell of a lot better between his first two books (to the point where I sometimes suggest to people that they skip GARDENS, as you don't necessarily need to read it first).

And again I disagree. Malazan is interesting, but I read as far as Toll the Hounds (which I believe is book 8?) and was never quite as sucked in as many other books I've read.

The plot is interesting in an academic sense (I want to know what happens), but is buried under so many unnecessary layers that it's hard to really enjoy.

The most fun part of that series was unraveling the mystery of how in the hell the magic system even worked, but then they went and just kind of explained it outright in...The Crippled God I think it was?

It did that a few times, as I recall. A lot of building up mysteries, and then anti-climactically resolving them with little fanfare or work on the parts of either the characters or the reader.


Malazan is a series that gets better if you reread it

anyone know who is Trell (not Mappo but the power mentioned in Mistborn)?

The Exchange

Numerian wrote:

Malazan is a series that gets better if you reread it

I mean, a series asking me to read 10,000+ pages to get the story is already quite a bit (though there's definitely a certain pleasure in that, too), but asking me to reread those 10k to actually get what's going on... that's maybe too much.

I mean I love epic fantasy and all, but from what I hear of those Malazan books, I really don't feel a burning need to read them.


Numerian wrote:
anyone know who is Trell (not Mappo but the power mentioned in Mistborn)?

Trell is only mentioned a few times in Mistborn (Trelagism is one of the religions Sazed offers to Vin, focusing on the night sky and stars). Miles mentions Trell briefly in Alloy of Law, and Marasi even more briefly in Shadows of Self.

My hunch is that Trell has something to do with the Shards...perhaps a holder of a Shard we know nothing about yet?


Lord Snow wrote:
Numerian wrote:

Malazan is a series that gets better if you reread it

I mean, a series asking me to read 10,000+ pages to get the story is already quite a bit (though there's definitely a certain pleasure in that, too), but asking me to reread those 10k to actually get what's going on... that's maybe too much.

I mean I love epic fantasy and all, but from what I hear of those Malazan books, I really don't feel a burning need to read them.

Just in this case, I'd say it's worth more re-reading Malazan than reading most other fantasy for the first time (except Esselmont). Only other fantasy that I've re-read is ASoIaF 1-4, the Book of the New Sun, the Second Apocalypse, and I usually hate to watch even movies twice. If you love epic fantasy Gardens of the Moon is not hard to get into, maybe for inexperienced readers. Maybe because the world is not so much a fantasy version of medieval Europe like most are. It's got a lot of characters and concepts, but it doesn't go into complicating things.

alientude wrote:
Numerian wrote:
anyone know who is Trell (not Mappo but the power mentioned in Mistborn)?

Trell is only mentioned a few times in Mistborn (Trelagism is one of the religions Sazed offers to Vin, focusing on the night sky and stars). Miles mentions Trell briefly in Alloy of Law, and Marasi even more briefly in Shadows of Self.

My hunch is that Trell has something to do with the Shards...perhaps a holder of a Shard we know nothing about yet?

Forgot about that, would be cool if it's something else like Hoid.

Shadow Lodge

Numerian wrote:
alientude wrote:
Numerian wrote:
anyone know who is Trell (not Mappo but the power mentioned in Mistborn)?

Trell is only mentioned a few times in Mistborn (Trelagism is one of the religions Sazed offers to Vin, focusing on the night sky and stars). Miles mentions Trell briefly in Alloy of Law, and Marasi even more briefly in Shadows of Self.

My hunch is that Trell has something to do with the Shards...perhaps a holder of a Shard we know nothing about yet?

Forgot about that, would be cool if it's something else like Hoid.

Shadows of Self:
At the end of Shadows of Self, MeLaan tells Marasi that the spike Paalm/Bleeder was using was made of an unfamiliar metal, one not native to Mistborn's world and not the two lost metals associated with the former Preservation and Ruin. She also says that, due to the associations those metals had with the former deities, Harmony/Sazed is worried that the new metal is indeed something indicative of a "new God", and that whoever it might be might have hostile intents towards their world/Harmony/etc.

It probably doesn't help that Sanderson has been rather adamant about NOT revealing all the identities of the Shardbearers yet. We know there's sixteen Shards in total and nine have been named, but only seven of their wielders are named (and two of those have been replaced by Sazed), leaving two unidentified wielders on top of seven unidentified Shards with unidentified wielders.


Here's hoping Bands of Mourning and The Lost Metal will present some new info on this.


Fortunately we don't have to wait long. I'd prefer the story on Roshar, or a sequel to Elantris.


ELANTRIS II is still coming, but not for a while.

STORMLIGHT III will hopefully be a late 2016 release, but could slip to early 2017.

I'm trying to remember where we are in all this, but I believe that after STORMLIGHT V there will be a long pause whilst Sanderson writes the Second Big MISTBORN Trilogy.


So far I'm not sure why he continued Mistborn, what's the point after the epicness of the first trilogy.

Shadow Lodge

I wasn't expecting it either, but I really like the way the Wax and Wayne series has been turning out. It uses a lot of my personal favorite story features, especially some (like magic + evolving tech) that don't get used in fiction near as often as they should.

And it does seem he has more in mind for that world, so as long as the story is good, I will certainly not complain about not seeing the last of the Mistborn.

The Exchange

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Numerian wrote:
So far I'm not sure why he continued Mistborn, what's the point after the epicness of the first trilogy.

Actually, the idea with Mistborn was always to continue it.

The original concept, the point of the mistborn books, was to write a series of trilogies that show a world advancing from era to era as new knowledge and technology changes it. That would shift the genre from epic fantasy to modern suspense thrillers (set in a 20th century setting) followed by space opera. This all came even before the idea of mists and a Lord Ruler and allomancy were even involved. Sanderson believed that Epic Fantasy had a problem in that the worlds it described remained to static, existing in a medieval-esque state for thousands upon thousands of years instead of evolving with time.

What you are looking at is the very slow unfolding of a master plan with a scope far beyond what almost any writer in the genre is capable of. That's really incredible and I consider it a privilege to witness it happening in real time.

As for the where the Wax and Wayne books come into this - they are set in a period that wasn't originally a part of the outline, but Sanderson wrote Alloy of Law for fun when the idea came to him, and both he and his readers really liked it, so more of these are incoming. He is writing them to relax in between writing the much bigger and heavier Stormlight Archive books.

So anyway, this is why he kept writing Mistborn books.

Shadow Lodge

Awesome. I didn't know that was the ultimate plan, but Allomancy/Ferruchemy + space opera? Yes please!


That's very cool, space opera is my favorite genre, possibly there'll be ships using speed bubbles.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

In the trade paperback of Alloy of Law, the Foreward by Sanderson really spells out what Lord Snow mentions above. Short enough to read it at the bookstore shelf :P


More to the point, the third MISTBORN trilogy is where a lot of the Cosmere metaplot will also get tied together.

Spoiler:
It's also where the "regular" humans (non-Voidhoppers) of the different planets will get to meet one another. Or so he plans at the moment.


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The Stormlight Archive Book 3: Oathbringer

Quote:

The world of Roshar stands in peril. The ancient, dark force of Odium has returned and the Voidbringer armies have come with him, subverting the parshmen, former slaves of humanity. Dalinar Kholin, the Blackthorn, one of the most feared warriors on the planet, finds himself tasked with leading the reformed Knights Radiant and uniting the world against this new threat. But to accomplish this he must overcome his own reputation as a bloodthirsty tyrant and make peace with his own, half-forgotten past.

Oathbringer, the third volume of The Stormlight Archive sequence, is a big book. At just under 500,000 words in length, it may be the second-longest epic fantasy novel ever written, behind only Tad Williams' To Green Angel Tower and significantly longer than The Lord of the Rings in its entirety. Clocking in at 1,250 pages of fairly small print, reading it is a mammoth undertaking. At regular points in the narrative the saying "journey before destination" is uttered by key characters, perhaps a message from the author to keep going and stay the course.

The Stormlight Archive is certainly Sanderson's most ambitious work to date - seven more books are planned in this series alone, and many more in the linked Cosmere universe - and also his most accomplished. Sanderson has always been a skilled worldbuilder, creator of magic systems and an eager student of epic fantasy, learning from other authors in the genre, but this series has also seen those areas where he was lacking in earlier works, such as nuanced characterisation and the depiction of a large and diverse cast of characters, step up a notch. This is a solid series, but it's also one that has often creaked under the weight of its own complexity, and Oathbringer is almost brought low by the weight of the material.

At its heart, Oathbringer is a simple story: Dalinar Kholin is, for lack of a better term, the Chosen One who must united the world against, an ancient returning evil. However, he is also tainted by his own past in which he was a warrior with a reputation for savagery and butchery. The challenge he faces in Oathbringer is dual-pronged. Externally, he must work to unify the kingdoms of Roshar against the renewed Voidbringer threat. Internally, he must overcome the demons of his past. This is complicated because he deliberately suppressed his past through magical means to remove the pain of an event involving his wife. This is - rather more literally than is normal - the traditional story of a protagonist going through self-realisation and healing a past wound in order to achieve a necessary goal in the story. Whilst traditional, it makes Dalinar a far more relatable figure (but not always a more sympathetic one: Sanderson does not absolve Dalinar of the horrible acts he committed whilst younger).

However, this simple story is almost drowned under pages and pages and chapters and chapters of "other stuff." Heralds. Knights Radiant. Voidbringers. Shadesmar. Spren. Stormsurging. Soulbinding. The Recreance (which is set up as A Major Revelation and turns out to be merely the characters of Roshar learning something that readers of the wider Cosmere series will already be aware of). The Diagram (an epic fantasy take on Isaac Asimov's Foundation). Magical talking swords that you need to have read a completely different book (Warbreaker) to fully understand. There is a lot of stuff going on in this book, often requiring pages and pages of exposition, but only some of it is really relevant to the plot at hand. By the time I finished Oathbringer I was feeling nostalgic for Steven Erikson's more opaque but far more successful approach to worldbuilding and magic systems (explain what's needed, just let other stuff that's not unfold in the background and move on).

There's also a great deal of repetition in the book. The first half of the novel, in particular, is slow-moving with constant and repetitive strategy meetings and characters meeting up to discuss the plot which they - and we - already know about. Aside from some surprising new information about the returned Voidbringers, relatively little in this section of the book justifies the immense word count it took to get there.

Fortunately, the second half moves a lot faster. We get two massive climactic battles in key locations and a trip to the Shadesmar dimension, which underpins not just Roshar in the Stormlight Archive but all the planets in the wider Cosmere, so getting to see it in more detail is interesting. This side-story is also relatively brief and constrained, feeling like a tighter self-contained novella within the larger novel. The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance both did this a lot, with what felt like short stories contained within the larger novel that were there to flesh out the world and backstory but be entertaining in their own right. Oathbringer does this comparatively rarely, and not as successfully.

The concluding battle and accompanying revelations is epic and well-handled (maybe a little too long with a few too many reversals of fortune, but still relatively brisk compared to the rest of the book). There's some firm new understandings of the world and the stakes involved in the struggle against Odium. But the overwhelming feeling is that we could have reached this conclusion far more quickly and far more concisely.

More problematic, there is a very strong echo of Sanderson's earlier Mistborn series in how this volume unfolds. That trilogy saw a group of young, inexperienced characters discovering amazing magical powers and coming to a firmer understanding of their nature and how to use them when they get involved in the ancient struggle between the godlike Shard-holders resulting from the Shattering of Adonalsium, with the mysterious Hoid popping up a couple of times to help them. This is pretty much exactly what happens in Oathbringer, with just the magic systems and the characters swapped around. This is exacerbated by the fact that at the very end of Oathbringer Sanderson has an opportunity to do a ninety-degree turn and take one character in a very different and far darker direction that would have been much more original and interesting, but ultimately chooses a more traditional resolution to that story which feels like a massive missed opportunity.

By the time I finished the book I felt conflicted. On the one hand, my admiration for Sanderson's worldbuilding, plot construction and his continuing self-analysis as a writer and his capacity for growth remained undimmed. Oathbringer explores some wider literary themes of compassion and forgiveness and does so quite well, and Sanderson is definitely getting better by book at handling character. Unfortunately, his dialogue is extremely variable sometimes far too modern and grating. The romance storyline is also massively under-developed, although given how weak it is this may be for the best. Sanderson's sense of humour is variable, with some of the supposed witty banter between characters coming off feeling forced and unconvincing. Other elements, such as the single-minded bloodthirsty nature of the sentient sword Nightblood, are more entertaining.

Ultimately, The Stormlight Archive cannot withstand comparisons with the most accomplished works in the epic fantasy genre that nod towards realism: A Song of Ice and Fire has far superior prose and characters (though, obviously, a lamentably poorer release schedule); Wheel of Time has, for all its insane length, a much clearer plot through-line that goes through the series and doesn't overburden the reader with too many magic systems and unnecessary backstory plot coupons; and The Malazan Book of the Fallen (of which Stormlight all too-often feels like a less sophisticated YA remix) deals with a lot of the same ideas and themes in a far more original, literary and interesting manner.

What Oathbringer (***½) does do really well is action, worldbuilding and magic on one of the most interesting worlds developed in epic fantasy. From that viewpoint Stormlight reads like a crazy anime series in prose form, complete with impractically massive but awesome swords, bonkers magic and a somewhat juvenile take on romance. If you can overlook the problems with the unnecessarily-padded length of the book, there's a lot of fun to be had in this world, but it's not one of the deepest fantasy series around. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Oh hell, its out? About time. Now to wait until paperback...

Shadow Lodge

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To each their own, but I couldn't disagree more with the review, especially the favorable WoT comparison. IMO Stormlight is leaps and bounds better by far.

I can't say as firmly for SoIaF as that series, as I've said several times in this very thread, is so thoroughly outside my interest that I can't comment much on it. I will say that SoIaF's "nod toward realism" is one of the main things about it that turns me off from the series, just after the overwhelming visibility and overuse of violence, gore, and sex, and its grim atmosphere with characters constantly dying.

A lot of this probably comes down to the fact that many of the things your review decries as 'other stuff' or 'bogging down' is a great deal of the big appeal of Sanderson for me, and some of the main reasons he is my favorite author bar none.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I'm actually listening to the audiobooks of this series and I'm on the second book now. The beginning of the first book was a slog and I almost gave up on it but about midway through it started to pick up for me.

I'm experiencing the same thing with the second book right now but it's taking a bit longer to regain my interest despite a really good action set piece early on. I trust that it'll pick up again.


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Finished it last week working on words of radiance now.

Kaladin is the man.


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Finished Words of radiance. somehow it was better then the first. I need MOAR!


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I just finished listening to all 55 hours of Volume 3 as an audiobook. I'm surprised to see people complaining about "stilted" dialog; when read by a professional reader, it didn't feel that way at all.

In Volume 3, Sanderson pulls off something that most fantasy authors would never even attempt: In a book full of magic and swords and superheroes, the central act upon which the entire plot pivots is an act of

Spoiler:
self-forgiveness.

That takes a lot more guts, and is a lot harder to pull off, than copying the nihilistic viewpoint of the latest dark and "edgy" author. I enjoy the writings of both GRRM and Sanderson, but the idealism of Sanderson's works will always speak to my soul in a way that the cynicism of GRRM's cannot. YMMV.


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I'll be honest, I can't stand GRRM as a writer. I've tried to read ASoIaF, and it's a tedious slog made all the worse with its bleak outlook and unsympathetic cast. I've never been bored with Sanderson.

I don't see how

Spoiler:
Dalinar turning against the heroes
would have been more compelling. With all that we learned about his forgotten past in Oathbringer, it would have honestly seemed more predictable, especially given
Spoiler:
how wary everyone was to deal with him politically. The seeds were definitely planted for everyone to expect him to fall, to return to destruction. Resisting that was so much more powerful.
I loved how that was resolved.

Grand Lodge

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The third book is great IMO. Sanderson has said that he isn't looking to work with the level of realism/cynicism that GRRM does. He want's a lighter fantasy read. I've read all 3 when they came out, and been happy with the $ I've spent. I will agree the first book is a bit of a slog as he does SOOOOO much worldbuilding, but it pays off. He wanted to make something enormous and epic, and bring his own flavor of magic system/worldbuilding to it.

I can't wait for the next one.


Quote:

In Volume 3, Sanderson pulls off something that most fantasy authors would never even attempt: In a book full of magic and swords and superheroes, the central act upon which the entire plot pivots is an act of

SPOILER

That takes a lot more guts, and is a lot harder to pull off, than copying the nihilistic viewpoint of the latest dark and "edgy" author. I enjoy the writings of both GRRM and Sanderson, but the idealism of Sanderson's works will always speak to my soul in a way that the cynicism of GRRM's cannot. YMMV.

That same thing happens quite a few times in ASoIaF alone (Theon and Tyrion in Book 5, for example, or Jaime in Book 3). It's also the primary theme of the MALAZAN series: compassion, forgiveness and the embracing of the Other is Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont's primary theme and one they repeatedly interrogate from different angles, and ultimately it saves the day in the final book.

I agree that Sanderson does it quite well in OATHBRINGER. It's a step-up in his psychological handling of characters, which has previously veered towards the David Eddings "everyone is okay actually, if you get to know them" angle of the spectrum.

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