In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.
Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization. (Goodreads)
My Rating: 4/5
It’s so hard to review epic books like this, especially when they’re not the first in the series, but I’ll try!
I rated ‘The Way of Kings’ and ‘Words of Radiance’ 5/5. They were essentially perfect. Yes, there were a few things I mentioned in my reviews, but nothing that could take away how wonderful it was to read those books.
‘Oathbringer’ wasn’t as good. Everyone says it. I didn’t believe them. Now I do. The problem here is, that ‘Oathbringer’ is better than most fantasy books! It’s an incredible book, truly. But, as to why it’s not as good as the other two… I think I know why (still without spoilers!).
‘The Way of Kings’ is an underdog story, with Kaladin leading the charge. With a character like that, in a fast-paced situation like that, Sanderson couldn’t go wrong! ‘Words of Radiance’ was very political (which Sanderson also did well with ‘The Well of Ascension’), and even though I felt like Shallan had a bit of a weak story, I did realise by the end that I was wrong, as everything fell into place.
‘Oathbringer’ is more of a mishmash of things. There’s political intrigue, travelogue, fantasy war… Dalinar’s story was good, don’t get me wrong, but the book just sagged a bit in the middle. The first two books took me about a week each to finish. ‘Oathbringer’ took me almost exactly six months.
I don’t want to turn you away from it though! Despite the mishmash, we see the characters develop and grow, alone and together. The world gets SO much bigger and we meet new characters (some a little recognisable), new cities, and new… places. I can’t get into spoilers here, but I have to emphasise that I did love this book, hence the 4/5.
(possible) SPOILER SECTION
As with my ‘Words of Radiance’ review, I’ll do this by character.
Dalinar was the focus of this book. As with Kaladin and Shallan, we have a mix of flashbacks and present-day chapters. The flashbacks were brutal and bloody. We get to see where the Blackthorn made his name and reputation. The story becomes heart-breaking and I found myself heartbroken for the man. It’s a remarkable change he has made in himself, and now we know why too. His final “fight” with Odium was a little underwhelming, but I think that was the point. This is no longer a man of war and bloodshed – this is a man of peace, standing against his enemy with a book in his hand.
Kaladin took a back seat for this story which I thought was fine. We can’t have too much of him as the story right now doesn’t require it. Now and again he is there to be brilliant, but we don’t need that all the time. It was nice to let others shine. He did, however, have a small arc regarding his mental health. It still isn’t complete, as he couldn’t say the words, so I’m excited to see him continue to grow. Somehow, Sanderson has offered a future development of his character that I didn’t think was possible after book 1. His failure to save the king haunts him, so we will see where he goes from here.
Shallan’s storyline in this book was better than in her own! The multiple personalities overwhelmed her for a bit of the book, and Sanderson did an amazing job of pre-empting this. The wedding with Adolin at the end felt like it might be the start of her learning to come to peace with herself, but we will see. I’m sure there will still be some problems further along.
Adolin was great in this! This was his best book by far. He became a fully fleshed-out character and I now really care about where his storyline is going. I’m sure Sanderson has big plans for him! When he turned down the crown at the end of the book I wasn’t surprised – it was where his character had been leading too.
Jasnah, I think, will become a main character later on in the series. She’s starting to have a foothold in the main plot. I have liked what I’ve seen so far. Plus, she’s the Queen!
My theory about Renarin maybe betraying the others was right (sort of)! I’m terrible at guessing Sanderson’s twists, and even this twist had a twist (of course!) so I was also wrong. Anyway, I’m looking forward to where this character is going next.
Quickly, I’m going to say that Rock saving Kaladin is going to have huge consequences for the character. I’m fascinated by him so really want to see what happens next! I fell in love with Teft’s character and related to him strongly, so his small arc in the book was a pleasure to read. Also, Szeth is now one of my favourites, and Lift still is, of course! If you haven’t read ‘Edgedancer’, you really should.
Seeing Azure was a surprise! If you don’t know why, read Warbreaker. I hope we see more of her.
Finally, Wit had a might larger role in this book than in any other (we all know his real name, or think we do). The final scene with him made me realise why he had been in the book so much. I don’t have any theories yet, but I’m certainly thinking about it a lot!
This was a long review! If you’ve read the book and loved/hated it, let me know! With so much to talk about before ‘Rhythm of War’ comes out (hopefully later this year!) I’d love to discuss it more in the comments! (If you are putting spoilers, prewarn others though!)
Stormlight Archive Book Reviews: