Oathbringer – TwoMorePages Book Review

Oathbringer – TwoMorePages Book Review

Woohoo we’re back in Roshar! 1200 pages worth, and we learn SO MUCH! Brandon Sanderson once again builds a wonderful world to share, and we get to spend some more time with our favorite characters, Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar.

Arielle is here to join me this time in co-authoring this review – you’ll see her thoughts in blue. 

YAY! It’s me! Hopefully I don’t spell anything wrong because I listen to the audio version.

Okay, let’s get to the meat of things. Spoilers start now.

Dalinar’s Story

Yours is the power Ishar once held. Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods. He was the founder of the Oathpact. No radiant is capable of more than you. Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your surges are the greatest of all, though they will be impotent if you seek to wield them for mere battle.

The Way of Kings was Kaladin’s story; The Words of Radiance, Shallan’s. I thought, between her surprise re-appearance at the end of book 2 and her appearance on the cover of this book, that Oathbringer would be Jasnah’s story. Nope. Dalinar’s. Surprise!

In Oathbringer, we got to learn all about Dalinar’s past as The Blackthorn. Up until now, I had just assumed he was some sort of badass in combat, perhaps a brilliant tactician, and that’s how he earned his name. Sure, some people mentioned he was brutal, but let’s be real – war is brutal. That kind of comes with the territory.

“I want them to suffer for this. Men, women, children. They must know the punishment for broken oaths. Immediately.”

“I promised Tanalan that his widows would weep for what I did here, but that is too merciful for what they’ve done to me. I intend to so thoroughly ruin this place that for ten generations, nobody will dare build here for fear of the spirits who will haunt it. We will make a pyre of this city, and there shall be no weeping for its passing, for none will remain to weep.”

O.o Oh, okay. Well then.

Arielle insert time – THANK GOD Edmund takes notes. I’d just like to point out in the above quote from the book that “none will remain to weep” is such an understatement. Sure, no one is alive to weep, but all the crying comes back to literally HAUNT Dalinar in his mind.

Slight tangent – I’m actually going to post an unpopular opinion here and say that I’m 100% okay with what Dalinar did there, razing the rift. This entire debacle was because he refused to murder a small child earlier. Or did we forget that an act of mercy in sparing a small child is what got us here in the first place?

Only one other person was in the small chamber: a young boy. Six, perhaps seven. Tears streaked the child’s face, and he struggled to lift his father’s Shardblade in two hands.

Dalinar loomed in the doorway.

“You can’t have my daddy,” the boy said, words distorted by his sorrow. Painspren crawled around the floor. “You can’t. You…you…” His voice fell to a whisper. “Daddy said … we fight monsters. And with faith, we will win…”

Last time he granted mercy and clemency, the child grew up to cause a rebellion. And more than that, he used underhanded tactics to try to A) get Dalinar to turn on his allies and B) murder Dalinar in a trap. I’d be pissed too. I’d *also* want to burn the city to the ground.

So, if we’re to learn our lessons from history, we should raze the city, lest its inhabitants grow up just to try and take vengeance on all of us later. If he’d just killed that little boy, none of the other citizens of the Rift would have had to die decades later. To take an example from another series, didn’t Tywin Lannister do something similar in Game of Thrones with the Castameres? And everyone thinks that he’s smart and prudent.

Okay, tangent over.

So apparently Dalinar wasn’t just The Blackthorn because he was really good at killing people, but because he had earned a reputation for being unnecessarily cruel and harsh in doing so, murdering scores of civilians along the way. This was a really harsh contrast to the Dalinar we saw in the previous books, especially the Dalinar that we saw in Book 1.

“What is a man’s life worth?”-Dalinar

“A life is priceless” – Kaladin

“Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. So today, you and your men sacrificed to buy me 2600 priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.” -Dalinar

“You really think it was a good trade, don’t you?” Kaladin said, amazed.

Remember that exchange from Book 1? Dalinar was supposed to be the pinnacle of honor! Of all that was good in the world! Welp.

I really liked how Brandon Sanderson had us realize the same way that Dalinar did, in slow, small snippets. As we’re feeling betrayed and lied to about his character, Dalinar has to come to grips with the fact that he isn’t the person he thought he was. That it was all built on a foundation of…not lies perhaps, but omission.

Dalinar’s arc in this story is one of redemption, of him feeling guilty for having killed all the people in the Rift and accidentally killing his wife in doing so (oops). We see him try and hide from his grief, first by drinking, and eventually by going to the Nightcrawler/Cultivation.

“I will give you…a pruning. A careful excision to let you grow. The cost will be high.

In doing this, I provide for him a weapon. Dangerous, very dangerous. Yet, all things must be cultivated. What I take from you will grow back eventually. This is part of the cost.

It will do me well to have a part of you, even if you ultimately become his. You were always bound to come to me. I control all things that can be grown, nurtured.

That includes the thorns.” – Cultivation

Woah! In exploring Dalinar’s backstory, we learn

A) Why he went to the nightcrawler (to try and stop feeling all the guilt)

B) What he got (he stopped feeling guilt about killing Evi, but also forgot Evi entirely, which allowed him to grow as a person)

C) That the Nightcrawler and Cultivation are different entities. I had personally been under the impression for most of the book that they were one and the same, instead of having a relationship similar to the Stormfather and Honor. 100% in the same boat here. I definitely thought they were the same person. It was interesting that Cultivation wanted to take care of Dalinar, instead of letting the Nightcrawler handle it.

D) Cultivation KNEW he was going to get his memories back. You’ll see some hypothesizing below but I wonder if bonding a spren is what makes his memories come back. It began at pretty much the same time. 

E) That Cultivation had a plan in doing this. There’s even foreshadowing when she speaks above about “even if you become his”. Also here, she would’ve known that he was to become a Knight Radiant? The Nightcrawler even specifically calls him “Son of Honor? Son of Odium?”

The Thrill boiled within. And Dalinar knew. He knew he’d always been a fraud. He was the same as Amaram. He had an honest reputation, but was a murderer on the inside. A destroyer. A child killer.

“Let go,” Odium whispered.

Dalinar squeezed his eyes shut, trembling, hands tense as he hunched over and clawed the ground. It hurt so badly. To know that he’d failed them. Navani, Adolin, Elhokar, Gavilar. He couldn’t live with this.

He couldn’t live with her tears!

“Give it to me,” Odium pled.

Dalinar ripped his fingernails off, but the pain of the body couldn’t distract him. It was nothing beside the agony of his soul.

Of knowing what he truly was.

Dalinar’s struggle with his guilt over his actions at the Rift was the central point around which the story revolved around. I loved how Brandon Sanderson made everything tie together at the end with Odium wanting to make him his Champion (plot twist!!) and offering to absolve Dalinar’s guilt as a way of enticing him.

The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it?

It’s the next one. Always the next step, Dalinar.

“I will take responsibility for what I have done. If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.”

He closed his eyes, breathing out, listening to a sudden stillness. And within it a simple, quiet voice. A woman’s voice, so familiar to him.

I forgive you.

Side note – You know sometimes how a book reaches out beyond its confines and affects you in real life? When a quote is so poignant that you just stop reading and say “wow”? That was the “always the next step” line for me.

Sometimes it’s not about who you are or what you’ve done in the past, but who you are or what you’re doing *right now* that defines who you are.

I love that Dalinar’s redemption arc concluded with him accepting that he did certain things, that they’d always be with him, but that those things didn’t prevent him from doing the right things *going forward*, namely, you know, not becoming Odium’s Champion. That was nice.

Side note: I think Odium was also training Amaram to be a champion backup.


“Maybe you don’t have to save anyone, Kaladin. Maybe it’s time for someone to save you.

Speaking of twists and turns, how weird was it that Kaladin took a backseat in the story in book 3? Not only did he have much less screentime (pagetime?) than in books 1 and 2, he also wasn’t the savior at the end of the day.

“I…I will…”

He thought of friends lost. Malop. Jaks. Beld and Pedin.

Say it, storm you!


Rod and Mart. Bridgemen he’d failed. And before them, slaves he’d tried to save. Goshel. Nalma, caught in a trap like a beast.

The Words. Say the Words!

He *almost* speaks the 4th ideal, but not quite. I’m curious as to what it is. One of the better theories that I read on the internet was that the fourth ideal would be something like “I will forgive myself for those I cannot save.” Oooh. I like this theory.

That would explain why he thinks of all the friends he lost as he’s trying to speak the 4th ideal. He can’t quite get there to forgive himself.

“What about me?” Kaladin asked.

Dalinar pointed at Amaram, who was climbing to his feet in Shardplate. “He is going to try to kill me for what I do next, and I could use a bodyguard. As I recall, you have a score to settle with the highlord.”

Kaladin DOES however *finally get the showdown he and I have been waiting for since book 1 against AMARAM*! Wooooooh.

I’ve been waiting for this for SO LONG. I got blue balls when it didn’t happen in The Words of Radiance and just kind of assumed it would never happen. So Jonah Hill there pretty much embodied my excitement when I got to this portion of the book haha.

“Didn’t you tell me you’d given up that grief?” -Kaladin

“Yes! I’m beyond guilt!” -Amaram

“Then why do you still hurt? Murderer! You’ve switched sides to find peace, Amaram. But you won’t ever have it.” -Kaladin

I found it interesting that Amaram basically confessed that he went through similar trials to what Dalinar was going through regarding guilt (see note about Amaram maybe being a backup champion above). And that he, unlike Dalinar, accepted Odium’s way out in trying to convince himself that he didn’t need to feel guilt, that it was all Odium’s fault that he did those terrible things, not his.

But Kaladin is able to tilt him during the battle by continuing to pick at that scab. It’s not healed. Amaram doesn’t *actually* think that everything is fine and that he shouldn’t feel guilt.

I made you, Kaladin! I gave you that granite will, that warrior’s poise. This, the person you’ve become, was my gift! “I made you! I forged you!” -Amaram

“Today, what I do, I do for the men you killed. I am the man I’ve become because of them. Ten spears go to battle. And nine shatter. Did that war forge the one that remained? No, Amaram. All the war did was identify the spear that would not break.”

And I loved the further exchanges between the two where Amaram tries to convince Kaladin that everything he did to him was a good thing for Kaladin, forging him into what he was.

“I saw it in your eyes, Amaram,” Kaladin whispered as the husk of a man stumbled up to him. “When you killed Coreb and Hab and my other friends. I saw the guilt you felt. You tried to break me as a slave. But you failed. They rescued me.”

Maybe it’s time for someone to save you, Syl had said in Shadesmar. But someone already had.

Amaram raised the Shardblade high.

“Bridge Four,” Kaladin whispered.

It was so satisfying to see Amaram continue to tilt while Kaladin didn’t, and for Bridge Four (and Rock!) to be the ones who ultimately saved Kaladin. Closing circles feels *so good*!

My little note and something that didn’t quite make sense to me this section of the fight:

“You have great form, spearman! Do you remember when you first came to me? Back in that village, when you begged me to take you? You were a blubbering child who wanted so badly to be a soldier. The glory of the battle! I could see the lust in your eyes, boy!” – Amaran to Kaladin

Amaram makes it sound like fighting was all Kaladin wanted to do, but we, as readers, know that isn’t exactly the truth. Kaladin wanted to protect his brother. Sure, of course, he wanted to be a soldier too but I wouldn’t say that’s why he went running off to war. I feel like this is another piece/lie Amaram tells himself so that he feels “okay” about what he did.

Some other notes about Kaladin is I really enjoyed the part where he became friends with the Parshmen. We get to see things a bit from their side, their confusion, the fact they just want a life, and more spoilers from Edmund below. BUT this friendship directly changed the outcome of the Kholinar battle – WHICH WAS OFF THE CHAIN.


Adolin (and Maya!)

“You want to fight it, don’t you?” Adolin asked. “It reminds you of when you were alive.”

Something tickled his mind, very faint, like a sigh. A single word: Mayalaran.

Special shoutout to Adolin, who is at this point my favorite side character. And while Kaladin is obviously my favorite character, I identify most with Adolin. We both grew up relatively privileged, and we both apparently talk to our inanimate objects and treat them as though they had thoughts and feelings, which apparently makes us weird haha.

So it was a pretty cool reveal to see Adolin’s spren in Shadesmar, even if she is a deadeyes. It warmed my heart to see her help protect Adolin right after he got stabbed, especially since deadeyed spren are supposed to basically be no brained passive zombies.

“The world is full of gods and Heralds now, and you’re one of them. I’m practically a nobody. I’m not used to that feeling.”

-Adolin, to Shallan

His battle sequence snippets were great, especially since he went through this entire book without his shardplate, which he’s used to fighting with. His coming to grips with the fact that he’s no longer a member of the most important group of people since he’s not a Radiant is interesting character development. If he’s a central focus of Book 4, I bet that will be his character arc.

I wonder if there’s a way that he can bring her back to life? After all, Syl said in the last book that spren are never truly dead in the way that people are. I was hoping for this too, especially since she is showing “signs of life.” I’d love for that to happen.

Plus, he was able to summon her with only 7 heartbeats once. And he felt sadness from his Blade when he had to lend her to the Theylen shardbearer.

I need more Adolin + Maya in my life like I needed Kaladin + Syl.

So… part of me wants Adolin to be a Radiant, but:

“They say you have to be broke,” Lopen said…

I don’t think he’ll get there. As Edmund mentioned, he’s a little too privileged. I would like to give a shout out to Adolin for confronting Shallan on her “feelings” towards Kaladin. I know that must’ve taken a lot of guts, but I shouldn’t have been too surprised, Adolin is honestly a pretty brave dude. ALSO he’s brave enough to tell his dad he killed Sadeas and it was just like “Oh… okay. Well I guess we will figure it out.”

Lastly, about Adolin is that I LOVE how much Sanderson brought out Adolin’s fashion sense. One, it was hilarious. And two, I think it helps with how in modern day, fashion isn’t really assumed to be a guy’s thing. I liked how unabashedly interested he was in it.

Nale and Szeth!!!

Really? Didn’t you tell me you spent a thousand years following the instructions of a rock?

“More than seven years, sword-nimi. And I didn’t follow the rock, but the words of the one who held it. I…”

…had no choice?

But it had always been nothing more than a rock.

Speaking of side characters, Szeth is back! And…I guess I was wrong in wanting Kaladin to have murdered him in Book 2. Like I *really* wanted that…

The disagreements between the Skybreakers and the Windrunners have grown to tragic levels. I plead with any who hear this to recognize you are not so different as you think. – drawer 27-19

All of his entire interactions with Nale were very interesting. For one, I don’t really get the difference between skybreakers and windrunners. They seem to have almost identical lashing and binding abilities.

The only differences seem to be in their ideals. Compare “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves” (Windrunners) to “I will put the law before all else” (Skybreakers). Whereas skybreakers (and highspren) only seem to care about the law, windrunners (and honorspren) only seem to care about “doing what is right”, which is a much more nebulous concept.

Syl actually touched on this concept in Book 2, specifically stating with derision that she was NOT a highspren.

“You must choose, Szeth-son-Neturo. The skybreakers will swear to the Dawnsingers and their law. And you? Will you join us?”


And we see the importance of such a nebulous distinction at the final battle. A HERALD says he’s going to join Odium’s side, WHAAAAT? I suppose Brandon’s entire point regarding the two different orders is that what is lawful is not always what is right.

Nale went around murdering surgebinders for who-knows-how-long, under the pretense of law, making the entire world less prepared for this Desolation. And he’s now done the mental gymnastics to say that yes, he’s still following the law by switching sides. Because he gets to pick which laws are “right.”

Honestly, I fail to see how that’s functionally different than just nebulously following what is “right.” It’ll be interesting if in book 4, there are windrunners vs skybreaker fights, not only physical ones, but mental arguments between them as well regarding what is “right.”

“I serve Dalinar Kolin. I cannot know truth, so I follow one who does.”

Szeth’s decision to follow Dalinar is interesting in two ways.

(1) Nale basically says that he’s going to tell all the other skybreakers to join the parshmen, even stating that “it will be hard” for some of them. But Szeth gets a choice? Why? This is interesting. I’m not sure if Nale specifically meant he’d force them into it, but that he thinks they will follow his will, even if they don’t necessarily want to. But Szeth, during his trials, etc, has shown to think a bit outside the box.

(2) I honestly felt like there wasn’t a ton of buildup to make Szeth’s character innately trust Dalinar, especially not to the point where he would trust Dalinar more than Nale. Super agree. Szeth spends most of Book 2 trying to kill Dalinar, and is spurned only by Kaladin. Is Szeth’s basis for following Dalinar entirely based on the fact that Kaladin is then? And will this change if Kaladin’s feelings change once he learns about Dalinar’s past?

It will be really interesting to see 1. how Kaladin’s feelings do change about Dalinar, for sure, BUT also, how he feels about the assassin in white just nilly-willy joining up with Dalinar. I am going to assume that he’s going to be pretty untrustworthy towards Szeth for a good while.

I’d like to talk about the sword here too. Like WHAT IS UP WITH IT?! 

Wow! I’m impressed. You know, Vivenna never drew me even once? She carried me for a long time too. Maybe a couple of days even?

“And how long have I been carrying you?”

At least an hour; the sword said satisfied. One, or two, or ten thousand. Something like that.

That sword’s mind is definitely in a weird place, and I honestly wonder why that is. Are the other swords like this? 

Kathleen was right! That *IS* Nightblood!

(spoilers – if you haven’t read Warbreaker, just skip to the next section, sorry Arielle – and lol at your question about the sword since you can’t read the next section yet)

You should draw me, the sword said.

“And do what, sword-nimi?” Szeth whispered.

Fight him. I think he might be evil.

When are we actually going to fight someone? You sure do like to talk. Even more than Vasher, and he could go on and on and on…

I read Warbreaker after The Words of Radiance on Kathleen’s recommendation. She thought the sword that Szeth got at the end of Book 2 sounded a lot like the sword in the beginning of Warbreaker – same snarky tone, same snarky personality, same proclivity to DESTROY EVIL!


One of the things that was touched on in Warbreaker was that while Nightblood is basically a sentient sword, made with the purpose to “destroy evil”, he wasn’t made with the capacity to truly discern *what* evil is. And so passages like the one above where he just kind of guesses at what is evil and what needs to be destroyed are both funny and poignant.

Does he think Nale is evil because he sees that Nale is going to switch sides to the Parshmen? Or does he think he’s evil just because?

“You almost ate him,” Lift said. “You almost starvin’ ate me!”

Oh, I wouldn’t do that, the voice said. She seemed completely baffled, voice growing slow, like she was drowsy. But … maybe I was just really, really hungry…

And his interactions with Lift were very interesting too, if for no other reason that Lift hears Nightblood as a *girl* while in all of Warbreaker, he’s referred to by Vasher as a boy, and even Szeth refers to him as a boy. I think I remember a passage about how Nightblood doesn’t really understand gender, and so he/she’ll appear to different people as different genders as a result.

“I have known royals. Including one woman who left it behind. Throne, family, responsibilities…

I can’t help feeling that this is merely one in a long string of duties abdicated, of burdens set down, perhaps to disastrous results. But of all the things I’ve walked away from, the one I don’t regret is allowing some else to rule. Sometimes, the best way to do your duty is to let someone else – someone more capable – try carrying it.”


Bonus, we got Nightblood, AND WE GOT VIVENNA! It took me until after I finished the book to put two and two together, but Azure *has* to be Vivenna!  She talks about needing to be royalty, but then abandoning it, like she did to her home kingdom in Warbreaker. And Vasher *was* kind of a bounty hunter.

So many questions though then –

(1) Where is Vasher?

(2) How do colors / breaths interact with this world? Nightblood feeds on stormlight first, and THEN colors. But obviously colors are still a thing.

(3) Everyone in Roshar should still have all their breaths. How do breaths interact with shards or spren?

The Fall of Alekthar

More twists and turns. Who saw Alekthar falling? I definitely did NOT. I assumed the entire book was building up to a giant battle at Alekthar for the final Act, Dalinar and Alethi troops rolling in to stem the tide to rescue a beleaguered Kaladin, Adolin, Elhokar, and Shallan . Welp, I was wrong.

Kaladin saw them. All of them. Sah and the parshmen, fighting to keep their freedom. The guardsmen who had been rescued, fighting for their king. Azure’s Wall Guard, terrified as their city fell around them. The Queen’s Guard, convinced they were loyally following orders.

In that moment, Kaladin lost something precious. He’d always been able to trick himself into seeing a battle as us against them. Protect those you love. Kill everyone else. But…but they didn’t deserve death.

None of them did.

Kaladin screamed, tears streaming form his eyes. He begged them to just stop, to listen.

They couldn’t hear him. Sah – gentle Sah, who had only wanted to protect his daughter – died by Noro’s sword. Noro, in turn, got his head split by Khen’s axe.

Noro and Sah fell beside Beard, whose dead eyes started sightlessly – his arm stretched out, glyphward soaking up his blood.

We spent so much time with Kaladin as he befriended the parshmen on his reconnaissance before; just as much time with Kaladin as he made friends on the Wall Guard. I thought for sure the ending to this battle would be Kaladin at the *very least* convincing everyone to stop killing each other. That it would be this grand scene where everyone lays down their weapons because they know Kaladin, and they all work together to defeat the queen and save the city.

But nooooope. Everyone died. And it broke Kaladin. And a little bit of me as well.

Kaladin could almost hear Elhokar stuttering the words.

Life … life before death …

The hair on Kaladin’s neck rose. Elhokar started to glow softly.

Strength … before weakness …

“Do it, Elhokar,” Kaladin whispered.

Journey. Journey before …

A figure emerged from the battle. A tall, lean man – so, so familiar. Gloom seemed to cling to Moash, who wore a brown uniform like the parshmen. For a heartbeat the battle pivoted on him. Wall guard behind him, broken Palace Guard before.

“Moash, no…” Kaladin whispered. He couldn’t move. Stormlight bled from him, leaving him empty, exhausted.

Lowering his spear, Moash ran Elkohar through the chest.

And when I say everybody, that doesn’t mean “no name characters that no one really knew anyway,” that includes freaking ELHOKAR. And of storming course it’s Moash that does it.

So sad that he was *so close* to becoming a Radiant, to coming one step closer to becoming the hero and leader he wanted to be.

All of this is so same. I’m honestly surprised Elhokar was killed. I’m still trying to figure out what is going to become of Moash though.


“Can you see it, Teft?” the Spren whispered. “Can you feel the Words?”

“I’m broken.”

“Who isn’t? Life breaks us, Teft. Then we fill the cracks with something stronger.”

Storm you! Be a man for once in your life!

“I will protect those I hate. Even … even if the one I hate most … is … myself.”

I’ll be honest. I didn’t enjoy most of Teft’s chapters for almost the entire book. Same. I thought he was a whiny little bitch that kept abdicating his responsibilities. But I guess that was just one giant elaborate setup for his own personal little redemption arc at the end.

Hilarious it is to see his spren basically be as gruff as he is. She basically calls him a pussy and literally tells him to man up.

Light exploded from the Oathgate platform in a wave. The Fused cried out in a strange tongue, zipping into the air. A luminous wall expanded from the Oathgate platform in a ring, trailing a glowing afterimage.

It faded to reveal an entire division of Alethi troops in Kholin blue standing upon the Oathgate platform.

Then, like a Herald from Lore, a man rose into the air above them. Glowing with Stormlight, the bearded man carried a long silver Shardspear with a strange crossguard shape behind the tip.

Teft. Knight Radiant.

And as a result, Teft gets major screentime in one of the best scenes of the book! The entire end is of course breathtakingly amazing, but for him to figuratively ride in as the cavalry with the description above was…jawdropping.


“We’re still ignoring too much,” Shallan said. “We’re getting too good at pretending.” She had decided to stay with Jasnah in the first place to learn. But when the woman returned from the dead, Shallan had – instead of accepting training – immediately fled. What had she been thinking?

Nothing. She’d been trying to hide away from things she didn’t want to face. Like always.

Shallan’s character took a *very* interesting turn in this book, where she deals with split personalities and has a crisis of confidence in herself.

Much like Dalinar, she has to come to grips with some stuff from her past; whereas Dalinar hid himself in drinking and went to the Nightcrawler to assuage his guilt, Shallan tried to just run away from it all together and never face it, making up new personalities to deal with problems as she went.

We saw Veil again, but instead of being a character she puts on to accomplish things sometimes, we saw Shallan start to imagine herself with Veil as her main personality and Shallan as a personality she wanted to hide from the world…which was…weird.

Moreover, we saw Veil undergo her own plot lines and suffer major setbacks herself. Which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem since she’s a made up person, but…

“Since the first day, you storming woman. Hate…hate you…Others too. We all…hate you…”

The whole city was depending on her, but she hadn’t even been able to save a little beggar boy. As she curled up on the floor, Grund’s death seemed a shadow of everything else, of her good intentions turned arrogant.

Everywhere she trod, death haunted her. Every face she wore was a lie to pretend she could stop it.

Couldn’t she be somebody who didn’t hurt, just once?

Tragedy! How horrible would it be to genuinely figure out that while you were trying to do something good for people, you were actually ruining their lives? And that they *hated* you for it!

I give money to the homeless folks on the street; I donate to charities. I would feel crushed if I figured out that I had basically gone out of my way to accidentally hurt people.

“You tried to help the people of the market. You mostly failed. This is life. The longer you live, the more you fail. Failure is the mark of a life well lived. In turn, the only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone.”


And the same things happens to Veil. She doesn’t “come out” as often anymore after that soul crushing realization. Wit literally has to rescue Shallan/Veil and help her back to her feet. And even then, she really doesn’t do much in the climax of the book.

Shallan’s struggle with who she was (Veil? Radiant? Shallan?) was honestly a little weird for me. I thought her battle with self doubt was basically over in Book 2, and it was curious to see it bleed over as her central theme in Book 3. I wonder how much of Shallan’s story in Book 4 will center around it. I hope in book 4 that Shallan figures out who she is and comes to terms with it. 

Adolin searched her eyes. She bled from one, to the other, and back. A moment of Veil. A moment of Radiant. Shallan peeking through –

Adolin’s hand tightened around her own

Shallan’s breath caught. There, she thought. That’s the one. That’s the one I am.

He knows.

Speaking of things spilling over from Book 2 to Book 3, remember that whole sexual tension between her and Kaladin and her and Adolin? It’s resolved!

And in a pretty cute way at that. Adolin noticing that Veil and Radiant have a thing for Kaladin and offering to step aside, only for Shallan to confidently proclaim that she wanted to be with him and he with her. Their exchange was heartwarming.

Some other things about Shallan is her involvement with the Ghostbloods. I guess we are going to see how that plays out in Book 4 but I’m wondering if her brother’s are going to be held against her in someway now that they are around. Honestly, I thought she (and Brandon) had forgotten about her brothers altogether. I even messaged Edmund when i had about 40 minutes left thinking they weren’t going to be mentioned. But nope, they get a super short scene where they show up just before her wedding, convenient!


This is not possible, the Stormfather said in Dalinar’s mind. How did she come here?

“You didn’t bring her in?” Dalinar said softly.

No. This is not possible! How…?

This is a creation specifically meant to defy my will!

That child is tainted by the Nightwatcher. This is different. This is unnatural. She goes too far. The Stormfather rumbled his discontent, refuisng to speak to Dalinar further. He seemed genuinely upset.

It was really interesting that she was able to pop in and out of the Stormfather’s and Odium’s visions, and even take people out of them. Both of them seemed so unnerved whenever she did so. In fact, it’s the only time that Odium ever seemed freaked out.

Lift seems to be tied closely to Cultivation, who I assume will play a larger role in the books ahead. With Honor dead, Cultivation is really the only thing that can stop Odium.

Her deal with the Nightwatcher seems very interesting. She asked to stay young forever, but in addition, she seems able to do a lot of things other Knights Radiant can’t. She can metabolize Stormlight directly from food (I think this is an extra bonus about being an edge dancer, but I’m honestly not sure); she can screw up things from Odium and the Stormfather; her spren seemed to survive with more of his memories intact than either Syl or Pattern after transitioning over, and he always talks about “mother” who I can assume is either the Nightwatcher or Cultivation.

I wonder what her curse is? And how her special abilities as a Knight Radiant will factor into everything. I think that somehow her curse/boon will be reversed – like Dalinars. I think that since bonding, that is what has given Dalinar back his boon/curse, so maybe the same thing will happen with Lyft.

The VoidBringers

The biggest twist of this book was set up perfectly. *We* are not necessarily the good guys in this story, defending our land from the voidbringers. We are the original voidbringers!

Syl confirmed that humans originally brought Odium with them when they came from another world. They switched to Honor as a religion *afterwards*.

You could protect your home. You could kill to defend the people inside. But what if you’d stolen that house in the first place? What if the people you killed were only trying to get back what was rightfully theirs?

It got so complicated. Humans had lived upon this land for thousands of years. Could anyone really be expected to let go because of what ancient people had done, no matter how dishonorable their actions?

“The oaths are about perception, Syl. You confirmed that. The only thing that matters is whether or not we are confident that we’re obeying our principles. If we lose that confidence, then dropping the armor and weapons is only a formality.”


“I’m not going to do the same,” Kaladin said. “I’d like to think that the past of Bridge Four will make us a little more pragmatic than those ancient Radiants. We won’t abandon you. But finding out what we will do might end up being messy.”

This brings about all sorts of interesting philosophical questions that I’m sure will be delved into in further books.

Will it kill people’s will to fight? Or will they not care, because fuck, it’s their lives they’re fighting for, and we’re now thousands of years removed from that. Plus, it’s *Odium* that we’re fighting, and he is the one bringing the void.

A good analogy is “Should Americans today feel less national pride because of what we did to the Native Americans?” and the answer in society has been a resounding NO. What we did to Native Americans has, for most intents and purposes, just become a footnote in history. So I feel like it’ll be something similar here in Roshar.

The Oathpact and the Heralds

Honor let the power blind him to the truth – that while spren and gods cannot break their oaths, men can and will. The ten heralds were sealed upon damnation, trapping the voidbringers there. However, if any one of the ten agreed to bend his oath and let voidbringers past, it opened a flood. They could all return.

That started a desolation.

“They were tortured, weren’t they?”

Horribly, by the spirits they trapped. They could share the pain because of their bond – but eventually, someone always yielded.

Ohhhh! We learn the secret of the oathpact relatively early on in the story, about 1/3 of the way through. NOW that first prologue in The Way of Kings makes sense! I’d always wondered why that battle was described and then basically never really referenced again.

Poor Talenelat. 4,500 years of torture. So that explains why HE’S crazy. Why are the rest of them crazy? And if any of them were like Ash, who felt bad about the whole thing, how come none of them ever decided “Hey, we should prob go back and help out Talenalat?”

Can new Heralds be made? Is that the endgame of all this? Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar as new Heralds? Or is that the obvious BAD solution that we’ll shy away from at the conclusion of this series since that really doesn’t solve anything, but only delays another desolation? Plus, it’s the obvious solution, so I’m sure Brandon Sanderson won’t bring us there.

Most of the remaining Heralds all seem crazy. Ash is the only one who seems even remotely sane that we see any screentime for, and she spends all her time trying to deface anything that praises the Heralds. Talenelat’s brain is broken except for small outbursts of clarity; Nalan went crazy and is now actually going to join Odium’s side. Jezrein, king of the Heralds, was acting like a crazy hobo dude and just got perma-murdered by Moash? And there’s one Herald who apparently has his own army? Can’t remember his name right now, but I imagine he’ll end up being some sort of antagonist in future stories.

Arielle’s Final Comments

Here are some things I’d like to say that Edmund didn’t really cover! 😀

Venli: I loved seeing her grow, loved seeing her start to understand and dislike Odium, and I really LOVED Timbre. I loved that she bonded a spren and he speaks her language. It’s adorable. I kind of hope she helps out Dalinar, she did see him as a beacon of light or something really similar to that.

Renarin: HOLY SHIT. He bonded a spren and then it became corrupt! His visions weren’t correct! HE WENT TO FIGHT A GIANT ROCK MONSTER! What a freaking badass. I have high hopes for Renarin in the future.

Taravangian: This guy will stop at fucking nothing. I know that when he met with Odium that The Diagram had a lot of applicable parts.  I WISH he had just followed Dalinar and tried to help him once he realized that people would actually follow him. I thought there was a bond there and then he effing goes running off to Odium. Little bitch. 

The Unmade: It’s really exciting to see the sides of the unmade. Some of them are “nice and some of them are definitely not. I’m wondering if the one Shallan scared away will be back, but it was awesome of the one in the castle to warn Shallan. I like the little insert from Hessi’s Mythical too.

Shadesmar: I really like that we got to learn more about Shademar and how it works. We’ve always known about the beads but it was definitely interesting learning about the spren, the perpendicularity, how Oath Gates USED TO BE ABLE TO GO BETWEEN REALMS LIKE WHAT.

Book 4: I really hope they figure out how to “run” the tower. I hope our Radiant’s learn to summon their shardplate. I wonder if Kaladin’s family is going to play a bigger part in the book as well.

Last side note: Apparently I need to read another book to put the Azure thing together. 😛

Random Nitpicks

All this to say that a LOT of stuff happened in Book 4. And I really enjoyed it. Sucks that I have to undergo a multi-year wait now for the next book. But I guess not everyone can be like James S.A. Corey and pump out a new novel every year. I got spoiled since it was only a few months between Books 2 and 3 for me personally.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if these were released in smaller novels more regularly. Like you could publish each part every year? I wonder why Brandon Sanderson doesn’t do that…

That all being said, one thing I did notice was that I had a lot less of Kaladin + Syl in my life in this book, and chatter from the internet seems to think that this will be a trend going forward. If so, that’s disappointing, as Kaladin is the main reason I read and love this series. Doh.


I’m pretty happy with this book overall, and am sad that I probably won’t get to read the next until until 2022. I’ll definitely have to come back and reference this review, maybe even read this entire book again in order to get ready.

I hear that we’ll have a significant time jump between books 3 and 4, which is…honestly, a little disappointing for me. Time jumps always kind of mess up my flow quite a bit. I just finished reading The Expanse Book 7, Persepolis Rising, and the time jump really messed up my immersion since literal DECADES had occurred between books. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I loved that we got to see Kaladin’s showdown with Amaram, loved seeing Dalinar’s character development through flashbacks, and the two twists (Alekthar NOT saved, *We* are the voidbringers) were really well done. Never saw them coming.

I hope that we’ll see more of Kaladin and Syl in future books, but am a little afraid that won’t happen. While I enjoy Lift’s chapters, and Pattern + Shallan’s chapters, nothing really comes close to the banter between Kal and Syl. But again, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

(Warbreaker spoilers for one paragraph – ignore it you haven’t read it yet)

I’m really happy that Kathleen introduced me to this world, and will probably read some of the other books in Sanderson’s cosmere. I LOVED the crossover from Warbreaker and it felt so cool when I figured out that Azure was probably Vivenna, and that Nightblood MOST DEFINITELY was the same sword!

Sanderson has a real gift for world building and tying everything together. I’m sincerely impressed. Kudos to you, Brandon. See you in your next book.


The Words of Radiance – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Words of Radiance – TwoMorePages Book Review

1100 pages. So much stuff just happened in 1100 pages. I feel like I read three different novels all encapsulated into one. From the development of Shallan’s backstory to her further character development; to Kaladin and Syl’s relationship continuing to evolve; to learning more about the nature of spren; to everyone’s storylines all merging together into one cohesive storyline – SO MUCH HAPPENED.

So much stuff. Too much stuff to vaguely allude to. Spoiler section starts now. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, perhaps this will provide you extra motivation to do so? 😀

This time around, I was actually able to read this book *along* with someone, namely the person who introduced me to the series in the first place (Kathleen!). So I’ve invited her to put her thoughts in to here alongside mine as well in blue.

Let’s do this.


“I’m worried about you, Kaladin. I thought things would be better, once you were free from the bridges.” -Syl

“Things are better. None of my men have been killed since we were freed.” -Kaladin

“But you…I thought you might be like the person you were before. I can remember a man on a field of battle…a man who fought…”

“That man is dead, Syl.”

So it’s no secret that Syl is my favorite character. For the first half of this book, I felt like most of what her character was doing was telling Kaladin to cheer up / stop being a pouty little bitch.

“Has it ever struck you as unfair that spren cannot attract spren? I should really have had some gloryspren of my own there.”

“I saw a woman do it in the market,” Syl said, yanking her hair to the sides again. “It means I’m frustrated. I think it’s supposed to hurt. So…ow? Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you what I know. I do! I just…I don’t know what i know.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, imagine how frustrating it feels!”

Like, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed their little quips. Sanderson’s ability to write her personality is amazing. I’d still give almost anything to have my own smartass little spren looking out for me in my life.

“Syl?” Are you allright? You seem…”

Like you were before. When we first met. It made a feeling of dread rise within him to acknowledge it. If his powers were withdrawing, was it beacuse the bond itself was weakening?

Once things started to go down, little hints like the above gave me insight into what could possibly happen, but I didn’t believe them. Didn’t believe it could happen. Syl was almost a main character – nothing could happen to her, right? Nothing permanent anyway…

Syl couldn’t see why his decision was the right one. She was a spren, and had a stupid, simplistic morality. To be human was often to be forced to choose between distasteful options. Life wasn’t clean and neat like she wanted it to be. It was messy, coated with crem.

And then Elhokar had Kaladin imprisoned for helping Adolin. Before that happened, I, like Kaladin, had been on the fence as to whether or not to help Moash assassinate Elhokar for the good of Alekthar. Like yeah, he’s kind of an idiot, and Dalinar would be a better king, but…is it really okay to let someone that you’re guarding get murdered?

But after imprisonment? For helping team Kholin? Pfffft. Sanderson did a great job of making me empathize completely with Kaladin’s actions and decisions. His description of Kaladin’s thoughts and reasoning lined up perfectly with mine.

Not with mine… I was screaming “NOOOOO” at Kaladin the minute he opened his mouth and doomed the Kholin’s whole plan to ensnare Sadeas.  Don’t get me wrong, that duel was BEYOND EPIC!! So awesome!  But I wanted to beat my head against a wall once he tried to go after Amaram in front of all the lighteyes.  Also, I was afraid that if Kaladin made decisions based on vengeance it would lead to him loosing Syl…

Which of course led to…

Syl screamed, a terrified, painful sound that vibrated Kaladins’ very bones. In that moment, he got a breath of Stormlight, life itself.

He crashed into the ground at the bottom of the chasm and all went black.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? The distant voice sounded like rumbling thunder.

Kaladin didn’t remember grabbing her (Shallan) as he fell, but he didn’t remember much of that fall beyond Syl’s scream. That scream…

“Syl. What have I done to her?” -Kaladin



“Please! How can I fix it? What can I do?” -Kaladin


**FUCK** -Me

I’ve never quite been as upset in this book series as I was when Kaladin lost Syl. And when she stayed lost for what felt like an ETERNITY.

For awhile, I couldn’t even figure out why the bridge collapse was the catalyst of Syl disappearing. I was lost for several chapters.

“Patterns are eternal. As is fire, as is the wind. As are all spren.” -Pattern

Syl lived. Syl lived. He still felt euphoric about that. Shouldn’t she be dead? When he’d asked on their flight out, her response had been simple.

I was only as dead as your oaths, Kaladin.

I had to backtrack once I read this passage to figure out that it was only a few pages in the book after Kaladin told Moash that he was A-okay to help him to kill Elhokar that the bridge collapsed and Syl disappeared.

Now I know it had nothing to do with the bridge. It had everything to do with that decision.

The writing setup for this was fantastic. It was right after Kaladin had been wrongfully imprisoned by Elhokar and was furious about it. Hell, *I* was furious about it. I was 100% on board the “MURDER ELHOKAR” train. He was the reason Roshone had gone to Kaladin’s village. His ego and temper were the reasons why Kaladin had to sit in jail for days/weeks after HE HELPED WIN A 2V4 Shardbearer battle, keeping Elhokar’s cousin alive and stabilizing the Alethi Kingdom. Fuck that guy, right?

Well, wrong, I guess. If it means you have to give up your bonded spren. Yep, definitely wrong :p totally not worth it!

The Nature of Spren

“Not ten heartbeats?” he asked.

Not when I’m here with you, ready. The delay is primarily something of the dead. They need to be revived each time.

Which brings us to…the nature of spren, both bonded and unbonded spren. This was one of the giant reveals in the book that Kathleen saw coming, but I didn’t.

Spren can become shardblades. Spren *are* shardblades. More than that, the shardblades that are in use are dead Spren, and that’s why Radiants can’t use them without hearing screaming (poor Renarin).

“I should have practiced more with the sword.”

Oh. That’s right. You probably want me to be a spear, don’t you?

Pattern is a blade! Syl is a blade/spear/hammer/shield combo lol . This is interesting, especially since Kaladin kept refusing Shardblades OVER and OVER. So yay, Kaladin finally gets a blade!

“We’re spren. We’re forces. You can’t kill us completely. Just…sort of.” -Syl

“That’s perfectly clear” -Kaladin

“It’s perfectly clear to us. You’re the strange ones. Break a rock, and it’s still there. Break a spren, and she’s still there. Sort of. Break a person, and something leaves. Something changes. What’s left is just meat. You’re weird.” – Syl

I feel like this exchange will be important in the later books. Plus, it was hilarious and it encapsulates Syl’s personality perfectly. Moreover, it leads into

“The Honorblades are what we are based on, Kaladin. Honor gave these to men, and those men gained powers from them. Spren figured out what He’d done, and we imitated it. We’re bits of His power, after all, like this sword.”

which I think will be extremely important. This touches on the difference between Honorblades and Shardblades, and explicitly states that Spren are little bits of God’s power. This should come into play a lot in the next book, where presumably we’ll be fighting lots of voidspren-bonded Parshendi.

If normal spren can become shardblades, does that mean voidspren can to? And what of shardplate ?

“Really, you can divide spren into two general groups. Those that respond to emotions and those that respond to forces like fire or wind pressure.” -Shallan’s early studies on Spren

“Useless things. They don’t do anything. They flit around and watch, admire,. Most spren have a purpose. These are merely attracted by someone else’s purpose.”


Moreover, this was some information waaay early in the book (Chapter 3?) that got mentioned, then never spoken of again. I thought we’d see a lot more of the difference between the types of Spren. Syl and Pattern are obviously the ones that respond to emotions, right? But then why is Syl, an Honorspren, so closely related to Windspren? Could it be that the latter grow up to be the former? Or do they actually exist as two separate branches of the same tree?


Shallan and Kaladin’s Interactions

“No apologize! Boots!” -Shallan, stealing Kaladin’s boots haha

“I should envy you.” Kaladin said, turning back to her. “My breath needs to be up close to kill, while that face of yours can kill any man from a distance.”

“Any man?” Shallan asked. “Why, it’s not working on you. I guess that’s proof that you’re not much of a man.”

Storylines A and B finally merged! Well, kinda. And Shallan made Kaladin give her his boots, even though they didn’t fit, so whoops lol. Kind of off to a rocky start, but it made for hilarious reading!

But where they really bond is in the chasm after their bridge falls. It was funny when both of them just assumed they had saved the other with stormlight, not knowing that the other could also use stormlight. Although…at this point Syl had just left Kaladin, right? So maybe Shallan actually did save Kaladin?

Their banter is really great character interaction though, from their original antagonistic barbs that they throw at each other

“Don’t lie. You’ve never liked me. Right from the start. And not just because of the boots.” -Shallan

“That’s because I know you’re lying through your smile at everyone you meet. The only time you seem honest is when you’re insulting someone!” -Kaladin

“The only honest things I can say to you are insults.” -Shallan

“Bah! Why is it that being around you makes me want to claw my face off, woman?”

to when Kaladin incorrectly assumes that Shallan’s life has been nothing but fun and roses

“All right. Here it is. I can imagine how the world must appear to someone like you. Growing up pampered, with everything you want. To someone like you, life is wonderful and sunny and worth laughing over. That’s not your fault, and I shouldn’t blame you. You haven’t had to deal with pain or death like I have. Sorrow is not your companion.”

Silence. Shallan didn’t reply. How could she reply to that?

The first time I read this, I found this part of the chapter especially poignant. We, the readers, knew how broken Shallan was from her childhood, but Kaladin didn’t. It was a remarkable juxtaposition between expectations and reality, and a great way to show how misguided Kaladin’s prejudice against *all* lighteyes really is.

“You think I’m too optimistic, don’t you?” -Shallan

“It’s not your fault. I’d rather be like you. I’d rather not have lived the life I have. I would that the world was only full of people like you, Shallan Davar.” -Kaladin

“People who don’t understand pain…the sorry of watching a life crumble? Of struggling to grab it and hold on, but feeling hope become stringy sinew and blood beneath your fingers as everything collapses?

The sensation – it’s not sorrow, but something deeper – of being broken. Of being crushed so often, and so hatefully, that emotion becomes something you can only wish for. If only you could cry, because then you’d feel something. Instead, you feel nothing. Just…haze and smoke inside. Like you’re already dead.

The crushing guilt of being powerless. Of wishing they’d hurt you instead of those around you. Of screaming and scrambling and hating as those you love are ruined, popped like a boil. And you have to watch their joy seeping away while you can’t do anything. They break the ones you love, and not you. And you plead. Can’t you just beat me instead?” -Shallan

“…yes?” -Kaladin

“Yes. It would be nice if nobody in the world knew of those things, Kaladin Stormblessed. I agree. With everything I have.” -Shallan

Kaladin had thought his life terrible, but there was one thing he’d had, and perhaps not cherished enough: parents who loved him. Roshone had brought Damnation itself to Hearthstone, but at least Kaladin’s mother and father had always been there to rely upon.

What would he have done, if his father had been like the abusive, hateful man Shallan described? If his mother had died before his own eyes? What would he have done if, instead of living off Tien’s light, he had been required to bring light to the family?

Storms. Why wasn’t this woman broken, truly broken? She described herself that way, but she was no more broken than a spear with a chipped blade – and a spear like that could still be as sharp a weapon as any…marks like those were signs of strength.

Shallan sharing her story and shattering Kaladin’s view of her was amazing to read. Sanderson’s writing style truly conveyed her emotional state. Here’s a girl who has probably *never* told anyone her story; in fact, a girl who has actively repressed most of her childhood to remain functional, and you can feel her emotion in telling Kaladin her life story.

And seeing Kaladin react with genuine kindness and fondness afterwards was a breath of fresh air. He’d spent most of the book up until now basically being angry at everyone and everything, especially anything with light eyes. Having him experience empathy and introspection instead of hatred and vengeance (and freaking out over where Syl was) was refreshing.

Kaladin and Adolin

Kaladin stood, rolling his shoulder in its socket. He met Adolin’s gaze. So condescending. So sure of himself. Arrogant bastard.

Renarin said that Adolin was unfair towards the bridgeman captain, but there was something strange about that man. More than his attitude – the way he always acted like by talking to you, he was doing you a favor. The way he seemed so decidedly gloomy at everything, angry at the world itself. He was unlikable, plain and simple, but Adolin had known plenty of unlikable people.

Speaking of characters that should like each other, but for awhile didn’t… that brings us to Kaladin and Adolin. They start off with quite the antagonistic relationship, and I couldn’t really understand why.

When we left off in book 1, Kaladin had just saved Adolin’s life, plus that of his men, plus that of his father’s…so…why exactly was Adolin acting so petulant towards Kaladin, derisively calling him “Bridgeboy” and generally being a jerk?

Now that I’ve finished The Words of Radiance, I suppose the answer is what Shallan said, that Kaladin’s personality when he’s a big ball of anger and stress is offputting. But meh, they should have been best friends!

“Oddly, I do. Trust you, I mean. It’s a very strange sensation.” -Adolin

“Yeah, well, I’ll try to hold myself back from going skipping across the plateau in joy.” -Kaladin

“I’d pay to see that.”

“Me skipping?”

“You happy. You’ve got a face like a storm! I half think you could frighten off a storm.”

“Apologize to Adolin for me. I actually kind of like him. He’s a good man. Not just for a lighteyes. Just…a good person. I’ve never given him the credit he deserves.”


So yay when it finally happened! Bro-mance commence! There was certainly enough reason to. I was annoyed when after Szeth attacked the first time, Adolin soundly got his butt kicked, Kaladin saved the day (again), they were still not getting along. FFS, that was twice now that Kaladin had saved both Kholins’ lives. Once should have been enough for them to be best friends, but twice?

But after the 4v1/2 death match where Kaladin and Adolin fought side by side, I was glad to see them finally getting along. It’ll be interesting to see where this story goes in the next book. The story definitely seemed to be setting them both up to be attracted to Shallan, so that’ll be a weird story arc.

Kaladin and Honor

“Give me a reason why he (Elhokar) doesn’t!” Kaladin yelled, uncaring if the ardents heard. “It might not be his fault, and he might be trying, but he’s still failing.”

Gotta do what you can to stay alive

It made a twisted, horrible kind of sense. It hadn’t been Tien’s fault. Tien had tried. He’d still failed. So they’d killed him.

The king…

The king was Dalinar’s Tien.

The Words, Kaladin! You have to speak the Words! -Syl

“I will protect even those I hate so long as it is right.”

So, Kaladin’s overarching arc in the story is one of honor and protection. The lesson he is supposed to learn in the end is that what is right is more important than any other consideration.

It’s funny to compare that to James Holden’s arc in The Expanse, where he basically has to learn the exact opposite. I suppose this stems from the difference between high fantasy and nitty gritty story.

Holden runs around, thinking that he’s doing the right thing no matter what, and ends up screwing things up for everyone in the process – broadcasting partial conclusions and accidentally sparking a war in the process; refusing to finish/kill his enemies, allowing them to attempt to kill him and his crew again and again.

Billions die as a result of Holden’s naivete. His arc in the Expanse is that sometimes honor is foolish, and gets more people killed than practicality. You should try your best to do what’s right, but sometimes it restricts you from doing what is best for everyone.

So it’s funny that The Words of Radiance has basically the exact opposite message. It surely would be easier for everyone if Elhokar was gone and Dalinar was king. Moash’s colleagues certainly have a point.

I wonder if Syl’s main objection was that Kaladin would be helping to kill someone? OR was it mainly that Kaladin would be helping to kill someone that he swore to protect? Would everything have been fine had Kaldin not taken that original oath? His powers went away / he killed Syl once he made two mutually exclusive oaths, shattering his honor. So which is it? Killing is bad? Or taking two mutually exclusive oaths is bad?

I do not think it is either exactly… I think it is actively making a decision not to protect someone when you knowingly have the ability to protect them.  Syl does not seem to have a problem with him killing people per se, they are at war after all, but I think the nature of Windrunners demands that they protect.  Period.  For example, the second ideal of the Knight’s Radiant as mentioned in The Way of Kings is “to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”  So for Kaladin to go directly against that ideal by agreeing to help Moash was the issue I believe.  Stupid Kaladin and his desire for vengeance again :p Yes, yes I know, perfectly reasonable and human, but still!



“It is inevitable. You will eventually betray your oaths, breaking my mind, leaving me dead – but the opportunity is worth the cost.” -Pattern

“Sapience. Thought. Life. These are of humans. We are ideas. Ideas that wish to live.” -Pattern

Pattern is…weird. He has the same childlike innocence that Syl displayed when she first started becoming self-aware, but his personality is starkly different. Almost like a savant 5 year old kid.

He’s aware enough to know that Shallan will probably end up killing him, but he’s okay with it. Plus, he is obsessed with lies, which makes for a very different relationship between he and Shallan vs Syl and Kaladin.

Whereas Syl basically teases Kaladin all the time and worries about him like a sister, Pattern is kind of like an idiot savant kid brother. He makes observations about Shallan’s interactions with people, acting like a 3rd party observer making notes.

“No…it is not words that you lack. It is truth.” -Pattern

“You prefer lies.” -Shallan

“Mmm. Yes, and you are a lie. A powerful one. However, what you do is not just lie. It is truth and lie mixed. You must understand both.” -Pattern

“Humans can see the world as it is not. It is why your lies can be so strong. You are able to not admit that they are lies.” -Pattern

His obsession with lies is extremely interesting not only because Shallan’s Radiant power lies with lies/illusions, but because his commentary on the interactions of people is pretty spot on, namely that everyone’s interactions incorporate some weaving of lies and truth. I wonder if we’ll explore that more in the next book, or if this is all we get along this path.

Pattern hummed. “I’m sorry that your mystical, godlike powers do not instantly work as you would like them to.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought you didn’t understand humor.”

“I do. I just explained…” He paused for a moment. “Was I being funny? Sarcasm. I was sarcastic. By accident!” He seemed surprised, even gleeful.

That all being said, by the end, I liked how he had started to get his snark down. Not quite Syl-level snark yet, but getting there. I have high hopes for him. 😀


Shallan – the real star of Book 2

While Kaladin was featured prominently in Book 2 and was obviously the main protagonist in Book 1, The Words of Radiance centered around Shallan’s story.

I loved getting her backstory fleshed out as well as Kaladin’s was in Book 1. Plus, there were so many twists and turns that made sense in retrospect, but that I didn’t see coming.

Starting with…

Now she was sailing toward a city on the edge of the world, betrothed to a powerful Alethi prince, and free to just learn. She was seeing increidble new sights, sketching them during the days, then readin gthrough piles of books in the nights.

She had stumbled into the perfect life, and it was everything she’d wished for.

A body in a thin nightgown, eyes staring sightlessly, blood blossoming from the breast. Jasnah.

“Be sure,” one of the men said.

The other knelt and rammed a long, thin knife right into Jasnah’s chest. Shallan heard it hit the wood of the floor beneath the body.

Wait. WHAT?! I knew when I read the top part that something terrible was going to happen. Nothing sets up trials and tribulations like the protagonist thinking that life is just so grand.

I didn’t see Jasnah’s death coming though.

I thought Shallan’s story was going to be one where she basically worked as a mentee under Jasnah’s tutelage, that she’d learn to harness her soulcasting powers and do cool stuff. Welp, *THAT* went out the window when Jasnah died.

Sanderson again painted a great picture of how the protagonists felt as things happened to them. We’re not told; we’re shown. We thought like the story was going one way because that’s what Shallan thought. It just made sense.

So when everything fell apart in the manner that it did, we felt Shallan’s panic as her world suddenly changed around her in an instant. That’s some damn good writing.

Speaking of twists and turns…

Shallan growled, thrusting her hands forward. Mist twisted and writhed in her hands as a brilliantly silver blade formed there, spearing Tyn through the chest. The woman barely had time to gasp in surprise as her eyes burned in her skull.

“Difficult things,” Shallan growled. “Yes. I believe I told you. I’ve learned that lesson already. Thank you.”

Kudos to Kathleen, who figured out that Shallan had a shardblade way back in like Chapter 3. Whaaaat? I still don’t know what she read that made her think of it. I read it again. I missed it again lol. And Kathleen said their was a hint back when Shallan was soulcasting blood back in Book 1? *Mind blown*.

I definitely didn’t see the above passage coming. I thought her only way out was Pattern rescuing her. Well, now that I’ve finished the book, I guess that’s true, in a way.

Oh this was one of my favorite parts!! “YES YES YES I TOTALLY CALLED IT.” I felt so validated the minute she used her shardblade. 😀 I was waiting and waiting for the shardblade to be used… which really is fantastic writing on Sanderson’s part.  So many little clues throughout both books really that when put together had me completely convinced it was only a matter of time before Shallan was revealed to have a shardblade.  But the anxiety! and the nerves! when trying to figure out “Is this the moment? Is she going to call it and save herself?! She has to have one, I’m dead certain she has one, all the clues point to it…why isn’t she using it?!” was so frustratingly fun!! I was so enthralled by her story, so much awesomeness! 

As for the clues, they went something like this:

Fool. A memory rose unbidden. A silvery sword. A pattern of light. Truths she could not face. She banished them, squeezing her eyes shut.

Ten heartbeats.   – Shallan’s thoughts in Book 2, Chapter 3, page 64

It was this quote right here that had me completely convinced Shallan had a shardblade. So much so I sent Edmund a text completely freaking out about it haha.  I flashed back to all those references in Book 1 where Shallan would immediately banish her thoughts, when she would not allow herself to think on the past and the traumatic events that she experienced.  Several times “ten heartbeats” would be mentioned, and as Book 1 clearly laid out, it takes exactly ten heartbeats to summon a shardblade.  So 2 + 2 = 4 in my brain.  Ten heartbeats = shardblade, ergo Shallan must have a shardblade!  SO, I immediately put Book 2 down (which is an admittedly very hard thing to do, but luckily it was only Chapter 3) and went looking in Book 1 for my proof.  And boy did I find some, for example:

She screamed then, jumping to her feet on her bed, dropping the pad, backing against the wall.  Before she could consciously think of what she was doing, she was struggling with her sleeve, trying to get the Soulcaster out.  It was the only thing she had resembling a weapon.  No, that was stupid.  She didn’t know how to use it.  She was helpless.

Except . . . 

Storms! she thought, frantic.  I can’t use that.  I promised myself.

She began the process anyway.  Ten heartbeats, to bring forth the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act.   – Shallan’s thoughts, Book 1, Chapter 45, page 799 right before she accidentally soulcasts blood.

It was so obvious to me in hindsight, which is why I think the lightbulb went off like it did…my subconscious was already toying with the idea and I remembered that at some point in Book 1 (or multiple points really, but for sake of conciseness I will forego quoting here) Shallan had been terrified enough to think about doing something that was directly involved with the trauma of her past (and therefore banished behind the best mental blocks she could come up with to remain sane) and at those moments in time “ten heartbeats” would be mentioned by Sanderson.  Two little words.  Easy to miss over. Easy to ignore.  But so very, very significant.  Really brilliant writing!  So rewarding too, when one figured out!


Shallan and Heleran

“Draw plants,” Heleran said, “and animals. Safe things, Shallan. Don’t dwell on what happened.”

“Don’t go,” she whispered. The words felt like gauze in her mouth. It had been months since she’d last spoken.

Heleran! Seeing her relationship with her family through flashbacks was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Especially the parts with Heleran. He’s portrayed through her eyes as the perfect big brother, wanting nothing but to protect and help her and her house.

He magically shows up with a shardblade, and…I made a shot in the dark with Kathleen predicting how I thought that Heleran was the shardbearer that Kaladin killed and…whoops, Kaladin accidentally killed a good guy. It was the only thing that made sense about why a shardbearer was so far away from the Shattered Plains in the first place.

#NailedIt though! Kathleen’s not the only one who can tell the future. 😀 This is my only major claim to plot foretelling that came true, since Brandon Sanderson is so good at twists and turns, so I’m celebrating!

It did open up an entirely new can of worms regarding the story though. I remember thinking at the time “Who is Heleran working for? And we’ve never actually figured out *how* he got a shardblade?”

Kathleen had made a prediction about how she thought Shallan got Heleran’s shardblade on his death, and I had thought our two predictions were mutually exclusive, but nope, we both got a piece of that one. She predicted that Shallan had a shardblade in the first place; and I got that Amaram had Heleran’s shardblade, courtesy of Kaladin.

I wonder if we’ll see more of Amaram in the next book – I thought for sure we’d get more Amaram-Kaladin interaction in this one, but alas it wasn’t nearly what I’d hoped it would be.

Whoops, I’ve gone off on a Kaladin related tangent. Back to our regularly scheduled program of Shallan and her family.


Love is like…

“Love is like a classical melody.” -Balat

“If you end your performance too quickly, your audience is disappointed?” -Shallan

Playing the “love is like…” game with Shallan and her family was so cute. Watching flashback Shallan come out of her shell and tell dirty jokes with her brothers was so endearing. Plus, it was hilarious!

“I’ve carried those for the better part of a year,” Wilkim said softly. “The longer you have them, the more potent the leaves are supposed to become. I don’t feel like I need them any longer (because of you). You can burn them, or whatever. I just thought you should have them.”

“Name for me one reason I should show this man (Jushu) pity.”

“Our mother was murdered,” Shallan said. “That night, as I cried, Jushu held me.”

Her relationship with her brothers was such a nice contrast to her relationship with her father. She tried to watch over Jushu even though he’s an idiot that gambled money he didn’t have; she helped Balat find a girlfriend to curb his more violent tendencies; she helped Wilkim stop being suicidal. It was a nice window into her meek, but very selfless personality.


Shallan and her father

“He let everyone believe that he’d killed her. That he’d murdered his wife and her lover in a rage, when I was the one who had actually killed them. He lied to protect me.

That secret destroyed him. It destroyed our entire family.”

But of course we *do* have to talk about her relationship with her dad. It’s so weird to think about now that I’m done reading the book, what with the big reveal that her dad didn’t kill her mom, like the book had been alluding to literally the entire time. Everyone thinks it – all of her brothers literally say it.

So why was he such a jerk all the time? Was he just a jerk anyway who just *happened* to do the right thing and protect his daughter? Or were his lifelong outbursts a facet of him dealing with the knowledge that Shallan killed her mother?

Moreover, the knowledge that he never laid a hand on her while growing up can go one of two ways. Either he’s a good father who would never beat his daughter, one who would go to such great lengths to let people think that he killed his wife to protect her. Or…he’s a coward who’s afraid that if he tries to hurt her, he too will get murdered by Shallan’s shardblade.

I wonder which one was a more correct narrative?


What if you need to poop?

He paused again. She was probably supposed to ask what happened next.

“What if you need to poop?” she asked instead.

“I…er…that is not something any woman has ever asked me before.”

“So yes, I, Adolin Kholin – cousin to the king, heir to the Kholin princedom – have shat myself in my Shardplate. Three times, all on purpose….You are a very strange woman.”

Wait, Shallan thought, did that just…work? She was supposed to be acting feminine and delicate, not asking men what it’s like to have to defecate in battle.

But perhaps the most hilarious of all of these entertaining interactions between characters was that of Shallan and Adolin on their first date. I tried to convince Kathleen that she should definitely use this question on her next date, but it seems like that’s a hard sell.

It worked for Shallan; it should work for her too, right? NO, JUST NO

Much like the chapters in The Way of Kings between Shallan and Kabsal, I liked the genuine excitement that Sanderson had the story convey as Shallan and Adolin flirted. There’s something refreshing about the sheer innocence of it all.

Like I mentioned before though, it’ll be interesting to see where Book 3 takes this. She seems very enamored with Adolin and he obviously with her; but Sanderson definitely laid the seeds of attraction between Kaladin and her as well. Will that break up our awesome new bromance? 😥  Nothing like a love triangle to get you rooting for all sides…wonder if this world has polyamory?


Lol Sebarial and Palona

“Woman, you make me the most henpecked man in all of Alethkar-” -Sebarial

“We aren’t in Alekthar.” -Palona

“-and I’m not even storming married!” -Sebarial

“I’m not marrying you, so stop asking!” -Palona

“Winds know, you’re not the first stray he’s brought home. Some of us even end up staying.” -Palona

At first, I thought Sebarial was introduced entirely as comic relief. And he did a great job of it. His interactions with the other highprinces were funny enough, especially when he was poking fun at all the highprinces at the all-highprince OMG Elhokar almost got assassinated- meeting, but anytime he and Palona were in a scene, they basically stole the show.

Sebarial raised a cup of wine toward Dalinar. “Hope you don’t mind,” Sebarial said. “We liberated your stores. They were blowing past at the time, headed for certain doom.”

Dalinar stared at them. Palona even had a novel out and was reading.

“You did this?” Dalinar asked, nodding toward Roion’s army.

“They were making a racket,” Sebarial said. “Wandering around, shouting at one another, weeping and wailing. Very poetic. Figured someone should get them moving.”

It’s still weird to me that Sebarial brought his army out to the plateaus with Dalinar. And the story never talked about if he made that decision on his own, or if Shallan convinced him somehow. Ostensibly, his reason was that he thought something cool would be out there, and he wanted to be close to the action, but that seems too much like a fake reason.

I’m mean, I’m obviously glad for the sake of protagonists that he came and brought his surprisingly well skilled troops with him. But the story showed him to be shrewd and intelligent. Marching his army out there on a giant question mark from his point of view seems unwise to me – something of an outlandish risk honestly.

Perhaps we’ll see more of his machinations in Book 3. Perhaps he’ll have a bigger role. It’ll be disappointing if he truly was just a plot device that was funny when in a scene.



I was not wrong, he thought. I was never Truthless.

(after Szeth and Kaladin’s first encounter)

“Also, I felt even more sorry for Szeth at the end of that epic chapter. I could really feel his agony.” -Kathleen

Kathleen and I read his chapters pretty differently haha. While she was busy feeling sad at how conflicted Szeth was, I was more wondering why, once he learned that he was in fact NOT Truthless, that he wasn’t like “Well FUCK THIS THEN.” We already know he’s haunted by all the people he’s been forced to kill. Why continue doing it when he figures out that maybe he doesn’t have to. In fact, why not just go kill Taravangian? I’d be mad in his shoes. I’d want vengeance with the person who forced me to kill all those people that I didn’t want to.

The only reason he has to listen to his stupid oathstone is because of his religion/the people that brought him up, right? Well, those people were WRONG, so why should he listen to them anymore?!?!

I thought for sure that the story was setting him up for a redemption arc at the end, that Eshonai would be the main antagonist and that Szeth would come save the day. Boyyyy, was I wrong! I wonder where his story will go in Book 3. If he’ll be mostly limited to the interludes like he was in Book 1, or if he’ll be featured prominently like in Book 2.

Szeth swore he could see a small trail of black smoke coming off the metal. Like Stormlight, only dark.

Hello, a cheerful voice said in his mind. Would you like to destroy some evil today?

And now he has some crazy dark shardblade that works off of…anti-stormlight? (lol?) And he works for someone who knows how to kill surgebinders. Great.

And YAY for obscure references to Brandon Sanderson’s other works!! This made me really excited, as there was only one sword I could think of that was so dark, gave off black smoke, and could speak with it’s owner…NIGHTBLOOD from Warbreaker!  I have actually only ever read the first chapter of that book, so do not know practically anything about that world, except that Nightblood once released from his sheath can move about on his own and kill people and if that’s not weird enough, can COMMUNICATE IN WORDS with whomever’s holding it (owns it?).  But should be exciting!  I love when authors combine their worlds a bit, so much fun to be had.  Must now read Warbreaker though… oh well!  Such a hardship lol.

Unresolved problems – things to look forward to in Book 3

So uh…about your brother…

Storms…I killed him, didn’t I? The brother she loved. Had he told her about that?


Did she realize? Had she inferred that Kaladin, not Amaram, had been the one to actually kill the shardbearer? She didn’t’ seem to have made that connection.”

So my first thought once the book confirmed that Kaladin had indeed killed Shallan’s brother was “Oh shit. This is going to make it much harder for our protagonists to get along.” Funny that Kaladin’s thoughts immediately went to that as well.

Shallan’s smart – is she going to figure it out in the next book? My money is on yes. So if that’s the case, will she ever forgive him for it? Will the reasoning of “He was trying to kill people I was protecting. He *did* kill Dallet and several of my men!” be enough for Shallan to overlook that Kaladin killed “the best person she’d ever known”.

They did share that moment in the chasm, and they are the only people they’ve shared their stories with.


What about Amaram?

“Amaram’s worse than Sadeas, you know,” Kaladin said. “Everyone knows that Sadeas is a rat. He’s straight with you. ‘You’re a bridgeman’, he told me, ‘and I’m going to use you up until you die.’ Amaram though…he promised to be more, a brightlord like those in the stories. He told me he’d protect Tien. He feigned honor. That’s worse than any depth Sadeas could ever reach.”

One thing I was very much looking forward to in this book was seeing Kaladin and Amaram interact. It didn’t really boil over in this book the way I thought it would. Sure, Kaladin got to publically accuse Amaram of stealing his shards, but then he got immediately arrested for it, so… pffft. And yes, the Kholins believe him now, and no longer trust/work with Amaram, but Dalinar could have executed him!!! Why not?!?!?! Bah.

And now we know that Amaram wants to bring back the Voidbringers? Why? I imagine he’ll be one of the main antagonists in book 3. Oh Kaladin, if only you’d let Heleran kill Amaram…

Final Thoughts

I still can’t believe how much stuff happened in this book. The story was *so different* at the end. We have a brand new world to explore in Urithiru; Adolin killed Sadeas (O.o YAY!!!); The Knights Radiant have been re-founded; Renarin and Dalinar now have spren!; We never actually *saw* Eshonai die, and there are presumably still some non-stormform Parshendi around; looks like “Veil”‘s associates figured out that she’s Shallan; and JASNAH IS ALIVE!!!

She said that she’s honorspren, Kaladin thought. So why does she still keep up with the act of playing with winds?

He’d have to ask her, assuming she’d answer him. Assuming she even knew the answer.

Are we going to learn more about the nature of spren? What’s the difference between the Spren that respond to emotions and spren that respond to forces? And why do they seem so related?

Can’t wait for Book 3, and I won’t have to wait nearly as long as the people who read Book 2 when it came out. So yay for that. Q4 is going to be great between Oathbringer from the Stormlight Archive coming out in November and Persepolis Rising from The Expanse coming out in December.

It’ll also be interesting to see how many things that Kathleen and I can guess / read into before they happen / are confirmed in Book 3. In Book 1, I guessed almost nothing correctly lol. Kudos to Brandon Sanderson for keeping me on my toes.

In Book 2, I got that Kaladin killed Shallan’s brother; Kathleen got that Shallan had a shardblade AND that Shallan, not her dad, killed her mother. What surprises have we in store in Oathbringer?!

Should be a fun time. See y’all there. 🙂

The Way of Kings – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Way of Kings – TwoMorePages Book Review

Well, shit. I had just crowned another series as “The Best I’ve Read in 2017”, and yet here I stand, having read 1000 pages in two weeks. That’s the same rate that I read The Expanse books, and we all know how much I *LOVE* the Expanse. I learned too late that Kathleen lead me down the voyage of the damned, since this series has no conclusion and won’t have a conclusion for decades, doh haha.

But it was so worth it. I regret nothing!

My third foray into fantasy was easily my best so far. With Kvoth’s stories in The Kingkiller Chronicles, it took me a bit before I was really immersed in the story, though once immersed, it was super fun. With The Sword of Shannara, halfway in, I still found myself not caring about the characters, and I may have stopped reading halfway through…

With The Way of Kings, I was immersed almost immediately. Usually, I struggle with books that don’t define a clear protagonist at the very start, jumping around from character to character to set up context for the world. But I loved the world that was built from the perspectives of side characters to start, and the introduction of Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar as protagonists was seamless.

More than that, one thing this story did an exceptionally good job of was in being unpredictable while still making sense. Every unpredictable story turn or character action made sense in the context of the story, but there was enough mystery there to make it unexpected.

Kaladin is easily the one I identified most with, but then again I’m pretty sure I was the intended audience for his story. I immensely enjoyed his interactions with Syl, and the way his story unfolded kept me guessing the whole way. I guess incorrectly…a lot haha.

Shallan’s story was interesting in her own right, providing a very different perspective from what felt like across the world. I liked how the story set up her character one way in the beginning, only for her to show very different traits as her character grew.

And Dalinar’s story of political intrigue, military maneuvering, and the struggle to do what is right was a very refreshing change of pace. Whereas Kaladin and Shallan had underdog type stories (especially Kaladin), we saw Dalinar’s story unfold from the perspective of a highprince. More than that, we saw it unfold from the perspective of arguably the only “good” highprince, who voluntarily holds himself to a higher standard than his peers.

Okay, so onwards to the section with spoilers! Let’s talk about cool shit that went down in the book!



“You used to be vibrant. So many looked up to you, Kaladin. Your squad of soldiers. The enemies you fought. The other slaves. Even some lighteyes.” -Syl

I loved almost everything about Kaladin’s story. But most of all, I loved the pacing of it; you start off with the story of Kaladin the Spearman, revered by his troops, renowned for his fighting skills, but more importantly at his skill in keeping his men alive. And then…the next thing you know, he’s a depressed slave and you have no idea what happened in between.

There are some random hints about him killing someone, and about how much he hates lighteyes, and about how he might possible have won a fight with a shardbearer, but you don’t actually figure out what happened to him in Amaram’s army for about ¾’s of the book. My personal theory, which ended up being wrong, was that he had attacked and killed Prince Amaram for…reasons, and that’s why he ended up being labeled a deserter and thus became a slave. The real story was *oh so much worse*.

“Each lighteyes Kaladin had known, whether as a slave or a free man, had shown himself to be corrupt to the core, for all his outward poise and beauty. They were like rotting corpses clothed in beautiful silk.”

One thing we do know about Kaladin as the story progresses is that he is *majorly* prejudiced against lighteyes, and for the longest time, we don’t know why. His flashback chapters are really well written. In them, we see his childhood relationships shape his view on life. He tries to protect the weak as a product of his relationship with his brother Tien. He tries to do the right thing, even when it won’t benefit him because of his father. He hates lighteyes because of the shitty way that Rochone treated his family, but more importantly, because of the betrayal of Amaram.

“It’s all an act?” Kaladin asked. “The honorable brightlord who cares about his men? Lies? All of it?”

Amaram hesitated by the door, resting the blunt edge of the stolen Shardblade on his shoulder. The guilt was still there in his eyes, but he grew hard, covering it. “You are being discharged as a deserter and branded as a slave. But you are spared death by my mercy.”

Brightlord Amaram, one of the only lighteyes that Kaladin looked up to and trusted. Kaladin’s descent into utter racism comes from Brightlord Amaram’s betrayal on two fronts. First, that he put Tien in a position to die when Kaladin only joined to keep his brother safe.

But second, and more importantly, when Kaladin kills a shardbearer and saves Amaram’s life, something that is almost impossible to do, losing 17 of his 22 member spearman group in the process, Amaram…murders Kaladin’s remaining spearmen, brands Kaladin a deserter and slave, and takes the shards and shardblade that were rightfully Kaladin’s. WHAT THE FUCK.

I killed a Shardbearer, he thought again. And then I gave away the Blade and Plate. That single event had to be the most monumentally stupid thing anyone, in any kingdom, in any era, had ever done.

Now, granted, Kaladin had initially refused the shards and shardblade at the battle that ostensibly belonged to him. And I can debate all day about how that was a really piss poor decision, regardless of how he felt about the blade or about lighteyes. So yes, Kaladin, that was monumentally stupid. You could have done a LOT of good with that Shardblade.

But bajeezus, that is exceptionally dark.

“SEE? I TOLD YOU I WAS REALLY SAD” -Kathleen, who introduced me to this book, about learning about Amaram’s betrayal

Well, thanks for bringing me down this journey of sadness Kathleen! 😛 I couldn’t even move on to the next section for half a day. I just kept re-reading the betrayal chapter over and over. 😥


Kaladin’s Relationship with Syl

Syl! She’s my favorite! Mere words cannot describe how much I love Syl’s character. Probably not surprising, since I most easily identify with Kaladin, and she helps him more than anyone else, but nevertheless.

Her interactions with Kaladin are preciously heartwarming:


“Here, I brought you this (poisonous) leaf. You were so sad when you lost them last time. I hope you like it; it was so heavy. Will this make you happier?” -Syl

—> later


—> even later

“I don’t like that you lied to me.” -Syl
“That’s how I am. Bringing death and lies wherever I go. Me and the Nightwatcher” -Kaladin
“That was…sarcasm. I know what sarcasm is!” – Syl
Stormfather, Kaladin thought, looking into those gleeful little eyes. *That strikes me as ominous*

This was the first time I fell in love with Syl and Kaladin’s relationship. I knew the chapters would be nonstop fun. Their banter was a breath of fresh air in the most depressing parts of Kaladin’s story:

“You know, talking to you probably doesn’t do anything for my reputation of being insane.” -Kaladin

“I’ll do my best to stop being so interesting.” -Syl

“I feel like I’m remembering things I once knew.” -Syl

“Soon you’ll hardly be a spren at all. You’ll be a little translucent philosopher. We’ll have to send you off to a monastery to spend your time in deep, important thoughts.” -Kaladin

“Yes, like how to best get the ardents there to accidentally drink a mixture that will turn their mouths blue!” -Syl

“I don’t think you’re ready for that yet. Don’t be so risky. If you die, I go stupid again, you know.” -Syl

“I’ll try to keep that in mind. Maybe I’ll remove dying from my list of tasks to do this week.” -Kaladin

How can you NOT love these interactions? They’re so wholesome and cute. Plus, her development from a mindless spren who can’t remember anything to gradually take on more individuality is cool:

“I guess it makes sense to revere the spren. You are kind of odd and magical.” -Kaladin

“I’m not odd!” she said, standing up. “I’m beautiful and articulate.” She planed her hands on her hips, but he could see in her expression that she wasn’t really mad. She seemed to be changing by the hour, growing more and more…

More and more what? Not exactly humanlike. More individual. Smarter.”

While it’s often fun and games with Syl, she also serves as an important guardian angel for Kaladin as well. I loved the description of how she was fighting off the deathspren, and of how she seemed to part the winds when he was exposed to the highstorm:

In those brief moments of light when he dared to look, he thought he saw Syl standing in front of him, her face to the wind, tiny hands forward. As if she were trying to hold back the storm and split the winds as a stone divided the waters of a swift stream.

Standing before the deathspren was a tiny figure of light. Not translucent, as she had always appeared before, but of pure white light. That soft, feminine face had a nobler, more angular cast to it now, like a warrior from a forgotten time. Not childlike at all. She stood guard on his chest, holding a sword made of light.

She’s more than just a funny little tinkerbell sidekick, someone for Kaladin to talk to to keep him sane and bring him back from the brink of despair. Seeing her abilities grow was wonderful to read, and the descriptions of the way she was able to influence the world were beautiful.

Not to mention that…

“You’re not a windspren, are you?”
She hesitated, then shook her head. “No.”
“What are you, then?”
“I don’t know. I bind things.”

—-> Later

“Are windspren attracted to wind? or do they make it? I’ve remembered what kind of Spren I am. I bind things, Kaladin. I am honorspren. Spirit of oaths. Of promises. And of nobility.” -Syl

I wonder where this is going to go. The book doesn’t really mention it much after she reveals this. What’s the difference between honorspren and windspren? Plus, didn’t she say that she binds things? So honorspren bind things? What does honor have to do with binding?

I love everything about this relationship. And yes, of course I wish I had my own little Spren like Syl hanging out with me.


Kaladin’s experience with trying to help people

There isn’t ever anything I can do. Stormfather, why can’t I save them? -Kaladin

“If I’m not cursed,” Kaladin said softly, “Then why do I live when others die?”
“Because of us,” Syl said. “This bond. It makes you stronger, Kaladin.”
“Then why can’t it make me strong enough to help the others?”
“I don’t know,” Syl said. Maybe it can.”

One of the things the book did best was in sharing the emotions of the protagonists with us. With Kaladin, the most heartbreaking part was in watching him try to help people, and then have those people always die at the end, despite his efforts.

You’re introduced to it first when he tries to help one of the sickly slaves on the wagon, and you’re given glimpses into how traumatic it was for him in the past. One thing the book constantly referenced, but didn’t talk about for awhile was how his brother Tien died, despite Kaladin’s best efforts. It’s why he tries to look after people like Cenn in the opening chapters, trying to atone for his initial failure. It’s why it hurts so much for him when Dallet is cut down, and then even more than that when his spearmen group are cut down in front of his eyes.

“Kaladin?” a voice whispered. He blinked. Syl was hovering in front of him. “Do you know the Words?”
“All I wanted to do was protect them,” he whispered.
“That’s why I’ve come. The Words, Kaladin.”
“They’re going to die. I can’t save them. I-”
Amaram slaughtered his men in front of him.
A nameless Shardbearer killed Dallet.
A lighteyes killed Tien.

Kaladin tried to squelch the feeling of despair inside him. This Dalinar Kholin was probably just like the others. Like Roschone, like Sadeas, like any number of other lighteyes. Pretending virtue but corrupted inside.

In the climactic battle on the plateau, Kaladin’s thoughts are especially poignant. When I first read the book, I didn’t know if this was a tragedy or not, especially since Kathleen had said that Kaladin’s story was a sad one.

“Something just changed,” Moash whispered, hand up. “Something important.”

Kaladin raised his spear. The powerful light began to subside, retreating. A more subdued glow began to steam off his body. Radiant, like smoke from an ethereal fire.

I was so happy to see that this story was in fact, NOT a tragedy. It’s a testament to the writing that I empathized so well with Kaladin’s emotions in thinking he’d failed his men. Again. That everyone that he cared about would die except him. AGAIN.

I legit texted Kathleen being like “His entire squad is going to die again, aren’t they?”

He promised, Kaladin thought. He promised he would free us from Sadeas.
And yet, where had the promises of lighteyes gotten him in the past?

And another promise dies, Kaladin thought, turning away. In the end, for all his good intentions, this Dalinar Kholin was the same as the others.

“What is a man’s life worth?”-Dalinar
“A life is priceless” – Kaladin
“Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. so today, you and your men sacrificed to buy me 2600 priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.” -Dalinar
“You really think it was a good trade, don’t you?” Kaladin said, amazed.

His redemption ark was especially satisfying, where his trust in someone is finally rewarded in Dalinar. I’m intruiged to see where the next book brings his story, assuming this isn’t one of those series that has different protagonists from book to book.

Presumably, the men in Dalinar’s camp shouldn’t be giant sacks of shit like in Sadeas’s, so he shouldn’t have as many problems with lighteyes anymore, right? Perhaps his lighteyes-darkeyes struggle will center on him assuming the worst of the lighteyes around him in Dalinar’s camp, and that impeding how his men fit in. Or perhaps he’ll have to interact with the shitty Lighteyes from the other camps, especially Sadeas’s. Will we get the Amaram – Kaladin reunion / hate fest that I thought would happen in this book but didn’t?

Shallan’s Story

“I have weighed the facts, child, and I cannot accept you. I’m sorry.”

Six months of chasing, for this. She gripped the rag in frustration, squeezing sooty water between her fingers. She wanted to cry. That was what she probably would have done if she’d been that same child she had been six months ago.

—> later

Was she weak because confrontation unsettled her so? She felt that she was.

Foolish, idiot girl, she thought, a few painspren crawling out of hte wall near her head. What made you think you could do this? You’ve only set foot off your family grounds a half-dozen times during your life. Idiot, idiot, idiot!

I *really* enjoyed how Brandon Sanderson’s writing style conveys the emotions of his protagonists. I could feel Shallan’s desperation in trying to persuade Jasnah to be her ward in the beginning of her story; I could feel her panic when her solutions came up short due to her inexperience.

“It wasn’t an admonition. Simply an observation. I make them on occasion: Those books are musty. The sky is blue today. My ward is a smart-lipped reprobate.” -Jasnah

Her banter with Jasnah was pretty entertaining too. Not cute like Syl and Kaladin’s, but more quippy. Plus, I liked how Shallan grew more and more bold as her confidence increased under Jasnah’s tutelage.

“She’d come to Kharbranth to steal the fabrial, then use it to save her brothers and their house from massive debt and destruction. Yet in the end, this wasn’t why Shallan had stolen the Soulcaster. She’d taken it because she was angry with Jasnah.”

Besides the character development, the thing I enjoyed immensely with Shallan’s story were twists and turns in her story. I remember texting Kathleen immediately when Shallan got Jasnah’s fabrial, being like WHAAAAT?! SHE GOT THE FABRIAL! I was so sure that she would try and then have Jasnah be like “I knew you were going to do that” and stop her, but it was so easy. I wondered where the conflict was going to come from, since she accomplished her goal so early in the story?

“Nobody quite remembers where this ‘Kabsal’ came from…He was playing you, child. The whole time, he was using you to get to me. To spy on what I was doing, to kill me if he could.”

Someone had almost killed her. Not someone, Kabsal. No wonder he’d been so eager to get her to taste the jam!

Just like Shallan, I was blindsided when Kabsal died. I actually really liked the chapters with them flirting. The writing really encapsulated the fun feelings in the beginning of a relationship. It was so innocent and genuine, something that’s often sorely missing in real life.

So for him to end up being A) dead and B) an assassin left me like this O.o

And then for Jasnah to find out that Shallan stole the fabrial because of Kabsal’s actions! And for *that* not even to be the final twist in the story! Whaaaaat?

But the best part is that the clues were all inset in the story along the way. The bread was poison, but jam was the antidote; that way, Kabsal wouldn’t accidentally murder Shallan, but could hurt Jasnah, since Jasnah doesn’t like jam. Jasnah didn’t notice that her fabrial didn’t work for several weeks because she doesn’t need a fabrial to soulcast.

Shallan met her former mistress’s eyes. Was it the fatigue that made her so indifferent to the consequences of confronting this woman? Or was it her knowledge of the truth? “You did all that, Jasnah,” Shallan finished, “with a fake Soulcaster.”

The contrast between Shallan’s last chapters and first chapters is enormous. Her story is one of building confidence in herself, and I love that she had the intelligence, wherewithal, and courage to both put everything together and confront Jasnah at the end. It wasn’t a deus ex machina ending that saves her from her situation – it’s her solving a puzzle at the end that does it. She saves herself.


Dalinar’s Story

Unlike Kaladin and Shallan, Dalinar is not some underdog who overcomes things to grow. He is already a highprince, and has very different problems to solve. He has the weight of responsibility on his shoulders, and of trying to reign in his inexperienced nephew king, and of trying to save the kingdom.

Arguably, his storyline progresses the overarching storyline for *the world* the most. Whereas Kaladin and Shallan have their own personal struggles, Dalinar’s problems are global. He’s the one seeing visions of the past during highstorms; he’s the one being told to unite Alekthar so that everyone doesn’t die.

His struggle with whether or not to believe those visions is intriguing to read. His struggle of whether or not to step down when everyone else thinks he’s crazy is one that’s heartbreaking, but understandable. When everyone else seems wrong except you…are you truly the one that’s right? I struggle with that question/kanundrum from time to time in real life. It’s interesting to see something similar play out in what is now one of my favorite novels.

Ahead, Dalinar was speaking quietly with Sadeas. Both men wore frowns. They barely tolerated one another, though they had once been friends. That had also changed the night of Gavliar’s death.

But the best part of his story to me was his struggle with Sadeas. Like the other two storylines, this had its fair share of unpredictable twists and turns as well. Like Adolin, I thought *for sure* that Sadeas was making a powerplay when he became the High Prince of Information, that he would implicate Dalinar in Elkohar’s paranoid delusions, and cause Dalinar’s house to fall.

“I had hoped to make this presentation after I’d discovered more concrete proof that you weren’t involved. Unfortunately, pressed as I was, the best I could do was to indicate that it was unlikely you were involved. There will still be rumors, I’m afraid.” -Sadeas

“Wait. You wanted to prove me innocent?” -Dalinar

“Yes, I asked Elkohar for this position to prove you innocent. Is it so storming difficult for you to believe someone else in this army might do something honest?” -Sadeas

I was as confused as Adolin was when Sadeas announced that Dalinar was 100% innocent in that, and when Sadeas told Dalinar that he took the High Prince of Information post to prove Dalinar innocent. Like what? Hmm, okay, maybe everything was overblown, and we’re all just too suspicious of one another. After all, Dalinar and Sadeas used to be friends…

“Well, you do provoke them. Take, for example, the way you refuse to rise to their arguments or insults.” -Sadeas

“Protesting simply draws attention to the issue. The finest defense of character is correct action. Acquaint yourself with virtue, and you can expect proper treatment from those around you.” -Dalinar

“You see, there. Who talks like that?” -Sadeas

But the chapters that brought Dalinar and Sadeas closer together after that were also well written, showing Dalinar trusting his old friend again more and more. You only poke fun at your friends, doubly so if you’re doing it so that way they change a behavior of theirs.

Between the joint assaults, Dalinar saving Sadeas’s life, and the two hanging out together more, I thought a genuine bro-mance was re-forming.

Had it all been an act? Could he really have misjudged Sadeas so completely? What of the investigation clearing Dalinar? What of their plans and reminiscences? All lies?

I saved your life, Sadeas.

Whatever the visions were, they had misled Dalinar in at least one respect. Trusting Sadeas had brought them to doom.

…which made Sadeas’s betrayal all the worse. This book did an amazing job of having the reader experience the same emotions as the protagonists. Absolutely AMAZING.

Like wtf?!?! Who leaves his friend and his army out there to die? Especially when said friend had risked his own life to save yours just a few chapters (weeks in the book?) before! If nothing else, reciprocity should make you not abandon your friend at the first available opportunity, much less set him up to die.

I was so upset at the end when Sadeas basically had nothing bad happen to him as a result of his actions. Who gives a shit if Dalinar’s forces are now outnumbered by Sadeas’s? You have TWO Shardbearers, both with blades and armor, and Sadeas only has armor, so he’s like half a shardbearer. The book has already established that a Shardbearer is basically as good as an entire batallion, so despite your man-disadvantage, you should be at least on even ground. And you’ve already established that Dalinar’s men are better trained and stronger than Sadeas’s!

Plus, why even go to Sadeas’s camp in the first place? Go to Elkohar; explain what happened. Strip Sadeas of his troops and his money. After your troops recuperate / your shardplate is mended, MURDER/DUEL HIM; Take his Shardplate; Give it to Renarim to fulfill your promise.

Anything except what you did, which is march to his camp with your tired army and broken shardplate, say “oh, well shit happens” and give him your shardblade in trade for all the bridgemen. FFS, you could have just taken Kaladin back to your camp so Sadeas couldn’t demand a ransom to get him back. Just dare him to come into your camp to get his bridgemen. No need to give up the Shardblade!

Bah. I surely do hope I get a revenge arc in the next book. This was most unsatisfying.

Final Thoughts and Unresolved Questions

“They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman…” -Elkohar

Hey wait, is Elkohar seeing the same things that Shallan sees when she draws? This was a passage that was said once, and not referenced again. They definitely sound like the strange shapes that Shallan was seeing. Is he seeing them too?

“Considering what I’ve done before, this is nothing. It wouldn’t be the first time she betrayed someone who trusted her.”

I must know something true about you. Tell me. The stronger the truth, the more hidden it is, the more powerful the bond. Tell me. Tell me. What are you?

“What am I?: Shallan whispered. “Truthfully?” It was a day for confrontation. She felt strangely strong, steady. Time to speak it. “I’m a murderer. I killed my father.”

Ah, the voice whispered. A powerful truth indeed…

Um, did we just gloss over the fact that Shallan said she killed her father…and never talk about it again? The first quote was waaaay back earlier in the book, and I’d actually forgotten about it until I was reviewing my highlights for this book.

It makes much more sense in the context of the second quote, which we find at the very end of the book. You know, just a casual mention of her having killed her dad. No big deal, right?


Life before Death. I’ve failed so often. I’ve been knocked to the ground and trod upon.

Strength before Weakness. This would be death I’d lead my friends to…

Journey before Destination. …death, and what is right.

I loved the words of the Knights Radiant. They were short, but meaningful, and fit within the context of Kaladin’s story very well. Since the next book is called The Words of Radiance, I imagine we’ll learn the others that were referenced, but not specifically said in this one.

Somebody has to start, son. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right. If nobody starts, then others cannot follow. – Kaladin’s dad

I didn’t talk about Kaladin’s relationship with his dad much in this review, even though it was a large part of what shaped his character. It was an unexpected twist that Kaladin’s dad *did indeed* steal the spheres, justifying his behavior as something that should have happened anyway / would have happened if Wistiow was lucid.

Kaladin never did go back to see his parents. To them, he’s been gone what…10 years now? I imagine the books will revisit this subject in the future, but will it be in the next book? or one of the ones that won’t come out until I’m closer to retirement age? (Thanks Kathleen 😛 )