Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status “darkeyes.” Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.
Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.
"It frightens me," Shallan said, "because we all see the world by some kind of light personal to us, and that light changes our perception. I don't see clearly. I want to, but I don't know if I ever truly can."
After the buildup of The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance was ready to go from the first pages.
Talking this instalment over with my brother – who, it has to be said, has been telling me to read Sanderson for years – my biggest frustration is that if everyone just stopped keeping secrets from each other, a lot of the unnecessary fumbling could have been avoided. Of course, there’d be less of a story here, but still, your plot shouldn’t hinge on your characters hiding important information from each other – especially when they’re all on the same side. Having said that, this is an incredibly good story.
Kaladin had the most predictable path to follow, but he did his duty well. While it has been easy to map out his role in this from the beginning, the important part is that he’s surprised by the twists and turns his life takes. Kaladin plays the doom and gloom a bit heavy at times, but I appreciate his sense of duty and honour.
Shallan still isn’t my favourite – though I do love Pattern. He’s probably my favourite spren so far, but Shallan’s quips seem too forced. Her romance with Adolin is a bit lacklustre as well – even she doesn’t seem to know whether she’s interested and their ‘dates’ lack chemistry.
Dalinar keeps getting better and better. As he grows more decisive in his beliefs and position, he becomes a more interesting character. I love his relationship with Navani, which is one of the few instances of well-written romance in this series so far. Not to mention, the way he deals with
is one of my favourite, and certainly the most satisfying, parts of Words of Radiance.
I continue to be blown away by the complexity of this world. The hierarchy, different races and regions, mythology, and magic – while we’ve learned so much, there’s still so much more I want to know. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty disappointed