Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #3
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Overview: Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified. Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization. -Goodreads
While trying to compose a review that will do this series justice, the question becomes not whether Oathbringer was an amazing installment in the Stormlight Archive series, but how do I explain how fiercely I loved it without gushing like a fangirl? Suffice to say it’s on a pedestal. I can see so many of the brilliant ideas within it shaping fantasy works for decades to come. It truly is the next evolution in the genre similar to that brought on by the likes of Jordan and Tolkien. At least, that’s how I feel about it.
Expansive world building always wins me over, and I can think of very few worlds as impressive as Sanderson’s Roshar. Stormlight Archive is a series that encompasses many different cultures across this island continent. Sanderson provides a constant infusion of these races by highlighting their differences (and celebrating their similarities). This variety of humanity is easily my favorite element. I’ve experienced so many exotic places in this series alone – it truly is a wonder. It is world building like this that makes me ecstatic to be a reader.
I especially loved learning more about each culture through the diverse cast of characters within Bridge Four (even if I am just an “airsick lowlander”). I’ve always loved the characters in this series, but I think Oathbringer is the first book I’ve also appreciated their complexity/duality. They’re definitely not cookie-cutter profiles with mildly interesting back-stories, but deeply flawed individuals with more than just the external conflicts to overcome. If the first two books delved into Kaladin and Shallan’s past, respectively, then book three was an exploration of the events that shaped Dalinar. Even minor characters in this series are rich and interesting, and I eat up all new information revealed about every single one of them. There were a few new characters that got to share the limelight in Oathbringer (brought in from the interludes in previous books) and I delighted in how they changed the dynamics of the story.
If I’m honest, I’ll admit that there were a few moments throughout Oathbringer where I wondered if the pacing was a little too slow (keeping in mind that I didn’t have a single issue with pacing for the first two 1000+ page novels). It had me considering if it was enough of an issue to take away from my enjoyment of all the other amazing elements. Ultimately, it wasn’t because every time I thought it, something profound would happen to reel me back in. Then the snowball climax of the story hit and all of my hesitations were swept away. The book felt different than the first two, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was weaker. My friend Liam, over at Thoughts of a Thousand Lives, summed up my internal debate perfectly: “…each of these books is different enough that it’s extremely hard to compare them. All three of them sit pretty equally with me because of that, and the quality of the writing, worldbuilding, and character development never varies at all.”
And that’s the crux of it – all of the things I’ve come to expect from a Sanderson novel were there in abundance. Overall, Oathbringer contained all of the plot advancement and amazing moments I’d hoped to get out of it. Multiply that with the fact that the tome itself is a gorgeous piece of art filled with sketches and diagrams that enhance the story, and you have a reading experience unlike no other. I applaud Sanderson’s ambition and commitment to this project, as I could see how he could have easily wrapped it up in this third book and left a few things unresolved (as many authors have done). What a delight that one of my favorite series on the market continues strong with many more novels to come. If you haven’t ventured into this series yet, you are sorely missing out!
I want to say a HUGE thank you to the publicists at TOR/Forge and Brandon Sanderson for sending me an early copy of Oathbringer for review. You made my year! :D
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