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Executive Summary: If you enjoyed The Way of Kings, I’d be really surprised if you didn’t like this one as well. Mr. Sanderson does an excellent job building on the foundation he laid down in the first novel.
This is a really hard review for me to write. I probably won’t do the book justice. I’m very selective about which books I give 5 stars to, and even more selective about which books I deem favorites. When I read The Way of Kings it was easily added to both lists for me. And now so is this one.
While I didn’t have the same wait as anyone who read the first book when it came out, there was at least enough time to build up a sense of anticipation and a little bit of dread while I waited for this book to come out.
Would Mr. Sanderson be able to build upon the momentum of The Way of Kings or would things recede a little like most series tend to do for me? A ten-book, 10,000+ page series is really ambitious. It would be easy for things to go off the rails at any point along the way. I’m here to say: so far, so good.
I can only assume that Mr. Sanderson is writing this series specifically for me. Sure there are other people out there who seem to like his books. But there are many who are critical about them. While I may be critical of some of his other books, you won’t find that here. I loved every minute of it.
The pacing might still be considered slow by those who found that the case in The Way of Kings, but I think it moves along faster as he doesn’t have to do the kinds of setup he did in the first book.
One common comment I saw about book 1 was: “What is the point of Shallan here?”. This book should answer that question for those people. While The Way of Kings focuses on Kaladin, this is Shallan’s book.
Don’t fear Kaladin fans. You’ll get plenty of him in this book, but he’s just not the main focus here.
Once again this is a book that just kept building momentum as it went. It started as a book I looked forward to reading each night and changed to a book I had to force myself to put down.
The structure of the book is once again the same where you have 5 parts with various interludes between each. We are introduced to some pretty interesting new characters in these short interludes, as well as revisiting a few of those we met in The Way of Kings. I would have to say that while I enjoyed them all, Lift, the young thief was my favorite. I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in future books, and not just the interludes.
The prologue is set at the exact same time as the prologue from The Way of Kings, only told from Jasnah’s perspective instead of Szeth. This was a cool approach that I hope continues in the next few books at least. I’d like see Adolin’s and Dalinar’s take on these events at least.
I’d be remiss to review a Brandon Sanderson book without at least mentioning the magic system. I love the world building so far and the characters, but it’s the magic system that once again shines the brightest. We learn more about surgebinding and how it works, but there is still so much left to discover.
His creativity not only at coming up with rules for various magic systems, but at how he applies those rules in ways I would have never considered always makes for great sequences.
Overall I was really happy with this book. Kaladin is still my favorite character, yet I think I might have enjoyed this one more despite his reduced focus. Shallan really developed from an interesting side story into a proper main character in her own right.
I am already looking forward to and dreading just a bit book 3 of this series. Will Mr. Sanderson be able to work his magic yet again? Well since he’s writing this series for me personally, I’m sure he will.