This is a beast of a book. Fourty five hours and thirty minutes of listening time, 1,008 pages. There are three main story lines in the book with a couple minor ones.
The main story of the three is about a slave, Kaladin, working on a bridge crew in an army. The bridgemen have two responsibilities, carrying and placing bridges so the soldiers can cross from plateau to plateau to engage the enemy, and take fire from the enemy in the process to reduce the number of soldiers that die in the battle. The death rate is high, being on a bridge crew is a hopeless existence. Kaladin is an ex-spearman who ended up on bridge four. He decides to save his crew. He’s going to keep them from being killed and throughout the book he tries different strategies to make this happen.
Story line two follows a noble fighting on the shattered plains. Dalinar Kholin is trying to conduct himself according to an ancient book, The way of kings, that provides moral instruction for kings/rulers. Its kind of like if The Art of War was morally focused. He is a righteous person living in a despicable world. He’s trying to act “correctly” but seems to be the only one. He is having visions and acting in ways that are not in line with the social norms, both of which are bad for him personally.
The third storyline follows Shallan Davar who goes to a scholar for an education, at least on the surface. She has her own motives for being there that aren’t focused on education.
It’s an entertaining read with well thought out story lines, interesting characters, and worldbuilding. The magic system is interesting. Stormlight is magical juice and stored in gems as currency. These gems can be left out in violent storms to recharge. That means magic is plentiful and expensive. It would be like burning money to cast spells.
I so have a couple issues with the book. First, Its enormous. The general trend in writing is to make books shorter. The argument for this is that people have shorter attention spans and prefer more bite sized books. Yet Sanderson says he shoots for 300,000 words for Stormlight Archive books. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo… Given his success it makes me wonder if the trends are correct or if there are other factors to take into account.
Personally, I think the book was too long, not because of an issue with attention span but because it has sections that seem to take a while to get to the point. I kept waiting for the multiple story lines to get tied together and then the book ended. The only story lines that ended up connecting were Kaladin and Dalinar. It left me wondering what the point of the other storylines were. What we have here is really two books and some short stories rolled together into one volume.
That’s not a reason not to check out the book. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you like high fantasy check it out. You can use this affiliate link to to get the book and help me out at the same time!