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Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive Kindle Edition
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|Length: 1220 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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For starters, this volume belongs to Dalinar and Shallan, resigning Kaladin (my favorite character from the first two books) to the background. In Dalinar's case, it turned out to be a surprisingly rewarding change, with extended flashback chapters that expose his darker, far more violent past, and which shed new light on his actions and attitudes over the first two books. We come to see him in an entirely new light, with a contrast between personalities so jarring that it's often painful to watch. Part of that is due to the presence of his wife, a woman whose name and face have been a gaping hole in his memories for so long, and part of that hinges on his pursuit of The Thrill, which made something of a monster of the man. Outside those flashbacks, his story is rather slow, full of politics and philosophical discussions that really weigh down the first half of the book, but they do lead us to some incredible revelations regarding the magic and mythology of the Desolation, the Voidbringers, the Heralds, Honorblades, spren, and more.
In Shallan's case, while we get a lot more action and some genuine character development, I found her to be a rather tiresome character. It's a shame, because there is so much potential within her, especially with how her various roles and guises begin to bleed through to one another. Her personality just rubs me the wrong way, and even scenes that should be sweet or amusing come across as bland tripe. It doesn't help that a significant aspect of her character arc is completely undone in this volume, a revelation that I guess we should have seen coming, but which struck me as a cheap way of restoring conflict to her role. It's much-needed conflict, and does make her a little more interesting, but not enough to justify her page count. The only redeeming grace is her spren, Pattern, who never ceases to trigger my amusement and curiosity.
Although it is Dalinar and Shallan who dominate the novel, I would also argue this is a story of minor characters taking on major significance. It's hard to talk about that significance without spoiling any aspects of the story, but characters like Renarin, Moash, and others get a chance to shine, and what happens to or around them is sometimes the most fascinating part of the story. Bridge Four has an important role to play here once again as well, but - for me, at least - their scenes just emphasize how far Kaladin is from the center of the story this time out.
Oathbringer marks a lull in the series, but it's an important lull. As much as we may chafe against the pacing and the character point of views, we finally get answers . . . and we get a lot of them. So much of what was hidden or hinted at in the first two books is exposed here. We get answers, we get mythology, and we finally get some wider sense of world-building. It is here that the story begins to move away from the epic saga of ruling dynasty, and into the epic saga of a world on the brink of extinction. Having said all that, the last arc of the book is vintage Sanderson and well worth sticking around for. All the book's flaws are forgiven as all the threads come together and we realize, in hindsight, just how and why so many little things were significant. The final three-hundred pages (a novel on its own for most authors) are all climax, and they are some of the finest that Sanderson has ever written.
So, not a perfect book, and probably the first time I really noticed the page count in a negative way, but I'm glad I had the time to linger over it, take my time, and digest it along the way. And, of course, I remain just as excited for the next installment.
The only time I felt things dragged a little was the extended trip through Shadesmar. Otherwise, there is plenty of action mixed in between thought provoking discussions of what it means to be the oppressed and the oppressor.
Mental illness and self acceptance are issues for several of the main characters. This is not done in a preachy manner but incorporated into the fantasy of this world.
I leave it to others to give you the story details as many will. This is my take on the "feel" of the story.
It's impractical to attempt discussing the merits of the book; there are too many - so I'll take the obnoxious route and focus on the few negatives.
The first signal that this book was inferior to the first two struck me when I found myself taking breaks without feeling that magnetic pull that caused me to pause my life in order to read WOK and WOR (which even persisted in my 3rd reading of both books in the weeks prior to the Oathbringer release!).
My main gripe was with the diminished focus on Kaladin. For me, WOK set the expectation that he was THE hero. I understand that it's unrealistic to expect him to be the lead protagonist in an epic fantasy of this scope - even so, Kaladin deserved more attention. Ideally, Kaladin would be at least be the co-lead protagonist or a very close second (I felt this was done successfully in WOR). Let's bring him back to the limelight in Book 4!
Next. I was somewhat disappointed with the direction being taken in the Interludes. In WOK, they featured these completely unknown people on bizarre adventures in far off lands; I loved the mystery, knowing that each would eventually tie into the central plot. So my expectation was set: the interludes were obscure pieces of a growing puzzle - and it's very exciting now that they're appearing bit by bit. However, WOR started showing us characters who are already part of the main story, and this trend only increased in Oathbringer. To me, the primary purpose of the Interludes isn't being fulfilled.
Finally, I found the added focus on supporting characters to be bothersome. For example, I really like Teft as the complicated, yet likable semi-one dimensional bridgeman from WOK and WOR, but his development in Oathbringer lost my interest, especially because every word about these lesser characters was one less devoted to my favorites. In a perfect world, Brandon would write Edgedancer-like novellas on literally every minor character in the series, from Rock to Mraize to Aesudan!
All in all: Brandon is hands-down the best and, despite the minor flaws, Oathbringer was wonderful and I can't wait to continue this fascinating journey before reaching that inevitable, but necessary destination.
Most recent customer reviews
Each of the main characters experience so much growth as characters...it’s simply fantastic.Read more
Fascinating journey before reaching climax of the book :)
Can’t wait till book four... :) haha!