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Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive Kindle Edition
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Praise for Brandon Sanderson
"Sanderson is an evil genius. There is simply no other way to describe what he's managed to pull off in this transcendent final volume of his Mistborn trilogy." ―RT Book Reviews (Gold Medal, Top Pick!) on The Hero of Ages
"It's rare for a fiction writer to have much understanding of how leadership works and how love really takes root in the human heart. Sanderson is astonishingly wise." ―Orson Scott Card
"Sanderson is crafting an extremely well-thought out saga with Mistborn, one that looks to stand above the pack of his literary peers. The magic system is perfectly detailed, the world, though not completely revealed, has a great sense of natural logic to it, and the characters are a reflection of both." ―SFF World
"Intrigue, politics, and conspiracies mesh complexly in a world Sanderson realizes in satisfying depth and peoples with impressive characters." ―Booklist on Mistborn
"Highly recommended to anyone hungry for a good read." ―Robin Hobb on Mistborn
"Enjoyable, adventurous read." ―Locus on Mistborn--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- File Size : 163114 KB
- Print Length : 1220 pages
- Publisher : Tor Books (November 14, 2017)
- ASIN : B01NAWAH85
- Publication Date : November 14, 2017
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,441 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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So, it's fair to say I am a Brandon Booster.
But this book is disappointing on many levels. In the interest of just trying to provide some information that I hope will be valuable to any who might read it. I’m going to approach this essentially unemotionally, and address each issue briefly.
In summary, though, this book honestly feels like an early draft that they pushed through without much external editing. Every writer, no matter how good, starts with manuscript that needs tons of love to bring it to the final product. This one reads very much like that. Why they let this book get published this way is beyond me. Perhaps it’s just because it’s been so long and the fans were screaming. Perhaps Brandon has become so big that the editors have been told to go easy. Whatever the case, this book was not finished and not to the level of quality I expect from an author who I believe to care very deeply about a quality product.
Here are my issues in no particular order… (and note that many points bleed into other points because the issues I find in this book permeate the entire text)
First, this book is full of unnecessary material. There is much in here that contributes only to pacing problems. You can literally skip whole chapters and it will have no substantial impact on your understanding of the story, the characters, etc. One could argue that maybe there are things I’m skipping that will matter in future books, but with these books being so long, and so far apart in release, there is likely no way I’m going to remember it all by the time I get there anyway. I’ve also gone back to a number of sections I skipped and double-checked… and nope… nothing lost.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… cutting the book down nearly always makes it stronger.
Second, this book has a great many of what my friends and I are laughingly calling “meetings and conference calls”. There are endless chapters where there are people sitting around debating something or talking about something. Rarely can I tell you what the debate was about, because the debates themselves are not even interesting. Even the characters are, in some cases, complaining about sitting around in meetings. This is such a running theme in the book that I’ve started to call it “Brandon’s Book of Meetings” and part of me has to wonder if he’s starting to spend more of his personal life in conference rooms and it’s just leaking into his prose.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… characters not actually “doing” anything tends to be dull and uninteresting.
Third, this book focuses on viewpoints that we mostly don’t care about. Kaladin takes a back seat and we’re spending time with secondary characters that mostly are window dressing in previous books. It’s possible that some of these characters are more interesting than we think, and in at least one case that turns out to be true. But for most of them, it is not. The “interlude” characters are particularly painful for the most part because they are often about people we’ll never see again, and on the rare occasion that we wind up interested in them, poof… we’re back to Dalinar in a conference call. Granted, this is more of a personal opinion than some of the other points.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… too many characters can cause issues in a book. Switching characters can force the reader to deal with a character they’re not interested in, and the ramp up time can literally lose your reader.
Fourth, our main characters have faltered significantly. Shallan becomes ridiculously whiny and tries to hide from herself. Kaladin falls so victim to his own nonsense that he fails to uphold the one tenet of his character that constantly makes us love him anyway. Dalinar turns into some failed attempt at a diplomat. And Adolin… poor Adolin… becomes nothing more than a back-seat love interest who mostly just occasionally grunts remarks at Kaladin when Kaladin is telling him to do things.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… hesitant characters are hard to pull off. The characters must be active. Flawed, certainly, but striving towards some ideal. Rarely can you get away with whiny or inactive characters.
Fifth, the voidbringers largely turn out to be postal workers and cooks. The bulk of the looming horrifying bad thing turns out to be mostly just people, just like everyone else. Just as tired and confused as any other people suddenly pressed into war. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the looming evil of the book sort of fizzles out and becomes “mostly people” who are led by some big baddies that only occasionally show up and in small numbers, and are hardly bringing anything close to “the desolations”. Heck, they just kind of move in, kick out the occupants of the city, and treat their captives extremely well. It’s like a benevolent army of postal workers. It’s really weird. There could be some big surprise coming, but we’ve not maintained the urgency here.
From the writer’s perspective… you have to keep the threat levels up or the reader isn’t worried about the characters anymore. This is compounded by the next point.
Sixth, we have leveled up certain characters to a point where they are essentially gods, and even gone as far as bringing some previously killed characters back from what we thought was their death. This means that pretty much all sense of concern over these characters possibly dying flies out the window… hell, they can’t even lose limbs at this point. So, every scuffle they get into, I just yawn.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… if you have super powerful characters, you must ensure that they are dealing with even more powerful enemies, or some sort of conflict that is well outside of their zone of power. And no, struggling to keep awake during meetings is not an interesting conflict.
Seventh… Spock’s second set of eyelids. Yes, I know we have characters that are learning new powers pretty much on the fly, but no, you cannot just insert a sentence like “Oh, and it turns out that you don’t need to breathe when you have stormlight so Shallan was totally fine” and expect to get away with it. And there is a fair bit of this going on in the book, so… again… I’m just assuming that our characters will pull out some new trick they didn’t know about previously to solve whatever issue they’re now facing, further reinforcing the god character problem. Unless, of course, they suddenly and pointlessly die. (next point)
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this one particularly from Brandon as he is famous for making this point… magic systems must have rules, and you must foreshadow enough so that the changes are surprising but inevitable. (two things laced into one here, but they are two different things)
Eighth, many deaths are abrupt meaningless. This happened in a prior book and was later kind of explained by the fact that the person was not actually dead at all, which has its own issues, but we can accept that I suppose. But multiple times in this series, someone is building up to a major conflict with another character, and then that character just dies in a back-alley stabbing (categorical, not literal). Sure, we have that looming thing of “oh wait, they’ll come back from the dead later maybe?” but you’re left feeling cheated or just played with, and neither is good.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… you have to make your character’s deaths mean something.
Ninth, there are crazy pacing issues. This does relate a lot to just the overall unnecessary content in the book, but not entirely. We spend endless time on meetings where nothing of import happens, and then we take a growing character from nothing, to suddenly becoming a radiant- which was never foreshadowed- to dead. All in about a paragraph or two. It’s literally like “oh… he’s a radiant. I guess? That seems… unexpected and almost deus ex machina… oh wait. Never mind. He’s dead. Oh and Brandon made a point to make sure we understand he’s really dead, probably because we don’t believe him anymore because he brought people back to life.”
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… pacing is extremely important. You have to match the speed of the prose with the mood of the scene in question.
Tenth: Lift. Seriously. She is, hands-down, the most amazing, fascinating and humorous character in the book. The entire book should be about her, from her perspective, and everyone else should be a secondary character. She is quite literally breathtaking to read, and has been since the first time we met her. And we, at best, get a paragraph or two of her now and again, with our main… and far less interesting characters… doing little more than scratching their heads and saying “wow, she was odd”, then shrugging their shoulders and going back to their meetings. We either need all of Brandon’s characters to be as interesting as Lift, be given far more of her POV, or have her removed from the book entirely. By the way, Taravangian flirts with this issue as well. Also a fascinating character that we barely get to see, though not nearly so impactful as Lift.
From the writer’s perspective… and I learned this from Brandon, himself… you cannot have one character so outshine your other characters that they become the focus of the book and pull the attention away from the main characters. Brandon famously talks about some villain that he injected late into one of his other books. The character was amazing, and his editor agreed that the character was amazing, but his editor made him pull him out anyway because it was too much of a distraction. This is that same scenario over again, only Lift is not a “bad guy”.
Eleventh: The LGBTQ+ thing. My original review harped on this issue in particular because for a portion of the book it really stood out. It pales over time by comparison and doesn’t come up much beyond that section, but it still needs a mention. The whole LGBTQ+ “issue” in our society is an important one, and yes, it’s good to bring it up and discuss it. However, I still believe that the tenet of “you must have what’s IN the book be important TO the book”. Yes, any common society is going to have LGBTQ+ elements to it, and Brandon’s book has society. But any common society will also have issues with a variety of other things that are not addressed in this book… likely because they are not important to it. Frankly, the entire thing feels forced.
From the writer’s perspective… write what’s important to the story. Cut the rest.
And yes, I learned all of this from Brandon. Which begs the question of why Brandon, or at least his editors, did not listen to his own advice.
There may be more, but I’m tired of writing this and my kids want donuts, so I’ll wrap this up.
The tragedy of all this is I think I may be done with Brandon. This was such an utter disappointment. I have no heroes in life. I’ve just never been that kind of person. But Brandon has been someone who I have held in extreme high regard for his craftsmanship and contribution to an art form I hold dear. He’s been the model of who I want to become, even knowing full well the odds are ridiculously not in my favor of attaining it. And suddenly, my model has fallen apart right in front of me.
I’m very disappointed. Very. Dissapointed.
I'm all for description. I don't have any problem whatsoever with a slow plot line...when there's a reason for one. The only reason for one in this particular story was to fit the popular meaning for "epic".
Sorry. I love the series and the concept. Write to tell. Write to share. Don't write to fill paper.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
Looking on Amazon when I bought part two I read that it was the second part of a three part series, so I assumed that this book was going to be the culmination of the series. As such, I have been avoiding reading any reviews for fear of picking up spoilers to the story line and finally got round to reading it over the last month (real life issues prevented me from starting to read it on the day of release!!). The book is so long it is hard to believe anyone could have the imagination and skill with wordsmithing to be able to put the story together as the author has managed and for it to be only part of a bigger story.
I read the books on Kindle so only have a little indicator showing what percentage of the book I have read so far and as I was approaching 75% complete I started to think "How can he possibly close this story out before the end of the book and the series? There are so many story arcs to deal with here". That is when the dawning realisation came over me that this book is not, after all, the final book in a series of three - it is only part three of what is currently and indeterminate number of books in the series. And I am not sure how I feel about that. I am happy that there is more of this story to come, but also apprehensive about how much padding could end up in future episodes to bulk the story out.
For all of the material in the book the story itself does not move on much from where we left off at the end of part two. In fact, the whole three books only cover around one year's worth of story time and it is hard to imagine a more action packed year!! The one thing that I really liked about the book was how all of the various characters that we have come across in the Interludes between sections of the previous books become relevant. Things like "I remember her - she's the one that had to look after a patch of grass to prove herself". And yes, there are parts of the book that give you goosebumps as you read it, as someone else pointed out in another review. eg "Lift became awesome."
Overall, I have to give the book five stars. It is still a book that pulls you in and grabs you and won't let go. You want to read further to find out how things work in this world, what can the characters do, what new powers will they get when they move through the levels of Radiance, what exactly is a spren, etc. I am looking forward to reading further, but at the moment I would rather that Brandon wraps it all up in the next book. Don't ruin a masterpiece by fleshing out the future storyline too much ... please.
I had some misgivings about buying this particular listing. I have not yet read the book, and simply wanted to clarify what the "board book" Gollancz version of this, as listed by Amazon, actually is: it's the hardcover. That's all. It's very large, very nicely made and bound, and the print is excellent (see attached photos).
Board books are actually small books printed on thick card, for children's nurseries and the like. Why this is miscategorized I don't know, but there you have it - it's not a board book, it's a hardback. Buy with confidence. I hope that clears up some confusion for you, as it did for me.
As I've mentioned it is a fairly slow book. This is not an especially bad thing as we get some major revelations. I really didn't expect to get so much information so soon in the series. I also really liked how the Parshmen were shown. It was completely unexpected to me and that itself was surprising as I can usually tell how a book is going generally speaking. As usual the last 150 pages or so are totally action packed, going from one amazing moment to another. There's one thing Sanderson is good at and it's providing the reader with goosebump moments. I love a book with those.
Though still an amazing book, I felt it was the weakest of the Stormlight so far. The pacing was just too off. I love slow paced, character building books as well but I think this definitely had middle book syndrome a bit. I wasn't bored but I did find myself once or twice wishing it would move a bit faster. I had thought to only give it 4 stars but that was comparing it to the previous books. Judging it alone and the enjoyment it gave me I have to give it the full 5.
Brandon Sanderson weaves together a complex, believable set of characters in a fully realised world and makes you care about each one.
The overarching story is magnificent and tackles complex issues, including depression, addiction, fascism and sexism without sound remotely polemic or preachy.
I enjoyed this book so much, i think I'm going to have to take a break for a few days. Or I'll end up resenting all my new characters a d world's for being pale imitations of the cast I've just spent the last few weeks enjoying.
Do yourself a favour and buy this series.