I really enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s writing. I haven’t yet read even half of what he’s written, but I discovered him through his completion of the Wheel of Time series and have been a fan ever since. While my enjoyment of his writing hasn’t quite reached the level of my love for Terry Pratchett or Patrick Rothfuss, I would still rank him among my favorite authors. My love of Pratchett and Rothfuss comes as a result of their craft and their characters while my love of Sanderson’s writing comes from the interesting and different worlds he has created. When I first started reading his Stormlight Archive series, I was instantly hooked on the way his world differed from our own. All of the creatures and the lands were different because of the enormous storms that visited most of the world, so everything either had some kind of rocky shell or carapace to protect it from the storms and weather.
While he doesn’t do as much world-building as he did in the first book, I’m still enjoying his series. The latest, Oathbringer, was just as exciting as the previous two, following a few main characters as they try to deal with the horrible storm that sprang up at the end of the previous book. Despite the early warnings coming from the protagonists’ group, most of the world doesn’t believe them and is thus caught unaware when all the shelters they have built to protect them from the normal storms fail to protect them from a storm coming from the opposite direction. While a lot of the previous novels was a mixture of action, character development, and political intrigue, this novel saves a lot of the action and character development for the end. Instead, most of the novel is a little on the dryer side, covering lots of history, some new perspectives and characters, some character development focused on one person in particular, and tons of politics.
Initially, I was surprised by the amount of people in my various social media feeds commenting that Oathbringer was rather slow and not as fun as the previous two books. After reading the book, I can kind of understand. I don’t agree, but I recognize that this book is a bit of a departure from his usual constant world-building with action to move the scenes along. I think that this book is important proof that Sanderson is going to be able make this potentially ten-book series a success. Plus, he’s managed to do it very well, mixing in plenty of interesting information that, while somewhat predictable in terms of plot and outcomes, does an amazing job of fleshing out people and the world. I really enjoy the sense of history this book has added to the series. It answered so many questions that I’d had since the start of the series and even threw in a couple twists I did not see coming at all. They caught me entirely off-guard and that was wonderful.
While the book’s major plot twist was unexpected, it was also kind of expectedly unexpected. Sanderson intentionally paints the characters into the corner, making it seem like they have no choice but to give in or surrender to the bad guys, because making something happen. Most of the time, it is only unexpected because it adds some new world mechanic or gives us some rule or information we didn’t have previously. There’s always some foreshadowing to pick out in retrospect and he always does a good job of laying the groundwork so whatever happens never feels entirely like a Deus Ex Machina, but there are a few close calls during some of the big moments (and that’s not just restricted to this book). I don’t mind it too much, but it can feel a bit annoying to have all this build up of a dramatic moment happening while you’re just reading along calmly because you know they’re going to magically get out of the tight spot using some brand new power or mechanic that develops right then. The best thing I can say in Sanderson’s defense is that he literally built that mechanic, the spontaneous power-up and new power moments, into this series.
I definitely recommend the book and the series as a whole because they’re honestly just so much fun to read. They move along well, are easy to read, and there’s just so much interesting stuff happening that they’re hard to put down.