Re-reading this was such a good idea. I didn’t re-read Way of Kings before I read this in 2014, and that was probably a mistake. I picked up a lot of detail on this read that I didn’t the first time because #1 was so fresh in my mind. Also, it turns out I had forgotten nearly everything that happens in this book. Like, it was just gone, like I was reading the book for the first time again (and how many times have I loved a book so much I wished I could read it again for the first time? So many. And this was, like, 80% of that dream came true.)
My main thought after re-reading is that I am still seriously impressed with Brandon Sanderson. He continues to write an epic story that is centered on intimate portraits of human emotion. With cool stuff like magic and huge-ass storms and whatever else thrown in the mix. And he continues to show that he knows how not only to give characters arcs in individual books, but to give them arcs that continue to change and them grow them as characters.
It would have been so easy to let Kaladin have his happy ending from last book, to have let him peaked and just be good guy already primed to be the hero, kick ass, and take names. But Kaladin has actual problems and things he needs to learn, and those things also significantly affect the plot. Nothing is stagnating here in this story. Shallan and Dalinar (and Adolin) have great arcs as well. Shallan is hiding an impressive backstory under all that back country naivete, and she levels up quite a bit in these 1,000+ pages.
Mostly, though the amount of staggering detail, carefully plotted reveals, storylines and characters coming together, mixed with the overarching larger storyline is just SO MUCH FUN and SO SATISFYING. Like, this is the kind of shit I love stories to do, to just grab you and hold you and take you for a ride. And this is only book two. There are three more books in the initial sequence, and then five more. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING IF THIS IS WHERE WE ARE AFTER BOOK TWO.
Onto Oathbringer soon. I kinda want to save it a little bit, though. I know once I start it I’m going to have a super hard time doing anything else.