It has never before taken me longer than a week to read a Brandon Sanderson book, and that’s including the previous two 1,000+ page behemoths in this series. But it took me almost three weeks to get through Oathbringer. This more than anything is proof that reading a book fast does not necessarily mean that it’s good, and reading one slowly doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy it. That’s a new thing for me. Usually I inhale books like I do my food, fast and without mercy. But I took my time with this, and I’m glad I did. (Not least because this is seriously the biggest hardcover I’ve ever held, and I had to hold it for long periods of time in order to read it.)
Some slight spoilers below, read at your own risk, not going to tag.
Oathbringer did exactly what I wanted it to do, which is paradoxically to not give me what I expected but what I wanted but didn’t know I wanted. It strikes this wonderful balance between satisfying emotional payoff we’ve wanted since book one (Kaladin’s homecoming comes immediately to mind), ending the suspense entirely on several storylines we thought would continue for books and books (the love triangle), and popping random shit out of (seemingly) nowhere, like magic (the Unmade). And that’s not even touching Dalinar’s backstory! (Which is NOT what I thought it would be.) Or the things I didn’t even think to ask to see (Shadesmar). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, really. This book was 1,243 pages long, and not a word of it was wasted.
The characters continue to be the center, thankfully. Once again, Sanderson surprised me in where he took them. Especially Dalinar and Shallan. I’ve already mentioned that Dalinar’s backstory surprised me, but that is a hell of an understatement. At parts, I was gobsmacked by what was happening with him. It was sort of devastating. And I think we all thought that Shallan had resolved her fracturing identity last book, but that is not the case at all. She continues to struggle with the terrible things she did in the past, and her Radiant powers only exacerbate her issues.
This whole book, actually, is a beautiful meditation on learning to live with your past, terrible things that were done to you or that you did, and accepting that you can change. I really loved what he did, having them all not sweep their mistakes (sometimes horrifying ones) under the rug and forget them, but to remember them and learn from, and become better people. Ugh, it sounds so trite when I type it out like that. (And then there’s the opposite, with Moash, and Taravangian, who have both taken the opposite approach to dealing with their pasts.)
There is SO MUCH more I want to say. But I shall stop. Bottom line: this series continues to be the best epic fantasy currently being written today. Everyone should read it.