You guys, this book is long. LOOOOOONNNGGGG. It took me over a month to read half of it – I took it out from the library months ago, there was a reserve on it so I couldn’t renew it, and had to pick it back up four months later and I STILL struggled to read it on time, despite being very eager to finish the story. While it’s not quite into Game of Thrones territory in terms of needing edits, but it’s in the ballpark. It’s long, guys.
This third in Sanderson’s Stormlight trilogy finds the characters piecing their way through the aftermath of their last big step – the Knights Radiant were revealed to the world, the Everstorm has started, and the parshmen have come come to greater consciousness, dragged into an change to their very nature by ancient evil forces. It’s a lot. The core group of Radiants are dispersed or driven to work out of their elements, without each other for support for the most part, which just makes everything harder.
There was quite a bit of solid character development in this novel. One of my favourite characters from the series is Jasnah Kholin, defiant single woman, heretic and admired brilliant scholar. She has always seemed uninterested in being liked and willing to embrace her power – when she returned to the series, I was very excited; she was on the cover, so I assumed we would get to spend quite a bit of time with her. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of her this book, which was disappointing. There is quite a lot of Shallan in this book however, and her unravelling mental health (and her efforts to regain it) are quite interesting and her character development is good. However, the majority of the book focuses on Dalinar Kholin and his journey. This is actually quite well developed, and the redemption he needs (which nobody else seems to recognize) seems earned.
There are several things I enjoy about this series. I think Sanderson does an interesting take on mental illness throughout, addressing Kaladin’s depression and Shallan’s suppression of trauma and her struggle to reconcile and control her personas. Dalinar’s desperation to forget his terrible actions and the consequences of those are also well done; his deep desire to lose those memories seemed pretty reasonable and familiar to me. I think the feint at a love triangle with Shallan, Adolin and Kaladin was pretty weak, despite my understanding of both Kaladin’s understandable loneliness and appeal, but I have noted in previous reviews that Sanderson does not do a great job with romance. He does do plot and pacing fairly well though; despite my jabs about length, I didn’t find the book dragged for the most part and he certainly set the stage for a larger second act. I am excited to continue with the series.