Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4) by Brandon Sanderson

A year after the revelations in Oathbringer, technology has advanced, but Navani and her scholars realize there is still so much that they don’t know. The fight against Odium continues, and everyone must help in what ways they are able.

Fantasy, 1,232 pages, published in 2020

A year after the revelations in Oathbringer, technology has advanced, but Navani and her scholars realize there is still so much that they don’t know. The fight against Odium continues, and everyone must help in what ways they are able.

Spoiler Free Review:

(This WILL contain mild spoilers for the first three books, and reference to the Cosmere, but not specific spoilers for books outside of the Stormlight Archive)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: mental illness, depression, trauma, general violence

This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. It took me absolutely forever to read, and I’m not sure if it’s the book’s fault or mine. I switched to the audiobook about halfway through because I was just making no progress.

I was kind of shocked that this book had a full year gap after the last one. There were certain scenes in that time that I would have liked to have seen, and some references were thrown in about things that had happened in that time.

This book kind of broke the rhythm (pun possibly intended) of this series, as the focus on flashbacks was greatly decreased. I didn’t love the flashbacks, so I guess it was fine that there weren’t as many. I think I would have liked to hear about this character earlier on, in order to connect with them a little more initially, because currently (even after the flashbacks), they aren’t one of my favorites.

The characters were kind of split into three main groups for this book. There was one group that I wished we got to see more of and once again, it felt like important scenes were skipped. I had that issue with Oathbringer as well. There are so many scenes that I’ve wanted to see, but they actually happen off-screen and are referred to. I get that this is already a massive book, so it doesn’t need to be longer, but it still irks me.

Navani works to understand how the world works in this book, which I thought was both interesting and kind of over my head. It is cool to follow characters that have so much more to learn about how their world works and the history of it, but the details were hard for me to grasp, especially as the research went along.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was that a lot of the characters had to confront the fact that they aren’t necessarily the person they or others think of them as. It was interesting to see them all kind of going through the same thing in different ways.

This book also delved pretty deep into depression and mental health. There was a plot point devoted to learning more about mental illness in order to help people and I loved it.

There were also quite a few Cosmere references, more than in any other Stormlight book so far (in my opinion). There are definitely things that go over my head, but there are a few key words that tip me off when something Cosmere-related is being discussed. I think the events of this book are huge for the Cosmere and I’m really excited to learn more!

I’m very curious about the next book in the series! Considering it’s the last in the first “arc” of this series, what happened at the end of the book, and the implications for the greater Cosmere, I think it is going to be absolutely wild!

Although I initially had a hard time getting into this book and had some issues throughout, I loved the themes discussed and the ending was really a ride!

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Happy #mapmonday ! – My Favorite Fantasy Maps!

I thought it would be fun to show some love to fantasy maps today! Some of these I like for the style and some I like for the design of the land itself.

I thought it would be fun to show some love to fantasy maps today! Some of these I like for the style and some I like for the design of the land itself.

Prythian – A Court of Thorns and Roses series

For this map, I actually like how much potential it has. The big continent over in the east is mentioned very little in the series (so far), so the thing I’m actually the most excited for going forward is being able to see more of this world!

Erilea – Throne of Glass series

I actually think that this is a fairly unique map for fantasy. I like that it shows pretty much the entire continent, even though I wish more of it was relevant to the story. I do also wish we had gotten a map of Wendlyn, but hopefully in the future.

Elendel – Second Era Mistborn series

*Some spoilers for the First Era Mistborn books!*

The reason I didn’t pick the map of the Final Empire was because I love how intentional this one was (as it should be). It’s one thing to hear that it was intentional, but you can clearly see it from the map. Also, the names of things just make me happy.

Elfhame – The Folk of Air series

This map is actually kind of useless, because the specific location of things does not matter the story, but I adore the art style!

The Old Kingdom – The Old Kingdom series

I think this map is so cool! It’s pretty unique and I just feel like it fits the world and the magic really well.

Roshar – The Stormlight Archive

The shape of Roshar has always intrigued me, but I have a special place in my heart for this map because we actually get to see a fair amount of it in the story. Also, the Purelake is just so freaking cool to me.

Ravka – The Grishaverse

I like the fact that water is in the middle of the map and I also really like the artistic style, specifically the boat in the ocean!

Queendom of Inys – The Priory of the Orange Tree

I love the style of this map and I think the land itself is really cool!

Middle Earth – The Lord of the Rings

I have hand-drawn this and painted it on a canvas, so there is no way I wasn’t going to include it! Also, it’s just a classic!


What are your favorite fantasy maps? I’m curious if anyone disagrees with any of my picks!

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Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

The violent Everstorm rips across Roshar, awakening the parshmen. Dalinar tries to get the whole continent to work together to stop the Voidbringers, but is met with complications because of his past. Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin go on a dangerous mission together.

Fantasy, 1,243 pages, published in 2017

The violent Everstorm rips across Roshar, awakening the parshmen. Dalinar tries to get the whole continent to work together to stop the Voidbringers, but is met with complications because of his past. Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin go on a dangerous mission together.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have a feeling this is going to be such a hard review for me to write! I love this series and the characters, but I struggled with this book. There are just so. many. words. and I had a hard time finding the motivation to pick it up. If you haven’t read my reviews for The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, I would suggest reading those first.

I was very excited because I knew going into this book that there would be a focus on Dalinar’s past and he is one of my favorite characters. I realized that I actually don’t like chapters from his POV, but I like him more when he is seen from other characters’ POV. The story we get of his past in this book was…rough to say the least. I was really questioning for a long time if I should even like him, because he did some terrible things, but I overall really loved the message that came out of exploring his past.

There were a lot of scenes in this book that I really enjoyed. Some were really meaningful, while others were funny and awkward (specifically talking about Dalinar’s butt). I love the way that this series deals with depression, guilt, self-hatred, and grief. Scenes that deal with these things always end up really impacting me.

To me, one of the strongest things about this series has always been Bridge Four and their bond. In this book though, Kaladin and Bridge Four are not together for the majority of the story. Bridge Four characters get their own chapters in this book, but it just didn’t feel the same and it was something that I was really missing.

The romance in this book has it’s moments, but a lot of the time it feels kind of awkward and based on the fact that they can joke around with each other.

I didn’t love this book because it felt like not a whole lot happened, especially for 1,200 pages. There was a bunch of stuff about Kholinar and Shadesmar that seemed too drawn out. I feel like a lot of characters were focused on that I didn’t necessarily want to hear about. It just fell a little short for me, but I still love the series and characters.

I’m nervous and excited for Rhythm of War. This book really feels like a turning point in the series, especially given the revelations at the end of the book. I’m super curious about who will get flashback chapters in the next two books. I want to see more of Renarin, but I feel like he always kind of gets pushed to the side.

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Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson (Part 2)

This collection of short stories from Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe include stories from Elantris, Mistborn, and The Stormlight Archive.

Fantasy, 672 pages, published in 2016

This collection of short stories from Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe include stories from ElantrisMistborn, and The Stormlight Archive.

Spoiler Free Review:

This review will cover the second half of this collection. Part one is here!

WHITE SAND

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I haven’t read the White Sand comics, but there is a snippet of it in this collection. That is followed by the original story that Sanderson wrote. I didn’t like reading the comic, then reading the story. It presents the same information, but I liked reading the story more. As always, the world was super interesting. However, I didn’t like the main character. It was a really short story, but I still didn’t want to follow that character any more. The art style of the comic was cup of tea.

SHADOWS FOR SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL

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I really enjoyed this story! I love the main character because she doesn’t seem like much at first glance, but she is really a survivor. I think this was an interesting story because the characters themselves don’t have magic, but they have to survive in a world were magic exists. I believe Sanderson is planning to write more in this world, as this is the only story set on this planet, and I can’t wait!

SIXTH OF THE DUST

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The setting of this story feels very different from anything else I’ve read by Sanderson. I initially found that a little off putting, but I slowly got used to it. This is another world were the citizens don’t have magic, but there is magic around them. I thought the way that this was done was very cool! I think this world has a lot of potential.

EDGEDANCER

This story takes place on Roshar, following the character of Lift, who was introduced in Words of Radiance. She had one short POV chapter in that book, and I didn’t like her then. Sadly, I still don’t like her, even though she is a fan favorite, apparently. I think she can be funny, but in general, I just find her annoying. For that reason, I found this story especially slow going.

I think some of the information provided was interesting and I love seeing other parts of Roshar, but this story didn’t do it for me. I am dreading the time where Lift becomes a main character in this series.


Have you read this collection? If so, which was your favorite story? I think mine was The Emperor’s Soul!

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Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis: The Assassin in White has returned and the Parshendi make their final stand in the war. Kaladin, now a captain of the guard, must protect the royal family, while Dalinar tries to figure out how to keep his people protected. Shallan travels to the Shattered Plains, but her trip goes awry.

Fantasy, 1087 pages, published in 2014

Synopsis: The Assassin in White has returned and the Parshendi make their final stand in the war. Kaladin, now a captain of the guard, must protect the royal family, while Dalinar tries to figure out how to keep his people protected. Shallan travels to the Shattered Plains, but her trip goes awry.

Spoiler Free Review:

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If you haven’t read my review for The Way of Kings, please do that first! I covered the format, plot, setting, and more in depth.

In this book, we got to follow Shallan’s backstory. Unlike with Kaladin’s, I kind of figured out what the big reveal was going to be ahead of time. I felt like her past chapters were less frequent than they were in The Way of Kings, which I appreciated. They showed what they needed to, but they didn’t overwhelm the present part of the story.

Shallan in the present was so fun to watch. She starts off as such a timid girl because she is still quite young and has never left home before, but she grows into herself so much. Throughout her journey to the Shattered Plains and her time there, she learns a lot about herself and what she can do.

I absolutely loved the dynamic between Shallan, Kaladin, and Adolin. I loved that Shallan and Kaladin would just insult each other whenever they were around each other. I loved how Adolin and Kaladin were reluctant friends and I especially loved the dynamics between Shallan and Adolin. It was just so fun and these were definitely my favorite parts of the book.

Dalinar was my favorite again. There is just something about that is so…respectable and honorable about him and I just love him. I am very excited that Oathbringer will be focused on him!

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE

I thought the interludes in this book weren’t as insightful or as interesting as the ones in TWOK. They just felt kind of irrelevant. I know Lift is a popular character among fans, but her one chapter was just annoying to me. Maybe they will make more sense later on, but for now, I didn’t love them.

The ending actually felt a little rushed to me. It felt like the conflict and the resolution both came about very fast, and some of the revelations felt like they came out of nowhere. Normally, Brandon does such a great job with weaving in hints for the big reveals, but either they just weren’t there this time or I didn’t pick up on them.

Kaladin made some decisions that I found so stupid. I was so frustrated with him for a fair amount of this book. He eventually got it together, but it definitely was a little bit of a struggle to get through.

This book overall gave me some problems. It was just so long and intimidating that I had trouble wanting to pick it up. I definitely enjoyed it, but there was something about this one in particular that made it feel like I took absolutely forever to read it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is still so much about this series I love and so much I want to know. The ending of this book changes everything, and I can’t wait to read Oathbringer. I am going to wait a bit before then because I think reading the first two within a couple of months of each other burnt me out.

Overall, I think I enjoyed this book about equally compared to TWOK. I truly can’t wait to see where this series goes! So far, these two books have already covered a lot of ground, so it could go anywhere from here.

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The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Where do I even start with a book this size? I considered breaking this up into multiple posts, but I wouldn’t even know how to break it up. I went into this book used to Brandon’s writing, so I tabbed a lot of things (look at the picture about) that I thought I would need to remember later on. I don’t know if this necessarily help me in the future but I think it made me think more critically about what was happening.

Fantasy, 1007 pages, published in 2010

Spoiler Free Review:

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Where do I even start with a book this size? I considered breaking this up into multiple posts, but I wouldn’t even know how to break it up. I went into this book used to Brandon’s writing, so I tabbed a lot of things (look at the picture above) that I thought I would need to remember later on. I don’t know if this necessarily help me in the future but I think it made me think more critically about what was happening.

THE FORMAT

The format of this book is definitely a little daunting. There is a prelude, then a prologue, then finally part one of the book. Between each part, there are interludes. It was a lot for me to take in, especially after seeing a pretty long table of contents. Another thing that initially scared me was that there seemed to be a lot of time jumps. After the first few chapters that take place in the past, there are chapters in the present and also chapters in the past following a specific character. The past chapters are all chronological and I’ve gotten the impression that each book shows a different character’s backstory with these chapters.

In each section of the story, you follow a different mix of characters. The interludes follow seemingly random characters throughout the world. There are also pictures and maps thrown in between chapters are certain points. These really helped me grasp the world and the creatures in it.

Similar to Mistborn, there are epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. The style changes each section, sometimes being a letter, others being a collection of excerpts from different texts. It was fun to try to figure out what exactly each one meant.

THE SETTING

This story takes place in Roshar, which is comprised of many countries, most notably Alethkar and Jah Kaved. Highstorms are intense storms that ravage the continent every few days. The landscape and people have adapted to them. People from different countries are quite distinct. Some have weird features, like foot long white eyebrows (my personal favorite), while others have unique skin, like red and black marbled.

I feel like in general, Brandon tends to lean into stereotypes for nationalities a little bit too much and this was no exception. If a character is from a certain country, you pretty much know their personality because its the same at everyone else from their country. There are exceptions of course, but most of the time, this is true.

In the main areas of the story, the ruling people are decided by the color of their eyes; lighteyes are in power while darkeyes are beneath them.

There were a few gender things that were odd to me. Men and women have very different roles. Men are for war and battle, while women are for science and art. Women also have a “safehand”, a hand that is covered and isn’t used for anything. Men don’t know how to read, and I couldn’t tell if this was because it was beneath them or if women just have the capacity for it. Men and women also eat different food. This aspect was weird for me. In this book, nothing was done on either end to challenge these restrictive roles. I’m hoping that in future books, something will be done to challenge and change these traditions.

THE PLOT & THE CHARACTERS

It is hard to pin down a plot for this book because there are so many things happening to so many different characters. Kaladin is a slave who has to run carrying bridges to dangerous battlefronts. Shallan is trying to convince a heretic to teach her so she can get close and steal an artifact that could help her family. Dalinar is struggling to find a purpose for the war he is fighting, as well as keeping political rivals off his back.

In this book, we get Kaladin’s backstory. It shows his motivations for why he is willing to fight back, unlike the other slaves around him, as well as how he even became a slave in the first place. I think Kaladin is really interesting. He comes up will all of these grand plans for him and his bridge crew and while they work most of the time, sometimes they don’t. These moments reminded me of how young he still is because he definitely didn’t feel that way when he was leading his men.

I loved the community Kaladin ended up creating. I was totally rooting for his bridge crew throughout and it was sad every time anyone from the crew died in the dangerous job they were forced to do.

I liked Shallan, but I would still love to know more about her. She is thorough and loves to draw and learn. I thought her story was fun, but it definitely got more interesting towards the end.

My favorite character actually ended up being Dalinar. I didn’t like him or care about him at all at first, but by the end, I was totally rooting for him. He experiences visions during highstorms and I thought those were very insightful to understanding the world and the past. He is very traditional and honorable, which can sometimes get in his way, but most of the time, it saves lives. I am so excited to see more of him in future books.

Like most Brandon books, the beginning of this one was slow and grew to a huge climax at the end. I personally love this, but I know for people who predominately read YA, it will feel slow in the beginning. Brandon does such a good job of not giving away all the information at once. There were definitely moments where I was confused, but later on, it made sense because I was slowly given information about the world.

OTHER RANDOM THINGS

There was actually a lot of information about the Cosmere, the universe that all of Brandon’s adult fantasy novels are a part of. In everything else, there are vague hints and things that you would only pick up if you knew about the Cosmere, but in this book, there is a lot more information. It isn’t a lot by any means, but more than I was expecting.

I was really disturbed by the treatment of Parshmen, the race of slave people in Roshar. They are basically mute and will follow any orders. They are basically ignored until needed and aren’t even really treated as people.

The war going on throughout this book was also kind of disturbing. It is really being fought for no good reason and the cost of human life is astounding.

I am very intrigued by the Parshendi, the group of people that the war is against. They are so different than anything anyone in the world has experienced and it is cool to see how their culture differs from what is normal in the world. I am looking forward to learning more about them, hopefully outside of war.

For a fantasy book, this didn’t have as much magic as I was expecting. It is present and I know there will be more in future books, but there really wasn’t a lot in this one. There were magically powered swords and armor, but those are still pretty mysterious.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you made it this far, thank you! This was a looong book, so I had a lot I wanted to say. I don’t know if I’ve made this clear, but I really loved this book! I can definitely see how this would need to be a 10 book series because the scope is huge. There are so many other thoughts I had that I just did not have time to mention in this review.

If you like fantasy and have read other Brandon Sanderson books, I would highly recommend this! I think it is helpful to have read something else by him to get a sense of his style beforehand. I am beyond excited to read more from this world! I ordered Words of Radiance before I even finished this book, that’s how excited I am.

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