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Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson: Review

The Knights Radiant have returned—just in time for the end of the world. (Read full description here.)

There's no question that I had high expectations after the scope of the first two Stormlight Archive instalments, The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. There's also no question that Oathbringer delivered—from ever-compounding worldbuilding to stunning character development to a plot as heart-stopping as it is heart-warming, -wrenching, and -withering. The more I delved into Sanderson's core characters—especially Dalinar, Shallan, and ooooooh Kaladin (excuse me while I die of exposure to amazing character-building)—the more I was floored by their very real, strikingly-developed mental struggles. The burdens they carry are immense, and I felt it.

As must be the case in a 1000-something-page epic fantasy novel, the plot is too expansive to recap here, but as always, Sanderson keeps the story rolling along at a clip that kept me up until 2 a.m. on multiple occasions. A wide array of point-of-view characters keeps things fresh—especially with the perspectives of some previously-untapped familiar characters. The fantasy elements are even more prevalent than in books one and two, and while it did feel trippy/ambiguous at times, the story still felt sufficiently grounded overall.

Content Notes: Theology is the main issue Oathbringer presents, as it takes much more of a front row seat than previously and heads in some shaky directions. The prominence of almost-gods, god-children, and a supposedly "dead" Almighty-figure raises some questions as to where Sanderson is going with the religious aspect of his world, but there's still loads of room in the grand scheme of Stormlight for characters' doubts to be answered with Truth. I have hope that in the next seven thousand pages and eighteen-odd years of Stormlight, Sanderson will reveal a solid foundation beneath what looks like a bit of a theological tangle at present.

Side note: the book is otherwise fairly clean—nothing sexual past occasional innuendo, and little to no profanity. A relationship between two extremely minor male characters is referenced, and warfare is prevalent, but not gratuitously graphic.

It's a long book, warranting a long review, but I'll try to wrap things up. Oathbringer made me cry, laugh, and boil with anger—not always internally. Admittedly, while I was entrenched in the journey, the destination left me (to put it mildly) emotionally unsatisfied—but that is the fault of some fiercely hopeful expectations that set me up for disappointment when Sanderson went in a different direction. My problem, not his, and not really Oathbringer's either.

Buuuut—I'm still glad for the time to emotionally recover before book 4 releases this month. If the first three are any indication, Sanderson will have no problem recapturing my heart with the next epic leg of the journey.

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