Rhythm of War, by Brandon Sanderson: Review
True to its predecessors, Rhythm of War is vast, all-consuming, and brimming with characters that seize the heart and pull, pull, pull with no mercy. It took me on quite the emotional journey (just ask my family about my "audible reading") before leaving me with a final impression. Brandon Sanderson's ability to weave a spellbinding tale and craft characters so authentic they are tangible is not up for debate. I laughed, I fumed, I squealed, I sobbed, I explored new depths of character- and worldbuilding, and I didn't want it to end.
One of this book's most prominent features is its strong mental health themes, which make for some truly meaningful character arcs. I'll admit that it felt a little overbearing, but that may be a product of personal experience. A reader facing one mental battle might find the strong themes frustrating, another encouraging. Overall, though, the book shone with hope—encouraging us to seek help when needed, to keep moving forward even when it feels impossible, and to trust that the sun will always shine again.
Content Notes: in roughly 1200 pages, I recall maybe four cases of innuendo (though one was quite off-colour and utterly unnecessary). Intimacy is hinted at once or twice, usually that of a married couple: in the most extreme case, they have a conversation in bed and we get the impression that they're not clothed. Language is proportionately rare enough to be a non-issue. There are some unusually violent moments. Polytheism (similar to Greek mythology) is central—however, there's room for an overarching Truth behind it, as well as characters who continue to hold a monotheistic faith against all odds.
I don't want to manufacture parallels where they're not intended, but some truly convicting moments simply beg to be examined through a spiritual lens. One character finds salvation in her last moments, her heart's prayer accepted even when she can't speak the words aloud—meaningful for many of us who carry burdens for lost souls in our lives. Other characters live or try to live transformed lives despite crushing failures—a testament to the long road of sanctification that comes down to putting one foot in front of the other, taking the next step, learning to leave our burdens in the past, and understanding that the day we become children of Light does not erase our struggles, but promises we don't have to face them alone.
Though in times of struggle we may stumble or fear or weep or question, what's important is not the speed or perfection of our journeys, but the direction—ever moving toward the God who will give us the strength we need, and one day reward our darkest moments with an eternity of light.
Journey before destination. The Stormlight Archive glows with this oh-so-applicable call to action, stronger by the book. To quote Rhythm of War . . .
“Some people charged toward the goal, running for all they had. Others stumbled. But it wasn't the speed that mattered. It was the direction they were going."
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