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Words of Radiance
Book Two of the Stormlight Archive
by Brandon Sanderson
Illustrated by Michael Whelan
Tor, $28.99, 1087pp
Release Date: March 2, 2014
Prophecies, magic and misadventures abound in this epic continuation of The Way of Kings, in which religion and faith play a significant part. (Sanderson is like Orson Scot Card in that respect, but more straightforward, less emotionally manipulative than Card.) The plotlines are complex, but Sanderson tracks them smoothly as his main characters follow, sometimes stumblingly, their destined paths.

Jasnah, who may be cursed, and who assuredly has unusual perceptions as well as alienating intelligence, continues to instruct Shallan, but comes to a point where she realizes she may have to learn in new ways.

Shallan the Lightweaver travels to the Shattered Plains – my favorite illustration is the colored endpaper at the opening of the book of Shallan overlooking the Plains. She finds friendship with Adolin the duelist and comes up with a plan that will revolutionize society.

Meanwhile, Dalinar becomes the target of the most dangerous assassin in all of Roshar. (Is the name a subtle nod to the way that literature is a sort of Rorschach’s test for every reader?) And the surviving Parshendi, lead by Eshonai the Shardbearer, feel they have so little left to lose that they chart a course of desperation. Telling any more would trigger too many Spoiler alarms.

Sanderson and Whelan are both to be congratulated on a wonderful collaboration.

There are a number of very fine websites dedicated to The Way of Kings and the expanding Stormlight Archive where, in addition to character analysis, summaries and illustrations, you can participate in speculative discussions. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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