In 2011, Brandon Sanderson was the Guest of Honor at Vericon, a tiny convention run by my college speculative fiction club, and I picked up a copy of The Way of Kings in order to have something big and heavy for him to sign. That volume is addressed to me by my secondary title, “Betrayer of Hope,” (long story). When I bought it, I knew that it was the start of a saga of terrifyingly large scale, the first and only published volume of a projected ten-volume series, clocking in at over a thousand pages before plot inflation. I knew that reading it meant committing to what could be a decades-long reading project. I didn’t know that the Stormlight Archive would be a pivotal stepping-stone in my career. (This will be my 35th article about Brandon Sanderson on Tor.com, almost all of which were about the Stormlight Archive.) You could call that a bonus, I guess!
Now the second volume, Words of Radiance, is upon us, and I’ve been asked to provide the non-spoiler review. Here’s my conundrum. How do you review something that you’re already read 1.7 times before release, that you’ve coordinated a giant promotional campaign for, a task that involved mercilessly winnowing the text down to tiny teasing snippets? How do you review something that you know you’ll be re-reading and writing about constantly for years to come? I am deeply professionally and personally invested in this book, and the way I engage with it will be vastly different from the standard reading experience.
Thankfully, my first reaction is still stark and present in my mind. Words of Radiance was worth the wait.
[Spoiler-free review of Words of Radiance]