This week’s book is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This is the third novel in the Stormlight Archives series. At 1233 pages, this book is a monster. It took me quite a while to finish, though not just because of the large page count. I’m going to preface this review by saying that my opinion does seem to be in the minority here, though I have seen some people echo what I’m about to say.
Firstly, I did enjoy this book. I loved the first two, and I was extremely excited to get my hands on Oathbringer. There was a number of things that I did like, as I made my way through it. The world-building that Sanderson laboriously expands is beyond impressive. This book expands the story and the world beyond even what the first two did.
However, this is part of what soured my perception of this novel. There are two things that can ruin my enjoyment of a book, excess world-building at the expense of plot and too many flashbacks. This novel is long, well over a thousand pages. A lot has to happen in order to justify that length, in my opinion. The long and the short of my complaint is that not enough actually happens to justify all the pages. The plot progresses sure but not nearly as far as I thought it would. Honestly, it felt like the story ran out of steam.
Contributing to this was the extreme use of flashbacks. I’m not saying they didn’t serve a purpose, because they clearly did. They character built, and expanded the history of the world. However, they did this at the expense of the plot in my opinion. Every flashback slowed down the story. A story that was already pretty darn slow. For many people this is fine but I found it grating.
Essentially, it just felt like the plot was third fiddle in this instalment, behind world building and character development. In all fairness this is what made a lot of people love Oathbringer. Unfortunately I’m a plot first kind of a guy.
All this is not to say that it was a bad novel, because it wasn’t. Just in comparison to the first two I felt like it suffered. Which considering how good they are, is not too surprising. I’m still excited for the fourth entry, I just hope that it does a better job of continuing the momentum of the overall story.
I won’t say too much more about it, because I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. If you’re a fan of fantasy and you haven’t read any of the Stormlight Archive, I would recommend picking up The Way of Kings and giving it a go. This really is one of the most ambitious and interesting fantasy series of all time in my opinion.
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