Review: The Stormlight Archive, Book Three: Oathbringer

The friend who was lending me Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books switched to ebooks, but thanks to my local library, I’ve pressed ahead with the series.

Cover art for The Stormlight Archive, book three: Oathbringer by Brandon SandersonThe previous two books in this series suffered from painfully slow pacing, but made up for it with spectacular endings. Oathbringer breaks that pattern, which is both a blessing and a curse.

The upshot is the pacing is a lot more even throughout. The pace is still a little on the slower side, but not unpleasantly so, and he doesn’t seem to spend so much time getting bogged down in irrelevant details. Things move forward at a slow but steady pace, and Oathbringer is a lot more approachable and readable than its predecessors.

The only place it does drag a bit is Dalinar’s story. His story in the present day isn’t exactly thrilling, but what’s really tedious is the flashbacks that are peppered throughout the book. They keep teasing a big reveal but it takes so… long… to get to it. I actually skipped ahead — something I never do when reading — and read all the flashbacks up to the reveal in one go because I was tired of being strung along.

That doesn’t do much to make the book as a whole less enjoyable. It’s still a great read… right up until the end.

The previous two Stormlight books have justified themselves with intense, kickass endings full of exciting action and big reveals. Oathbringer tries to double down on that, but there can be too much of a good thing.

The ending to Oathbringer tries so hard to be an epic, fantastical thrill ride that it crosses over into the realm of the ridiculous. And this is coming from a Warcraft fan, so that has to say something. I accepted Richard A. Knaak and Rhonin’s psychic dinosaur army (albeit grudgingly), and even I think this is too much.

We’re only three books in, and already the power levels of the heroes have gotten so absurdly high that it’s nigh-impossible to inject any drama into the story. The Radiants are all invincible gods at this point. The middle of a good fantasy epic should leave you struggling to imagine how the heroes could possibly triumph, but at this point I struggle to imagine how they could possibly fail.

I’ve heard it said that Brandon Sanderson is planning this to be a ten book series, but I don’t know how he’s going to pull it off. He’s already answered almost all the big questions, and already the power levels of heroes and villains alike are so high it threatens to break the story. How in the world is he going to wring another seven books out of this? To me it feels like there’s one book worth of story left at most.

Based on this series, Sanderson is great at world-building and creating memorable characters, but he really needs to work on his plotting.

Overall rating: 6.9/10

1 thought on “Review: The Stormlight Archive, Book Three: Oathbringer

  1. I really enjoyed the last 100 pages of the 1st book, enough so that I re-read just that part of the book a time or 2 a year. I’ve re-read about the same last 100 pages of the 2nd book a few times, but not regularly like the 1st book. I’ve never re-read a word of the 3rd book. I though the book as a whole was “fine” but that was about it, it didn’t thrill me like the 1st one did.

    Honestly, I much prefer his Mistborn series, or the stand-alone Elantris. My favorite thing by him is actually the novella “The Emperor’s Soul” becuz the shorter format requires him to actually get on with it, so that pacing’s great.

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