Oathbringer

Day 113. 129 pages, 58,244 words. Actually took a bit of a dip today because yesterday I deleted a bunch of stuff that it’s become obvious isn’t going to make it in, and moved a bunch of other stuff that will go in book 3, and I still wrote a bit to make up the balance.

While I’m on my little Destarion-story hiatus before jumping into the fourth part / novella of the sequence, I wanted to talk about Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

I’m a big fan of Sanderson’s. He did right by The Wheel of Time series[1], and that has earned him a lot of points with me. I’ve also enjoyed everything else of his that I have read, from his young adult Reckoners series (admittedly still only read the first one of those) to his short stories and everything in between.

[1] Which is now, what, definitely getting a TV series from what I see? Oh, we’ll definitely be talking about this again.

So when I say this, I know it’s just me. I’m not going to go and write an “UGH COULDN’T FINISH” review, because that would be shitty and unfair. Right now I am stressed out at work, super-busy writing quite literally[2] my own Oathbringer in the form of Greyblade, and barely get through a paragraph of this massive tome in a sitting without being interrupted by kids. I read very poorly lately,and very slowly, and the damn thing is too cumbersome to carry to work.

[2] Or … literarily?

So there’s the grain of salt you have to take. When I get a good run-up on this book, and get through a whole chapter in a sitting, it’s good. It’s really good. The second book in the series was absolutely more of a page-turner – I recall being genuinely eager to see what happened next, and I’m not quite getting that feeling this time. It’s a more nebulous “this is heading somewhere, I just have to get there” pay-off, which as you might imagine I strongly connect with so I want to give it that chance.

The second book also ended with a lot of excitement and cool revelations, and this one seems anticlimactic because it takes a step back and deals with logistics and politics and buildup. Even that’s a bit unfair to say, because it makes it sound dull and it’s really not. There are genuinely entertaining sidebars to the main Dalinar-consolidating-support plotline. I was thrown by Kaladin not being a main point anymore too, but that’s fine.You’d better believe I’m on board with the idea that the thing you thought was the plot of the series actually isn’t, so adjust your expectations.

What I’m getting at is that, ultimately, what’s making me continue trying with this book and not give up and read something else is, I sympathise so much with the author. He’s putting together something really big, and while you can have all the little fun side-scenes you like, you also need to build up impetus. And I’m no scientist, but a big heavy thing generally builds up impetus a lot more slowly. There’s a lot of setup, and a lot more questions get raised even as the observant reader will find a lot of answers as well.

It felt familiar, that’s all.

Just to confirm that it was just me, and that I was being unfair, I went to see what the reviews were saying. I know! So uncharacteristic of me! Well, as it happens I only got as far as the top review on the list, because it basically confirmed exactly what I’d suspected (and what Mr. BRKN, for example, had also already hinted at): yes, Oathbringer changes pace and focus and that can be jarring, but it gathers speed and gets better in the second half. And even the “slow” parts are slow for a purpose. Because if you want to read an all-action-all-the-time story in thousand-plus-page volumes, you’re probably reading serial pulp shit.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not what Brandon Sanderson is doing here.

So consider this a “250 pages in and feeling the doldrums” review, but I know that’s on me and I’m going to stick with it. Maybe it’ll get easier once I’ve got my own massive impetus-and-answers tome out from underfoot. Maybe I’ll give you a proper review then. In the meantime, “Beauty in Ruins” (the review linked above) really nailed it for me.

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.

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18 Responses to Oathbringer

  1. stchucky says:

    It also doesn’t help that Kaladin was a protagonist, and Dalinar is a giant arsehole.

  2. You have to Finnish or they’ll deport you, man. Fair warning!

    Although I’m one to talk, I didn’t even start! I wasn’t aware of this one coming out, and here I’ve been whining for months about “nothing good to read”.

    As a fellow Sander*, I have to support this guy, and his writing makes that easy. I think I’ll be bothered by the same things you and that great reviewer were bothered by (above all else I detest reversing major plot arcs. Whatever that is, it doesn’t sound good.), but you know me, I really, REALLY love getting answers. So in that sense it sounds like I’ll be able to get past the negatives when I read this one.

    Here’s my problem: I don’t know if I remember much of the other two! Sure, some. But they were massive and I read them so long ago, I worry I’ll be lost. I actually don’t remember much about either of the 2 main characters you mention here, the D-bag (let’s call him) and Shallan. Again, I remember some, but I worry this will be a hindrance to my enjoyment. And they’re WAY too long to reread. No way, nuh-uh. I like rereading but…no thanks.

    Also, WOT tv series? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    We’ve been here before. They will fuck it up. It’ll be “Desperate Aes Sedai”[1] or some shit like that. Mark my words.

    [1] Or maybe “Call the Aes Sedai”, that sounds more appropriate.

    If you don’t know what I’m satiring, don’t worry.

  3. So a related thought, I don’t think I ever gave you my other Sanderson recommendations. There’s a fun YA series, the main character’s name is Alcatraz Smedry and the books are eponymously titled. I highly recommend it…might even be enjoyable for your older little one. Nothing adult in it, as far as I can remember. A lot of snark, etc. Quite a bit different from most of his writing. Really cool concepts and world building, not different obvi.

    • stchucky says:

      Cool! Might introduce her to them over Christmas. At the moment I’m reading her ALL the Pratchetts, but that’s a bit of a project and some of them are really pretty complex, so might be better for her to read for herself when she’s a bit older. These might be a nice medium.

      • Oh yes, if she’s appreciating Pratchett then she can definitely also appreciate this series. I’d say the writing (and I’m thinking of English complexity/reading level/whatever as well as content) of the Alcatraz series is no greater, and perhaps a bit less, than most of Pratchett.

        Not talking about quality. That’s really subjective anyway, innit? ;D

  4. brknwntr says:

    Oathbringer is definitely slower. Dalinar IS an asshole, in more ways than you know, but is still my third favorite character. This book is definitely a Point A to Point B book. Call it, books 5 and 6 of Potter, books 3-407 of TWoT, books 4-11 of TSoT. Definitely important and worth reading, but also definitely in support of the main premise rather than BEING the main premise.

    • stchucky says:

      Good calls. I’m sticking with it, I just wasn’t mentally prepared for it to be such hard work after the first two books which I just fucking inhaled, so it required a bit of mental gear-shifting. Also a bit of shut-the-fuck-up-sweethearting to the adorable noiseboxes I live with.

      Kidding. Sort of.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      Some of my favorite characters (fictional only) are assholes. No, really. Love me an anti-hero for one, if that’s what we’re talking about. But also love an asshole bad guy, as long as he isn’t the most powerful man in MY free world.

      • stchucky says:

        I’ll say that Dalinar is an arsehole now trying to do the right thing for the right reasons, and he’s more hero with dark past than anti-hero. It was really interesting reading about how everyone is just judging him (entirely fairly) on his past. Very compelling, and great reading.

        Still just a giant arsehole though. I enjoyed reading about Theon Greyjoy and Joffrey Baratheon, but I didn’t lilke them. Not that Dalinar is in quite the same league, but I enjoy it on a similar level.

  5. brknwntr says:

    also, each boom of this series will have a different main character. Book 1 was Kaladin. Book 2 was Shalan. Book 3 is Dalainar. I’m still waffling on my approval of this approach, but I do like that it spreads out the info dump on each character and their motives. Also, by the end of the book, I REALLY liked how this story built. kind of like how I liked book 6 of FFoM after struggling through books 3-5. I saw the pay off the author was going for. I understood why it was done that way and appreciated the reveal.

    • stchucky says:

      Also true, although I still really only remember Kaladin being the main and most interesting character in both of the first books. But you’re right, there was a lot more of the Kaladin-gladiator story in the first one, and a lot more of the Shallan-whatever-the-fuck-that-was in the second.

  6. Laurence says:

    This is interesting – I found the Stormlight Archive hard to get into initially – the bits in the first book where Shallan’s sailing around and Kaladin’s basically getting crapped on. I think part of it is the Sanderson crescendo where the books tend to start out slowly and then avalanche at the end and partly because it seemed to be at least 3 completely unrelated stories and it was very hard to work out what was going on between them (the answer is, of course, “nothing – wait until the next book”)

    I didn’t have so much trouble with Oathbringer, perhaps because I was already invested in the story, and it hadn’t been /too/ long since I’d read the others. I’ve actually just started re-reading the first one and I’m finding it easier to get into, probably because I already know the characters and the world.

    I would still put The Final Empire as the peak of Sanderson in my estimation though. I really enjoyed that book!

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      I agree about the general tempo, but the hook he provided with the initial assault and the assassination of that king really drew me in, was enough to take me through the first massive tome without complaint. Didn’t the second book start almost the same way? Can’t remember now, but I might have accidentally started rereading (Kindle) and then caught myself, and can’t remember.

      Anyway you just need to hook me with a cool mystery and I’ll read 1,000 pages of exposition. Just, you know, in case there are any authors reading this.

      • Laurence says:

        I did find the initial bit interesting – I really enjoy Sanderson’s magic systems – but by the time I’d got half way through the book I’d basically forgotten about it. It’s a massive tome! I think by the time Kelsier started to do the same sort of things, I’d forgotten enough about the assassin in white that I didn’t realise Kelsier was developing the same powers. At least until they met again.

        The fact that I read the other two and have just started rereading shows that it did manage to keep me, but I did find the middle of that book a slog.

        But then, I’ve read all of WoT, I’m clearly used to slogs!

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        It was so cool I was seeing it in every corner, LOL, so I picked up on it right away.

        Yeah, slog away, I say. There’s never enough good writing out there for me. Again in case any writers are reading this.

        You might say I have a “read-write error”? *Dr. Evil pinky*

  7. aaronthepatriot says:

    Just a random fact, I placed a hold on Oathbringer at my local library and there are oodles of copies, both book form and book on CD. Go SANDERSon! GZ!

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