Medium: Book (ARC)
Overview (No Spoilers):
If you’re a fan of The Stormlight Archive series you will positively love Rhythm of War (RoW). In many ways this fourth installment has the feel of pawns being maneuvered, with significant emphasis being placed on character development and worldbuilding. Usually when I make the aforementioned statement in a review regarding a book feeling like a placeholder it is typically with a negative connotation. In this case, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though RoW is a weighty twelve hundred pages or so, I didn’t want this adventure to end. Sanderson continues to grow this series, that ranks as one of my favorites, both in depth and scope. And upon further reflection, describing this book as moving pawns is perhaps less than fair considering the many, many twists and turns that Sanderson plotted throughout RoW. So much happens! We spend significant time exploring Shadesmar, where we learn about the various spren in their home environments, not to mention the vast differences in their phenotypic properties to their complicated political leanings. Other than the spren, we gain significant understanding regarding the mysteries of Urithiru, the inner hierarchy of the Fused, the status of the Heralds, and the nature of Stormlight, Voidlight, among much more. Seriously, just when I think the cosmere can’t get more detailed, Sanderson manages to add so many new revelations into RoW that my head is still spinning.
Events surrounding Urithiru take center stage in RoW, with much of the previously mentioned revelations taking place within the ancient tower. Familiar characters struggle with old vices and insecurities throughout, with Sanderson eloquently detailing mental health issues in particular. Other than the established characters, we are given a deeper look at individuals such as Rlain and Dabbid who have previously been relegated to relatively minor roles.
I thoroughly enjoyed Navani’s research that consumed a major page allotment in RoW. Sanderson weaved real scientific concepts into his cosmere universe, especially with Navani’s focus of study. Sure it made the solutions she was searching for fairly predictable, however it was still fun to see her come to the realizations all on her own.
The majority of RoW had a very dark and generally helpless feel. The ending definitely had a healthy dose of hope, however this ray of happiness was tinged with dread at the obstacles still in the paths of our favorite characters. Stirring a wide range of emotions, Sanderson made me cry (happy and sad), laugh, and fret as he dealt heavily both in death and suspenseful scenarios. Overall, RoW was a positively delightful continuation of The Stormlight Archive, leaving me now wishing I would have savored this read a bit more instead of binging it. Now I’ll have to wait years to find out what Sanderson has in store for our friends in Roshar.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- When the scouts were looking at the tower, why did Teft and the other Lightweaver being awake not raise alarms if they’re supposed to be asleep?
- How could the enemy have chosen Teft as a subject to Lightweave if he had not been captured with the other Radiants?
- I wanted more Lift! We only had one chapter with her and it was in one of the interludes. What is with the red chicken? Who was the man who captured her? What was captivity like for her? How will life change for her now that people knows she uses a different light to draw from?
- How did the vendor have the flute or Kaladin’s brother’s carving?
- Wit/Hoid/Cephandrius played a large role in this book, but his influence was mostly just off stage. Why did he reveal himself to Odium? When Taravangian (now Odium) took or messed with Wit’s memories/Breaths what did he influence/change for Wit? Will Wit be reunited with his flute?
- Rlain finally bonding a spren was so emotional. I loved how much we were able to learn, not only about him, but the other listeners’ history.
- We were a whole 750 pages in before we had a Jasnah chapter. She puts on such a front that her chapters are needed to hear her inner workings and understand where she is coming from. We maybe had two whole chapters from her and her strong perspective dearly missed.
- Dabbid’s role in RoW made my heart so happy! He saved the day so many times and we even were treated to a chapter from his perspective where we learned about his past. It was interesting the Sibling chose to talk to him first.
- I have such conflicting emotions about Raboniel. I enjoyed her love of learning and scholarly pursuits but she’s also slightly crazy, cold, calculating, brilliant, and hatches lofty schemes that were above anything I could try to predict. Then she saves Navani, despite the Queen having just dealt her a mortal blow.
- How did Mink learn to read? He is such an interesting character. Will we learn more about his backstory? Is he a Radiant? How does he make his escapes?
- Taravangian becoming Odium was a twist I honestly didn’t see coming. Is the good Taravangian still in there or only the ambitious one? I so badly wanted a redemption arc for him.
- Ishar, the Herald, and Dalinar’s interaction and fight was so bizarre. What would have happened if Ishar had taken Dalinar’s bond? What was Ishar doing with the spren in the real world? Can Kaladin really help fix Ishar?
- What are the future implications that the Fused and the spren can now be permanently killed?
- How did the deadeyes know to gather? Where are all the swords they represent?
- Sanderson did such a good job capturing Kaladin’s struggle with mental health. Ugh, his Dad’s attitude was seriously the worst.
- Teft’s death was so heartbreaking. He struggled with his own vices but he also was a fountain of wisdom for those around him. He will be missed.
- Will Rock come back?
- How wonderful for Rlain and Venli that there are more listeners alive! With several of the Fused with them how will that change their group’s dynamic? How will they evolve as a group? How did they befriend a chasmfiend?
- It was interesting to finally gain insight into how the listeners got to this point and what Venli’s role was in the downfall of her people.
- Has Shallan bit off more than she can chew by declaring war with the Ghostbloods. I saw Pattern’s betrayal coming but why didn’t Shallan message Wit to verify the story? I’m relieved to have her finally (partially) healed. I’d wondered if she’s had a second spren based on some of the interactions and flashbacks in previous books. Will she be able to somehow heal Testament?
- Vyre/Moash is seriously the worst. How will he survive blind? It was interesting to see the depth he can feel when not corrupted by Odium.
- Chiri-Chiri and Rysn’s chapter in the one of the Interludes would have been hard to remember as it has been so long since reading Oathbringer, had I not been simultaneously reading the Dawnshard.
- What future will Adin have?
- I loved everything surrounding Adolin in RoW, from their time in Shadesmar, to the trial and them reaching the honorspren capital, Lasting Integrity.
- Who were the humans in Shadesmar who were attacking Notrum?
- So many tears with Maya spoke during the trial and when Notrum didn’t denounce Adolin. Will Notrum leave to find a human to bond now?
- Who is the female voice who accepts the Ideals that are spoken?
Fecund: fruitful in offspring or vegetation