Oathbringer (Final Discussion) by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Tor, 2017
Indiana’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pete’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: It’s a long one, but we’ll reread the whole series someday!
Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive. It’s a book we’ve been looking forward to for a long time and we’re excited to finally have our hands on it. Due to its length (and its epicness), we’ve broken up our reviews into four parts (Part One, Part Two, Part Three). Warning: spoilers ahead!
Indiana: From the start of Part Four, where our heroes are thrust into Shadesmar, to the very last page of Part Five, the book felt unputdownable. Is that a word?
Pete: If it isn’t a word, it’s at least a universally understood concept! Except we did have to put it down, because it was 2 a.m. and we had 60 pages left… we tried, right?
Indiana: Right. Having to go to work (for at least 10 hours), when I was right at the end of Part Five was terrible. However, it was such a great ending, by the time I’d turned the last page I’d forgotten about the 10-hour interruption.
Pete: It was great, and it was also an unusually hopeful ending for a mid-series book! But back to Part Four—I loved learning more about Shadesmar. I loved seeing Syl in her “normal” form, and getting a glimpse of Adolin’s deadeye shardblade spren, Maya. Wow, this series can have a lot of weird vocab.
Indiana: But that’s what makes it fun—new world, new words! It was gratifying to finally get more than a 5-page glance into Shadesmar. In the first two books, it was alluded to several times but never really explored. What did you think about the gang’s (Kaladin, Azure, Shallan, and Adolin) adventure there?
Pete: I thought it was a blast. Like the chasm chapters in Words of Radiance, it used my favorite literary device: the green world. I just love when characters are taken out of their element (or plunged into the cognitive realm) and social norms are forgone. Adolin and Kaladin going clothes shopping in Shadesmar was… unexpected. There were a lot of things I thought would happen in this book, and that was not one of them.
Indiana: Same, but I really enjoyed that. I also thought that the creepy creatures that the ships are carried on were pretty cool. But let’s get into the characters. As usual, I was a fan of Shallan. However, I thought her character arc (namely the whole idea that she had to pick her true-self) was a little flat.
Pete: Yes, it felt a bit off at times, and the three-personality thing felt forced. This really was Dalinar’s book, and I know you don’t feel the same, but I enjoyed his flashbacks and his present-day story immensely. However, with him possibly bringing Honor back to life at the end, I can’t help but wonder if his character will sort of be “retired” in future books.
Indiana: Well, I wish I could say that that would really bother me. But I feel like it’s his time to become a background character. His present-day character is fantastic, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m a bit soured on him because he had way too many flashbacks that only served to tell the reader the same thing: he used to be a terrible character. After the third or fourth flashback where nothing really noteworthy is revealed and the same character information is combed over . . . can you blame me for being a little frustrated?
Pete: They definitely could have been cut down a bit, especially the first few. What do you think about Kaladin’s arc this book? He kind of didn’t do a lot of good. But he tried!
Indiana: Exactly, this just didn’t feel like his book. He did some good stuff and I guess we got a tiny look into his love life but that’s about it. What did you think about Szeth’s side story (which eventually became a part of the main story)?
Pete: I think it was a humbling book for Kaladin. He made a lot of mistakes, and as a result, he wasn’t ready to speak the fourth ideal. It felt fitting. I really enjoyed Szeth’s side story. I got major Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes from his training scenes with the Skybreakers. Lift and Szeth joining Dalinar was great, and I can’t wait to see the whole team united in the next book. Except Moash.
Indiana: Me too. I was so happy when Lift finally came back on the scene and when she paired up with Szeth, one of the most stiff/serious characters in the book, it just made both of their roles better. What did you think about who replaced Elhokar? I know you called it pretty quickly.
Pete: When Elhokar was killed, my first thought was that Jasnah would be the next ruler of Alethkar, but apparently lineage doesn’t work that way, so it fell to Adolin, but then Jasnah ended up Queen anyway? It confused me, but I’m glad she’ll be running the show. Alethkar needed a more decisive ruler than Elhokar.
Indiana: Overall, I found this one to be a tiny bit slower, mainly due to the number of flashbacks. Those didn’t add very much to the story, at least from my perspective. I really enjoyed how much Sanderson rewards you for remembering details from not only the first two books in the series but from some of his other books as well. It makes me feel like he’s got a rock solid plan for the series and that by the time he’s done with it (years and years from now), I’ll look back and know that it was well worth the read. As far as the next book goes, I’d really like to see a bit more of Jasnah’s character and learn a bit more about Renarin, who it turns out is not as innocent as he seems.
Pete: While Oathbringer didn’t have as many intense moments as Words of Radiance, it did have a lot of different parts; Kaladin’s time with the parshmen, the Urithiru chapters at the beginning, the entire Kholinar section, Shadesmar, and the battle at Thaylenah. I think this was a major strength of the book. The ending didn’t feel quite as tight as in the first two books, but it was still an enjoyable and satisfying read that left me hungry for more Stormlight. Sanderson explored a lot of new ideas in this book, and we saw the consequences of a rapidly changing world. I can’t wait to see how the conflict on Roshar continues to evolve and what happens with the beloved cast of characters in book four!
What did you think of Oathbringer? Did it live up to your expectations?