Book Review

Of Rhythms and Wars

“Rhythm of War,” by Brandon Sanderson

This is BOOK FOUR of the Stormlight Archive, so if you haven’t read the first three, I highly recommend them. Also, if you haven’t read them, don’t be surprised if this review confuses you. You can check out my review on books 1&2 here and book 3 here!

Again, I highly recommend this series. These books have absorbed my Harry Potter fanaticism. Seriously, I’m an Edgedancer, and my husband and I bought the swag with the leather-bound edition of “Way of Kings,” AKA: the most successful book on Kickstarter, and most expensive books we own.
With that in mind, please note that “Oathbringer” wasn’t my favorite (for reasons explained in my review). So, just because I love this series and attended the Writing Fiction class from Prof. Sanderson, doesn’t mean this book automatically gets 5 stars. It had to deserve every star.

Okay, LAST warning. SPOILERS to books 1-3 ahead.

Do NOT continue if you haven’t read them (and if you have any appreciation for epic fantasy or well-written deeply-thought-out stories, then I HIGHLY recommend at least the first two books).

Considering how book 3 ended, I was a little nervous about this one. I mean, after all the depressing revelations about the first desolation, Kaladin failed to say the words and he couldn’t kill Amaram (he totally could have, but for some reason Rock had to do it), Adolin felt pretty useless except for learning Maya’s name, and I never expected Dalinar to replace all of his Bridge Four body guards with Szeth of all people . . . and . . . I shipped Kaladin and Shallan. Obviously, I was disappointed there.

Mostly, I’ve noticed a cycle of the characters in this series. In book 1, many of them started tethered, trapped, or lost. In book 2, they all gained freedom in one sense or another and were able to develop themselves. Then, in book 3, they were each hit hard with something that trapped them again. (I wrote about this in greater depth in my review for “Oathbringer”).

In “Rhythm of War,” they begin in that trapped state. After books 1-3 taking place in a matter of months, suddenly, it’s a year later. And everything still sucks. But then there’s nowhere to go but up, right?

Highlight box below for vague spoiler:

Warning: this book made me cry. No, it wasn’t in chapter 106. I cried in chapter 108. I think I have a sensitivity to sibling relationships.

The various plots in “Rhythm of War” continued as I expected (which was nice), but they resolved in ways I didn’t expect (which was even better). From the ending of “Oathbringer,” Shallan and Kaladin have serious mental traps to hurdle before they could continue to their fourth ideal. (Apparently the only person who said the fourth ideal was the queen.)

Each book explores the past of a different person, and this book includes the past of Eshonai and Venli. Most of the past scenes simply open the perspectives of incidents we already know about from Gavalar’s contacts, his assassination, and the lead up to the Everstorm. However, there are some details that clarify Venli’s past and current decisions that I hadn’t expected.

I think Prof. Sanderson handled well the sensitive situations of depression, PTSD, drug abuse, and intellectual disability. Of course, every person’s situation is different, so it’s impossible to say what’s best, but considering Roshar’s limited medical knowledge on mental health, I love the work that Kaladin begins.
After Adolin’s awesome moment with Maya in “Oathbringer,” I expected something to grow out of that. What happened in that growth was a nice surprise. It’s not as far as I thought, but we’ve yet to see what happens between Adolin and Maya outside of Shadesmar.

A couple things I did not expect:

Hoid has a relationship, and we learn more about his past. Oh, and of all his stories, this book’s story was my favorite.

This is a dog, Kaladin. They’re fluffy and loyal and wonderful.

Wit, “Rhythm of War,” chapter 80
Apparently, Wit’s a dog person. I happened to be rubbing my dog’s belly while reading this chapter.

Again, I was surprised by how the various plots were resolved, such as the exact words for certain ideals. They weren’t what I expected, but they made sense (the best kind of surprise).
Not to mention the surprise plots of hostilities in Urithiru, Navani working as a scholar and her notes that become “The Rhythm of War,” and Adolin and Shallan going to Shadesmar again.
Also, there’s an entire Part without the perspectives of Adolin nor Shallan. Oddly enough, this didn’t bother me as much as the entire Part in “Oathbringer” without anything from Kaladin’s perspective.
Then, not all Fuzed are the embodiment of evil. This last fact, I think, will cause the most interest when moving into book 5.

“Design!” Wit said, turning on her. “What did I tell you about spoiling the ending of stories!”

“Rhythm of War,” chapter 80

Overall, a solid 5 stars. I rank it equal to the first book and higher than the third, though “Words of Radiance” is still my favorite. Then again, I still need to finish reading “Dawnshard,” before I re-read this (which I definitely want to do). Hmm, is it possible to give 5.25 stars?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Predictions for Book 5: This section contains spoilers for “Rhythm of War.” Read at your own risk.

First of all, its acronym will be KOW. Since so much of Alethi poetry revolves around palindromes, it only makes sense when the other titles are “Way of Kings,” “Words of Radiance,” “Oathbringer,” and “Rhythm of War.” In case you didn’t catch it, it goes:
WoK WoR O RoW . . .
So, naturally, book 5 will be KoW. Or Brandon Sanderson missed on a perfect opportunity.
I recall hearing that it’ll focus on Szeth’s past.

Okay, then we end with TEN DAYS. WHAT!?!? So, either ALL of book 5 takes place in a matter of TEN DAYS OR . . . the challenge will take part at the end of Part 1, and Odium is going to win. So then the heroes are left scrambling to make things right until the end of the book, which might involve another shard coming to Roshar. Maybe the shard of “Warbreaker,” since we’ve seen Zahel, Azure, Nightblood, and Wit’s “breath” powers.
I’m expecting the latter because it’s more epic, and the chapter headings of Part 5 are about the first of the ten days. The characters know about “off worlders,” and if they must bind Odium, that means some of the other shards might not be “bound” . . . and can therefore come to Roshar. ??

I have no idea, that’s just my theory. Please feel free to drop your own theories in the comments!

Speaking of Alethi poems, this book reveals the Alethi alphabet and how it’s used to create glyphs. So, of course I had to create a glyph for my family of “Smith.”

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