6 Comments

The Power of a Hero

I had the wonderful privilege of being asked to review Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson’s second installment of the Stormlight Archive, which releases today. The massive hardback totals out at 1080 pages and could serve as a weapon of mass destruction against the rodents who nightly invade my trash cans.

And every page is worth it.

I am biased because Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. But after The Way of Kings (Book 1) became one of my favorite books, Words of Radiance had a ton of expectations to live up to.

In an epic series of this size, there’s always the danger of slogging through a story where tons of characters go nowhere. There’s not much that’s more frustrating that falling in love with a character and seeing them stay the same book after book.

Which brings me to the topic of heroes.

Kaladin - Words of Radiance

Kaladin’s story in The Way of Kings fascinated me. I don’t know if I’ve seen a protagonist suffer as much as he did. Yet, through the gut-wrenching agony that became his life, he made courageous decisions and emerged a hero. In a genre filled with antiheroes and blurred morality, it was a breath of fresh air.

There is a dignity to courage and heroism that lifts my reading to an almost spiritual experience. A connection with a truth I strive for in my own life.

That right and good cannot truly be right and good if I only seek to follow them when it benefits me.

That right is right and wrong is wrong and sometimes doing the right thing may cost something that is very precious to me.

“Come, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

When Sam says this to Frodo after he stalls on the slopes of Mount Doom, something visceral occurs to me as a reader. The stomach clenches, and a lump forms in my throat as a silent cry erupts from the soul.

I want to be that man.

The courage that is born from Sam’s love of loyalty remind me of Mary Magdalene when she returns to the garden. She mistakes Jesus for the gardener and asks where the body is so she can carry it back to the tomb. She was either a very strong woman or possessed a loyalty and love that superseded any perceived obstacles.

VERY MILD SPOILER ALERT

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Pages 1014 and 1015 in Words of Radiance are the single most heroic moment I’ve read in a story. One of the protagonists comes to the realization of a truth that transcends the shallowness I find in the character’s of so many stories. He sees the living contradiction of his morality, and then makes the courageous decision to defy his old way of thinking and stand for something that will cost him everything.

As I read, my eyes misted, and that lump appeared in my throat.

I want to be that man.

Bravo, Mr. Sanderson.

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About Will Ramirez

Will Ramirez grew up with a love for God's Word and fantastical worlds. The first passion led him to pastor Calvary Chapel Lighthouse for the the last 17 years. The second led him to create the world of Adme, the setting for his coming debut novel, an epic fantasy titled Soul Yearning. He lives in Central Florida with his bride of seventeen years and their four children. Since 2010, he's been a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on the leadership team of Word Weavers of Orlando. He is currently working on the second book of the Godslayer series as well as The Unspoken, book one of a dark fantasy trilogy. In the land of Adme, powerful beings rule as deities and compete with one another for followers. But when a young priest is revealed as the prophesied godslayer, the pantheon unites to destroy him.

6 comments on “The Power of a Hero

  1. Wonderful stuff. “Epic” is overused, but perfect here. Reblogging. Will use this to help me write today’s writer’s blog. ‘Nuff said. 😉

  2. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    “Right and good cannot truly be right and good if I only seek to follow them when it benefits me.” This is the heart of a novel worth reading – or writing. Which will bring me later today to my choices for the future…

    • Thanks for reblogging 🙂 I’m glad it blessed you. I love how you said this is the heart of a novel worth reading. I know everyone has their tastes, but there’s far too many novels out there right now that aren’t worth my time because I don’t feel like slogging through a morally ambiguous “hero”.

  3. Will, followed you over from FB because you know you had me at “hero” and now I have to read this series. Great article and as you know, I only read a book for the hero looking for exactly what you’re talking about right here. Well done.

    • Thanks for stopping by Nancy 8) I didn’t realize until now just how similar Kaladin and Jonathan are. Two of the most broken men I’ve ever read about who do incredibly heroic things when it might break them more.

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