Over the weekend I finished reading Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Don’t worry, there will be no spoilers today) – It is the third installment in the Stormlight Archive. My summed-up review is as follows: Oathbringer continues to explore complex characters with Radiant abilities, and carries the Stormlight Archive into new territory, unraveling more and more about the mysteries of Roshar.
I’ve been telling pretty much everyone I see that they need to read this series. Sanderson is a master storyteller. The Stormlight Archive is filled with amazing characters, and a thought out world, but perhaps my favorite thing is Sanderson’s complicated magic system. The Knights Radiant are the magic users of Roshar. Their Ten Orders protect the inhabitants of all kingdoms from their tower above the Storms: Urithiru. They’re the sworn enemies of the Voidbringers, and they’re divided into Orders that each specialize in two forms of magic. Let’s take a look at a couple of these orders, and find out which order would best fit your Ideals.
The most important thing to each Order of Knights Radiant is their Ideal. A person becomes a Knight Radiant by saying the first Ideal: Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination. (Congratulations, you’re now a Knight Radiant! JK, it also seems to involve a life or death situation. Don’t jump off a building to find out.)
This mantra defines the initial calling to protect the inhabitants of Roshar. Continuing on their journey, they discover the other Ideals of their Order. A Knight can breathe in Stormlight, an essence of the Divine, and use that power in their Order specific magic.
The first magic that we see in the Stormlight archive is called Lashing. You’re thrown into a confusing, but exciting battle scene where a Windrunner is flipping around multiple guards, running along the ceiling, and tearing heavy doors off their hinges. The point of attack is constantly shifted during the battle. It’s pretty fantastic!
Windrunners and Skybreakers can both change their own gravity, or the gravity of a touched object. They use this ability to fly, or gracefully fall, by Lashing their bodies away from the ground. These two orders of Knights Radiant can run along walls, make an enemy fall backwards by a swift change in gravity, or tow along a heavy object through the air.
The difference between them is that Windrunners can also infuse a surface with Stormlight and cause a person, or object to bind, or get stuck to that object. Skybreakers have the surge of Division, which can be used to cause something (or someone) to rapidly decay.
Two other surges that are featured prominently in these books are Lightweaving and Transformation. Lightweavers can create images (holograms) with Stormlight and confuse their enemies, or even mask themselves in disguise. Using Transformation, a Lightweaver can soulcast an object into being something else. Sanderson builds a layered world with Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual realms. Soulcasting blurs those borders and by touching an object in the Cognitive world, they can convince it to change in the Physical. This means they can turn a stone into a loaf of bread, oil can become clean water, and even air can become a wall for protection.
Honestly, Sanderson’s magic system in the Stormlight Archive is a lot to take in, but he does an excellent job of introducing everything in bite-sized chunks. You get hints, and whispers of whats to come. When it all comes together there are huge payouts and some amazing scenes where fallible heroes discover the importance of the Journey.
I found one of those online quizzes that places you into your Knights Radiant order. Go check it out and let me know which Order you belong to! After answering the fourteen or so questions, it placed me in the Order of Edgedancers. The Edgedancer in this series is one of my favorite characters. She’s a side character, but shows up a bit more in Oathbringer (ok, maybe that’s a spoiler…)
Edgedancers can “slick” themselves using Stormlight and they become “awesome.” They move around as if on skates. They make their bodies friction-less and flow through the battlefield. Edgedancers also have the surge of Progression, which allows them to control the growth of plants and animals, and can even give the ability to heal others who have been injured.
Oathbringer takes off yet another layer of this beautiful magic system, and personally it left me wanting so much more. You can grab the first three books on Kindle here.
Out of Sanderson’s many published works, I’ve also read Mistborn, and his completion of the Wheel of Time. I’m leaning towards grabbing Elantris and Warbreaker next, but I guess I also need to read the Wax and Wayne trilogy. Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s books? Let me know in the comments below! Which is your favorite so far, and if you took the quiz, which Order of the Knights Radiant are you?
And remember: Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.