Just finished Way of Kings & Words of Radiance, couple of small--but I think important--criticisms...

WaltC

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Apr 2, 2021
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(First of all, does anyone here know if there's a forum in which the author participates from time to time? One of the most frustrating things about popular authors these days is that all the communication is one-way; from the publisher to the reader with no means of two-way communication...;))

1) Flashbacks--it's an old writer's device, I think, and it's not terribly bad in itself when used properly, but Sanderson in these books uses it awkwardly, I think. The story will reach a peak in the current plot progress--say, for instance, Kaladin is forced off a cliff and is hanging on with his fingers...and the reader wants to see how that turns out--but instead of continuing the current plot line, Sanderson does this: Six Years Earlier, and we immediately go back to a period in Shallan's life about which we already know much--but now we get that knowledge again in copious detail, including characters we've never seen before and about which we know nothing--just names on a page--leaving poor Kaladin hanging on the cliff with two fingers, etc. What it forced me to do in those instances was skim through the material to its end, to the page where the main plot line resumes and we find out if Kaladin lives or dies, etc. Much, much better if Sanderson would not practice "plotus interruptus" and let us find out about Kaladin's, or any major character's immediate fate first--and then at a natural lull in the main plot progression do the "Six Years Earlier" or "one year earlier" or etc. flashback. I think using the device that way would be much more effective and probably allow the reader to concentrate on the flashback material more than if it breaks the immersion of the main plot line at a crucial juncture.

2) I've noticed this more than once in the books--the way characters seem to jump around geographically to the complete surprise of the reader--such that I find myself wondering if I have correctly apprehended the size and shape of the environment. For instance, we leave Shallan, say, in her room, where she is contemplating various things, speaking to Pattern, ad infinitum, and then the story moves smoothly to another location, say, where Kaladin is fussing with Syl about various aspects of regicide, and then, suddenly, Kaladin says something like, "What do you think, Shallan?" and Shallan speaks--but the lowly reader thought Shallan back in her rooms! Surprise! She zipped to a new area and Sanderson forgot to tell us...;) In all honesty, this could be an artifact of editing--but I don't know, so I thought I'd mention it. I saw this more than once with a variety of characters.

It's something that a one-line sentence could correct, like, Momentarily distracted by something he saw the other soldiers attempting, Kaladin noticed Shallan approaching their group and was quick to seek her opinion. "What do you think, Shallan?" Etc. Something like that would serve to smooth the transition of physical place among the characters, which at times is less than clear.

I enjoy the books overall, and have just begun "Oathbringer," and already have the fourth volume in hand! I can recommend them all--so far...;)
 

Xanderous

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Apr 8, 2021
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I agree with the flashbacks. I found myself quickly skimming those, trying to catch important moments that might help provide context. Pulling me out of the main plot was painful in many moments. I do like all the books. I'm also currently reading Oathbringer.

Another point, which I think is common for an epic like this, is large amounts of world building. However, I am tired of reading about rockbuds.
 

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