Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Review: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

In preparation for the imminent release of Oathbringer, the third book in Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series, I've been re-reading the prior books. I had first read The Way of Kings before staring my blog, so I don't have a full review of the first book, but you can read my review of Words of Radiance here. I've been a huge fan of Sanderson since Mistborn and consider The Stormlight Archive series to be some of his best work. While reading the second book, I heard that there was a short novella as well- Edgedancer, featuring one of the characters in the interludes. Here I review that novella.

Minor spoilers for Words of Radiance follow.

I don't review novellas in the same way as novels as they tend to be much shorter. So rather than break it down in my usual plot/character/setting analysis, I'll just write down my thoughts overall. And overall this is a pretty decent book. It's short, true to the definition of a novella and certainly in comparison with typical Sanderson fare. Character-wise we focus on Lift, a young woman introduced in Words of Radiance (WoR from here on out). In the main Archive books, the significant parts of each book are divided by a series of short stories known as Interludes. These introduce and follow up on characters not on screen. We get to see exotic places that we may never get to see in the main story line. For Lift, we got to see a young thief with a curious sense of morality that is a budding Radiant. Edgedancer reproduces that Interlude and expands on her story in the months afterwards.

In WoR, we already got to see Lifts powers and her classification of belonging to the 'Edgedancer' group of Knights Radiant. We get to see a bit more of her powers and how she practices, though she is far from what Kaladin and the other main characters of the series can achieve. Still, it presents a very odd pair of powers to consider: Lift can alter how friction works on her as well as change how things grow. It'll be interesting to see how she develops and if she joins the main cast of characters in further novels.

One of the coolest aspects for me in this novella was further exploration of a few characters that showed up in WoR's finale. I don't want to spoil things, but it's very cool not only to see them again, but to get further knowledge of who they are and why they are doing what they are doing. Another really cool aspect is seeing that there are far more mysteries in the world of Roshar than we know of. We've already seen the spren, the Shardblades, the Heralds, and have heard of things like the Nightwatcher and her mysterious boons and curses. Here we meet a creature known as a Sleepless, though lots of mysteries still remain about what exactly those are. It'll remain to be seen if creatures like that will show up in the main storyline.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, though it wasn't as amazing as the novels for the main story. Lift herself is a cool character, but a novella is just too short to do her story much justice. Plot-wise it's very straightforward as it follows Lift's journey to another city for reasons of her own. It's certainly a nice break and a good addition to the story, taking place mostly after the events of WoR. Exactly when this takes place compared to Oathbringer, I'm not sure yet.

If you're on the fence about getting Oathbringer, note that Tor has made available the first 32 chapters of the book for free on their website. I personally only read the Prologue, since I want to wait for the actual book. I'm also not sure how much 32 chapters is compared to the novel, but it seems like a sizable amount!

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