My plan to read Oathbringer was initially stalled in its tracks by a foreword strongly encouraging me to first read Edgedancer. It took me a very long time to get that, read it, and get this book back into my reading schedule. One result is that I largely lost track of what was going on, who the characters were, and countless other details. Sanderson doesn’t help by not providing any form of dramatis personae or ‘what has gone before’ – possibly because the book is already so large. It took me a while to settle in, compounded by the book’s heavy reliance on flashbacks that I wasn’t sure how to fit into what I thought I knew about the story. Had I already seen these events? (No, I had not.)
Sanderson makes a point of how many people were involved in making the book, and, at roughly the midway point, it did begin to feel very ‘constructed’ – consciously and mechanically assembled according to blueprints, rather than growing organically. To some extent, that may be inevitable with a book with so many moving parts, but it did reduce my enjoyment somewhat.
The book is complicated, with many actors, and at some point – even though I read the entire book over the course of a few days – I began to lose track of what was happening where, and to whom. I had the general gist of things well enough, but lost track of details. The extensive interior art, unfortunately, was too small to be seen/read on my standard-sized e-reader.
In some ways, the book is also just too long. We reach a climactic point in the story – a major battle – with 200-300 pages still to go, and that battle ends up taking most of that space. It’s well done, but I just don’t think we need that much – essentially a book of its own – describing just one battle, however important.When I cam up for air at the end of the book, I did have that feeling of wishing there were more – Sanderson is a good writer – but in some ways, I think the book overreached.
Sanderson’s Cosmere books are famously (if somewhat vaguely) interconnected, and in this book he starts to draw some of the threads together. Most often, it’s just ‘another world’ that’s referred to, but he does also specifically tie in (in a small way) one other major series, which is intriguing. Sanderson is usually meticulous, so we can hope it will all be logical, rather than gratuitous.
I do, happily have the next midpoint novella in the series already, so I’ll likely move on to that relatively soon. The next full installment, Rhythm of War, may have to wait. Especially if, as the title suggests, it’s packed full of long battles.
Overall, a solid installment in the series, but on the verge of becoming topheavy.