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Rhythm of War: Quintessential Sanderson

Posted January 11th, 2024 at 03:38 PM by TGRF
TGRF Reviews: Rhythm of War

Yesterday I finished Rhythm of War, the fourth book in the Stormlight Archive. My past reviews of these books have been somewhat on the negative side, but I feel like this is probably the best book so far.

As I did last time, I will break the book into sections rather than critiquing areas such as character or plot. This is because each section is vastly different from the last, making it difficult to lump all of 'character' say into one category.

Ratings:
5: Amazing, above flawless.
4: Flawless, but doesn't really stand out.
3: Might have some issues, but works fine.
2: Has some issues which might detract from the media.
1: Flawed, bring the media down noticeably.

Title: Rhythm of War
Author: Brandon Sanderson
My Rating: 3.3/5 (should be higher)

Phase 1
The Stormlight books have followed the same general pattern: they start out slow and meandering, and end with multiple twists and wallops and fast pacing.

Book 4 is no different, but this time the opening contains action. This, coupled with the fact that a year has passed and some things have changed, served to keep me more engaged than usual. Because of that, I would give this section a 3.

Phase 2
This phase I feel should have been the worst. It was meandering, low on tension, lacking much discernable direction - in short, a quintessential Sanderson opening. I think the only thing that saved it from being the worst section is - for once - the multitude of PoVs. Sanderson scrambles to get everyone into position for the end of the story, and there are some good interactions, as well as a few minor mysteries. Because of that, I will give this section a somewhat shaky 3.

Phase 3
THIS was the worst phase. Two characters leave the others, go to a distant land, and embark on a journey. Sanderson tries to keep reader interest up with an ongoing mystery, but I found myself bored, wanting only to get back to the more interesting characters.

Speaking of characters, this section heavily featured Shallan, and I noticed that she's dropped heavily in investment from me compared to book 1, where I enjoyed reading her more than Kaladin. Now those roles are reversed. I couldn't say exactly why this is, though I would hazard a guess that Shallan's odd lack of quippiness in this book and her self-delusional mindset had something to do with it.

Regardless, I found myself having to force the reading to continue on several occasions, which is why I will give this section a solid 1.

Phase 4
By contrast, phase 4 was great. We return to Navani and Kaladin. But by far the reason this phase was so good was that the war which has supposedly been happening (it's supposed to be the end of the world, but there's been precious little of that), finally came to hit our heroes where they thought they were safe.

The story flips from a meandering, character-driven quest, to a full-scale tense enemy occupation in a single chapter. Tension skyrockets. Questions abound. I found myself hooked.

Probably the best part was that this happened only half way through the book, and I knew that unless we went back to Shallan, I'd be in for a good read. For that reason, I give this section a 4.5.

Phase 5
Phase 5 continued the occupation, but added to it as it started to pack in the twists, revelations, and epic finales that I'm beginning to recognize as signature Sanderson. Once again, the twists were relentless, following each other thick and fast, and I found myself wondering how Sanderson could possibly keep this up for ten books. Surely he'll run out of twists at some point?

I don't have anything negative to say about this section. Sanderson managed to do everything I had been hoping for and more, and for that reason, I give this section a solid 5.

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Book 4 finished with a bang, leaving me eager for more. Unfortunately, I've finally caught up with Sanderson, and will have to wait for book 5 to be published along with everyone else.

During this time, I plan to finally get caught up on my reading of Apostle's Creed. After that, I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Mistborn universe: the Mistborn Wax and Wayne series. I liked Mistborn way better than Stormlight (with the exception of this last book), so I'm definitely looking forward to reading those and reviewing them.

Meanwhile, my own writing projects continue. I will update you again likely at the end of the month.

Until then, keep writing.

~TGRF.
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