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Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive    by Brandon Sanderson order for
by Brandon Sanderson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Oathbringer follows The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance as the third in Brandon Sanderson's extraordinary Stormlight Archive series, a landmark in epic fantasy. It all happens in Roshar, a stony world of raging, highstorms, that has undergone successive Desolations for centuries. The Knights Radiant fought back with ultra powerful Shardblades and Shardplate. Now, that cycle might be broken.

That's the setting for the series and its leads. After the assassination of his brother the Alethi king, Dalinar Kholin waged war against Parshendi (whose mindless fellows have long been used by humans as slaves) on the Shattered Plains. Kaladan Stormblessed arose from dire betrayal and slavery, with the aid of magical windspren Sylphrena, to lead the renowned Bridge Four. He became a Surgebinder. Dalinar had visions, warning him of a looming Everstorm. Shallan Davar became the ward of Dalinar's niece Jasnah, holder of a powerful Soulcaster. After a storm of deadly intrigue and tragedy, Shallan made her way to the Shattered Plains. There, parshmen awoke to what had been done to them, summoned Voidbringers and the Everstorm, and fought back with great new powers.

The main story arc in Oathbringer follows Dalinar's efforts, with help from his brother's wife Navani, Shallan and the Stormfather, to build a coalition which would allow humanity to resist the Voidbringers' plan to wipe them out. Their efforts are hampered by the other nations' distrust, since in the past, the Alethi were aggressors and invaders. Interspersed with this diplomacy are revelations of Dalinar's back story, in which he and readers gradually learn why he's forgotten even the name of his first wife and how she died. Coalition efforts do not go well and we wonder will human realms unite against the Voidbringers - and who exactly are the Voidbringers?

Shallan is engaged to marry Dalinar's son Adolin. With spren Pattern's help, she continues to create powerful illusions, including alternate selves, and struggles to understand who the real Shallan is. One of her alternates is strongly attracted to Kaladan, but Shallan loves Adolin, doesn't she? Kaladan makes his way home to find out if his parents have survived the storms. He spends time amongst enemy parshmen and finds more in common with them than he ever would have expected. He takes on a mission, with Shallan and Adolin, that leads them eventually to a very strange realm. They struggle to return in time to help Dalinar fight the all-powerful Odium.

Of course, there are many other fascinating plot threads to follow - individuals like Szeth, the Assassin in White, and Adolin's brother Renarin, on their own journeys to self knowledge. As Dalinar sums up, 'The most important words a man can say are, "I will do better."' and 'the most important step a person can take is always the next one.' Words to live by. Indeed, Venli, Taravangian, Moash and Wit each take pivotal next steps towards the end of this episode. I can't wait to see where they lead the series next!

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