“Don’t you see? Hope is a good thing—a wonderful thing—but you must have hope in something appropriate. If you perpetuate the dreams of the past, then you stifle your own dreams of the future.”
If I want to get picky, this was 4.25 stars! This series is so good; I just knew it would get better and better with each installment.
The second book in the series picks up about a year after the conclusion of the first one. I appreciated the time jump, because it gives the reader a good look at how things are different in the new empire now and how the characters are handling all of the changes. Sanderson is done holding the reader’s hand, so to speak, and this book jumps into the action right away.
I enjoyed this book even more than the first one, because everything that bothered me a little in The Final Empire was much smoother here and everything that I loved was really amped up. The characters, while still being Sanderson’s weakest element I think, were definitely improved here. He has a way of developing his characters, their personalities, and their storylines, while also making it feel like the reader doesn’t really get to know them. Does that make sense? We are in their heads, and we know what they are thinking and feeling, but for me, it seems like we are still kept at arms length with them. Their characterizations are a bit more tell than show and we are just given their thoughts and traits in a way that does not feel organic. That is not to say that they do not have excellent character arcs, because they do, it is just “at a distance” in a way. One main aspect of this that threw me for a loop was Vin and Elend’s relationship. We are not really given time to see them come together and form their bond before they love each other in book one, and now in this one, their issues just seemed to appear out of nowhere. On paper, it makes sense and sounds plausible, but reading it just didn’t feel like enough information or insight from the characters. It was fine, I just wish it was done a little better.
Other than that small gripe, I thought everything in this book was done superbly. The plot just continues to grow and become more complex. There are twists and turns that I never saw coming and everything feels very authentic. It is so well done! The intrigue and politics in this story are amazing and really showcase how smart Sanderson’s storylines are. Threads are laid out early on and the payoff of everything coming together in the end is perfect. I adored the political aspects of this book, and I disagree with the people who say it suffered from “middle book syndrome” or was boring. The aftermath of book one had to be dealt with, and Sanderson did it in a very realistic and interesting way. The scenes about Elend trying to become a better king, the crew coming to terms with having responsibilities now, and Vin dealing with her path of violence and mistrust are some of the best. I did really enjoy the new characters that were introduced, as well (especially Ten’Soon), and I just love how the story continues to grow.
The world building and the magic system are Sanderson’s strongest elements, aside from his brilliant plotting. He did an amazing job in book one setting up the world and explaining everything to the reader (sometimes in a more obvious manner). With this one, all of that foundation is built upon and expanded. The lore in the world is my favorite part, especially the historic chapter headings/diary entries from the past, once again. I love the teachings and philosophies that Sazed preaches, as well as the exploration of the Hero of Ages prophesy. How that plot point unfolds is fantastic and the buildup to it is laid out perfectly.
Everything just felt very clever and well thought out. Well planned and well executed. The story continues to build upon itself and I cannot wait to see what the third book reveals!
Thank you for reading!