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Book review: Brandon Sanderson's 'Words of Radiance' is a mysterious fantasy that's difficult to put down

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 8:58 p.m. MDT

Brandon Sanderson, whose new book, Brandon Sanderson, whose new book, "Words of Radiance: Book 2 of the Stormlight Archive," is scheduled to be released March 4, is pictured at Sam Weller's Bookstore in Salt Lake City on Feb. 22. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

"WORDS OF RADIANCE, The Stormlight Archive, Book 2," by Brandon Sanderson, Tor Books, $28.99, 1,068 pages (f)

The mysteries and discoveries Brandon Sanderson provides in "Words of Radiance" signal an adventure to come that's larger than many may have imagined.

The Utah author's novel “Words of Radiance” is the second book in a planned 10-volume fantasy series titled The Stormlight Archive.

Sanderson wrote the manuscript under the working title of “The Book of Endless Pages,” to refer to a book and a theme of endless learning set forth in his first book, according to a blog post featuring Sanderson on tor.com. Yet after presenting the title to his editor, Sanderson says in the post, his editor said, “Uh, are you sure you want to name a very long, very thick fantasy book 'The Book of Endless Pages'?”

The book weighs in at more than a thousand pages, but the only drawback regarding its length is that the book doesn’t immediately transition into the third volume in the series.

Brandon Sanderson, whose new book, Brandon Sanderson, whose new book, "Words of Radiance: Book 2 of the Stormlight Archive," is scheduled to be released March 4, is pictured at Sam Weller's Bookstore in Salt Lake City on Feb. 22. He wears a T-shirt alluding to his friend Dan Wells' novel "I Am Not a Serial Killer." (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The series focuses on four individuals and is set within a world that is constantly assailed by storms, that has magical swords that appear and disappear in 10 heartbeats and that has a connection with the past and future that seems to both blur and clear as the story unfolds.

Sanderson’s world-building is strong enough to engage readers and make them feel at home in a strange world. His character arcs and the complexity of his characters' gradual self-awareness and interactions with one another are also written masterfully.

Mysteries set forth in “The Way of Kings” unfold in “Words of Radiance,” yet new mysteries will be presented as well, and it's easy to see that the journey is only just beginning.

The book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times's hardcover fiction best-seller list, and only readers with tremendous self-control will be able to set this book down without calling in sick to work or planning several all-nighters.

“Words of Radiance” contains the level of language, sex and violence that would be found in a contemporary PG-13 movie. Some swearing is implied through words and phrases native to the world in which the story takes place.

Sanderson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teaches a creative writing course at Brigham Young University each year and has a Hugo Award-winning weekly podcast online at writingexcuses.com. Videos of classes are available for free at the website writeaboutdragons.com, and his website is at brandonsanderson.com.

Kurt Manwaring is a strategy consultant with a master's degree in public administration from the University of Utah. He blogs at kurtsperspective.blogspot.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company