The Everstorm is raging, the Radiants are rising, and Brandon Sanderson is releasing the third book in his Stormlight Archive series. Titled Oathbringer, the novel hits shelves tomorrow and clocks in at over 1,200 pages. Yet for such a behemoth, it reads like a much shorter book. The key, Sanderson explains, is that he paced the novel as if it were a trilogy.
“One of the biggest dangers of these epic fantasies is that it will feel dull,” Sanderson says in a phone interview with Paste. “The hope is that you get a thousand-plus pages of writing that’s engaging.”
Oathbringer, which Sanderson says is “10 percent longer” than Words of Radiance (Book Two), is so big that publisher Tor Books is still figuring out how to release it as a paperback. Fans adore the increasingly long books, however, ensuring that Words of Radiance debuted in the #1 slot on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. And as of this article’s publication, Oathbringer is ranked the ninth most purchased book on Amazon this week. The numbers make it clear that the series’ vibrant world of Roshar is worth exploring for hours on end.
Sanderson always conceived of the Stormlight Archive as a 10-book series, which will be split into two five-book arcs. “The first arc focuses on Dalinar, Kaladin, Shallan, Eshonai and Szeth,” Sanderson says. “We will have a big climax in Book Five, and then in Book Six, we’ll take things in a slightly different direction.”
Sanderson has an impressive track record with ambitious sagas, as he was chosen by editor Harriet McDougal to complete her late-husband Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Utilizing Jordan’s notes, he wrote three gripping novels that breathed life into the series’ finale, wrapping up an iconic epic.
Even when talking about his own books years later, Sanderson is always quick to acknowledge Jordan’s genius. “I always say I have a big advantage over Robert Jordan in that I got to grow up reading Robert Jordan,” he says. “I got to see everything that he’s done—and George [R.R. Martin] has done and all the other epic fantasy writers—and say, ‘What have they tried that’s worked? And what hasn’t worked that I can try differently?’”
With three books down in Stormlight Archive, Sanderson has consistently delivered inventive storytelling. Each novel boasts an additional short story collection, with stories titled “Interludes” interspersed between sections. And Sanderson proves committed to incorporating art, which he commissions himself, throughout each book as well.
Oathbringer is unique in that its endpapers include four gorgeous paintings of Heralds from the series. “The Heralds are kind of like angelic figures on the planet,” Sanderson says. “A lot of the kingdoms are named after them; a lot of the lore and mythology and religion center around these 10 people who lived long ago and gained pseudo-deific powers. They’re viewed very differently by a lot of different cultures, and I wanted to have in-world artifacts that were portraits of them done by different famous in-world artists.”
Jezrien by Howard Lyon
Artists Howard Lyon and Dan dos Santos each contributed two Herald paintings to Oathbringer, and Sanderson says the goal is to eventually collect portraits of all 10 Heralds.
Shalash by Dan dos Santos
After diving into this gorgeous, thrilling book, you know the next question on everyone’s mind will be, “When can I read Book Four?” Well, tonight marks the start of Sanderson’s Oathbringer tour, kicking off dates in the United States and the United Kingdom. And while he’s earned a break, he’s already chatting about the next projects he’ll complete. Sanderson has wrapped up the final novel in his Legion novella trilogy, which he hopes to publish in one volume next year. He also has 2018 plans to conclude his Wax and Wayne Mistborn series in addition to releasing a final book in his middle grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librations series.
As for Book Four? “I’m going to start writing Stormlight Four late next year or early in the spring the following year,” he says, aiming for a 2020 release date.
And believe us, Oathbringer is brimming with more than enough magic and mystery to tide readers over until then.
Frannie Jackson is Paste’s Books Editor. She reads a ridiculous amount of fantasy, and she also interviewed Sanderson back in 2014 for her first big feature. Sometimes she posts on Twitter.