The handwriting on the illustrations in the mass market paperback edition is still hard to read, and page margins also sometimes make it hard to see the beginning or end of lines. And, while Shallan’s sections still shine, the book’s first part includes more of what I call human filth and is rather dull despite providing a crucial perspective. The action’s slow, there’s less depth and wisdom, and that’s not even in order to remind readers of what happened before. Even those quotes at the start of chapters don’t really say anything.
Moving forward, the interludes again offer brief but important views of other characters, locations and events. More importantly, parts two and three are absolutely brilliant. Thrilling action, revelations, character development, emotion, reasons to care and be involved, depth, wisdom, understanding, again tackling innumerable aspects of life and society. Most of all, however, it shows true understanding of people, and of the mind. How and why people crack, struggle to cope, fail and break, what may utterly destroy or, sometimes, at least partially, save them. The Bridge Four sections are extraordinary from this point of view, but there’s much of it in others as well, Shallan’s in particular, even more so when another character appears.
Part four returns to a much slower pace, worldbuilding and inner struggles, but also includes important details and revelations. That hesitant attempt at a love triangle doesn’t really work, but little else matters when, after intermissions that are anything but, part five hits with the full force of storms and nightmares coming to life. It’s a cinematic whirlwind of action culminating with that monster of a chapter 120, when the Thrill threatens to overwhelm even the reader. Maybe it’s a bit too much, a bit forced, maybe falling apart at the seams, but maybe, and at least in part quite certainly, I just couldn’t keep up and grasp it all, and either way I didn’t care. And then, far from being anticlimactic, winding down, tying up loose ends and spelling out remaining questions and the path forward showed confidence and a solid plan.