When a ghost ship is discovered, its crew presumed dead after trying to reach the storm-shrouded island Akinah, Navani Kholin must send an expedition to make sure the island hasn't fallen into enemy hands. Knights Radiant who fly too near find their Stormlight suddenly drained, so the voyage must be by sea.

Shipowner Rysn Ftori lost the use of her legs but gained the companionship of Chiri-Chiri, a Stormlight-ingesting winged larkin, a species once thought extinct. Now Rysn's pet is ill, and any hope for Chiri-Chiri’s recovery can be found only at the ancestral home of the larkin: Akinah. With the help of Lopen, the formerly one-armed Windrunner, Rysn must accept Navani's quest and sail into the perilous storm from which no one has returned alive. If the crew cannot uncover the secrets of the hidden island city before the wrath of its ancient guardians falls upon them, the fate of Roshar and the entire Cosmere hangs in the balance.

Shipowner Rysn Ftori lost the use of her legs but gained the companionship of Chiri-Chiri, a Stormlight-ingesting winged larkin, a species once thought extinct. Now Rysn's pet is ill, and any hope for Chiri-Chiri’s recovery can be found only at the ancestral home of the larkin: Akinah. With the help of Lopen, the formerly one-armed Windrunner, Rysn must accept Navani's quest and sail into the perilous storm from which no one has returned alive. If the crew cannot uncover the secrets of the hidden island city before the wrath of its ancient guardians falls upon them, the fate of Roshar and the entire Cosmere hangs in the balance.

When Mr. Sanderson’s Rhythm of War came out, I made the decision to go back and re-read the Stormlight Archives from the start in order to really immerse myself in the narrative before starting the new book. After months of re-reading (and once again loving every minute of it!) I finally did it! I was finally ready to start the new book!

I didn’t get very far before Navani made mention of a certain voyage upon which they discovered some new fabrial technology, and I realized, damnit, there was a novella and I should probably read this one (I have to admit I didn’t get around to fitting Edgedancer into my re-read… next time!) I guess I was gonna have to take a detour.

Well, I’m glad I did! Dawnshard really was a delightful little story in its own right, centering on a couple of side characters that really deserved some time in the spotlight. In the process, the book also introduced some important lore that I have no doubt will play an important part in the overall Stormlight narrative and the Cosmere more broadly.

Now, with that said, the rest of this review is gonna be pretty short and straight to the point as, frankly, I’m mostly writing this for my own sake.

First, Rysn was a fantastic character. I really enjoyed her journey from insecurity to eventually coming to her own and proving her mettle both to herself and to her crew.

And, of course, who doesn’t love The Lopen? Easily one of the weirdest, most delightful people in the Stormlight narrative–at least as far as I’m concerned–Lopen’s unshakeable optimism and canted view of the world never ceases to put a grin on my face. In the time of COVID it was nice to spend a little more time with such an enjoyable character.

Pairing Lopen and Rysn was exceptionally clever. That Rysn struggles with her own disability while Lopen lived with one for a long time made for some fantastic, and at least in my naive opinion, insightful dialog. I never expected to see Sanderson touch on such an important topic as disability in one of his books, but he did it with grace, empathy, and sensitivity.

Getting to the plot itself, the mystery at the center of the book really formed a driving core narrative that kept me riveted the whole way through. And the introduction of some key lore in this book–including a not-so-subtle nod to Warbreaker–really worked to enrich the Cosmere and reveal a tiny glimpse into the core mystery of the fate of Adonalsium.

As for the ending, I gotta say I was delighted. The key message–that you should never judge others prematurely, but instead work to form connections that allow people to work together to mutual benefit and respect–would fit right in with some of my favourite Star Trek episodes.

And with that, back to Rhythm of War…