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The Stormlight Archive is the centerpiece of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere — the extended universe that the majority of his published works take place in. As such, it contains many of Sanderson’s most iconic scenes, from the battle of Thaylen Field, to Shallan’s confrontation with the infamous stick. Below, you’ll find my five personal favorites. (Though to be honest, it was hard to resist simply listing every time someone swore an ideal).
Spoiler Warning – Naturally, this list contains spoilers for books 1-4 of The Stormlight Archive
Kaladin hung in darkness, and his feet yanked against the rope. In a panic, he realized he was now flapping in the wind like a kite, tied to the ring in the barrack’s slanted roof.Way of Kings, Ch. 35 – A Light by Which to See
After Kaladin leads bridge 4 in side-carrying their bridge during a plateau assault (and causes the assault to fail by doing so), he is strung up in a highstorm — while technically he is being “judged by the storm”, it’s really an execution. Although Kaladin’s inability to die has already been made clear by his own internal monologues at this point, it’s still hard to imagine him surviving the highstorm, especially given how little we know about his powers at this point in the story. Him flapping around like a kite is a great visual, as is Syl “protecting” him from the storm; the brief glimpse he gets of the Stormfather is narratively tantalizing. When the bridge crew comes out and sees him apparently dead, I honestly wasn’t sure he had survived, making it all the more satisfying when his eyes snap open.
“I accept it, Stormfather! I accept that there will be those I cannot protect!“Rhythm of War, Chapter 108 – Moments
In this scene, Dalinar uses his powers as a Bondsmith to give Kaladin and Syl a vision of the day Tien dies, and in doing so, allows Kaldin to accept Tien’s death and swear the fourth ideal. This happens just as Kaladin has leaped off of the tower to save his father. Kaladin has struggled with his guilt over not being able to protect Tien for four books now, so finally seeing him move past it felt great. This is followed by Kaladin and his father Lirin finally reconciling their long-standing disagreement. You know, the one about if one can help people by being a warrior. Our guy gets not one, but two important pieces of closure in quick succession! Plus, we get the awesome scene of Kaladin getting his shardplate while flying through the air.
“You could be fire,” Shallan said.Words of Radiance, Ch. 11 – An Illusion of Perception
“I am a stick.”
When Shallan washes up on the beach in Part 1 of Words of Radiance, she’s wet and cold, with night fast approaching. So, she tries to use her newly-discovered powers to turn a stick into fire. She doesn’t have much practice Soulcasting, however, and the stick she tries to turn into fire is exceedingly stubborn. It’s a brief scene, and a pretty silly one, but the repetitive “I am a stick” responses of the stick get funnier each time, somehow — it’s ended up being one of the most-memed bits in the whole series.
“What has happened to us?” Dalinar asked. “Where is our honor?”Words of Radiance, Ch. 56 – Whitespine Uncaged
“Honor is dead,” a voice whispered from beside him… …”But I’ll see what I can do.”
Adolin agrees to a disadvantaged duel for shards, but forgets to be specific and ends up fighting four opponents, all shardbearers. Despite the rules allowing up to two other duelists to join the battle and assist him, no one does — except for his unarmored, untrained brother Renarin. Then Kaladin jumps into the arena with nothing but a spear (and his ability to use stormlight, of course), and proceeds to make the shardbearers look silly. Kaladin and Adolin have been sniping at each other all book, so Kaladin being the one to come to Adolin’s rescue is pretty funny. This moment is one of my favorites not just because of Kaladin’s great one-liner, but because it’s such a well-written battle scene; Kaladin’s decision-making in terms of how to deal with the shardbearers makes perfect sense, and so the way the duel ends is completely believable.
Trembling, bleeding, agonized, Dalinar forced air into his lungs and spoke a single ragged sentence.Oathbringer, Ch. 118 – The Weight of it All
“You cannot have my pain.”
At the battle of Thaylen Field, Odium reveals that he had been molding Dalinar to be his champion for a long time, and uses visions of Dalinar’s bloody past to convince him to give up his pain to Odium (the very process Moash eventually does allow in the following book). Instead, Dalinar refuses, and uses his powers as a Bondsmith to open Honor’s Perpendicularity, changing the course of the battle and thwarting Odium’s well-laid plans. This is another great character moment in Stormlight Archive: much like Kaladin in #4, Dalinar accepts his past, and becomes stronger for it. Not only is it a satisfyingly epic conclusion to Dalinar’s struggle with his former life as a warrior, it’s a very important lesson that Brandon Sanderson is illustrating: recognizing and accepting our mistakes is the path to growth and strength. Or, as Dalinar puts it, “I will take responsibility for what I have done. If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.”
Stormlight Archive is full of fantastic moments — too many to count, really. So, this list is obviously subjective. Is this list missing one of your favorite moments? Let us know in the comments below!