5 of the Worst Brandon Sanderson Similes in Stormlight Archive

Everyone has their quirks, and this is especially true in the realm of art. Some musicians favor certain keys or chord changes, some comic book artists always draw eyes a certain way — and some fantasy writers love having their characters use similes. While there’s nothing wrong with a good simile, a bad one can really stand out, especially when it’s in a line of dialogue; there aren’t many people using similes in everyday conversation, even if they are in a fantasy setting!

We love Brandon Sanderson’s storytelling, but sometimes he comes up with some pretty bad similes. While re-reading Stormlight for the umpteenth time, we spotted a few particularly bad ones, which we’ve shared below.

#5 – Broken City

What had once been one of the finest cities of all Roshar–known for its art, trade, and fine marble–was cracked and broken, like a dinner plate dropped by a careless maid.

Oathbringer, Ch. 58 – Burdens

While a city damaged by a storm can certainly be cracked and broken like a dinner plate, the second part of the simile — that it was dropped by a careless maid — muddles the comparison. We eventually learn that the Everstorm seems very targeted in what it destroys, whereas a dropped plate will simply break into relatively random pieces. Perhaps this was an attempt to write the simile from the character’s perspective, but even so… Dalinar is a highprince who probably has had his share of maids — but he doesn’t seem like someone who would pay much attention to crockery.

#4 – Sprenny Spy

“Finally!” the quartermaster said. I’m tired of having these here, drawing everyone’s eyes and making me sweat like a spy with too many spren.”

Oathbringer, Ch. 35 – First into the Sky

The biggest offender here is context: an angry quartermaster would say something like “I feel like a spy with too many spren”, not tack a simile on the end of their rant. Plus, wouldn’t any number of spren be too many for a spy to attract?

#3 – Facial Scar

That last one stood out, like a scar on a beautiful man’s face. Jarring.

Oathbringer, Ch. 74 – Swiftspren

Facial scars aren’t all that wild — heck, it’s fashionable right now to cut fake ones into your eyebrows. Do they stand out? Sure. But not enough to make them a particularly good simile for something that is extra-notable. The fact that Sanderson felt the need to specify “jarring” in the following sentence suggests even he was aware that it wasn’t an effective simile.

#2 – Hollow Fruit

He passed through his bunker, which felt hollow. Like the rind of a fruit with the pulp scooped out.

Oathbringer, Ch. 50, Shash

First of all, something hollow is generally still whole — like the bunker in this simile — while a fruit tends to be sliced before the meat is scooped out. Then there’s the fact that “pulp” is usually used to describe the fibrous portions of the fruit’s meat, rather than the entire inside of the fruit’s peel. In addition to the technical issues here, it simply isn’t a satisfying piece of imagery. Again, we could pretend that since this is Dalinar’s perspective, it’s just him not being good with words — but it still belongs at #2.

#1 – Faceless Baby

The Everstorm was so wrong, so unnatural — like a baby born with no face. Some things just should not be.

Oathbringer, Ch. 5 – Hearthstone

Does this actually ever happen? We’re sure it might. We’re also sure that until Brandon wrote these words, no one in the history of the universe has ever used a baby with no face as an example of something not being right. Is it even that unsettling, given the number of art styles that don’t draw faces? It wasn’t tough narrowing it down — this one is far and away our favorite bad simile.

And with that, our article is finished — like a race where the last runner has crossed the finish line. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Savvy readers may have noted that these all come from Oathbringer — that’s where we were in our re-read when we had the idea for this article. We’ll continue to update it as we come across more gemstones like the ones above.

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A huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy (really anything with tons of weird proper nouns), music, and video games. Enjoys the outdoors, but has plenty to do on a rainy day.

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