- Alternative Character Interpretation: When Taravangian is at his most intelligent, he comes up with plans like a Genius Breeding Act and the inverse, ordering the stupid to kill themselves. These are obviously unworkable, to say the least. However, do they fail because his intelligent phase lacks some quality like empathy or humility or just isn't as smart as it seems, or do they fail because he just doesn't remain smart long enough to put them into effect? Is Taravangian sometimes actually smart enough to talk people into killing themselves?
- Broken Base:
- Some fans are... less than pleased at the sudden death/revival of numerous characters, particularly Jasnah and Szeth. Some compare Brandon to Robert Jordan in that he tries to use all of the emotional weight of their deaths only to turn around and bring them back for the purpose of the story. In both cases, there has been a witness, so both deaths are a clear aversion of Never Found the Body. Then again, there are many who see this move as a solid set-up on Sanderson's part, building up the characters for the next books.
- Kaladin here is either overly whiny and actually taking a step back in his character development, or he is progressing in a very poignant and believable manner given his traumatic and depressive life.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: The Stick. It's just a random stick that Shallan found in the Frostlands, but it was popular enough to get its own "deleted scene".
- Jerkass Has a Point: Shallan repeatedly points out to Kaladin he's very sour and antagonistic towards her. Shallan assumes Kaladin is just being prejudiced against light eyes (which, to be fair, he often is) until he points out their first meeting shows she's not above classism like she thinks she is.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Killing off Jasnah Kholin and Szeth.
- Memetic Mutation: Pretty much everything about Stick.
- "I am a stick."
- "But you could be fire."
- "I am a stick."
- Ship-to-Ship Combat: Sanderson's fandom is pretty polite in general, but this book still brought up some shipping wars. There's Adolin/Shallan, Kaladin/Shallan, and Adolin/Kaladin/Shallan as main contenders, but Adolin/Kaladin has a decent following as well. Jasnah/Kaladin has healthy support, as does Kaladin/Syl. The smallest is probably Shallan/Syl; not only do they literally not say a single word to or even about each other in the entire book, Syl's dislike of lies means she would be strongly opposed to everything Shallan is doing.
- Kaladin isn't as bad as in the first book, but he still spends more time than is healthy wallowing in angst. At least he realizes it's a problem and tries to fix it.
- Shallan is actually a surprising aversion. Despite the fact that the events of the book are basically a Trauma Conga Line for her, and her flashback chapters are even worse, she manages to keep up a strong front. It almost crosses into the other trope, to the point that Kaladin assumes she's a spoiled brat who has never known hardship.
- Of course, Shallan is at all points we see her in this novel a nascent Lightweaver, which means she has literally magical skill at lying and having her lies be believed and is thus in essence in magic powered super-denial, so this is understandable.
- What an Idiot!:
- Kaladin's public demand to face Amaram in a duel is seen as this, as it derails the plot to catch Sadeas. However, he has no way of knowing the dueling customs of lighteyes, and as such did not realize that he was wrong in his demand. The one at fault, who is subsequently treated badly, is Elhokar, who overreacted to the event instead of simply ignoring it because he is jealous of Kaladin's heroism and the love he receives.
- While less due to stupidity than most examples, Sadeas is clearly not firing on all cylinders if he thinks trying to undermine the world's literal only hope of survival and then bragging about it to Adolin is a good idea. He even seems to acknowledge that it's probably not the best course of action, he just doesn't seem to be able to do anything else. He dies before he can even carry out his schemes, of course.
YMMV / Words of Radiance