Way of Kings Review
If you’re reading this post, you might be a reader of fantasy and may already be familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, the first of the Stormlight Archive. If not and you’re into epic fantasy, I highly recommend it.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
Speak again the ancient oaths:
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
That is one long summary, but the book itself is over 1000 pages long so it feels appropriate. It is the first of ten planned books, so it definitely hits the “epic” target.
Sometimes I see advice to avoid prologues as I read about becoming a writer, but the prologue in this book is so good I may have doubted my own ability to write a simple blog entry after reading it. I just now stopped writing this to read it again. Even though none of the magic or cultures or politics had been explained, I could envision exactly what was happening in one of the most badass fight scenes I’ve ever read.
The story goes for full immersion and succeeds. I dreamed of the characters at night after reading and wondered what was going to happen during the day.
I usually devour books I love but had to settle on a slow savoring of this one. Even I can’t read 1000 pages in one evening! It is unfortunate Goodreads only counts this as one book.
Get yourself a copy of the book, a cup of tea, and a comfy seat. You won’t regret it.
Questions for You!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
There are three books out in this series so far. Have you read them all?
What book(s) should I read next?