Title: The Way of Kings
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: Stormlight Archive #1
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: 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.
Having read (and loved) many of Sanderson’s other works, I was interested in reading this one, but hadn’t planned on picking it up any time soon. However, as every Sanderson fan I came across told me with passion that Way of Kings was the “best one yet”, I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and had to see what they were all raving about. And you know what? They were right. Not only is Way of Kings one of Sanderson’s best, but it is also one of the most rich and vibrant fantasies I’ve ever read. There were so many good things about this novel that I hope that by talking about just a few of them I can convince a few people to read it.
One of my favorite elements of this book was the world building and overall atmosphere. It was so evoking that I was able to immerse myself in it 100% every time I picked it up. It had that all-encompassing “epic” feel that I haven’t come across since classics like Wizard’s First Rule (Goodkind) and Magician: Apprentice (Feist). What helped make the story feel grand was the people of this world. There were multiple cultures throughout the novel, each with thorough, interesting histories that added a sort of flair to each of the characters.
Speaking of characters, every perspective was compelling, and I thoroughly enjoyed following each of their stories. I’m often hesitant reading books with multiple POVs because there’s always a risk that I won’t enjoy reading about a few of the characters (I have a friend who skips entire passages when this happens just so she can get back to the characters she likes). This was not an issue with Way of Kings. All of the perspectives were interesting, and they all added something special to the overall arc of the story.
As great as Sanderson is at characters and world building, he is also a master of creating cool magic systems. I enjoyed learning about the stormlight-based system in Way of Kings, but feel as though we’ve only just scratched the surface of its potential in this first novel. I’m eager to learn more about it as the series continues, as I’m sure we will. What I haven’t appreciated from this author before is a focus on magical creatures. There are a particular kind of magical beings, known as spren, who take countless different forms and added a great deal of wonder to the story.
As a side note: talking someone into reading of books they’re not interested in is something I never do – life’s too short to read books that don’t excite you, and it always irritates me when people try to push their own reading tastes on me. My hope with this review is to convince those few who love fantasy and were already eyeballing Way of Kings to pick it up sooner than they might have otherwise. A 3000 page novel is a hard sell and I’ll be the first to admit it’s incredibly slow-paced; however, not once was it ever boring. I find myself wildly impressed that someone can write a novel of this size without wasting a single page on needless description or repetition. It was truly superb, and has solidified Sanderson as one of my writing idols.
Overall, I am thrilled the Stormlight Archive series is going to be a multiple book saga and an eagerly counting down the days until Words of Radiance comes out – rest assured I’ve already purchased a copy and will be starting it as soon as I can get my hands on it!
Recommended Reading: I will be recommending this novel to anyone who loves high fantasy – it has everything I desire in that genre of novel and then some. At the moment, Name of the Wind is probably still my favorite fantasy, but Way of Kings is not far behind! I would happily recommend it any day over Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones… Just saying.
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