on August 15, 2014
(a few minor spoilers)
This is an epic and classic fantasy tale by Brandon Sanderson. This is not Game of Thrones. Outside of the violence in the book this would be rated PG as there is no swearing and no sex. I call it a classic fantasy as it has mystical elements, strange creatures, magic, gods, religion and the characters are largely black and white. The good guy IS a good guy, much like The Lord of the Rings. I don’t have a problem with this. While it’s not a gritty tale it’s a very interesting one. There are two things I desire when reading a fantasy book – interesting characters and mystery. This book has both while maintaining a good and believable story (within its context). While many characters seem unconnected initially you start to see the web as the book rolls on and the mysterious events start to make sense.
This book is long at just over 1000 pages but I wouldn’t have cut any of it. I don’t like it when a book feels rushed. There are plenty of action scenes and while there are large stretches without battles the interactions, characters and story were more than enough to intrigue me. I finished this book in two weeks and really enjoyed it. While there are plenty of characters I never felt confused like some large ensemble books can be.
So what is this book actually about? One set of characters (Dholin family) focuses on the assassination of their King, the vengeance with regards to his death and finding out why. One main character (Kaladin) details his life and how he is betrayed by a superior and forced to live out a miserable life while trying to realize his potential which is great. One girl (Shallan) is trying to save her family and stumbles into something she doesn’t expect – mystery, magic and scholarship with an interesting tutor (more interesting than Shallan actually). One man (Szeth) is an assassin who uses magic to kill with special powers (I envision Neo in the Matrix at times) against his will as he must follow his master’s orders. All the characters are interesting. The history and legends of the Gods and protectors of this world are intriguing and there is so much left to explore after this book despite a satisfying ending.
Magic system? There aren’t wizards running around with magic wands but some people have Soulcasters that allow them to change things from one form to another. There are magical swords and armour that have great power. Some people have the ability to absorb Stormlight which gives them greater strength and abilities to fight. This is secondary to the characters and plot themselves imo.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While nothing completely blew me away I couldn’t stop reading. The second book is a must read for me.
Having not picked up a Sanderson book since his debut with Elantris (which was a good first novel, but nowhere close to as good as "The Way of Kings"), I was pleasantly surprised at how much this author has developed.
The Way of Kings is the brilliant beginning to what could be the best epic of our generation if the focus, character development and quality of writing in this book are carried through this series. The Way of Kings is a hefty read at over 1000 pages, but I promise, once you begin you will not be able to put it down.
The chapters in Way of Kings are broken up by different character perspectives. We have Shallan, Kaladin, Szeth, Dalinar Kholin. Shallan is a young woman trying to do dubious things to save her family from ruin. Her father has died, but left them with great debt, and she begins the story, attempting to become princess Jasnah's protegee in order to steal something very important to restore her family. Kaladin is a brave, honorable, slave who was once a soldier, but was betrayed and sold into slavery. Szeth is a Truthless and is bound to serve whoever holds his oathstone. Dalinar, is uncle to the king (and Jasnah). An honorable man, he suffers from visions of the past.
It's difficult to summarize the plot of this novel. Once the "Radiants" served the people, protecting them from the voidbringers. Long ago they abandoned their roles and enough time has passed that the people believe the danger has passed. Now, only their armour and weapons (Shardplates and Shardblades) remain - magical weapons that are prized and fought over.
In the beginning of the novel, Szeth assassinates Dalinar's brother, the King. Now his son, the new King, and his high princes are at war to avenge his father. Dalinar, the former king's brother, suffers from visions that urge him to unite the people before it is too late. The desolation may be coming and, this time, there are no Radiants to protect the people.
5 stars. Everything is aligned in this novel. The characters are fascinating, the writing is excellent and the plot is intriguing. There is certainly enough material in this world for an epic series. In this, we get a glimpse into the history of the world and the history of the main characters (and are introduced to many more who may prove to be major players in later books). Brandon Sanderson - I want more of this and fast! I can't wait to see if the rest of this series lives up to the promise of the first.
on November 10, 2015
This is such a great book and is the first of many in the Stormlight series. Brandon Sanderson creates such a vivid world full of mystery and intrigue. I was captivated by the lore of the story and how awesome it would be if we (in the real world) had a chance to come close to what the characters in this book do. The Shardblade is probably the coolest of all, a mysterious blade of mysterious origins that kingdoms will kill hundreds just so that they may have one. I would even say that the Shardblade is better than the Lightsaber (I know, I know put down your pitchforks) but if you just read this book you will see how awesome they truly are. I won't talk about the story much here because there is quite a few point of views and I might mess it up but I do recommend this book and if you have Audible, I recommend you getting the audiobook as well! It is an awesome adventure and you won't regret it!
on March 20, 2016
Pacing, pacing, pacing. I loved it when the story was progressing and the action scenes were written with skill, but there was so much time spent dwelling on inner dialogue with the three main characters. The inner dialogue is essential for establishing motivations, sure, but it was the same 10 page description of the same issues every other chapter. Then, after the we read past the inner dialogue, the character in question would approach someone and discuss what's on their mind, in full detail. Huge portions of the book would just drag on because of this.
I loved the story and the world as a whole. A very creative fantasy world that Sanderson was able to draw me into (at times). I would bet that he has his own version of the Silmarillion with all the creatures, characters, factions and rules that come with this enormous world.
I want to read the next book in the series to continue the story and learn more about the world, but it'll be awhile until I can bring myself to slog through the redundant sections and pacing issues. Maybe Sanderson would benefit from a new editor that isn't afraid to tell him to trim the fat.
Brandon Sanderson is a fantasy author in a million -- he crafts complex, intricate fantasy worlds, and gilds them with exquisitely evocative prose. But his greatest challenge thus far has to be "The Way of Kings," an older manuscript that he apparently dusted off, rewrote, and is now expanding into a vast fantasy epic. This is only the first book, and it's over a thousand pages long.
It's pretty difficult to sum up the plot, since the cast is huge and aren't even in the same place. But long ago, the Radiants (sort of divine knights) once were sent by the Heralds to destroy the demonic Voidbringers. Then they turned against humanity, and begin warring over their godslaying Shardblades.
One part of the story follows Shallan, a desperate young noblewoman who is trying to save her family from ruin. So she seeks out the heretic princess Jasnah in hopes of becoming her attendant... but of course, she has her own secret motives to restore the family fortunes. Another follows Kaladin, a man enslaved in another land and with a shash glyph branded on his forehead.
And then there's Szeth, the "assassin in white" who killed Jasnah's father with a Shardblade, and Dalinar Kholin, the king's Highprince brother whose visions compel him to unite his people before the unthinkable happens. The oathpact has been shattered, and disaster is coming.
"The Way of Kings" is the sort of book that Robert Jordan should have written. The story is filled countless alien animals (they ride GIANT CRABS), mythologies, languages, magical systems and cultures, all with their own distinct quirks and characteristics. But Sanderson doesn't allow his story to be bogged down by the details -- instead he embroiders his elaborate plot with them.
The plot itself is almost confusingly complex, but slowly gels together as the story winds on and things start to make sense. And Sanderson paints the entire story in vivid, powerful prose ("His dreary feelings were like a black eel, coiled inside of him"). The one problem: it's so long and complex that casual readers will probably crumble after the first couple of chapters. This one needs some dedication.
And Sanderson shows his rare skill with characterization. He carefully fleshes out the main characters -- an aging warrior, a slave/soldier and a determined teenage girl -- and makes them all seem real and plausible. Kal is especially strong as a character, since Sanderson carefully develops the clash between his medical upbringing and his current job.
And there are countless striking supporting characters -- the young prince Adolin, the prickly and ruthless princess Jasnah, clever priests, and the acrobatic assassin Szeth, who is torn by his own crimes and sins.
"The Way of Kings" is a true epic -- grandiose, expansive, beautifully written... and only just the beginning of what is sure to be a vast, impressive series. It's a bit hard to just casually dip into, but the commitment is worth it.
on April 3, 2016
The quality of the book was wonderful when it arrived. Just like I bought it at a book store.
The story itself is top notch, probably my favourite book written in my life time and one of my favourite books of all time. The character development is incredible, the author put real time and energy into the characters. The same can be said for the plot itself, so rich in detail and solidly written to the point you are very engaged and just waiting for what will happen next with so much excitement. I highly recommend giving it a read. I bought it paperback and love so much I bought it hardcover.
on April 1, 2016
Sanderson has grown so much more masterful in such a short time! I cringed my way through Elantris, but recognized the beginnings of where his talents would lie. I was conflicted somewhat through the Mistborn trilogy, but satisfied with the level of the writing, even if I didn't love the rules of the universe he built. This one, however, hit my sweet spot! All of the characters and their separate storylines were equally riveting, and the anticipation of their crossing over in the book kept me glued to it. Highly recommend, and I am definitely starting book two immediately.
on January 7, 2014
The novel is typical Sanderson. Cool powers, dysfunctional political structure and a mystery that once unravelled that will explain how everything got so messed up. Anyway, these ingredients are mixed up in an interesting way once again to produce a solid piece of work. However, the characters did not capture me as well as they did in Warbreaker or the Mistworld saga. But still this a good read.
on August 8, 2016
It took a few attempts for me to get into this story because of its somewhat confusing and very epic beginning - I prefer a little more straightforward fantasy focused on the characters. But since the series came so highly rated I gave it a chance and so glad that I did. The story is incredibly creative, taking the reader to a distinct, almost alien-like fantasy world unlike any other. The characters are interesting, yet not overly complex - it's fairly clear who are the "good" and "bad" ones, though there are some surprising twists at the end. Overall, a great fantasy novel and I look forward to the rest of the series.
on October 7, 2010
It's so hard to know whether a series will be good after only the first book. Sometimes a story takes a book or two to hit its stride, and other times the first book is the only one worth reading in a series. I can't predict what The Stormlight Archive's final legacy will be, but the first installment is undeniably fantastic.
Brandon Sanderson, the book's author, has made a name for himself as an imaginative fantasy writer with Mistborn and Warbreaker, and of course his contract to complete the Wheel of Time. All were good books, but The Way of Kings is something else, something rarer. It's a great book. The prose, worldbuilding, characterisation, dialogue, and plotting are all Sanderson's finest. The Way of Kings is without a question the best book he has ever written.
The book follows three main plotlines, as well as several minor ones. All the plotlines are balanced beautifully, and while you may find a particular one most fascinating, none of them are weak. The story is interjected with flashbacks and interludes, but they are done well and don't disturb flow. The pacing is brilliant, slow enough to lay the groundwork for a grand 10-volume epic, while still remaing exciting and action packed enough to make The Way of Kings by itself a great read. And while there are no guarentees, it certainly looks as though Sanderson has set the series up to succeed well beyond the first volume.
Besides all that, the book looks beautiful. There are very few fantasy books with covers so attractive, and the artwork goes way beyond the covers. From Shallan's sketchbook to gorgeous maps, the artistry surpasses any competition in the genre.
Only the smallest of criticisms can be leveled at this book. It is perhaps bloated, and undoubtedly could have been 100 pages shorter without losing any quality. But you will probably enjoy it so much you won't care and will almost certainly be wishing for more at the end. As for the actual content, some of the witty dialogue can be a bit cringe worthy at times, but these incidents aren't common and do little to detract from the book as a whole.
There's little else to say. If you like high fantasy, you will like The Way of Kings. Give it a try.