I am obsessed with this series! After being recommended to read this book by my friend at work, I picked up a copy and was hooked from the first page.
Title: The Way of Kings
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Date published: August 31st 2010
Format: Paperback (2 Parts)
Page Count: 1090
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.
Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by the ancient text namedThe Way of Kings and troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.
Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
This book is absolutely amazing in every possible way. When I attended a panel by Brandon Sanderson last month, he highlighted that while the characters and the plot are so important for a fantasy book to be enjoyable, we read fantasy for the setting. To experience new and interesting worlds that are so different from our own. It has been a long time since I have read a High Fantasy book and I was blown away by how incredible this book is.
First I have to comment on the setting as while I love the characters, the world in which ‘The Way Of Kings’ is set is truly unique. Roshar is a world truly different to our own, with not only a multitude of different races and cultures, but with plants and animals that are almost alien like. Plants retract to avoid being trampled and move to see sunlight and water and the animals big and small fit into this ecosystem seamlessly. The seasons are inconsistent and the land is buffeted by Highstorms, storms of incredible strength with harsh winds, lightning and cold rain. I could spend ages going through each of the different cultures and races as they are all so interesting, but so far in this first book we are exposed to the Alethi and Parshrendi/Parshmen. What is common at least between these two races is the value they place on gems, which form one of the major currencies called Shards , that when infused by Stormlight from Highstorms, provide light among many things.
Like many fantasy books, we switch between characters each chapter and progress through each of their stories. While there are many minor characters we have been exposed too, this book predominantly focuses on Kaladin, Dalinar, Adolin and Shallan. Kaladin is my favourite so far-a soldier turned slave turned bridgeman, who struggles with finding a purpose in his life which seems so bleak and destined to end in pain and death. His development throughout the book, as we see him struggle with his past, his present, and the strange things that keep happening to him was the highlight of the book, and I am so excited to see what is next for him after the dramatic conclusion of the book. Next we have Dalinar and Adolin, two Lighteyed elite that are part of the war on the Shattered plains with the King against the people who assassinated the previous monarch. We predominantly focus on Dalinar, with small sections on Adolin, and explore the dynamics of the war on the Shattered Plains and the strenuous relationship between the King and the High Princes. Lastly we have Shallan, the daughter of a Lighteyed ruler who travels to become the ward of a renowned Scholar and Heretic-however her motivations are not all pure. Her sections were definitely the least interesting of the book, and early on I moved through them quickly as I wanted to get back to the excitement that was the stories of Kaladin and Dalinar. However, her story arc really picked up in the later stages of the book and ended with a hint that she will cross paths with our other main characters.
The story ties together the setting and the characters to make a book I could not put down. As with most high fantasy books, it takes until the second half (so a good 500 pages) for things to come together and the story to become clearer. Even then, there was not one dull or wasted moment in the book and every detail and scene was perfectly crafted to add something to both the major and minor plot arcs. The battle scenes may have to be my favourite part of the whole book, as we see it from Kaladin’s view point as a Bridgeman, and from Dalinar’s view point as an elite warrior with supernatural weapons. With so much lore and history to explain, especially as this is the first book in an epic series, Sanderson weaves in these moments of ‘information dump’ into the story so subtly. The benefit of the multiple characters it that you can pick and choose who to focus on to avoid boring period in each of their stories and to allow the passage of time quickly and smoothly.
This is such a long review, but it is a book with over 1000 pages! And I loved it so much I could not stop writing. The plot, characters and amazing setting came together to create a masterpiece High Fantasy book. I already have the second book in the series ready to go and I know I have found what may be one of my favourite fantasy series of all time.
Let me know if you have read this book and who your favourite character is. If you have any recommendations please let me know! I always love finding new books to read and worlds to dive into.