Friday, December 11, 2015

Epic Fantasy Review: The Way of the Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 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 ancient text The Way of Kings, 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.

My Review:
Awesome epic. I read The Way of the Kings about a year or so after I bought it. Why did I wait? Probably seeing how it dwarfed the other books on my Kindle and giving into a touch of impatience due to setting too high of a book read goal for last year. This year, I was smarter and set my goal a bit lower so I could fit in a few epic reads, like this one.

Like many of the books in this genre, this one weaves a complex tale that takes turns focusing on a few interesting co-main characters. Kaladin is the one I found most interesting, but Dalinar and Shallan are also pretty cool, as are some of the other featured characters, like Adolin, Wit, and Kaladin’s crew. Szeth, a tormented assassin, just appears a few times, but his chapters show the extent of magical possibility in this story’s world.

That magic, as in many fantasy books, is critical to the world, the history, and the characters. I love how the author weaves all of it together in a consistent way and reveals more and more of it as the story progresses.

As mentioned before, I particularly love Kaladin’s part, particularly the mystery surrounding his fall. He’s obviously a good and heroic person, and that placed next to his situation made me root for him more than any other in the book. His crew also interested me greatly, and really, the rest of the folks in this book just kind of fell into supporting roles, in my opinion. I’m hoping for a lot of time with him in the next book.

That being said, I had some trouble getting started on this book, and that could be due to how we are introduced to some very interesting characters and a lot of action in a couple of chapters and then go to Shallan, who isn’t quite as interesting at the start, and watch as she tries to get a job. Still, I stuck with it and wasn’t disappointed.

Overall, I love this book. It’s epic fantasy in all the right ways. There’s some complex politics, intricate history, and magical discovery. Everything is smooth and well-told, and the pacing is pretty good for the most part, though I tended to look forward to the Kaladin parts more than the rest. I highly recommend this story to folks who have some time on their hands and a love for a good epic.

View all my reviews

Intrigued? Pick up a copy on Amazon. I'm posting this one and the next one, though book two is still on my to-be-read shelf.