Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Review: THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Way of Kings has been both my most anticipated book and the most intimidating book that I own. For starters, Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author, so my expectations were sky-high. But this is the longest book I've ever read, it's a multiple-POV book with intense magic and expansive world-building, and it's the first in a ten-book series, of which only three books are released so far (although Rhythm of War does come out in just a few months). I am terrible at remembering what happens in books, so my biggest qualm with starting the Stormlight Archive was the concept of trying to remember what happens in each book while waiting for the next twenty years for all ten books to come out. But I finally decided to just do it; I couldn't wait any longer to start the magnum opus from my favorite author. 

The Way of Kings is over one thousand pages of an awesome action-packed magical adventure story. I lost count of all the perspectives this book is told from, but there are four main ones I want to focus on: 

Kaladin Stormblessed: Kaladin is the son of a surgeon and was on the path to becoming a surgeon himself, but he ended up as a soldier in the army, and later became a slave on a bridge crew. He really is the embodiment of hope in this series as he takes his dire circumstances and completely turns them around. In this book, we get flashback chapters from Kaladin and learn about his youth and how he ended up in Bridge Four. 

Dalinar Kholin: Dalinar is a Shardbearer and high prince of Alethkar. He has been fighting for his country for so long, but his desire to shed blood is fading as he begins to have visions of the distant past that give him a new purpose in the present. He is reading an ancient text called The Way of Kings that seems to be hiding secrets within its lines. 

Shallan Davar: Shallan is an artist and scholar-in-training, but her main focus is on saving her family from financial ruin. She attempts to become heretic Jasnah Kholin's new ward, but her plan is more sinister than simply learning all she can from the massive library in Kharbranth: she intends to steal Jasnah's Soulcaster, an ancient artifact with magical properties. Shallan was my favorite character by far. 

Szeth-son-son-Vallano: Szeth is an assassin who weeps as he kills. He doesn't want to be an assassin but he is being controlled by a greater force. We only see his POV in the interludes, but he is still a central character to the story. 

Each of these characters is in a different place in Roshar with different goals and motivations and does not know any of the other characters. This makes it kind of hard to tell you what the book is actually about since each character's storyline is vastly different. 

One gripe I did have with this book was that I wanted more POVs from ladies. I prefer reading about women in stories, especially epic fantasy where there is a lot of fighting and political intrigue. I don't actually like action scenes or reading about great battles, and there was a lot of that in this book. Nothing wrong with the book, but that just wasn't my style. 

Enjoyment-wise, The Way of Kings is closer to a 3.5 or 4 stars, but plotwise and character-wise it's absolutely 5 stars. Sanderson knows how to weave a clever and intricate plot full of reveals and surprises and easter eggs, and this book was no different. I read snippets of information about the cosmere, the overarching universe that this series and many of his other books take place in, and it has me so excited for when they start to cross-over later on in the series. 

I loved learning about the history of this world. We get little pieces of history here and there, but there is still the overarching mystery of what happened 4,500 years ago to cause the Radiants to forsake their Shardblades and abandon the people? This story is rich in history and myth, and I can't wait to learn more about it in future installments. 

The magic in this book is super cool! Brandon Sanderson always creates such unique magic systems. Everything here is based on storms and stormlight. There are Highstorms that sweep the land, which are basically super strong, destructive storms that have debris and walls of water that are very intense. During the Highstorms, the Stormlight in spheres is regenerated. The spheres are their monetary system, but they also provide light; different values and sizes of spheres give off different colors of light. The stormlight can be inhaled by certain individuals who can then infuse objects with stormlight to give them certain properties for a short time. We do not see very much of this magic in the first book, so I might have some of it wrong and it's probably way more expansive than what I've seen so far. 

The writing style in this book is fairly straightforward; it's not hard to understand what's going on. The hard part is just remembering all the details and reveals, some of which seem like passing information at the time but later turn out to be details crucial to the plot. This is definitely a series that will need many rereads to fully pick up on all the clues and details hidden throughout. 

I really enjoyed my time reading The Way of Kings, and I can't wait to continue on with the series. I'm not looking forward to waiting so long between books, but at least Brandon Sanderson is reliable at releasing books on a reasonable schedule. It's also lucky that I'm able to read these books with my husband, who basically has a photographic memory and is able to help me remember all the details I forget. I definitely recommend this book to any epic fantasy fans out there looking to be committed for the long haul on an unforgettable series. 

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