American author Brandon Sanderson is a prolific writer of epic fantasy, best known for his Mistborn series, and for completing Robert Jordan’s epic saga, The Wheel of Time. His involvement in the Wheel of Time project has inspired Sanderson to work on an epic saga of his own: The Stormlight Archive, a planned ten book series. The first book in The Stormlight Archive is The Way of Kings.
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 and storms. Its terrifying and frequent tempests have shaped ecology and civilisation alike. Animals hide in shells and trees pull in branches. Cities are built where the land offers shelter.
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 armour that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
One such war is about to swallow up a solder, a brightlord and a young woman scholar.
Brandon Sanderson never fails to deliver on amazing world building and I was, as usual, astounded by the level of detail he puts into his writing. Everything, including the speech, mannerisms and military styles of the kingdoms is meticulously described and self consistent. The world is rich in detail – I especially love the way that the destructive high-storms have shaped the people of Roshar such that ‘storm’ is an expletive used instead of the F word. The wonderful world building is backed up by an amazing plot line.
The first half of the novel, while great, is used to set up the story for ten novels. This makes it sometimes information heavy – but Sanderson has used maps, illustrations and quotes in his unique way to make the history of Roshar interesting and relevant to the reader. Many questions have been raised in the first half, and while most are answered in the second half, the book finishes with so many new mysteries that I feel I can’t wait 12 months for the sequel.
The Way of Kings is written in three parts, with interludes from other characters in between. There seem to be ten narrating characters in total, which leads me to conclude that perhaps each of the ten books will focus primarily on the journey of one of them, as The Way of Kings focuses on Kaladin. The growth of the characters was my favourite part of the book. Kaladin’s apathy and self pity and Shallan’s constant bemoaning of her fate really annoyed me initially. But as they grew and found themselves, I quickly decided they were my favourite characters.
If you are looking for a great read to kick start the new year, I do not hesitate in recommending this masterpiece to you! Although I do warm you – ten books is a long time to wait for the whole series to be published!
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