Cover illustration: Michael Whelan
THE WAY OF KINGS
THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE BOOK 1
Publisher: Tor Books
Publishing date: 31 August 2010
On the cover:
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography 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 armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
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.
This is true Epic Fantasy, this being the first of an announced ten books. I'm a fan of long series when it comes to both Fantasy and Science Fiction, I like to get to really know the characters and follow them over a longer period of time. (There's one exception, but I will not use the G-word in my blog.)
Of course first impressions are important when starting a long series of books, especially when they are the size of The Way of Kings. And Sanderson gets it right, there is much to love here.
After reading the prelude and the prologue, I was already drawn in to this world and wanted to know more. And as the book progresses the world opens up, and it is an intriguing world.
We follow three main characters on their different journeys, this is done in such a way that the changes of viewpoint keeps you reading without being annoyed with waiting for a individual story-thread to continue.
The individual characters are different enough to add a lot to the reader's understanding of the world, and each gives a glimpse into different aspects of it. The world building is great, there are lots of little details that really fleshes out the setting. And we are given some tantalizing glimpses of how wast this world really is. It looks like this could be one of the largest Fantasy worlds ever. And I hope it will be as interesting as this first book makes it out to be.
We get stories set into the war-torn wasteland, and in one of the larger cities. There is not much of a quest aspect to the story, but that is a strength here. The choice Sanderson has made in setting the story mostly in fixed locations means that the reader does not have to struggle with too large amounts of information.
There is enough action here to satisfy most people. And at the same time we get a lot of back story that is very interesting without making the pace drag. Almost everyone should be satisfied with the complexity of the story, and also it's ease of access.
This is the first book I have read by Sanderson, and I really liked his writing. I found it fit the type of story very well. It is still early days for The Stormlight Archives, but this could very well turn out to be one of the best Fantasy series ever.
NOTE: This review is based on an ARC of the book that I won from Tor Books.
LINKS: Brandon Sanderson Tor Books