“Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson

When I sat down to write this, my first thought was, “Where do I start?” The Way of Kings is epic fantasy in every sense of the word. It is broad in scope, in its universe, in the magic system. In fact, in every aspect I can think of, The Way of Kings is as epic as epic can get.

I make no excuses for being a Brandon Sanderson fan. I appreciate the “cleanness” of his stories—I know I can read them and will not have to wade through miles of gritty sensualism or unnecessary violence. I can be assured that I will find depth of story, characters, and world-building. When I grow up, I hope I can write half as good as Mr. Sanderson. (For those of you who know better, yes, I am aware he is younger than I am, but let’s not go into that here, shall we?) 😉

I heard Sanderson say in a video of a panel of fantasy authors (filmed at the recent NY Comic-Con convention) that when he is on a deadline, he wants to make sure that whatever he is reading is going to be great. When he said that, I couldn’t help but think of my all-time favorite writers—Robert Jordan, Stephen Lawhead and, yes, Brandon Sanderson first come to mind. His books are some of those I reach for when I want to read a masterfully written book. It is also one of the ones I reach for when I want an example of how to write tightly, that is, how to make sure I say everything I want to say in as few words as possible for the maximum effect.

Yes, The Way of Kings did all of that for me and yet, I can’t shake the feeling that this book is (as Sanderson readily admits) just the tip of the iceberg. At this time, the book is supposed to be the first in a 10-volume series. I understand that an elderly woman who came to a Sanderson book signing earlier this year told him that if he didn’t finish this series before he died, that she would come back and haunt him. I definitely understand.

I admit that the sheer number of books to be published is my biggest drawback to the series. One day I realized that if one book is published every year, in 10 years I will be xx years old. (A lady doesn’t tell her age, you know.)

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to this series, even if it takes 10 years to publish it. For me, it will be worth the wait.

And now for the publisher’s official blurb. (Sample chapters available at http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/05/way-of-kings-master-index. Free registration required.)

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

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.

Note: I was provided with an advanced reading copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes. Thank you, TOR and Goodreads!

The Way of Kings
ISBN-13: 978-0765326355
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: August 31, 2010,
Hardcover; 1,008 pages

My Amazon affiliate link: Way of Kings

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