Series: Stormlight Archive #1
Published by Tor Books Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
My Reviews in this series: Words of Radiance
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 soiless 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.
The Way of Kings, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series is the epic fantasy you SHOULD be reading. Just go right ahead push all of those other books to the side and prepare yourself for a gripping, completely immersive, no holds barred adventure of your life – alright well of these three main characters lives.
There is a reason that I think of Sanderson as the king of fantasy. Because no matter what he writes he has a way of creating an entirely unique world, magic system and characters that don’t feel like they walked out of someone’s cookie cutter oven.
Kaladin – at only 19 this young man has seen and been through enough for someone well into their middle age and he is jaded and acts like it too. A once soldier, former surgeon’s apprentice turned slave – He has loved, he has lost – he has fought the tide of a world that seems to want to grind him under his boot and not leave him for dead, no but leave everyone else for dead and him there to survive in torment as he watches it all happen. That is the story of his life. But there is so much more to it then that because even though it doesn’t seem like he can ever get a fair shake that hasn’t destroyed the core of who he is. A man of honor determined to do what’s right and to save all those he can. Kaladin’s story test’s the will, breaks the heart and is one of great intestinal fortitude.
Shallan – Another young character – I forget her age exactly but I think she’s less then 18 because women reach a marrying age much younger in this world as is typical of most traditional fantasy worlds. She is out on her own in the world for the first time and trying to apprentice herself to the renowned heretic Scholar Yasnah Kholin. But she has a secret, her family house and estate is failing and she is the only hope to save them from ruin. So Shallan plans to steal a precious artifact of Yasnah’s, a fabrial, which allows Yasnah to soulcast (transmute) one thing into another. Shallan is most definitely a naive girl who knows almost nothing of the world and yet I couldn’t help but love her and feel for her predicament. Plus she’s a tremendous artist. Many of her sketches are strewn through the pages of this book and they are gorgeous. I only wish there were more of them. Perhaps someday a companion book will be released at the end of the series full of her sketches and details of the world – wouldn’t that be lovely – HINT HINT! Shallan’s tale is one of self discovery.
Dalinar – The High Prince of House Kholin, one of many high princes of the kingdom of Alethi, he is the uncle of Yasnah Kholin, and uncle to the current King. He is a man of honor and integrity. Unfortunately he seems to be the only such man out of all the high princes of this kingdom and I’m sad to say the king seems to be a simpering whiny puss that I could barely stand anytime he came on the scene. Dalinar has odd visions of the far past that plague him during every high storm. These visions and how they are changing the way he thinks, acts and believes could either be what saves his country or what causes his personal downfall as well as that of his House. His story is fraught with political intrigue that he is very bad at working within.
I was so taken with this book that I both listened to the audio and read the print version in tandem. When I wasn’t able to listen to it I was reading it. Normally I prefer reading but the two narrators that read this book were so utterly amazing that I am most definitely going to continue on reading and listening in this method even though it’s taking me 6 times as long to read it as it normally would – the characters come alive in such a way that should not be missed. If you are normally a reader and or have already read this book I definitely recommend giving the audio a try if you plan a reread. I listened to it on 2x speed and it was still amazing – it turned the almost 46 hour audio book into 23 hours instead and definitely wasn’t too fast to keep up with.
Extra tidbits a plenty
– Illustrations, oh how I love them, please give me more!
– at the start of each chapter there are short snippets, mostly the last words of dying people from all over Roshar
– there are a few additional side characters that get short chapters or “interludes” throughout the book. Usually they are only given one chapter and it gives the reader a key bit of information you wouldn’t have otherwise. While I found the interludes interesting sometimes they would make me impatient to get back to the 3 main characters. Except for the assassin in white – he got several chapters sporadically through out the book.
The Way of Kings is definitely the best epic fantasy I have ever read and I’m already deep into the second book Words of Radiance. Read it now you must.