Sanderson begins his own sprawling epic.
The Way of Kings is Brandon Sanderson’s first book in a planned ten book series known as the Stormlight Archives. It introduces us to Roshar, a new world in Sanderson’s Cosmere; just like the Mistborn series and Elantris, it is lightly connected to his other stories. No external knowledge is required to enjoy these books – Editor
As is normal for these types of books, Kings is rife with new terminology and taxonomy, not to mention characters, locations and backstory. One thing Sanderson does to break this up, besides having multiple main characters, is introduce interludes on the backstory of only one main character per book. Kings focuses on Kaladin Stormblessed and his ‘origin story.’ Kaladin learned how to be a surgeon by working alongside his father, before fighting in the army to protect his brother and his Brightlord. Finally, through a startling turn of events, he becomes a slave.
Another main character is a young woman named Shallan Davar, on a desperate quest to save her family; unsurprisingly, there are several deviations along the way. She introduces us to another key player in the Stormlight Archives, Jasnah Kholin. Sister to a king, renowned scholar, avowed atheist in a religion-steeped culture. Their place in the story gives broad form to the backstory of the world in Kings. They initially focus on scholarship and learning, versus what is considered the masculine arts of war and fighting.
Overlaid on all this is the war for vengeance against the Parshendi, a barbaric people group. While both men are fully engaged in the success of the Vengeance Pact, there is a brewing conflict between Dalinar Kholin (brother to Jasnah, and our third main character) and Torol Sadeas (Dalinar’s peer, and a real piece of work – Editor). Their approaches to success are firmly at odds, which leads to some major waves within the Alethi court.
Kings is an engaging opening book to a series, smoothly teaching readers about a brand new world while still allowing for engrossing battles and plenty of new things around the corner. It ends on a high note for the heroes, but not without great cost.
This is my favorite series; expect plenty of interjections in this set of reviews. As a heads-up, I’ve been told by several friends that Kings is a slow starter. I didn’t experience that myself, but I’d love to hear about your journey – Editor
Justin enjoys most games. He is currently learning the ins and outs of competitive modern Magic while enjoying all sorts of other gaming mediums, assuming he can find the spare time.