When it comes to selecting books to read I tend to trust my favourite bloggers, booktubers and friends on Goodreads for recommendations. I also go on the advice of friends. There’s one friend in particular who has never given me a bad recommendation (no pressure Craig). He was the one that introduced me to George R R Martin and Raymond E Feist. His latest recommendation was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and so I plunged into the first book in the Stormlight Archive series, and yes, he was right again!
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.
Written from the perspective of numerous characters, we are introduced to the world of Roshar. It’s a world where light-eyed humans rule and fill the upper echelon. A world where dark-eyes are common, and Parshmen are slaves.
Truthfully it took me a wee while to get into this book. I enjoyed what I was reading but I had no idea what it was all about! Slowly but surely my understanding of the world evolved and before long I didn’t bat an eyelid at chulls, spren and shardblades. So stick with it, it’s worth it!
While I really want to go into detail about this book, I also don’t want this post to be too long or to spoil anything for you. Having never read any of Sanderson’s work prior to this I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had heard great things. Wow, this guy has an incredible imagination! He has created a world that is very different from any I’ve encountered before. His attention to detail is incredible. There are so many fantastic concepts in this book, and they are all relevant. Where in other works of fantasy I’ve found myself a bit distracted by detail that isn’t relevant to the plot, Sanderson’s detail enhances every part of his plot. He even goes so far as to include hand drawn illustrations which, personally, I loved.
As I mentioned earlier we follow the story through multiple characters. The danger with this is that you learn a little about all of them but they lack in depth. This certainly isn’t the case with this book. Although I feel like I ‘know’ a couple of the characters better than others, I still feel Sanderson has provided us with a good balance.
There was a while when I really didn’t understand where this book was going. I felt like I was being told separate stories and couldn’t see how they related to one another. To be honest though, this didn’t really bother me as I was enjoying each of the character’s individual stories. However I can assure you that they do start to make more sense as a whole.
As if multiple storylines, detail and drawings weren’t enough, Sanderson even throws in some interludes which offer us a peek into the lives of other characters, seemingly completely separate from the main plot. Again, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but I really did! It helped to build my picture of Roshar.
I did have a favourite character in this book. To me, Kaladin is a fantastic character and it’s really impossible not to like him! The son of a surgeon, life has taken him from a small village through war and slavery to life as a bridgeman, whose lives many of the light-eyes see as expendable. Battling to stay alive, and to protect his Bridge team, his turbulent journey is not yet over.
Split over two parts, this book, from the outside, may seem excessively long but I assure you every page is worth it. The second book in the series, Words of Radiance, was published earlier this year. I can’t wait to read it, although I think I’m going to wait for the paperback version. 1088 pages in a hardback is going to be too hard for me to hold!
Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s work? Should I venture into his other series?
We just wanted to share this book with you! All opinions expressed are, as always, completely honest and entirely our own.