1. The Way of Kings 11/01/2011 * * * * *
"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."
I have been a fan of Brandon Sanderson for a while now, so when I heard that he was planning a multi-novel epic fantasy series I was very excited, but also a little daunted. Should I read each book as it was published like I've been doing with The Wheel of Time series for nearly 20 years? Or should I wait until most or all were published and read them all at once? I couldn't decide at first, then decided to wait, and then broke down and bought the paperback.
I don't have a lot to say about The Way of Kings, except that it is amazing, and I loved it! The level of detail in his world-building alone puts any other fantasy novel I've ever read to shame. Yet I never felt overwhelmed with details, and there were no massive "info dumps." The information flows throughout the story in a logical and consistent manner, and makes the process of learning about the world of Roshar feel natural. One of the characters is an artist, and tucked into her chapters are copies of pages from her sketchbook showing drawings and notes about the flora and fauna of the world around her, seamlessly showing the reader more about the world without interrupting the story itself.
The diversity and range of the characters themselves was another thing I loved about this novel. Each character is unique and fully realized, and each is fascinating in his or her own way. The pacing of the story is very good, and considering the number of pages in this book, that's an important point. I never felt that the story was dragging at all.
Overall, I think this is an amazing beginning to what I'm sure will be an incredible series. Sanderson is a master at telling detailed, intriguing, and interesting stories, and The Way of Kings shines brighter than anything he has done to date, in my opinion, including the wonderful work he has done with finishing the Wheel of Time series. I give The Way of Kings five stars, and I can't wait to find out what he has in store for the citizens of Roshar in the rest of The Stormlight Archive.