Certain books I try to avoid. Books like The Wheel of Time series are on this list. I must admit that my distaste for this style of books was in part due to the enormous length of the series. Any series of books that can take up a whole shelf all by themselves was, in my opinion, too long. But the real reason I never wanted to read these types of books was, and I am ashamed by my shallowness, the cover. I thought the covers were lame, and as a result I assumed that the book must also be lame. Why do I talk about this when the title of my blog clearly has nothing to do with The Wheel of Time? Well, because The Way of Kings, first book in the Stormlight Archives series, is just as long and each book so far has just as many pages. Although I will say that the cover art is significantly better than that of The Wheel of Time.
A six year war continues to wage in the world of Roshar, where violent storms regularly charge across the land and life has had to adapt to survive the violent nature. On the Shattered Plains the Kingdom of Alethkar is bound by a vengeance pact to destroy the Parshendi who ordered the assassination of their king. Following Dalinar, the late kings brother; Kaladin, a late soldier sold into slavery; and Shallan, the only daughter of a noble family who faces political collapse; the war on the Shattered plains will draw them all together in ways that will shape the world and define the future.
For those of you thinking, “This is a really vague book summary,” you would be right. But when you are trying to summarize a 1,000 page book which follows three characters in detail, and whose plot will eventually stretch over a rumored ten books, than you will be a little more understanding.
It’s a bit of a bummer that the series is only in its beginning stages because the end will leave you craving for more. Thankfully there are two books so if you start with this one you’ll be able to postpone your longing to keep reading until you finish the second one.
For those of you who are fantasy lovers this is a book I think you would enjoy. A thousand pages is daunting to look at, but when you get started you wouldn’t want it to be any shorter. Brandon Sanderson moves the story fluidly and with enough push to make you crave more but not enough so that you feel rushed. The plot is intricate with levels of action, political intrigue, a lot of character development, and world creation. Sanderson isn’t just a writer, he’s a theologian, philosopher, and anthropologist. His world is deep and engaging with a variety of cultures, religions, and geographical areas. This variety and detail gives the book a more realistic feel to the point where you can almost believe that this is a real place you’ve just never visited before.
The characters are deeply detailed as well. This book takes a deeper look into the past of Kaladin, one of the main characters, providing a clear picture of why he is the way he is. Sanderson understands the importance of motives. Characters don’t just act the way they do because they feel like it. Choices are based upon previous decisions and events; they are molded by their past and no, fate is not the force at work here. Sanderson has made his character real, showing the truth of the human condition. The conflict that arises as characters attempt to reshape their future is an added level of depth that comes naturally to the story, thanks to the way in which the characters have been established.
I can’t think of anything that I think could be improved in regards to this book. I have been sitting at this computer for some time now trying to think of something I could write about that would be constructive criticism. All I’m coming up with are problems of preference some people might have. Everyone should be warned that this is an epic fantasy similar to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. It will be long and at the end of this first book you will find yourself with more questions than answers. You will also not have a clear idea of what the plot will be like. This book is mostly about setting the stage; the later books will do more for rounding out and progressing the plot.
So when you see this book on the shelf in a library or book story just remember, it’s not as intimidating as it looks. Once you get into it you’ll be glad Sanderson didn’t skimp on his writing. Just remember, it’s book one in a long series. It’s a long haul but it will be worth it when the series is finally over.