Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★

The Way
of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1)This book. Wow.

I kinda don't even know what to write about this book. The scope of it, the detail, everything is just so... epic. And then I think about the fact that there are a proposed nine more books, and I just...


As I was reading this, I admit to being unable to see how this story, already ginormous all on its lonesome, could expand to a whopping 10 book series and do it well. Keep the pacing, the excitement, the world, the magic system, the awesomenes all consistent.

Oh me of little faith. O_o

This is BRANDON SANDERSON. I should have known better. His leg hath been metaphorically humpeth'd by thy humble review writer thrice previously, and I anticipateth this trend to continueth.

The last 150 pages or so of this book brought things together in such a way that... well, a whole world of possibility has opened up. It seems a bit silly to say that, because a book, any book, EVERY book opens up a universe of possibility just by virtue of what it is... but in regards to my not seeing how this story, which seemed as though it could be a standalone for so much of it, could spawn a potential 9 sequels... the last 150 pages clinched it. And then I went back to the beginning and read the prologue again (having to stop myself from just continuing...) and it becomes clearer just how vast this story could be.

The world-building alone here is fantastic. This whole world, so many peoples and creatures and beliefs and societies, the weather patterns and landscapes and the history... all of it has the feeling of both being barely touched upon and described in depth. I can see it all so clearly in my head, it's almost as if I were there. I need my own Worldsinger to come tell me more. I am so curious and so excited about the scope and depth of this series, I can't even describe it.

And that's just the "background" stuff.

One thing about the beliefs in this book. Religion plays a big part in the daily lives of the characters here, as it did in his Mistborn series as well. If you aren't aware, Sanderson is a Mormon. I don't know anything about Mormonism, but I remember worrying as I was reading the Mistborn series how the religion in that story would be handled. I hate being preached to.

I don't worry about that anymore with Sanderson. I think that the way he approaches religion in his books is intriguing and unique and thought-provoking, but never preachy. These are fantasy-world religion/belief systems that one can think about and take with them as they will, but Sanderson doesn't force or push his beliefs on anyone. And I very much respect that.

The characters in this book... I just have no words. No, I lie. I have a word: Amazing.

But before we get into that, let me tell you about this bad habit I have. I don't read chapter or section titles. There, I said it. It's true. I don't read chapter or section titles. Too often, they give something away, which I really don't like. So I skip them. Which means that, unfortunately, sometimes I miss key things and have to either pick them up elsewhere, or backtrack.

I had to backtrack a couple times while reading this one. There are a lot of perspective shifts, and sometimes they threw me off. A switch to a known character is one thing, but there are these sort of 'intermission' sections with characters that come into the story only briefly to give us something and then leave again.

So, getting back to my point about characters, I was a little thrown off when I realized that the Jezrien and Kalak I'd met in the very beginning (aka: the prologue I didn't realize was a prologue until much later) weren't the characters I'd be following and that the world was very different. One backtrack later, and it makes sense... 4,500 years separation between prologue and chapter 1. Got it.

I have no regrets regarding the characters that I spent the last two weeks with, though. Like I said: amazing. I loved all of these characters. All of them. Even the horrible ones. And the weak ones. All of the characters have such a depth to them. Their lives seemed 100% real to me, as if they could step right off the page (or screen in my case, since I read this whopper on my nook) and into my life.

I cared about these characters. A lot. They live in a world in chaos. They are in the midst of a lingering, brutal war. The seasons are in a constant state of flux. Highstorms are only semi-predictable, but seem to be getting stronger and stronger. There's betrayal everywhere and trust is a luxury that almost nobody can afford. Is it any surprise that I read in this sort of state of constant fear about What Might Happen? It was thrilling, but at the same time, I was a nervous wreck.

I love that feeling... of actually caring what happens to characters. I like exciting books as much as the next person, but if I don't invest anything in the characters that the excitement is happening to, then it's just kind of hollow. Enjoyable? Sure. But forgettable.

I want reading to affect me. I want to feel it. I want my hands to shake, my heart to race, or break, or ache, my eyes to be filled with tears and my stomach queasy with worry. And it was. This book gave me all of that, and more.

The more I think about this book, the more I piece together. The more theories I form, the more excited I get for the next installment. I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. In case you hadn't noticed.

This feeling that I have right now, this awe and wonder and excitement... This is why I read.


  1. I totally and utterly agree with you!
    The best book ever, for me.

  2. Man, I can't wait to pick this one up! I have the huge bulky thing, so I need to get to it. (Although Alloy of Law will come first probably.)

    Seriously, your review gives me chills because of how much you loved it - I can literally feel it!

    Also, I hate when chapter titles give stuff away too. I mean seriously, I don't remember what book it was...but I remember a chapter thoughtfully entitled " dies"


  3. I wanted to thank you for your review on this book. I stumbled onto your blog by doing a google search trying to find a protagnoist that's similar to Roland Deschain. I started looking around your blog from there and found your review on this book. I read the book (mainly based on your enthusiasm for it) and I couldn't be happier.

    I powered through the book and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. I'm even considering reading it a second time even though I only finished it a week ago (I never re-read books).

    I emailed Brandon Sanderson to thank him for the book and I was sure to include, in the email, that I read it based on your review!

  4. Wow... That's awesome, Ryan! Thanks. :) I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the book as much as I did! Brandon Sanderson had become one of my favorite authors after his Mistborn trilogy, and this book cemented him in that status! I cannot wait for the next book. :D

  5. This is by far the best book I've ever read! I found myself cursing that the second book won't be out for a while even when I wasn't done with this one! I guess my yearning desires will grow with time as they should. I've read some epics before, but this book didn't even feel long to me. It kept calling to me: "Guess what happens next?" or "What power or magic has Sanderson not introduced yet?" I'm not a fast reader and this book enveloped my free time for over 2 weeks, but considering it usually takes me that long to read a "regular" novel of 4-5 hundred pages I was quite amazed at how the story flowed from one event and one character to the next. I have never been more impressed with how Sanderson wrapped up everything in the last 120 pages of Part 4...and Part 5 just tickled my mind as a set-up for the next installment (or 2 or 3 or NINE!) of this epic.

    Mr. Sanderson...hats off to you sir!