Spoiler Free Summary: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in The Stormlight Archive. This was my third time reading this book. I wanted to read it before reading Oathbringer (the cover for which is in my November Book Cover of the Month Bracket).
Kaladin is a man who was betrayed and enslaved for doing the right thing. Forced to help a team of men carry heavy bridges miles just to charge enemy arrows, he chooses to do what he can to protect those bridgemen.
Shallan is a noble woman from a minor house. She’s trying to save her family’s household. Her plan to do it? Rob the most powerful, respected scholar in the world. What’s she stealing? A religious artifact everyone seems to be after.
Dalinar is a general and high prince of his house, but he’s having strange visions, and those visions are forcing him to change not just how he looks at himself, but how he looks at the war he’s been fighting. His son doubts him, the other high princes think he’s lost his mind. Never-the-less, he’s trying to unite those same high princes to end a war that’s gone on for far too long. His fear is that his current war is nothing compared to what’s coming.
Character: This is always a strength for Sanderson. I did an entire study on Dalinar. Kaladin is one of my favorite characters ever. What I’ll admit is that the first few times, I didn’t like Shallan at all. Functionally speaking, her only real role is to provide an economic lecture and show off some of the world building. It’s great for fans of deep, realistic worlds, but the first two times reading, all I wanted to do was skip her chapters to get to one of the others. For some reason (probably having read Words of Radiance), Shallan didn’t bother me nearly so much. I saw her conflict and story line more compelling in this case.
Exposition: There was a scene here or there that I felt slowed the book down. The thing I have to note is I’m not a huge world building or description guy. Others demand that level of detail. But I have to admit there were a few scenes I felt could have gone a lot faster. In any story this big, one expects a bunch of exposition. Honestly, I think there’s less in this book than most, but the large blocks drag a reader down here or there. Don’t let that stop you (if you’re like me). Keep reading, I promise you won’t regret it.
Description: I’m not a fan of description. Normally, I warn people because I was fine with a book, but I make sure they know I’m not that into description. This time, I’ll say there’s a lot of visceral, imagination-inspireing stuff here. There’s just so much to see and interact with. I honestly don’t know how he did it.
Overall: How good is this book? This is the third time I went through the book (I listen to audiobooks on additional references with a story). To me, it just keeps getting better. I honestly think I can read this another 20 times and STILL miss something I should have noticed. But those “I should have seen that” moments area always satisfying during re-reads. I keep finding myself trying to ferret out plot points for future books. If you haven’t read Way of Kings, there’s really no better time. You can burn through to Book 3, and then commiserate with the rest of us while we wait for Book 4!
Thanks for reading,