The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I want to start off by thanking Tor.com for being DRM-free. It’s great to see a major publisher doing this.
With that out of the way, this was a massive story. It’s quite a different pace from everything I’ve read so far (Elantris and related stories, Warbreaker, Mistborn Era 1 and its Ars Arcanum stories). Mistborn, the previous longest story I’d read, was structured more like a traditional trilogy. The first book was satisfying on its own. The second one was mostly setup and the third one was the climax. With The Stormlight Archive being a 10 book series made up of two five-story arcs, this book was almost entirely setup. That’s not to say there wasn’t character growth, because otherwise it would have been a poor and boring story. Dalinar and Kaladin have quite a bit of growth. Syl surprised me although she’s still a bit to much mystery. Shallan and Szeth have fascinating storylines with insane reveals near the end. All the interludes are full of great characters. But in terms of the story, not too much happens – this is what kept it from being a 5 star book to me.
Minor spoilers: I really enjoyed Shallan and Jasnah as Sanderson uses them to explore both philosophy and religion in ways that are resonant.
Many have called this section of The Cosmere Sanderson’s Magnum Opus in the making and it’s certainly ambitious with the prologue to chapter one jump being 4500 years! At any rate, I made a list of some Sanderson parallels I’ve noticed so far that are mirrored in this book:
Spren – like the hair in Warbreaker can reveal what someone is feeling (hungerspren, fearspren)
Bindings are physics based
human-based racism (rather than metaphorically doing it via dwarves or someting)
Person out of her depth (Shallan) – although common to nearly all story-telling to allow for a hero’s journey
Slave that must obey – (Szeth in this book; Kandra in Mistborn)
Reconfigurable Bodies – (Returned in Warbreaker; Kandra in Mistborn; the collector in this book)
Hatred for upper echelon that does not bow to evidence (Kaladin; Kelsier)
Hoid the storyteller as in Warbreaker
Questioning religion and what it means and who the gods are.
I’m extremely curious where this series goes and where The Cosmere as a whole goes. It appears that, with the stuff Hoid says, this is the key to The Cosmere. (Unless Sanderson’s saving that for Dragonsteel?) Sanderson continues to impress with great characterization and character growth and has matured in his writing of both men and women. Just don’t read this first because he’s so polished, lots of people have complained on reddit that reading this first makes his other Cosmere work seem dull in comparison.
One last spoiler: (view spoiler)[Discovering who was behind the torture quotes was like finding out that in The Princess Bride Buttercup’s father-in-law was secretly murdering people. (hide spoiler)]
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