The Way of KingsWritten by Brandon Sanderson
Illustrated by Ben McSweeney, Greg Call, Isaac Stewart
The Stormlight Archive #1
Format: Audiobook (1258 pages)(45:37)
Narrator: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
My Thoughts — No — First, A Story
Every time I finish reading a book I love, I tell my husband he should read it next. He just finished reading Elantris (another Sanderson book — surprise, surprise) recently and he asked me, out of ALL my favorite books, if I could recommend that he read just ONE of them, which it would be. “The Way of Kings” was out of my mouth before I even realized I was speaking! Obviously, that speaks clearly of how much I loved this book.
Sometimes — especially with books I absolutely adore — it can be difficult to articulate my thoughts and feelings and collect them into some sort of coherent review. When I was trying to express to my husband why I chose that one, I found myself saying, “Just go look on my Kindle and read all of the passages I highlighted!”
So he did, reading them out loud while I was baking cookies or something, and this allowed me to throw in my commentary on why I highlighted each passage. When we were finished, I sat down next to him, confiscated my kindle from him, and held up a finger.
“Let me read this to you. I didn’t highlight it, but it made me think of you.”
The passage is way too long to quote here, but for those who are curious, it is the final chapter with Wit and the conversation he has with a couple of guardsmen near a city wall. Reading it again, aloud, made my heart swell with awe and my brain tumble with intrigue all over again.
At the end of it, I sat back and took a deep, cozy breath.
“Wow,” my husband said. “That was so good!”
“I know!” I agreed, grinning at him.
“You SEE why I want you to read this book? It is SO GOOD. The whole BOOK is full of things like this — from MANY characters, not just this one!”
“Wow,” he said again.
(He’s now reading his way — much too slowly for my impatience — through this book, and I am so excited for him!)
And now, more review-like thoughts…
This book spoke to me on so many levels that I came away from it agape, in complete awe that one person could even think up all of this stuff and put it into one book. The depth and richness of the world is incredible, and Sanderson’s love of world-building is very apparent and not at ALL a detriment to the series.
“A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breaths made them tremble. To them, I was a behemoth, to frighten and destroy. And yet, if I strayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible breath, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely, while my fingers could not do the same without being repaid in pain.”
I read in an interview with Sanderson, about Words of Radiance (book 2), that he wants the series to be a kind of love letter to epic fantasy. I was enchanted by the idea, but I didn’t really get it until I finished reading The Way of Kings.
The main storyline is a slow build that lets you deeply and thoroughly immerse yourself within, getting to know each and every character as a whole person — not just a caricature. I found myself sympathizing with, and respecting, Kaladin more and more throughout the book. I was absolutely in awe of Jasnah and her seemingly boundless intellect and wisdom.
The book has several sets of interludes, which contain little side stories of other people in this world, and I gobbled them up with fervor. I remember him saying at the event that you could skip these if you want, because they’re not canon (they do remind me very much of all the series novellas I’m so fond of), but to me they added such a richness and grounding reality to the world that I can’t imagine not having them.
“Too many scholars think of research as purely a cerebral pursuit. If we do nothing with the knowledge we gain, then we have wasted our study. Books can store information better than we can–what we do that books cannot is interpret. So if one is not going to draw conclusions, then one might as well just leave the information in the texts.”
Another little treasure within this massive tome is the bountiful and detailed illustrations: maps, pages of Shallan’s sketch pad (including drawings of creatures and plants), and more. This might seem sort of insignificant when compared to the mass of pages in this book, but for me they were like the garnish that completed the dish, and left me satisfied.
The narrators are two of my favorites: Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, who also narrated the entire Wheel of Time series. Their voices were familiar and comforting and helped me ease deeper into the story, which was really nice. As usual, their narration was stellar (even if they did pronounce a few words and names differently from one another).
I don’t even know if I’ve actually reviewed the book here, but I hope I’ve at least expressed how much — and why — I enjoyed it.
This book, you guys. THIS BOOK.