Roshar is a world of stone and storms.
I read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson in August 2021 as part of the Cosmere Conquest book club, which has now become The Oasis, an SFF themed book server on Discord. Consider joining us!
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
About the Book
The Way of Kings
The Stormlight Archive Book One
by Brandon Sanderson
Published 31 August 2010
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Page Count: 1,007
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
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 Rating: 5 Stars
Consider liking my review on Goodreads
I read The Way of Kings in the summer of 2021 with a Cosmere themed monthly book club.
Let’s hear it for Bridge 4!
The Way of Kings is the first book in what looks like a pretty awesome epic fantasy series. I was supposed to continue reading more of this series in the remainder of 2021 with the afore mentioned book club, but we branched into another series the following month and when we were supposed to return to this life got too busy. I eagerly await a lull in my 2022 schedule so I can jump back in, and I’m honestly not sure how I hadn’t read this series prior to 2021.
The seamlessly integrated worldbuilding in this book is impeccable. As we’re getting to know the amazing cast, we’re also learning about shardplate and shardblades, magical weapons and armour leftover from another time, and soulcasting, a sort of spend your own lifeforce (hopefully temporarily) to make anything happen kind of specialty magic.
My favourite characters to read were Kaladin and Shallan, but for very different reasons. I think I liked Kaladin for exactly the same reason as everyone else. He’s a noble, wrongfully disgraced soldier who ends up on the crew for Bridge 4 (which had a reputation of being the most deadly,) but proves himself valuable when he takes leadership of this crew and suddenly makes it the most survivable bridge crew to work on. He has PTSD from the terrors of his past and shows his weaknesses at times, but he’s also fiercely/stubbornly determined to live, to prove his worth again, and to protect those who need a leader such as himself in the darkness. He reminds me of Maximus from Gladiator.
Shallan, on the other hand, seems to be a more controversial character to like reading. She herself is a very morally grey character and not the most agreeable POV to put yourself in for her chapters. I completely understand why many readers just want to slap her and move on, but her chapters expose so much interesting worldbuilding tidbits and get us much closer to her hopeful mentor, a true soulcaster, Jasnah Kholin. She presents the same sort of moral dilemma that I love in fake-real turn romance plots: she starts out just there to earn Jasnah’s trust so she can steal her fabrial, sell it for top dollar, and perpetuate her family’s appearance of grand wealth despite the recent death of her father who did the money-earning. By the end of the book she truly respects Jasnah and struggles with the internal conflict of doing what she set out to do for her family’s sake vs actually studying under Jasnah and improving her own future prospects in a more honest way, but in a way that wouldn’t benefit her family. This portion of the book also brings about a very intriguing aspect of this world: reading is women’s work. Men are supposed to remain illiterate.
Although the page count on this book is intimidating and it’s written for a more mature audience than, say, The Final Empire, I do think this could be an excellent starting point for readers interested in starting Sanderson/The Cosmere books in general. If you’re already comfortable with epic fantasy, or if you’re a reader of length science fiction titles and ready to try fantasy, this is a great starting point. If you’re newer to the genre or if you’re coming from shorter YA category reads, this one may be too intimidating. Proceed with caution!
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Want more check out my reviews of the Mistborn Series starting in order with The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.