The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

The_Way_of_Kings_-_Brandon_Sanderson_cover
Stormlight Archive #1

The Knights Radiant have gone, but their weapons and armor remain, used by men to battle each other and the world’s other races. But some researchers have recently begun to suspect the weapons’ true nature.

One of the first e-books I ever read was Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. It was before I had committed to e-books, and I forget now whether it was a PDF or a ‘real’ e-book. It was free, though; I’m pretty sure of that. And it was a wise move by Tor. I went on to buy the entire series (and some other books) in paperback.

Now, a few years on, and largely committed to ebooks, I snapped up Way of Kings when I realized (belatedly) that it had come out.

It’s a big book – 1,000+ pages. Maybe that’s Sanderson’s Wheel of Time experience coming into play, but despite what some commenters suggest, I don’t see any real parallels with Robert Jordan’s work. I certainly hope that Sanderson’s massive series doesn’t bog down the way that Jordan’s did. The Stormlight Archive is rumored to be ten books long, but this one e-book had 3-4 ‘books’ in it, so it’s hard to be sure how many real installments there will be.

So far, I hope it’s a lot. Some commenters have complained that the story dragged at various points. There’s no denying that the book is long, but I was definitely caught up, and read the whole thing in a few days. At the end, I was a little exhausted, but I was also eager for the next book (only to find that I had misunderstood, and it’s not even out yet).

What I did see in Way of Kings was some similarity to L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s The Magic of Recluce. Sanderson has established that he likes to develop innovative, well-ordered magic systems. What this book has in common with Recluce is the relentless logic with which that system is applied. Where Sanderson differs in some ways from Modesitt is in the gradual unveiling of the system, so that we’re usually still figuring it out, where Modesitt was more concerned with consequences of the system.

The environment is also innovative – essentially a landscape of rock, populated by crabs. Sanderson applies his logic here as well, in ways that worked pretty well for me as a reader (if not always in terms of physics).

I would have preferred a wider range of characters and settings. There are probably the right number of characters here – not too many, not too few – but there’s not a huge amount of variety in the settings. Two of the more interesting locations are touched on very briefly.

Overall, I liked it quite a bit, and the series has a good deal of promise. I recommend this book, and look forward to the next one.

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