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The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive) by…

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive) (edition 2011)

by Brandon Sanderson

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2,4241152,559 (4.44)2 / 168
Title:The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive)
Authors:Brandon Sanderson
Info:Tor Fantasy (2011), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 1280 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

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One word: EPIC ( )
  Tor-Ole | Nov 26, 2015 |
It had been a long time since I'd indulged in a nice long fantasy book just for pleasure--a long time since I'd been able to focus on a long book--so it says a lot this held me. I'd heard that Sanderson was completing the Wheel of Time series. I never got through the first book of that series, which was notable to me as a clunky written Lord of the Rings wannabe with an even slighter female presence. Sanderson, if not a lyrical, outstanding writer, is at the very least readable in style. He has important female characters--complex ones--that strike me as real people. And his world-building is first-rate. The world he's created doesn't feel like the usual medieval high fantasy. Actually, for me it has distinctive science-fiction overtones. The underlying explanation could just as well be (and maybe turn out to be) science rather than magic. In that way it reminds me a bit of Pullman--not that it's really comparable or sophisticated in its science, but this kind of feel is rare among the fantasies I've read.
In another way it reminds me of Game of Thrones, because of the way Sanderson rotates among characters, weaving the narratives into a greater whole and building suspense as our attention is diverted away. He's not as cruel to his characters as GRR Martin though--at least not yet. And not as deeply moving--which is why I deny it a fifth star. But I care about Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shaman and want to read the next book in the series--so a solid four star at the very least. ( )
  LisaMariaC | Nov 13, 2015 |
The world / society is a little dark and very warrior oriented. At first I was concerned it would be too much of a battle story. However, it wasn't. There are definitely battles, but the characters, story, and the philosophical, ethical and social questions are what really make this book great. ( )
  MattMattYS | Nov 2, 2015 |
Okay, so.

This book has sat at the top of my to-read list for several years. Seriously. My friends love it, the reviews screamed that it was insanely good. It really sat at the #1 position no matter how I ordered the stupid list. For years.

Maybe that's why I didn't read it. The expectations were too high. The book was too epic. I didn't want to get into another Game of Thrones where I'm waiting for the latest tome for years, and end up having to read several thousand pages to catch up on the story lines before the latest book comes out. I wonder if the whole series will hold up to the first book. I have to worry that the author will die before the dang series finishes.

Those last worries really don't apply to Sanderson, though; he's young, he's a writing machine, I can't imagine how he puts out the number of books he does a year without wearing his fingers down to nubs, most everything he writes is fantastic.

And so I finally embarked upon The Way of Kings.

It mostly held up to the hype. It definitely reads like Sanderson -- if you like him, you'll love this; if you don't, you won't. Simple as that. It's easily accessible language, great characterization, NO DANG CLIFFHANGERS AT THE END OF EVERY CHAPTER .. ahem. Actually, that last part is important. This book is good -- there's a good hook at the end of it, but not something that I'll be foaming at the mouth to read the next one about. And I can take a break before I jump into the next novel without freaking out that I'm going to lose the line of plot.

Either way, at the end of the book, I was repeatedly recommending it to my husband, who probably won't pick it up until the series is closer to completion. The journey was worth it -- just wishing I hadn't started it until it was finished either. ;) ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
Quite simply, this book is a monster. There is no other way to describe this book. It's simply a beast. My copy is the paperback version, I mean, have you SEEN those? It looks like the pages won't even stay in the binding, it's so thick. It's 1,252 pages.
I'll start with this, if you are new to fantasy, or just don't read it as much, don't start here to get a taste for Sanderson. This is the series that he's apparently been planning for years and it shows. If you want a taste of Sanderson without being completely overwhelmed in the world building, then start with Elantris or Mistborn, those are the best for beginners. Besides, everyone should read Sanderson in their life.
As I said, though, this book shows the years of planning that was put into it. I usually catch on rather quickly with world building, but I admit I spent the first 50 pages of this book just trying to keep up with the world. It's so vast and there's so much. So, things to look out for so you won't be struggling like I was: the main kingdoms that the book is set in, the terrain is mostly rock. The plants all have the capabilities of retracting in on themselves, the grass 'hides' before it can be stepped on, the crops close up anytime after a high storm. The hierarchy is set through eye colour, those with lighter eyes (known as lighteyes, or Brightlords) are of higher rank. Darkeyes are of lower rank. The Alethi people almost always have black hair - lighter coloured hair means a mixed race. Once again, Sanderson makes an intriguing class system within the worlds of his books. There are quite a few other races in the books that are introduced, but the Alethi are the primary race and all of the main characters are of this race (I think a few of the interlude characters are of different races, though). The world is huge. Seasons pass within a few weeks at a time and at random, the highstorms come regularly and are fairly devastating. It's just brilliant and beautiful this world that he's created.
Then there's the magic system. Oh man. If you've ever read a review I've written for any other Sanderson book, you might know that I fangirl hardcore over the magic systems that he comes up with. From Allomancy and Biochromatic Breath, to the latest addition to brilliant systems: Stormlight. In this book, the magic system is kind of connected to the money system as well? That sounds kind of weird but it's actually how it works. The money that they use are these spheres with gemstones in the centre (the rarer the gemstone... ect. that's easy enough to figure out.) and the gemstones hold Stormlight. (If a sphere has no Stormlight it in, then it's considered dun and bad money, though leaving your money out during a highstorm recharges the spheres. craaaazy stuff.) So, with those, comes this method of drawing the Stormlight into ones body and Lashing. Basically, releasing the Stormlight into an object and shifting reality to make it, like, stick? It's complicated, but when it's used in battle it is so cool. That's one aspect of the system, another is the method of Soulcasting. Which is basically taking something and turning it into something else. So, soulcasters are essential for the armies because they can take mundane things like rock and turn them into food (though the food is notoriously bland). Then, the third point to the system were the Shardblades and Shardplates. Swords that were formed of mist and could cut through anything like they were cutting through air, and plates of armour that were seamlessly perfect and charged with Stormlight - giving the wearer superhuman strength. A lot of the culture of Alethkar centred around war, which was a huge point of conflict for a few of the characters in the book.
Then the characters, oh man. So, the story followed a handful of characters: Kaladin the surgeon turned soldier turned slave turned bridgeman. Shallan, the artist and aspiring scholar. Dalinar the highprince and warrior questioning his sanity and Alodin, his son. There are other characters who get their own chapters, Szeth the assassin for one (I suppose he's technically a main character as well), and a few other characters. I can just say right off that Kaladin was easily my favourite character and I was always looking forward to his chapters. Kaladin probably had the most difficult life of all of the characters shown. He grew up training to be a surgeon underneath his father, but always held dreams of being a soldier (ahh, what boy doesn't?) in the end, through a series of flashback chapters, you come to learn how he wound up not only a slave, but a bridgeman - men who were forced to carry huge bridged across the plateau's on the Shattered Plains. Frequently the men were forced to charge right at the enemies oncoming arrows, most bridgemen died after only a few bridge runs. The great thing about Kaladin (besides being the typical emotional hero that I do adore. Protect all of the things, Kaladin, all of the things.) was that he had such great progression. We saw every moment of his giving up, to his caring, to his hard work in making the pathetic group of bridgemen into real warriors that could possibly escape the death sentence they had all been given. He was my favourite, by far.
Dalinar and Alodin's chapters usually came together. Both lighteyes part of the king's army in the Shattered Plains, fighting against the Parshendi that had Dalinar's brother, the king, killed six years prior. I liked both of them, but at times their chapters were a tad bit dull (ironic because they were in the midst of a war...) Dalinar is busy questioning his sanity as strange visions come to him during highstorms, visions that would tell him to go against everything that the Alethi people stand for.
Shallan was my other favourite character. The youngest daughter of a lesser known lighteyed nobleman, she journeys to attempt to become the ward to the dead king's daughter, the famous scholar and heretic Jasnah (who is BRILLIANT by the way), however, Shallan has a few ulterior motives for her reasonings to train underneath Jasnah. Shallan is an artist and just a fantastic character. Once again, Sanderson's female characters are just great.
The plot as a whole follows these characters as Alethkar is caught up in a war against the Parshendi - tribesman who bear a resemblance to the docile slave race, the parshmen. A war that has lasted six years. Through all of this, there are hints at another Desolation - scourges that the world had not seen in centuries, not since the fall of the Radiants, a group of people who wielded Stormlight and Shardblades and protected the land from the Voidwalkers.
So, as you can see, it's a lot of information to process, but it makes for a truly spectacular book. Every moment of it was brilliant.
The only thing that confused me was the gender segregation in the Alethi culture. (It just struck me as... strange, especially coming from Sanderson who is really good about including women in his books in fantastic ways). Only women could read and write, men didn't do that. Men were warriors and farmers, women were scribes and scholars. Men ate a certain kind of food, women ate another. Women also wore their sleeves over their lefthand, their 'safe hand,' as they were called. At first I was bothered by this cultural trait, but as the story went on, I have a feeling that something is going to happen to shatter those social restraints. This is going to be a ten novel series and there is something about the way the culture is set up that just screams that things are going to be changed in a drastic way at some future book. Actually, after I got over my initial bewilderment ("What do you mean, men don't read?") I kind of enjoyed the way the culture was set up, though I do hope that it is changed... come onnnnn.
Religion was just another great thing about this book. I mean, I've come to look forward to what great new religion Sanderson would come up with this time. This one holds a fairly monotheistic view for the Alethi people, held by the ardents who once tried to essentially take over the world - but there are undertones of Ancient religions that we have had yet to see.
The politics of the book was lovely. The way the highprinces were all underneath the one king, and yet basically acted as kinds in their own right. They were all technically fighting the same war against the Parshendi, but that war had become something of a game, a race to see which highprince could reach the chasmfiends that lived in the Shattered Plains first and claim their gemhearts. A lot of the politics had to do with Dalinar's attempt at uniting the divided princedoms. It was pretty great.
This book was so vast and yet it's so obvious that it's only a glimpse of what Sanderson has planned for this series. It was spectacular, brilliant even, I adored every moment of it. Fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire would likely enjoy reading this book as they wait for GRRM's next instalment.
Basically, it was perfect and I so look forward to the next book. ( )
  glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
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Brandon Sandersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kramer, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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. . . my wife, Emily, to whom this book is dedicated. . . .
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(Prelude) Kalak rounded a rocky stone ridge and stumbled to a stop before the body of a dying thunderclast.
(Prologue) Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.
(Chapter one) "I'm going to die, aren't I?" Cenn asked.
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Editions with ISBN 0575097361 are the first part only of this book and should not be combined with the full work.
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Book description
Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

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.

Haiku summary
Slave must now fight, again.

A woman must be a thief.

King sees the world's past.
Something is coming
A dark something is coming
Something is coming

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A new epic series by the best-selling writer of Robert Jordan's final Wheel of Time novels introduces the world of Roshar through the experiences of a war-weary royal compelled by visions, a highborn youth condemned to military slavery and a woman who would save her impoverished house.… (more)

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