Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

May 15th, 2011 by Potato

Brandon Sanderson fantasy epic. For some of you out there, that may be all you need to hear to go pick up the Way of Kings now that it’s out in paperback.

Once again he’s crafted a whole new world with its own set of magical rules, only this time the people themselves are only just re-discovering how the magic works, so we don’t get a clear picture of it ourselves. This can be a little frustrating at times, but that’s perhaps just the curious child in me wanting to know what the answer is, because I know he almost certainly does have one, and isn’t making this stuff up on the fly. The main characters are noble and engaging, with just enough of a flaw to their personalities to keep them interesting and relevant.

It’s extremely difficult to criticize the Way of Kings, but I don’t want to spoil too much by gushing. Fortunately, I’m very good at criticizing: first up, it’s looong. Most of it seemed very justified and engaging though, but be warned that WoK, book 1 of this Stormlight Archives trilogy, comes in at about the length of lesser trilogies. There were only one or two chapters I’d have cut, in particular the one with the fisher-people didn’t seem to have a point in this story, and wasn’t revisited in this book. I’m sure he’ll bring it up again in the next book, but it really stuck out for me as being out of place. Often, I wanted to follow one character’s story arc for longer than the chapters were laid out, so at a few points I found myself skipping ahead to the next Kaladin chapter, then going back and reading a few Dalinar chapters, etc. But that’s really stretching to find things to critique.

One final issue is that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the book in its own right. It was definitely an enjoyable read, and I’m eager for the sequel to come out, but a lot of plot threads seemed to be left open for the following books, so I would find it a little hard to read this one as a stand-alone work. That’s somewhat troubling because according to his blog, Brandon won’t have the next book out until 2013-ish. But the writing load he’s laid out is just incredible. What would be an extremely prolific lifetime career for nearly any writer, and he seems to imply it’ll just be the next decade or so.

My favourite Brandon Sanderson work though would still have to be the Mistborn Trilogy, which I reviewed the first instalment of earlier, but linked here to the complete boxed set (which has been available for some time). I guess I should briefly mention the other two books: they were quite good, but I fell in love with the world he created most of all. I really don’t want to spoil it, but at the same time, can’t help but mention that this isn’t your typical fantasy epic. The first novel starts off halfway towards a heist movie — except instead of the charmer, computer guy, demolitions expert, and thug, we have different classes of magical allomancers working together. The whole series takes a big twist in the middle, and goes in a new and unexpected direction. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

I do not have time to follow his blog on a daily basis, but he does have some interesting material up there. For example, the deleted scenes offer some insight into the process of revisions a real author goes through. I hope I can find that useful myself: I’m a terrible one-and-done author, and I always struggle whenever revisions are needed.

A final note: some of the links above are affiliate links to Amazon. If you use those links then buy the books, I’ll get a small kickback from Amazon, so if you’re going to buy them, might I suggest doing it that way? That said, I of course don’t allow that fact to influence my reviews.

PS: Have you heard of Claritin eye drops? Magic! I’m thinking of writing a fantasy trilogy of my own, based on the wizardly use of their magical essence.

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