The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edited by Moshe Feder
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765326355
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In a time barely remembered, the heroes that had protected the world lay down their swords and walked away. Those who had held back the tide, quit. Generations later for no apparent reason a betrayal is committed that plunges two countries into an endless struggle. The war is a distraction from the coming evil, and nobody knows or remembers what they will face.
The basic story revolves around the lives of three people. Kaladin is a slave, who wasn’t always a slave. A single loss led him to descend to the lowest levels. He is forced to watch as he continually fails to protect those around him. But he is more than he ever imagined. Shallan’s family is in dire straits. The death of her father and the destruction of a soulcaster leave them in debt with few hopes. Shallan applies to be the ward of Jasnah with the hope of saving her family through one lie, but finds that she likes what she only planned to pretend. Dalinar is haunted by his failure to protect his brother. He supports his nephew in the war against the Parshendi. He has visions that seem to tell of the past, but everyone just thinks he is going senile. In an attempt to make his visions real, he risks trusting his greatest rival. In addition there are several asides that build the story and the world. The most interesting of these characters is Szeth, the assassin who has great abilities that he has no choice in how they are used.
The magic of this world is drawn from power stones that are replenished by storms. The drawing of the power and its release is somewhat similar to the system in Warbreaker. There are several magical abilities that are likely to be expanded upon in future volumes of the Stormlight Archive. This is an interesting take on magical abilities, more of a channeling of powers. The soulcasting is very powerful in its area. Food, materials, and weapons can be transmuted. The economic impacts were discussed and addressed in a reasonable manner.
The Way of Kings is the first book of the new Stormlight series. It combines some of the storytelling that brought him many fans with some of the lessons he has learned working on the Wheel of Time. He has added greater detail to his descriptions that on occasion border on Jordanesque. There was one dress description that had me wondering if it was someone else writing.
Author Sanderson continues to develop through each novel or series he writes. Fans of his earlier works and the Wheel of Time series will find much to enjoy here. I enjoyed The Way of Kings and look forward to book two. I believe Sanderson will add many new fans with this series.