Format: Audio-Book – Library
Buy it Here: The Way of Kings
Sanderson introduces us into his rich and complex fantasy world with a degree of subtlety I honestly wasn’t prepared for. People have been pestering me to read more of his books for what feels like ages now. So when January came around and I wasn’t chained to a grueling book-goal, I picked up this massive tome, and I am glad I did.
Considering this is number one in a series of ten, I am boggled by how much world-building went on right away, and how much more world there’s going to be. The characters are relatable and interesting, the dialogue is snappy, and the plots are all beautifully interwoven. However, the best part of this book is certainly the world that seems as rich and nuanced as the disaster we live in on the other side of fantasy.
Of course, the struggle with bringing us into his enormously detailed fantasy world is that things move at a snail’s pace for the first half of the book. It wasn’t difficult to keep track of the characters, but it was sometimes hard to keep track of where exactly we were in time, especially when he brought in vignettes between each part. On a second read I think all of that would be incredibly interesting and would help tie it all together. For this first read, all I could do was keep track of what character I was following.
Though if I’m going to complain about losing track of a character, I should be complaining about Shallan. She had a fascinating arc, and at some point, we just stop hearing from her. There’s this big ol’ section in the middle where we have no idea what’s going on. Um, she’s fascinating, and I want to hear more about Jasnah, because she sounds ridiculously badass! Of course, I spent most of the book yelling at her not to steal from her and just become a ridiculously cool scholar. But characters in books rarely take my excellent advice.
Though, if those are my only complaints about a book this enormous, I’m saying it was pretty damn good.
Dalinar’s journey was especially interesting to follow. I appreciated how deeply he felt and how hard he tried to help everyone around him be better. I also appreciated that people called him out on being kind of intolerable and self-righteous. That’s some character nuance there. I enjoyed attempting to follow his son’s courtships (out of a deep wish for there to be romance in this book, since that is what I generally live off of) and his struggle with his feelings for Navani.
Can we talk about Sanderson’s female characters please? They are fantastic. Yasnah, Shallan, Navani, and Syl?! I could go on and on about each of them. Unfortunately I can’t since one of my hands is tucked away in a mysterious sleeve because it’s my “safe” hand. Okay, Sanderson, my bro, what on earth is this supposed to be? Why do women have this incredibly bizarre and seemingly random handicap that no one ever explains? This bothered me so much that I asked one of my friends who has read all of the books that are out so far and she didn’t know either.
Undoubtedly, the theme of this book is morality. It’s fantastic to have a fantasy series delve so deeply into grey areas. It’s not usually something that the genre is known for. Fantasy is quite literally the realm of all things Good and Evil, Light and Dark. In this world, it isn’t so simple, not for Kaladin, not for Dalinar, and not even for tiny Syl, who just seems to be figuring all of this out. In a world where magic can control gravity and swords appear out of mid-air, the struggles of the protagonists are universal.
Of course, this isn’t to say that we have a cast of Anti-Heroes, because that’s not it at all. The struggle here comes from moral questions like “is it acceptable to kill to save?” Jasnah brings us the biggest question when she kills four men in what is essentially a sting operation. Then, Shallan literally spends a week reading ethics and trying to decide if that was okay. This is what I mean– the characters don’t take their actions for granted.
This is a book that would be acceptable for teen readers if they’re able to handle some of the violence and social complexity. There isn’t sexiness or swearing, but there is a good deal of anguish, deaths, at least two cases of near-suicide.
This world is so intricate and complete that sometimes it feels like it’s hard for Sanderson to remember we’ve never been there. The storytelling is immersive which is arguably the best way to get acclimated to a whole new culture and experience. It is slightly more work to keep your metaphorical footing, but it is worth it for the whole experience. The Way of Kings is a true vacation into a fantasy world. If your idea of a vacation involves carrying a ridiculous bridge around and hiding from magic storms, that is.
Subjective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥ 4/5
Objective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥ 4/5