According to mythology mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. But then the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms. And the Voidbringers followed…
They came against man ten thousand times. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, mankind finally won.
Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world is at war with itself – and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne.
On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes that blow through every few day a young spearman forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really want to fight.
What happened deep in mankind’s past?
Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?
Why I chose this book
I’d heard a lot about Brandon Sanderson, from the fact he finished off Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (which I haven’t read yet either), to his laws of magic, to his writing courses and podcasts. When The Way of Kings came up as a Habitica book club read too, it seemed the ideal time to jump in and see what I thought.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
The blurb above doesn’t really tell you much about the book. It’s an epic fantasy which follows three main characters. Kaladin: former surgeon turned disgraced soldier, who serves in the lowest position in the army and discovers his powers. Shallan: a young woman who tries to save her family’s disgrace by apprenticing herself to a great lady scholar and stealing her magic artifact. And Dalinar: leader of one of the armies in an unending battle against the Parshmen on inhospitable territory.
This book has a fair amount of fantasy-style violence, but it’s surprisingly clean. Minimal romance, no sex, and made-up bad language. I say surprisingly, because current epic fantasy trends tend to run pretty dark right now (grimdark etc.)
The worldbuilding in this book is immense and awesome. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did, I found I was immersed in it entirely. The magical powers, the nations, the history, the depth of characters … it was simply engrossing.
I also really enjoyed the characters and their intertwining plot lines. I found myself rooting for Kaladin to survive, intrigued by Dalinar’s political and personal problems, and longing for Shallan to resolve her conflict between stealing for her family and her hard-fought apprenticeship.
Various reveals throughout left me going “wow”. I love a good reveal (and I’m bad at anticipating them). There was one in particular that I was just amazed at… but I can’t share because that would be a spoiler.
Suffice it to say, this book left me wanting more and reluctant to leave the characters behind. I understand it’s book one of a ten-part planned series, though, with only one other book currently written right now.
If you read bad reviews of this book, words like “bloated”, “slow”, and “tedious” will stand out to you. I’ll admit that this is a slow-paced book, and although personally, I found it absorbing enough that I didn’t care about the pace, if this is something you really don’t enjoy, maybe avoid it.
Give it a chance — there are two prologues on this book before the actual story starts, so it does take a bit of getting into. But if you stick with it, it’s worth it. Now, I’m not a prologue-hater or a prologue-skipper, but you probably could skip both of these, although I’d advise reading them later, particularly the second one as that does become relevant.
Highly recommended for epic fantasy fans. The second book is on my TBR list, although I won’t rush into it given how many unwritten books there are in the series!