I gave up on the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series by Volume 5 so never got to Brandon Sanderson’s concluding contributions to that series. My first ..Show More »books by Sanderson were those of the Mistborn Trilogy. I was totally captivated by the story and its writing. I avoided The Way of Kings because of its Audible 2 credit price but finally caved because I had lusted so long for something so good as Mistborn. I should not have delayed. The Way of Kings was well worth the price and promises to be one of the best ever series by Sanderson or any SF/Fantasy author. This is Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive.
Coming in at over 45 hours on audiobook or over 1000 pages in print, for some TWoK might seem too lengthy. Personally, for me, it ended all too soon. The book was totally gripping and absorbing. I could not put it down. The writing contains wit and charm, adventure and philosophy, comedy and pathos. It’s all there, a wide range of human thought and emotion. While constructed of multiple arcs, the writing is completely straight forward, accessible and easy to follow.
I became totally invested in each character and cared for everyone of the good guys and even some of the bad ones. One of the most interesting characters, one named Szeth, is a peace-loving believer in nonviolence but is also an ultimate, ninja-like assassin who hates to but is forced to kill and cries each time that he does. How’s that for a crazy mixed-up contradiction. Frankly, I think that Szeth is a metaphor for many of us and our behavior. But among my favorite and central characters were a peasant, apprentice surgeon named Kaladin and a spren named Syl with whom Kal has a rather magical and symbiotic relationship.
Spren appear throughout the book. They were for me various types of conscious energy or spirit-like entities that were part of or associated with almost everything on the planet including specific kinds of thoughts and emotions, wellness and sickness, life and death. They particularly seem to appear when “change” happens and it is at least at this point in the series difficult to know if they are responsible for, contribute to or are just present when changes in anything from one’s health to the weather occur.
Speaking of the weather, the environment and particularly the atmosphere of the planet and how the geology, flora and fauna have evolved within the influence of extreme weather is integral to the storyline. The book describes and develops half a dozen interesting and well defined fictional races. Wars exist on the planet among them over the power and dominance brought by the magical weapons known as Shardblades and Shardplates. And, while war is one of the central themes of the book, descriptions of battles and war do not dominate the narrative.
What came across most movingly, uniquely clear and beautifully written were the two human qualities of love and compassion. I do not think that those two attributes have ever been more deftly portrayed than it is in this book. Some of my other favorite SF/Fantasy writers including Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamilton while brilliant in almost every other respect, fail to adequately communicate those two essential qualities of our nature. Other authors talk about it, their characters go through the motions and maybe say the words but I just do not always “feel the love” in their writings like I do in reading this book. The humanity and heroism portrayed by some of the characters in TWoK were strikingly remarkable. It is another one of those attributes of Sanderson’s writing that makes everything more real and capable of eliciting emotions within the reader.
Magic abounds in the book and all of it seems to make sense if ever magic can be made sense of. It was once said that any technology sufficiently advanced will appear as magic and this is that kind magic, magic that can almost be but not quite understood. There is plenty of adventure and excitement contained within the pages and Kate Reading and particularly Michael Kramer bring it all to life. Yes, this is the same duo that narrated the Wheel of Time saga. Their talent was well highlighted there but I believe even more so in The Way of Kings.
This was one great book and the only downside is that Sanderson is so prolific with his other literary pursuits that the sequel to this one is long overdue and the Audible rendition even longer than that.
I have listened to over 100 Audiobooks, and this is the first time I really felt the need to write a review. I picked up a Brandon Sanderson book abo..Show More »ut two years ago, and was immediately impressed by his writing style. Too many fantasy writers forget how important it is that their worlds should also have rules and limits and plausible (if fantastic) magic. Every brilliant writer is an artist on his own, and should not be compared to another. Brandon Sanderson completed the Wheel of Time series, and I hope that he wouldn’t therefor mind being compared to Robert Jordan. An amazing story and a satisfying end, although I feel the itch of the addicted for the next book. The brilliant narration by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (the narrators for the Wheel of Time) takes you right into the world and leave you hungry for more. I give this book my highest recommendation and my only wish is that I can have a selective memory loss so that I can enjoy this one again.