Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
and return to men the Shards they once bore.The Knights Radiant must stand again
Length: 1008 Pages, 19680 Kindle Pages
The buzz over this book has been phenomenal. Brandon Sanderson has to be one of the most marketed authors today, across genres. It seems strange that this first book was published in 2005, given that he has managed to publish Five books in five years. There are three central characters: 1) Kaladin - A man trained to be a surgeon, turned into a slave, forced to work in highly dangerous debilitating conditions and find leadership within himself. 2) Shallan - A young, gently-brought up lady with a fervor for scholarship and some strange talents with art. 3) Dalinar - An aging general, brother to the dead King, beset by doubts about himself, dreams, and his way of life.
Plus: Brandon's world-building skills really shine in The Way of Kings; you can see the vast canvas being unveiled by the master. There are gripping moments of danger when Kaladin and his bridgebuilders are swarmed by enemy arrows. The pace is fast throughout the book and even the chapters on other characters give a reader the feeling that these are going to be pivotal in later books. Even when I had put the book down and picked it up later, there was no sense of "Oh, where was I"! While Kaladin is my clear favorite character, Dalinar's internal philosophy battles were thought provoking. He sounds like a King, and fights like a demon when he cares. His nausea at winning by destroying so many lives adds such a dimension to a book like this, with so many war scenes.
Minus: Not even going to bother pretending I can critique this negatively
Overall:The characterizations are superb! Much, much more intensely drawn than the already-good characters from his earlier Mistborn series. Szeth, an assassin, a secondary character, could possibly take on a key role later - his fighting style is most similar to the Mistborn fighting style. He shows mastery over it, which is unique so far to the book. The book itself is another work of art - the cover, the maps, the drawings and depictions strewn throughout and the chapter titles.
Post-reading WTF moment: When I learnt that this is the first book in a planned 10 book Stormlight Archive series (You and I both know that this is a Tor idea, so they can bank on this once the Wheel of Time stops 2 years from now). The fact is, the book is so great that I felt Euphoric when battles were won, terrible but optimistic when bad things happened to good people, and rejoiced at the end. Can't wait to pick up where the story left off!
You will like this if: You are a high/epic fantasy reader, or like anything by George R. R. Martin, Steven Erikson, Robert Jordan. Read this while waiting for the next GRRM book!