The Way of Kings is Brandon Sanderson’s opening volume in a new epic fantasy series, bringing his unique world building and ability to construct magical systems to the land of Roshar. Through the viewpoints of four primary characters, Sanderson opens his epic with a wide view of his new world however seemed to let the story more than what was necessary.
The majority of the book revolves around Kaladin Stormblessed; though first seen through the eyes of a young soldier, his point-of-view begins with him as a former soldier and now a slave on his way towards the battlefield he had always wanted to go to while a soldier. Kaladin’s struggle as a slave bridgeman that looks to save himself and then his fellow bridge team members takes up most of the book, but interwoven are flashback chapters relating events in Kaladin’s life that led to his eventual slavery. Sanderson slowly develops Kaladin’s leadership of his bridge team as well as his slowly growing “magical” powers that come together at the end of the book to bring one phase of his character development to completion.
Two other major characters at the same battlefield are highprince Dalinar along with his eldest son, uncle and cousin to the King in charge of the army. The two lords deal more with politics than battles until later in the book and when they do turn to the war; their life-and-death situation brings them into contact with Kaladin and setting the stage for the next book. Away from the other three characters is Shallan, who ventures to be the ward of Dalinar’s scholarly niece Jasnah and steal the magical soulcaster that she possesses to save Shallan’s family from ruin after the death of Shallan’s father. All three characters are in for surprises in their own story arcs.
While Sanderson opens his epic series in grand fashion, the main problem with The Way of Kings is frankly the length of the book. While information and telling action is generally good, there can be too much of a good thing and this opening volume unfortunately suffers from that. Repetitive descriptions during the same action sequence could have better edited without losing the intensity of what was happening, numerous internal thoughts did no need to be repeated over and over in a character’s chapters several times each. It was the little things that were easily correctable that harmed this book that makes it really stand out.
Overall The Way of Kings is a good, though lengthy, read and made me want to see where Sanderson goes next in the second volume.