The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings is a fantastic read.

I was up to about two in the morning the other night. Why, do you ask?

This gigantic bookwas the reason. And Brandon Sanderson. Curse him.

The Way of Kings is a sprawling epic fantasy that runs just about 1001 pages in hardback. It’s got compelling characters, a fascinating magic system, a fantastic plot, etc., etc., etc.

But the real measure has to be whether it compels you to read the next page.

Did I mention I was up to two in the morning?

Yeah.

The Way of Kings is pretty much everything I look for in my epic fantasy, +3. Sanderson has said that he’s been working on this one for years, and it shows. There’s a depth of worldbuilding here that you don’t often see. You can tell that he knows this place’s history through and through – because that history keeps popping in at odd moments. It actually wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Mr. Sanderson had actually written… well… let me back up.

“The Way of Kings” is a book inside a book. It’s the story of a King who, Buddha-like, walks across his country and it becomes a metaphor for the spiritual and moral journey the King takes. Now, this book is not the 1000+ page opus. It’s something that a few of the characters in this book find and read, and it influences their decisions and actions. The book you’re actually reading includes things like… giant, killer crabs. Magic swords. People… well… a guy who walks on walls and manipulates gravity. And, of course, powered armor. (When the anime geek in me realized that I was reading a fantasy story about people running around in powered armor, a la Gasaraki, I started cackling in maniacal glee.) But what I was about to say was this. Given the obvious preparation that went into this, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that Mr. Sanderson had written the entire fictional book that his fictional characters were reading. There’s that much sense of weight and history here, and I love it.

It’s not just about the book, of course. In fact, it’s only tangentally about the book. It’s really a story about leadership, accepting responsibility for your actions, and hope. Of course, by the end of the first book, you just have a taste of what’s coming in book two and the rest of the series. And if the glimpses into history and foreshadowing throughout this book (in every chapter heading, for example) are any indication, then this promises to be one fantastic series.

In fact, by the end of the book, I found myself reluctant to finish, because it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to read more about my favorite characters – and who knows how long it’s going to be until book two is out? That’s something I haven’t experienced in a long time. If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend that you pick up a copy of The Way of Kings. But you may want to wait until book 2 is out. I’m just saying.

2 Comments

  • I hadn’t heard of Brandon Sanderson until I found the amazing writing podcast “Writing Excuses” of he, Dan Wells (another Tor author of I Am Not A Serial Killer) and the highly successful web comic creator of Schlock Mercenary Howard Taylor. Then I heard he was chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’ve just now picked up Brandon’s first published book Elantris and have really been enjoying it. I look forward to reading his Mistborn trilogy and his other stand alone War Breaker. Once these are read I’ll try my hand at The Way of Kings. His two podcast co-hosts speak very well of it, as do you and a co-worker of mine who’s nearly done reading it. I have many words to get through, but I’m thinking it will be a great journey as I turn the pages. Thanks for this review. I’m glad Brandon is young, so we can get fiction from him for years to come. 🙂

    • Zach says:

      I love the Writing Excuses podcast! And I’m a big fan of Schlock Mercenary. This was my first Sanderson novel, and now I’m looking forward to picking up another one – after I finish Patrick Rothfuss’ “Name of the Wind”, most likely.