Link to Accessible Catalogue
 

The Way of Kings

Swordsman standing on sandy cliffReviewed by Tom Han, Teen Advisory Council

The Way of Kings by experienced fantasy author Brandon Sanderson is the first book of the epic, ten novel Stormlight Archives series. It’s set in the unique, magical world of Roshar with its own vibrant culture, people, and history. The novel follows three main characters and their individual, seemingly separate stories. Kaladin was a gallant soldier who was betrayed by his comrades and sold into slavery; Shallan is a noble scholar who must steal a magical relic to save her family; and Dalinar is a renowned “Highprince” who begins to receive disturbing visions and prophecies. Each character is related to and impacted by the main conflict in the novel: The War of Reckoning. After the former king of Alethkar, Gavilar, was assassinated by the Parshendi people, the ten princedoms of Alethkar unite to wage a war of vengeance and punishment against the Parshendi on the Shattered Plains. The war shapes the stories of all three main characters and slowly ties their lives together as the story progresses.

The Way of Kings is definitely reminiscent of other high fantasy books. It combines the rich world building of the Lord of the Rings series and the heavy focus on character perspectives and development from Game of Thrones. I have read both Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones and I strongly believe that Way of Kings combines the best elements of both these novels and improves on them. Roshar is always being expanded upon through the book’s nine interludes which focus more on minor characters and their lives from far away lands. The interludes add a layer of secrecy and mystery to the story, making the world feel more dynamic and realistic while the stories of the main characters unfold. I especially enjoyed an interlude chapter that focused on a character named “Axies the collector,” a bizarre magical being whose shadow faces the wrong direction. He is a puzzling, mystifying character and it’s interesting to learn about him and his background. The interludes provide a nice, refreshing break from the main conflict and allows the reader to learn more about Roshar and its true scope and vastness.

 

If you enjoy thick, high fantasy books with an epic overarching story and dangerous immersion, the Way of Kings is for you. The book deals with war, slavery, and a lot of ethical issues, so the subject matter may be a little dark for some audiences. Most teens should still be able to digest this book though because a greater focus is put on the moral dilemmas each main character individually experiences. In summary, Way of Kings is a masterpiece of a book and stands out brilliantly amongst the saturated, fantasy genre today.