Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - The Fantasy Review

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Fantasy Review’s review of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, book one in The Stormlight Archive epic fantasy series.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is one of the best modern epic fantasy books out there right now. In just over 1000 pages you will disappear into the world of Roshar, discover fascinating new cultures, places, and magic systems, and follow some of my favourite characters in fantasy.

I first read The Way of Kings after finishing Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, as recommended by many readers and reviewers online, and that was definitely the right decision. The book opens with two false beginnings, until we finally start the main plot with Kaladin.

New readers of Sanderson might get fed up with not knowing what is going on, but if you have read Mistborn or even Elantris or Warbreaker, you will trust the author enough to keep going until the true beginning of the book shows up!

Kaladin was the perfect main character to begin Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. Every book in the series has many POV characters, but each one focuses on a specific character as the main POV, mostly with flashback chapters that tie in with the present-day ones.

Kaladin’s tale is a tragic one, touching on themes of class discrimination, depression and mental health, and family. Sanderson puts a lot of time and care into his depictions of depression, which any sufferer will greatly appreciate.

All the characters in The Way of Kings are given plenty of space to provide the reader with at least a good estimation of their personality, and with over 1000 pages to play with, this is to be expected. You never feel like the story stagnates because of exposition, however. Sanderson makes sure there is always something enticing on the next page so you quickly burn through this huge tome.

Talking of exposition, this brings me to worldbuilding. Brandon Sanderson is an incredible worldbuilder, giving us just enough information through dialogue and brief descriptions of a character’s surroundings to understand what is happening in a given scene, without writing pages of exposition.

My only gripe is that as alive as this world feels on the page, in the moment, we know so little about the histories and lore of Roshar. This is mostly purposeful, with some of this history being a mystery for the plot to uncover. However, as a fan of series like A Song of Ice and Fire, Tolkien’s work, The Wheel of Time, etc, I want to learn more about the rich history of Roshar.

If you are interested in learning more about this, I wrote a Brief History of Roshar (spoiler-free for the books), where I write up some of my notes from books and research from the Cosmere Wiki (don’t go to the latter if you are concerned about spoilers!)

Finally in my review of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, I loved all the Cosmere easter eggs! Having now read all of Sanderson’s books, I appreciate these far more and cannot wait to see more in the coming books. The interconnectedness of these works through their shared universe is one of the drawing factors for many readers of The Stormlight Archive. Us fantasy readers adore colossal worldbuilding, and what could be bigger than a universe full of planets, god-like figures, and more?!

This review of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is an updated version of one of my previous reviews. Many old reviews are receiving this treatment over the coming months.

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Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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