The Well of Ascension is Brandon Sanderson’s second Mistborn novel and a genuinely awesome read. Following the staggering conclusion to The Final Empire, Well of Ascension picks up some time later with the city in a state of unrest. The Lord Ruler – the man believed to be god incarnate – is dead. Unfortunately, the man who masterminded the whole affair, Mistborn Murder Jesus…errr…Kelsier, is also dead. The rebuilding effort therefore has fallen into the laps of Kelsier’s protégé Vin, King Elend Venture, and the rest of Kelsier’s crew.
I began my Brandon Sanderson journey with the Way of Kings, and I haven’t had any regrets so far. Still it was a little strange moving backwards in time to the final three Wheel of Time books and now onto The Final Empire. Much like the Realm of the Elderlings books, I am playing catch up with my wife who finished the first Mistborn trilogy earlier this year. I put off reading this book for years despite having heard so many people sing it’s praises (I mean, it has 4.5 stars out of nearly 320,000 ratings on Goodreads). It’s fair to say there was a considerable amount of hype leading up to it.
It lived up to it.
The Way of Kings was a fantastic first instalment to The Stormlight Archive that was riveting and immersive all the way through.
"Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack."
The Way of Kings is the first book in The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. It is filled with intrigue, action, and convoluted plots. I have heard a great amount of praise for this author, and this book was the first time I delved into the widely loved work of Sanderson.
This is a large tome that is over a 1000 pages long! It phased me slightly as I was anticipating spells of boredom and periods of inactivity. But oh I was wrong! Throughout this novel, a large cast is presented and developed in a great manner, the plot is continuously unfolding, and the world is always yielding more secrets to the hungry reader. I couldn't ask for much more.
"Sometimes the prize is not worth the costs. The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself."
There are three main PoV's in this book, with a substantial number of minor characters, some who only have one or two chapters dedicated to them. But each member either contributed to the world or plot in a pivotal manner that interested me and kept my eyes stuck to the pages.
Brightlord Dalinar is an effective general who is renowned for his skill in combat alongside his extremely honourable nature. He lives his life by what is known as The Codes, a set of rules that inspire loyalty, charity, courage and modesty. He was one of my favourite characters who formed a prominent role in this story, partly for his personality, and partly because of the epic large scale battles that took place with him.
Kaladin is a skilled warrior of the lower class who has been made a slave for unclear reasons. But whatever has happened, it is known to be scarring because his past experiences affect him deeply and inspire fear and doubt within his previously steadfast nature. His conflicting emotions and overwhelming care for others quickly established his character as someone who I knew I would love to read about. His story was continuously tense and faced overwhelming problems that provided a depth to his character that I loved.
Shallan is a scholar who seeks to gain the apprenticeship of a famous mage. Anyone would be honoured to gain a place, and many are sent to further family standing, but Shallan has a darker and far more dangerous agenda... Her story was also enjoyable, although this was the only part of the story that I sometimes felt lost a bit of steam. There was not as much action, but more political actions filled with philosophical debates that constructed such a major part of the world. Her story definitely picked up again, and revealed a number of shocking revelations that changed the atmosphere of the story by raising the tension and creating a general feel of unexpectancy, always leaving me on the edge.
"What you saw belongs to you. A story doesn't live until it is imagined in someones mind."
As I said earlier, the plot was continuously unfolding, with mysteries present at all times that were intriguing and encouraged me to just read with any spare moment I could catch.
A few portions of the world have been portrayed, with most of the story taking place around the war zone of the Shattered Plains. So there is a lot more to explore in the following novels.
Sanderson's prose is vivid and clear and smooth, creating a well-balanced quantity of description and action that satisfied my needs as a reader. This was a great part of the story that allowed me to immerse myself into the plot with an understanding of the world that heightened the reading journey.
"It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experience lived."
So, The Way of Kings was a fantastic opening to The Stormlight Archive that has invested me in the characters with their developed personalities, intriguing plot, and intriguing world. I will most definitely be reading the next instalment with a large amount of anticipation and excitement as I have heard the popular opinion that Words of Radiance is even better!