The Stormlight Archive is the last of Brandon Sanderson's High Fantasy works I have left to read before I am forced to confront The Great Waiting.
However, I am glad I waited to read this series, as it seems like it's going to be one of Sanderson's largest & most clarifying contributions to the Cosmere universe.
I had such a wonderful time reading this. I've seen a couple reviewers saying the book could've been shorter (1,007 pages in physical copy, 45.5 hours in audio) but it's not a sentiment I agree with.
I believe The Way of Kings would sacrifice vital framework, world building, & characterization were it much shorter.
Perhaps the level of immersion present here is not for everyone, but for me, that's part of what makes Sanderson's work stand out in the genre. You can always count on him to transport you directly into his worlds.
And what a fantastic setting Roshar is! Literally every aspect of the world, from the unique wildlife to the power of soulcasting & the magical of properties of stormlight, held my rapt attention.
I was particularly fascinated by the Alethi dispersion of class & power being based on eye color. This is a concept I've discussed before in my circles of friends, how it is incredibly odd that humans tend to choose arbitrary characteristics to create & define social groupings.
Sanderson highlights how foolish it is when we allow our perception of others to be guided by these meaningless lines of division.
Race, religion, sexuality, gender. Eye color, skin color, height, weight. We are all people. Individuals with an exponential range of capabilities, and no contrived societal category has the power to determine what we can or cannot achieve.
In many ways this book is about having the courage to break free from your prescribed role in life.
Once again, we're gonna have to talk about the religious aspects of Sanderson's work. I just appreciate the shit out of what this man does, ok?
Throughout the related Cosmere works, characters spanning all across the spectrum of faith appear. The Way of Kings is no exception.
What I love so much is that all of these characters are written skillfully with a realistic degree of complexity. They struggle with their choices, they seek validation without always finding it, they are intelligent with the ability to defend their beliefs in the face of opposition.
It is so lovely & refreshing to see an author write about a wide variety of belief systems without sacrificing the integrity of any of them.
The Way of Kings is full of the concisely descriptive writing & excellent imagination we have come to expect from Sanderson. Specifically I adore the battle scenes/fighting imagery.
"The lad was a genius with the blade, an artist with paint of only one shade."
I only had one distinct issue with this novel:
1. The novel is split into a couple different perspectives, but readers spend a disproportionate amount of time with one, a young man named Kaladin. Now, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I didn't care for how unbalanced the perspectives were.
Kaladin's character is fleshed out beautifully, but I wish I could've experienced the same in-depth connection to the other handful of POVs, especially Dalinar & Shallan. There were a couple times I even found myself thinking "Aw man, another Kaladin chapter." *waits to get hit by tomatoes*
Otherwise, this is a gorgeously written first novel in what I expect will be a truly epic series.