Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson created a whole new world for this novel (1st of 10 projected books). It includes various human and human-like beings as well as spren (beings that appear to show various states — fear, pain, glory, wind, anticipation, etc.), crab-like creatures that are used as beasts of burden but also produce valued crystals, and plants that are alive and move in response to stimuli. He also created legends and religion and mythology. Some humans and others are able to take advantage of powers contained within spheres and chips. These powers don't give new abilities, but greatly enhance existing abilities. It took some time to get into the story, primarily because of all the new terminology and cultural references that had to be absorbed.

In the end, the story seems to revolve around 3 primary characters. Kaladin, a surgeon's apprentice turned warrior turned slave turned bridgeman, turned Brightlord protector. Kaladin may be the most complex of the characters and, in some ways the most human of the characters as he struggles with trust and bigotry and figuring out who he really is.

A second primary character is Shallan, a girl from a once powerful family who convinces the king's sister to take her on as a ward, ostensibly to become a scholar but with the intent of stealing Jasnah's Soulcaster, to replace her family's broken soulcaster, and using it to restore her family's fortunes and position.

The third primary character is Dalinar, a Highprince and uncle of King Elhokar. Dalinar is thought to be going crazy because he has lost his passion for war and is intent on uniting the highprinces of Alethkar in order to restore the glory of past kingdoms. In that, he is opposed by all of the other highprinces because they want to retain their individual power and position and ability to gain wealth. He is also resisted by Elhokar because of fear.

These three may not continue to be the primary characters in subsequent books as Wit, Szeth (assassin), and Taravangian seemed to be ascending at the end of the book. Characters well developed and acted reasonably consistently. The worlds are strange. Legends aren't quite clear but Sanderson has a habit of introducing something as if it were clear and then over multiple flashbacks, revealing details. Definitely kept my attention but the length of the series is a bit daunting to even consider.

I read the Kindle edition and really appreciated the X-Ray function for this book!!
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